Is Deporting Immigrants, Including Dreamers, Bad for the Economy?

Elliot EisenbergEvery January, economist Elliot Eisenberg comes to Denver from Washington, D.C. to update Realtors and lenders about the economy and the real estate market. I attended two of his presentations in January and was struck by his remarks about the recent tax reform legislation, which he called “a mistake.”

Reducing taxes when the economy is this healthy makes no sense, he said. Yes, it will have a positive effect on some business, but for only 12 to 18 months, and no more.

Part of what makes our economy healthy is our low unemployment rate, which can’t go much lower. In short, Eisenberg says we need more workers. In light of that statement, I asked him about the possible deportation of DACA children (many of whom are now working adults) and non-DACA illegal immigrants who are also working and paying taxes. He responded absolutelywhen asked if he believes that deporting these workers would only make matters worse for our economy.

I’m reminded of something former President George W. Bush said after Hurricane Harvey: “Good luck rebuilding Houston without immigrants!”

 

Golden Split-Level Home Just Listed by Jim Swanson

1060 Yank StreetThis awesome move in ready home at 1090 Yank Street, listed at $439,000, is just minutes from the Colorado Mills Mall, with easy access to both 6th Ave and I-70. Welchester Elementary School is only one block away, and Daniels Park is also nearby. The roof, gutters and siding were replaced last summer, and the entire home was painted inside and out. The interior has 3 bedrooms upstairs with a large master bedroom/bath and good sized 2nd and 3rd bedrooms served by a 3/4 hallway bath. The updated kitchen features a new refrigerator. Walls were removed to create an open floor plan, with hardwood flooring throughout, including on the stairs. The lower family room has a wood-burning fireplace and a full bath. The large private backyard has a covered patio, garden area, shed and 8.5’ x 14’ motorcycle garage. A newer (2011) boiler provides the hot water baseboard heat. Cooling is provided by a roof-mounted swamp cooler. Take a narrated video tour at www.WideAcresHome.info, then call your agent or Jim Swanson at 303-929-2727 for a showing.  He’ll be holding it open Saturday, Feb. 3, from 10am to 2pm.

 

Life’s Transitions Are at the Heart of Most Real Estate Needs

Real_Estate_Today_bylineIn my 16 years as a Realtor, I have learned that most people’s real estate needs arise from life’s many and varied transitions.  These can include relationship changes such as marriage and divorce, a birth or death in the family, health changes, and other reasons for upsizing or downsizing, as well as job relocation, job loss, and changes in income. People also relocate to be closer to grandchildren or other family members.

Clients have come to us because of most or all of these “transitions,” but perhaps the most common is, sadly, divorce. When couples divorce, one option is for one spouse to buy out the other, and although the court (in a non-amicable divorce) might require a valuation by a licensed appraiser, often we’ll be called upon to give a “Broker Price Opinion” of the home’s value. I don’t charge for this service, nor do I think most agents would. If a sale of the home is necessary, of course we’re available to assist in that, and the proceeds can be disbursed as the couple or the court dictate.

Medical changes or uncertainty, which can affect people of all ages, often necessitate a home sale. We can help the seller of a multi-level home find a wheelchair accessible home or simply one with fewer stairs, and discount the commission on the sale of their current home when we earn a commission on their purchase. If the seller is moving to a rental such as in a senior community, we can refer them to a specialist in that field, such as Jenn Gomer of Care Patrol.

Marriage or simply the combining of two households is a happier transition, and, again, look for your agent to discount the fee for selling your current homes in return for earning a commission on your new home.

Empty nesters (and others) come to us on occasion wanting to downsize. They may want to use their new-found freedom to travel, and ask us to find them a “lock-and-go” home such as a condo or patio home, where you have no maintenance responsibilities and it’s not obvious when you’re away.

When children head off the college, they may want to live in dorms or fraternities/sorrorities, but some parents want to invest in a home near campus that they can sell for a profit (or keep as a rental) after graduation.  They prefer to buy homes with three or more bedrooms so that classmates of their son or daughter can provide rental income for the parents.

Relocation is a big area of need, too. This is a good time to “sell high and buy low,” by moving from Denver to, say, Goodland, Kansas, where a recent client of mine was able to buy a bigger house using only the equity from the sale of their Arvada home.  Now they have no mortgage!

With so many jobs allowing telecommuting, some workers want to leave the hustle and bustle of the city and live in a quieter, perhaps rural setting with good internet service. A client of ours who works for the federal government is allowed to work from home, so he moved to a sleepy town in Mesa County, even though his “office” is 200 miles away in Lakewood!

What life transition are you facing?  Whatever it may be, it’s important that your real estate professional is ready to listen to your wants and needs and can be a compassionate consultant, supplying information and advice that helps you make the best decision for you and your family.  Call us!  We are eager to be of service.

 

Did You Know That the Best Car for Wintertime Travel Is Electric?

Consider these reasons why you might prefer an electric car (EV) during the winter.

No warm up needed. Just get in and go. And the cabin will be warm within half a mile.  No puffing!  If your car is parked outside and has ice or snow on it, you can turn on the heat remotely without unlocking it 10 or 15 minutes before you want to leave.

You’ll never break down. Winter is a terrible time for a breakdown, isn’t it?  There’s nothing to break down in an EV, and it will never “stall.”  The only time you’ll see an electric car in the breakdown lane is if it was in an accident or has a flat tire.

