Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Aren't We Learning ANYTHING Here??

I’m not going to spend too much time on this… but I received a flyer this week from a local builder promoting 6% (!!!) buyer’s agent commissions on a new development in Reunion… which happens to be at the epicenter of “foreclosure alley” out on the east side of town.

This particular builder is promoting high end homes – they call them “gourmet homes” – in an area that has just been killed with foreclosures. And the carrot is that they’ll pay brokers $30,000 or more (6% of $500,000, for example) to put a buyer under contract by March 31st.

Isn’t this one of the main reasons we led the nation in foreclosures in 2005 and 2006?

I would not do that to my clients, for any price. Would you?

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Yes, I did say "shave my head"!

I have recently registered to go under the clippers during a St. Baldrick's Foundation event on March 14 to raise funds for childhood cancer research.

Since its inception in 2000, St. Baldrick's has raised more than $34 million and grown into the world's largest fundraising event for childhood cancer. St. Baldrick's research grants help fill crucial funding gaps at medical institutions where children are treated for cancer.

In comparison to the struggles children with cancer face, shaving my head is no big deal.

I am asking you to consider helping me justify this commitment to (temporary) baldness by MAKING A DONATION to St. Baldrick's today.

To be redirected to my St. Baldrick's personal web page (including shocking "Before" and "After" photos)... CLICK HERE

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Just a quick note for school teachers, administrators and others who work with kids... the Colorado Association of Realtors is sponsoring $30,000 in educational grants for 2008.

In speaking with the program administrators at CAR this week, fewer than 30 applications have been received so far, which means that there is an excellent opportunity for motivated educators to take advantage of this pilot program.

Grants of up to $3,000 can be used for field trips, book orders, and other specifically-definied academic pursuits.

The application period ends this Friday, February 29. To access a grant application online, CLICK HERE

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Active Homes on the Market as of 1/31/08 – 24,489
Active Homes on the Market as of 1/31/07 – 24,628
Change + 0.57%

Homes Under Contract as of 1/31/08 – 4,550
Homes Under Contract as of 1/31/07 – 4,298
Change + 6.01%

Homes SOLD in January 2008 – 2,987
Homes SOLD in January 2007 – 3,435
Change – 15.62%

Strange numbers, but you have to remember that all of the snow in December of 2006 and January of 2007 did some crazy things to our statistics.

Here's what we know... inventory is essentially flat from one year ago, which is actually one of the healthiest and best developments in this month's numbers.

There has been a spike in listings under contract - with the number of pending home sales up over 6% from one year ago.

Solds, however, took a real hit, falling over 15% versus the number of closed sales in January of 2007.

Very mixed numbers, but if you focus on the listings (flat) and pendings (up), you see that we didn't do badly at all in January.

Inside these numbers, we see that the condo market actually showed an inventory drop of more than 9% compared to January of 2007, and that is very positive since the bottom of the market had been hardest hit by foreclosures.

Too soon to draw any definite conclusions... but it will interesting to see how demand and supply shape up in the February numbers as we had a pretty mild, real estate friendly weather month.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Confirming what I have seen on the ground for the past year, the Rocky Mountain News reported this week that the Californians are coming… in droves!

Over 16% of all in-state migration in 2007 came from California, making it the largest exporter of residents into Colorado by nearly a 2 to 1 margin. Texas ranked second (9%) and Arizona was third with 5.3%.

In a previous post, I cited a University of Colorado report that showed 2007 to be the first time since 2001 that new-resident migration (over 60,000) outpaced new births (about 44,000) in terms of Colorado’s population growth.

So if California exported over 10,000 residents to Colorado last year, what will the number be this year? 12,000? 13,000?

Having gone through this move myself just two years ago, I have some expertise on the subject. And I expect this trend to continue for a while.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


With all of the emphasis on credit scores as lenders continue to tighten their underwriting guidelines, here's a good reminder... is the only "free" credit report site that offers you a personal credit report with no strings attached. If you want a FICO score along with your report, the cost is $7.

