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Homebuying season worst in 50 years!

by Roberts Johnson and Rachel Diedrich, Real Estate B

Homebuying season the worst in at least 50 years

By Derek Kravitz
The Associated Press
Updated: 09/27/2011 01:28:35 AM MDT

A prospective homebuyer leaves an open house in Phoenix on Sunday. Prices for previously occupied homes have sunk more than 5 percent over the past year. (Joshua Lott, Bloomberg News)

WASHINGTON — The homebuying season was a bust. Americans bought fewer new homes in the March- through-August stretch than in any other six-month period since record-keeping began a half-century ago.

And sales of previously occupied homes didn't fare much better. They nearly matched 2009's total for the peak buying months. And that was the worst since 1997.

Combined, total sales this spring and summer were the weakest on records dating to 1963. The figures underscore how badly the housing market is faring and suggest that a recovery is years away.

Because the economy is barely growing and unemployment exceeds 9 percent, many people see a home purchase as too big a risk. Some worry about losing their jobs. Others can't afford the 20 percent down payment.

Not even shrunken home prices and the lowest mortgage rates in six decades are convincing would-be buyers.

Falling stocks and renewed recession fears have led many economists to push back expectations for a housing recovery.

Read more: Homebuying season the worst in at least 50 years - The Denver Post
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Mortgage News

by Roberts Johnson and Rachel Diedrich, Real Estate B
Fed bond-buying decision keeps mortgage rates at record lows
Thursday, September 22nd, 2011, 9:32 am

The Federal Reserve's plan to reinvest principal payments on some bonds into mortgage-backed securities is already contributing to the nation's record low mortgage interest rates, Bankrate said Thursday.

Bankrate said the Federal Open Market Committee seems to be taking direct aim at mortgage rates by shifting $400 billion from short-term holdings into long-term government bonds. The program, which begins Oct. 3 and runs through June, will involve longer-term Treasury securities with remaining maturities of six years to 30 years, and will be financed through the sale of shorter-term Treasurys with maturities of three years or less.

"This program should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates and help make broader financial conditions more accommodative," the FOMC said in a statement following its two-day meeting.

Analysts also said anemic economic growth and European debt fears are keeping investors on the sidelines.

Rates are unlikely to increase until mortgage refinancing and purchasing activity picks up, Bankrate said.

"In order to get the most economic impact out of low mortgage rates, the pool of prospective refinancers needs to be expanded. Deeply upside-down homeowners, those with second liens or mortgage insurance, and lender concerns about buyback liability are all formidable impediments to refinancing," according to the firm, which aggregates rate data from across the country.

The Freddie Mac primary mortgage market survey showed the average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage remained unchanged this week at 4.09%, while the 15-year, fixed rate dropped one basis point to a new record low of 3.29%.

Meanwhile, the five-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.02%, up from 2.99% last week and down from 3.54% a year ago.

The one-year, Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.82% this week, up from 2.81% a week earlier and down from 3.46% last year.

"A sluggish economy and investor concerns over the European debt markets left mortgage rates largely unchanged this week," said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist for Freddie Mac.

"Manufacturing activity in both the New York and Philadelphia regions contracted in September," he said. "Moreover, the Federal Reserve board reported that households lost nearly $150 billion in net worth in the second quarter, representing the first quarterly decline in a year."

Bankrate data show the 30-year FRM at record lows for the fifth consecutive week. The average rate for a traditional mortgage fell to 4.29%, from 4.32% last week, while the 15-year FRM declined to 3.42% from 3.44%.

In addition, the 5/1 ARM decreased to 3.05% from 3.07% last week.

Write to Kerri Panchuk.

16th St Mall Makeover

by Roberts Johnson and Rachel Diedrich, Real Estate B

New remedies tried to improve traction, life of granite pavers on Denver's 16th Street Mall

Updated: 09/20/2011 11:43:15 AM MDT

New remedies tried to improve traction, life of granite pavers on Denver's 16th Street Mall

Updated: 09/20/2011 11:43:15 AM MDT

The view northwest along 16th Street Mall from Broadway and 16th Street, Monday, August 8, 2011. (Jakob M. Berr, The Denver Post)

RTD on Monday started a $1.8 million pilot project aimed at testing new techniques for cleaning and setting granite pavers on downtown Denver's 16th Street Mall busway.

As precursor to a remake of the entire length of the mall, which could cost $63 million, the Regional Transportation District is exploring ways to extend the life of pavers in the bus lanes, which get the most wear and tear.

RTD spends about $1 million a year repairing and resetting the bus-lane pavers, and the agency expects to integrate lessons learned from the pilot paver project with the broader rehabilitation.

The downtown pedestrian and transit mall opened in 1982, and its 400,000 white, black and red granite pavers were installed in a fashion to give it the appearance of a Western diamondback rattlesnake's skin when viewed from above.

RTD's partners on the wider mall project include the city of Denver, the Downtown Denver Partnership and the downtown Business Improvement District.