No filling your tank during in the freezing rain or snow. Think of your EV like your smartphone. You plug it in at night and it’s fully charged in the morning. When you have an electric car, gas stations are just for cleaning your windshield and buying lottery tickets.

Traction is better in an EV. My all-wheel-drive Tesla is hands-down better in snow than my old Lexus RX 400h or, I wager, any car. Test drive one on a snow-packed road and you’ll be amazed, as I was.

You can leave the heat on while parked. It’s really nice to come back to a warm car with no ice to scrape. I left my locked Tesla’s heat on for several hours during a recent snowstorm and it only consumed a couple kilowatt-hours (22 cents’ worth of electricity, if you don’t have solar panels). When I was ready to leave, the windows were all clear and the cabin was 70 degrees!  The same feature works during summertime.  I don’t have to return to a car that’s over 100 degrees in the sun.

 

Just Listed: A Solar-Powered Home Near DU With a $5.89 Monthly Xcel Bill

1960 South Gilpin best pictureWould you like to own one of Colorado’s — and possibly the nation’s — most energy efficient homes?  Here’s your opportunity!

At Golden Real Estate, we love listing “net zero energy” homes such as this one at 1960 S. Gilpin Street in Denver. This particular home, listed just this week for $890,000, goes beyond net zero, generating more electricity than it uses, including the charging of the seller’s electric car.

This home was designed to meet passive house standards, meaning that, among other features, it is super-insulated and has triple- and quadruple-pane windows. The exterior walls of this home were built with structural insulated panels (“SIPs”) which not only insulate the home but make it super quiet inside.

SIPs_-_Structural_Insulated_PanelsAt left is a picture of one of those panels being installed.

Because of its sustainable features, this home has been on tours of solar homes four times since its construction in 2008. Click here to view the narrated video tour of it which I myself produced for the 2016 solar tour. That video was limited to the home’s solar and sustainable features. Now that it is for sale, I have produced a new narrated video of all the features of this house. You can view that video at www.DenverPassiveHouse.com.

In 2012, the Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES) gave this home its coveted “Award for Renewable Energy & Sustainable Design in Buildings — Residential New Construction.” Space limitations here prevent me from listing all the reasons, but that video is a good start.

The home is so energy efficient that is has no furnace — in fact, no gas service at all. Limited in-floor electric radiant heating and one small wall heater provide enough heat in the winter, and the home requires no cooling in the summer because of its insulation and passive house design. A small propane stove provides extra warmth, but isn’t needed very often.

how-heat-recovery-ventilation-worksAs in all super-insulated and therefore air-tight homes, fresh air must be brought into the house using an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) which improves air quality and also tempers incoming air by passing it through a heat exchanger with outgoing air. Thus, if it’s 30 degrees outside, for example, the fresh air entering the ERV could be as warm as 65 degrees by the time it is distributed into the home.  This schematic explains how an ERV works.

Hot water is provided by a solar thermal panel on the south-facing roof, next to the solar electric panels. Another special feature is the battery storage system which maintains electrical service during blackouts.

I will be holding this special house open on Saturday, January 27th, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

What Improvements Should You Make Before Listing a Home?

This is a common question that I get from my readers. Should they replace their appliances, paint the house, install hardwood floors or new carpeting, etc.

Let me share my usual response to this question. Keep in mind that improvements do not typically produce more in added value than what you pay for them.

The only improvements a seller should make, in my opinion, are ones which eliminate eyesores — that is, things which draw negative attention by a visitor.

I wouldn’t replace items that are dated but that are in good condition. I wouldn’t, for example, replace Formica counters that are in good condition, but I would replace them if they have burn marks or other damage.

Condo Construction Ramping Up Ever So Slowly Following 2017 Legislation

Last summer, after years of partisan disagreement, the Colorado General Assembly passed, and the Governor signed into law, a construction defects law aimed at eliminating the single greatest impediment to the building of new condominiums in Colorado.

Previously, a condo board, without membership approval, could engage in litigation against their builder/developer for construction defects. I saw this happen firsthand about 10 years ago. A law firm specializing in such lawsuits made a hard-to-refuse offer to the condo board of directors, by which they would inspect the building in an effort to identify construction defects and then sue the developer for a cash settlement for found defects. These law firms typically work on a contingency basis, charging nothing to the condo association upfront, but keeping 30% or more of any winnings — plus reimbursement for all the inspections and other expenses.

So many law firms engaged in this practice that some insurance companies stopped writing policies for condo construction projects in Colorado. That’s why the vast majority of multi-family construction over the past several years has been of apartment buildings instead of condos. One exception has been for luxury condos, where the price point of the units made the risk worth taking on the part of builders and insurers.

For several years, Republican legislators pushed bills that swung the pendulum too far in the opposite direction, making it unlikely that any condo board could get the necessary member support  for litigation. On the other side were Democratic legislators, who believed that condo owners would be victimized by increasingly shoddy construction. Last year the two sides came together and unanimously approved a reasonable compromise.  No longer, regarding such matters, will condo boards be allowed to act without member approval. Also, the 2017 law (HB 1279) requires a 90-day election period during which each side can present both the pros and cons of litigation to the condo owners.

Clearly, the expectation was that condo construction would increase from 3% of new housing constructioCondo_construction_chartn to the 20% it was a decade or more ago, but seven months later, it’s hard to find much of a surge.  MLS data shows a definite increase in the sale of new condos during 2017, but the numbers are still small, as shown in this chart. Hopefully we will see a more dramatic increase in condo sales by builders during 2018.