You are entitled to review your credit history with each of the three major credit bureaus once every 12 months.

Research shows that nearly 80% of all credit reports have at least one factual error... perhaps now is a good time to make sure your information is up to date.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


To the general public, real estate designations are mostly a mystery. GRI, e-Pro, SRES... who can understand what they all mean?

If you're not clear on how to decipher this alphabet soup, let me cut to the chase... the CRS designation is the granddaddy of 'em all, and I'm busting my tail to complete the requirements before 2008 is over.

I just got back from two solid days of CRS coursework on business planning (CRS 200) taught by Ed Hatch, who has been one of the top agents in the state of Maryland for 20 years. Budgets, overhead, net versus gross, taxes, marketing, and yes... what it costs to hire (and keep) a quality assistant.

If, as an agent, you are serious about real estate, here are the facts:

* the CRS designation is earned by less than 4% of Realtors nationwide
* those 4% account for over 26% of all transaction volume nationwide

In other words, one out of every 25 agents is responsible for one out of every four transactions.

If, as a buyer or seller, quality representation is important to you:

* ask your Realtor if he or she is a CRS

There is too much riding on the purchase or sale of your home to leave things to chance.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Lately I've been reading a tremendous book entitled "Blue Ocean Strategy", which details how some of the world's most well-known companies have created "Blue Oceans" of uncontested market space by changing or altering their product or experience ever so slightly.

Examples include Starbucks, which redefined the coffeehouse experience; Southwest Airlines, which created an incredibly profitable niche in "short hop" flights; and Cirque du Soleil, which blended elements of the traditional circus with performing arts to create an entirely new genre of entertainment now enjoyed by people all over the world.

How does this relate to real estate? I'm working on that part.

Last year, I was sending out a monthly e-newsletter, which got good reviews but had so much information it took a while to read through it all. However, I've got a pretty informative blog, and rather than serving up big doses of data at one time, I've decided to parcel it out in a more informal, conversational way. Hence, "Monday Morning Coffee" is born.

On selected Monday mornings, I'll "drip" these blog postings out to those in my social or professional sphere of influence who have expressed an interest in this type of communication. The goal is not just to provide valuable information, but to create a product that can be forwarded and shared easily.

What are your thoughts about "Blue Oceans"? Where do they exist in your business? Are you ready to leave the shallow pools of traditional thinking for the deep, blue, uncontested seas of imagination and innovation?

Your very livelihood may depend on it.


Wanted to let you know this morning that our horse property listing at 9322 Rogers Road in Longmont has just been lowered to $499,000.

A wonderful lifestyle property on over 1.3 acres, this ranch style home is overflowing with custom touches and upgrades.

Pergo flooring, new light fixtures, a Travertine fireplace hearth, newer paint, new windows, new vinyl fencing in the stable area, recessed lighting, and a wonderfully accented chef's quality kitchen are among the highlighted features. A cozy sun room overlooking the rear gardens, professional landscaping and mature trees bring calm and serenity to your equine setting, uniquely located in a private, rural location that is still just less than one mile from Longmont's newest shopping areas and retail development.

The master bedroom includes an elegant, spacious five piece bath with jetted tub, garden views, French doors and direct access to a pre-wired hot tub pad in the professionally landscaped and private rear courtyard.

For full information and over 25 photos, please see

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Who is MGIC, and why do you care what they do?

MGIC is the "Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation", and that name alone should indicate trouble given the state of the U.S. housing market.

As you know, there are dynamic changes taking place throughout the mortgage lending business. Most notably, scores of notable lenders disappeared from the landscape in 2007, saddled with heavy losses and massive numbers of bad loans.

MGIC insured a lot of those loans that went bad. In fact, the company just announced it expects to pay out over $2 billion (that's "BILLION", with a "B") in claims during 2008. Time to tighten up those underwriting guidelines, again.