RTD's pilot program involves cleaning and resetting bus-lane pavers in the block between Court Place and Tremont Place and cleaning a portion of the pavers on the same block's sidewalks, said Jeff Cluphf, the transit agency's construction manager for the project.

According to J.J. Henrikson, the project's design manager, RTD's key goals include:

• Improving the "friction" of pavers to give pedestrians and vehicles better traction.

• Returning the pavers to their original color.

• Improving the stability of the transit way.

RTD's contractors will explore two techniques — "shot blasting" and "flaming" — to take a thin layer off the existing pavers and leave them with a roughened surface to provide more friction, Cluphf said.

For resetting the pavers, contractors will use several kinds of mortar and roughen the bottom of the stones to get better adhesion, he added. The agency also will experiment with two grouting techniques.

RTD is paying about $1 million of the cost of the pilot program, and the Denver Regional Council of Governments is contributing about $800,000 to the project's cost, Cluphf said.

The pilot program is scheduled for completion by late November.

One lane of the Court-Tremont block will alternately be closed for reconstruction of the bus-lane pavers, and some delays in mall-shuttle service are possible because of the construction bottleneck.

While work is being done, Denver will explore the electric lines that run under the roadway, and the Business Improvement District will lead an effort to upgrade one of the globe streetlights for better illumination and energy efficiency, said Cassie Milestone, the Downtown Partnership's urban planning manager.

RTD is seeking federal funds for the full rehabilitation of the mall, Milestone said.

Jeffrey Leib: 303-954-1645 or



Home sales up!

by Roberts Johnson and Rachel Diedrich, Real Estate B

Home sales jump 7.7 pct. as foreclosures rise

By DEREK KRAVITZ AP Real Estate Writer
Updated: 09/21/2011 08:04:35 AM MDT

WASHINGTON—The number of Americans who bought previously occupied homes rose in August. But sales were driven by an increase in foreclosures, evidence the housing market remains weak.

The National Association of Realtors says home sales rose 7.7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.03 million homes. That's below the 6 million that economists say is consistent with a healthy housing market.

Last month's pace was slightly ahead of the 4.91 million sold in 2010, the weakest sales year in 13 years.

Home at risk of foreclosure made up 31 percent of sales, up from 29 percent in July.

First-time homebuyers were unchanged at 32 percent of all sales. The normally make up 50 percent of sales in healthy markets.


Colorado Foreclosures Down

by Roberts Johnson and Rachel Diedrich, Real Estate B

Colorado metro foreclosure filings, sales down so far this year

Updated: 09/16/2011 02:52:08 AM MDT

(Associated Press file photo)

Foreclosure filings and sales in Colorado's metropolitan counties were down during the first eight months of this year compared with the same period of 2010, the Colorado Division of Housing said Thursday.

August was the ninth consecutive month in which both filings and sales were down when compared with the same month a year ago, said Ryan McMaken, an economist for the division.

Foreclosure filings from January through August fell 31.4 percent, to 16,481 filings, compared with 24,032 filings during the same period last year.

Foreclosure sales at auction were down 18.5 percent during the same eight-month period.

There were 11,502 sales at auction from January through August of this year, compared with 14,114 during the same period last year.

However, from July to August of 2011, foreclosure filings increased 34.2 percent and sales at auction rose 32 percent. Foreclosure filings hit a six-month high in August, while foreclosure sales at auction reached a two-month high.

"This sizable increase from July may signal that some lenders are beginning to process foreclosures more quickly, or it could be due to the increase in new mortgage delinquencies reported during the second quarter," McMaken said.

He said all metro counties showed decreases in foreclosure filings and sales in the year-to-year comparisons.

Howard Pankratz: 303-954-1939 or

Read more: Colorado metro foreclosure filings, sales down so far this year - The Denver Post
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Downtown Denver's New Urban Market

by Roberts Johnson and Rachel Diedrich, Real Estate B

Downtown Denver gets its own grocery store with Dean’s Urban Market

Family-owned market opened last month in a 12,000-square-foot space Denver’s Ballpark district

Posted: 09/14/2011 06:24:14 AM MDT   Updated: 09/14/2011 06:25:21 AM MDT   Author: Matthew Rodriguez

Bradford Peterson of Denver shops for crackers last week at Dean’s Urban Market, at 1415 Park Ave. in Denver. The grocery store opened Aug. 5 in the city’s Ballpark district. Photo by Matthew Rodriguez, YourHub



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Tonya Dean Steiner lived in downtown Denver for about a year, but she said the area lacked a convenient grocery store.

“It was my one complaint about living downtown,” she said.

Now, Steiner is a partner in family-owned Dean’s Urban Market, which opened last month in a 12,000-square-foot space at 1415 Park Ave. W. in Denver’s Ballpark district.

The idea for the store came about at a Father’s Day barbecue last year at Steiner’s former home downtown. The family ventured out to find some items for the barbecue and ended up scouting out potential grocery store locations.

