Monday, April 27, 2009


I’ve been saying for a while that higher interest rates are inevitable (which they are).

But like trying to time the arrival of a spring storm (an appropriate analogy this morning), because you know something is coming doesn’t always mean you’ll time its arrival to the second.

Consider this: we are in the process of planting about $1 trillion of “seed money” into our economy in the form of the stimulus package. This is the biggest spending bill in the history of the country, and it works out to over $2,500 for every man, woman, and child in America.

In my opinion, once this money starts to take root, the only thing that is going to grow “for sure” are interest rates – which will be going higher.

The next Federal Reserve meeting is Wednesday, April 29.

In terms of interest rates the Fed actually controls (namely, the Federal funds rate and the discount rate), the Fed can’t cut rates any lower than they already are.

But what investors will be watching for is the language the Fed uses in its commentary about the economy.

Everyone knows rates are headed higher. What we don’t know is when it will happen, and what will trigger the upward march.

Remember that the only interest rates the Fed actually controls are short-term and "overnight" rates - the rates banks charge each other for short term borrowing to keep their cash reserve requirements in line with government mandates.

Long-term rates (30 year mortgages, for example) are a product of the market, and pricing is based upon expectations about the future performance of the economy.

If the Fed cites positive news, long-term rates will bounce up. If the Fed doesn’t paint a cheery picture, my opinion is that rates will stay where they are.

But there are very few scenarios where I could see rates falling further.

That’s why, if it was my call to make, I’d be locking my interest rate today.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Change is a fact of life. That can work for us, or it can work against us, depending on our attitude.

A year ago, it was difficult to sit with potential sellers and talk about their prospects for selling into the face of a foreclosure-ridden, discount-driven market where price was the only thing buyers (investors) cared about.

What a difference a year makes.

I mentioned to my networking group this week that “the big difference between a year ago and today is that, over the past year, we have gone from a market which was dominated by price shoppers to one that is dominated by home buyers.”

That’s a significant distinction.

Thanks to the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit, interest rates in the 5% range and home prices that have already adjusted downward by 10 to 20% at the entry level, first-time buyers are out in droves.

And where investors only want to talk about price, first-time buyers are often more concerned with the window coverings, paint colors and the view from the back deck.

In other words, houses are selling again.

Last year, it was a pure price war, plain and simple. This year, it’s a beauty contest, and that means sellers (under $250,000) who have taken care of their homes have the best chance to obtain a “retail price” that we’ve seen in the past few years.

In January, there were 2.36 “active listings” to each one under contract under $250,000.

In February, it was 2.07.

In March, it was 1.93.

In April, it’s 1.67.

That includes the short sales, overpriced retail homes and “dead inventory” that always clutters the market. The absorption rate under $250,000 is just 2.57 months, which means at the current pace of sales, all homes in this price range would be gone in less than 3 months if no new homes were to come on the market.

The fact is, that under $250,000, the demand is through the roof.

If you own a home under $250,000 and you have been looking for a good time to sell, it’s right now.

Interest rates will go up, the tax credit will go away, and all of 2010’s first-time buyers are scrambling to buy today so that they can get the $8,000 incentive.

If you would like a current market analysis of what your home may be worth in this market, please call or email.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Property tax season is just around the corner.

I've had a number of responses (already) from the posting I did last Wednesday about how to appeal your property tax valuation if you feel the value has been inflated.

Here are some other important dates to track in the process:

May 1 - The Assessor mails a Notice of Valuation annually to real property owners along with an appeal form. The Assessor also gives public notice to all taxpayers concerning their rights to appeal the value placed on their property. Values are based on the Assessor's opinion of value as of June 30, 2008 and that values then follows the property for the next two years.

May 1 to June 1: Real Property Appeal Period - If you disagree with your property value, you have the right to file an appeal at this time. The Assessor must send the taxpayer a decision by the last working day in August. If you disagree with the decision the Assessor's office makes at this time, there is another appeals process that can be followed, which involves a hearing before the County Board of Equalization.

August 25 - The Assessor certifies the current total assessed valuation to each taxing entity in the county. That means schools, fire districts, "parks and rec" districts and other beneficiaries of tax revenue are given their projected revenues so that the budgeting process can begin.

December 22 - The County Commissioners levy taxes.

January 1 or as soon as possible thereafter - Tax bills are sent out. No later than January 10, the Assessor delivers tax warrants to the Treasurer.

Remember that, to file an appeal, you must provide information about comparable sales that reflect market conditions as of June 30, 2008. If there was a foreclosure or a bad comp on your street that occured after this, the Assessor won't consider it.

Please call me if you plan to file an appeal so I can help you make your case.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


It’s only 76 pages, and they’re little ones at that.

But Seth Godin’s “The Dip” is well worth the 60 minutes and two cups of coffee it will take to digest.

“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try”.

The Dip is that place between success and failure, between starting and succeeding, between the fresh emotion of taking on a new venture and the hard realities of doubt and impatience.

“Quit the wrong stuff. Stick with the right stuff. Have the guts to do one or the other.”

I love to read, especially motivational or inspirational books that discuss life’s “recipes” for success. You will find that people who achieve success have many traits and experiences in common. One of them is The Dip, because almost everyone I have ever spoken to who has accomplished great things has hit it, and then fought through it.

“All our success are the same. All our failures, too.”

We succeed when we do something remarkable. We fail when we give up too soon. Persistence will not solve all of your problems, but it is the foundation upon which most success is built. I often tell people I am in the “problem solving” business, and that is true. Selling houses is a byproduct of solving problems. And solving problems is something we learn to do through experience and a commitment to listening intently to what people are saying. If I don’t hear you, I can’t solve your problem.

“No one quits the Boston Marathon at Mile 25.”

The Dip doesn’t come at mile 25 of your journey. It comes at mile 12, mile 15, mile 20… when finishing seems like it’s far off, and your labor doesn’t seem commensurate with your current circumstance. That’s when you have to commit to persevere. That’s when you have to lean into The Dip.

If hard things were easy, everyone would do them. Commit to doing some hard things this week. And if you would like a copy of “The Dip”, let me know. I liked the book so much I just ordered a dozen copies from Amazon to hand out to friends and clients who might need some encouragement. If it will help fortify your resolve, I’d be happy to send one your way.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Beginning May 1, county tax assessors throughout Colorado will be sending out a NOTICE OF VALUATION to every homeowner in the state. This document determines what you will pay in property taxes for the next two years.

If you disagree with the assessor's valuation of your home, you have a very limited window of time in which to protest or appeal.

Here are the actions you should take promptly upon receipt of your NOTICE OF VALUATION:

1) Examine the value assigned by the assesor's office. Is it correct? Or does it seem inflated?

2) If the value seems too high, call me and I can provide you with free recent comparable sales information to help determine if the valuation is correct.

3) If you choose to protest the assessor's valuation, remember that you have less than 30 days to formally appeal. All appeals must be filed by June 1 - with no exceptions.


Property tax assessments are made every two years in Colorado. In other words, on June 30 of even numbered years, the assessor's office takes a "snapshot" of what they feel your home is worth. Ten months later, on May 1 of the following year, they reveal this valuation to you in the form of your new tax bill, which is binding for the next two years unless you successfully appeal it.

Remember that the assessor will be basing the value of your home on data as of June 30, 2008. Property values in your neighborhood may have risen or fallen since that time.

Your tax bill is coming soon - if you decide to protest the valuation, please do not hestitate to get in touch with me. With overall tax revenues on the decline and government agencies hungry for funding, property owners may be in the crosshairs this year. Be ready to take action when your tax bill arrives.