Yesterday, MGIC announced it would be raising down payment requirements for certain loans it insures in markets throughout the country. The effect - depending on your situation, it may be just a little bit tougher to finance that new home or sell that listing on the market because, for some buyers, the bar for home ownership was just moved higher.

Things are changing quickly here… and I want to caution you to follow these changes closely. I do not believe anything will have a greater impact on both our local and national housing markets in 2008 than the changes taking place in the lending business.

Let me give you a few examples of why you should make an appointment to talk with a qualified mortgage lender now.

• PROGRAM GUIDELINES ARE CHANGING – I cannot emphasize this enough… what’s “here today” is often “gone tomorrow”. Not only did many of the nation’s largest lenders disappear in 2007, so too did the loan programs they were offering. Stated income products, reduced documentation products, and many subprime loan programs have simply been erased from the books… only to reappear for a few weeks… and then they disappear again. If you do not have a CURRENT, TO THE MOMENT PREAPPROVAL from a qualified lender, you simply are not prequalified or preapproved.

• GUIDELINES ARE CHANGING (PART 2) – Following MGIC's lead, one of the ways lenders are dealing with national volatility is by tightening up their lending guidelines. For example, some loans that required no down payment in 2007 now require a minimum of 5% down. Five percent down loans can require 10%, and so on.

• GUIDELINES ARE CHANGING (PART 3) – FHA GUIDELINES ARE EXPANDING. In short, FHA loans have more lenient qualifying guidelines than conventional loans. By increasing the availability of FHA loans (by raising loan limits), more buyers can qualify to purchase. That increases demand, which helps the market.

• INTEREST RATES HAVE FALLEN TO FOUR YEAR LOWS – There’s a lot of debate about where interest rates will go this year – if the Fed starts pouring money into the economy (and it is), one has to wonder if long term rates won’t rise as investors demand a greater return on their long-term investments. The fact is… these rates right now are CRAZY LOW… how can you go wrong taking a fixed rate mortgage in the 5s or low 6s?

• FIRST TIME BUYER PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE… BUT YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHERE AND WHEN TO FIND THEM – For example, the Denver “Metro Mayors” program makes first-time buyer assistance available by issuing lump sums of money to first-time buyers in over 20 Denver area cities. But funds are limited and only available during designated grant periods. Do you know when these funds will be available?

Hopefully, I’ve made the point here that talking to a lender is an absolutely necessary first step if you plan to buy a home in 2008. If you would like to speak to a highly qualified mortgage professional, please contact me and I’ll put you in touch with someone who will make your needs their highest priority.

Monday, February 4, 2008


Okay, so I missed on the game last night. Who knew? ELI IS THE MAN!

Well, if you're looking to redeem the four hours you spent in front of the TV last night, try this...

Last night was a test of PERSISTENCE vs PERFECTION. The Patriots, as we all know, were perfect going into the Super Bowl.

The Giants were hardly perfect - quite flawed, in fact. But they were PERSISTENT. After the first two games of the season - both bad losses - it would have been easy to quit. After losing three straight home games late in the season (hardly the mark of a champion), it would have been reasonable to pack it in.

But if nothing else, the Giants persisted, which really is the key to most success you will find in life. You don't have to be perfect (although it's a good objective to work toward), but you do need to persist. And although I have never been an Eli Manning fan, it was the Giants' often flawed quarterback who stood in and completed fourth down conversions on the game's final drive when history cast serious doubt on his ability to do so.

Did the more talented team win last night? Probably not. But did the Giants deserve to win - most definitely.

Go forth and persist this week...

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Eight minutes to kickoff... all the last minute information is in...

Patriots 27
Giants 21

I hope the Giants give them a game... but I don't see the Giants scoring more than 21 points. And Tom Brady has yet to lose a big game... ever.

Enjoy the game...