“We started walking around saying, ‘If we could put a grocery store somewhere, where would it be?’” Steiner said.

Councilwoman Judy Montero said the grocery store offers a combination of items that are in standard, as well as natural and organic, grocery stores in an area that was essentially a food desert.

“They have the choices of healthy food,” she said.

Some Dean family members also co-own a grocery store in Fairplay.

Brandon Kelley, 28, said he has lived in the Ballpark area for more than a year and the store is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

“I like the fact that it’s locally owned,” he said. “I wish them nothing but success.”

Matthew Rodriguez: 303-954-2409 or


Kelsey, Camille Grammer Beaver Creek Chalet for sale

by Roberts Johnson and Rachel Diedrich, Real Estate B

Former Beaver Creek chalet of Kelsey, Camille Grammer for sale

By Penny Parker
The Denver Post
Updated: 03/17/2011 02:45:41 PM MDT

Camille and Kelsey Grammer. (Getty Images file )

Actor Kelsey Grammer and ex-spouse Camille have put their Bachelor Gulch ski chalet on the market for $7.9 million.

The three-story ski-in-and-out spread on Beaver Creek Mountain measures 8,230 square feet, with six bedrooms and 7-1/2 baths. When the split couple first listed the home, the asking price was $9.5 million, according to Internet reports.

The two were married 13 years.

The 56-year-old television and Broadway star divorced Camille, 43, who was part of the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" crew on Bravo last season to marry 29-year-old British flight attendant Kayte Walsh.

Read more: Former Beaver Creek chalet of Kelsey, Camille Grammer for sale - The Denver Post
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Denver competing to become "America's Most Natural City"

by Roberts Johnson and Rachel Diedrich, Real Estate B

Vote for Denver as America's Most Natural City, go to, "like" the page, then submit your vote.


Denver Inventory Dries Up

by Roberts Johnson and Rachel Diedrich, Real Estate B
inventory dries up

Denver housing market tightens

Updated: 09/12/2011 09:51:45 AM MDT

Monte Keller of Rocky Mountain Design signs installs a real estate sign at a house in Denver in this 2009 file photo. (Hyoung Chang, Denver Post file photo)

For six months, Casey Schorr has struggled to find a home to buy in Denver, contradicting everything he has heard about it being a buyer's market.

"Everybody seems to be saying there are all these properties," Schorr said. "But if you are looking for something updated and in a decent neighborhood, the stuff that is available is going quickly."

A lack of inventory — or, more precisely, "compelling" inventory, as some agents call it — has complicated homebuying for people such as Schorr and added yet another strain on a long-stressed housing market.

Homes in the $300,000-to- $600,000 range in Denver's older neighborhoods and places such as Highlands Ranch can move surprisingly fast, said Michelle Ackerman, a broker with Redfin who is helping Schorr find a home.

"When people have it overpriced or don't have it ready to go, it doesn't go," she said.

The number of homes listed for sale in Denver is down by about half since the frenzy surrounding the April 2010 deadline for a homebuyer tax credit, Ackerman said.

The inventory of homes available for sale in metro Denver in August was down 23 percent from August 2010, and down 5 percent from July, according to statistics compiled by independent real-estate analyst Gary Bauer.

There were 18,164 homes and condos listed for sale in metro Denver, compared with 23,615 in August 2010.

"This low inventory is surprising," said Bauer, who had expected inventory levels to hold around 24,000. "It will make the housing market that much more difficult to work in."

Ackerman said she is hopeful that tighter inventory will translate into higher prices that draw more prime properties into the market.

But so far, that doesn't appear to be happening, and Bauer doesn't expect it to, given the other pressures on the market. The median home price in metro Denver fell to $235,000 in August from $239,000 a year earlier.

The upper end of the market continues to struggle with too many homes and lengthy times on the market. But even the low end, once glutted with foreclosures and short sales, is starting to see inventory dry up.

Wes Schlapman, an associate agent with Home4You, said he has struggled to find foreclosures and bank-owned homes that will work for fix-and-flips.

He can sell the homes after he fixes them,but finding them has become the hard part.

Foreclosure filings are down sharply in Denver, and the homes that go to auction are only a fraction of that number.

That is just one of several reasons why the inventory of unsold homes is shrinking, Bauer said.

Many sellers are on strike, in that they don't have to sell and won't until prices improve. Other sellers might prefer to sell but owe more than their homes are worth and can't afford to bring money to the closing table.

Tight credit is another factor. Buyers have to put more money down to obtain a mortgage, and lenders are less likely to cover the costs of home improvements than in the past, putting turnkey properties in demand.

Aldo Svaldi: 303-954-1410 or

Read more: Denver housing market tightens - The Denver Post


Denver gets a good portion of Federal Transit Administration Grants

by Roberts Johnson and Rachel Diedrich, Real Estate B

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 12

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Roberts (Bobby) Johnson
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