Friday, July 29, 2011

Review of recent home price data

Here at the Division of Housing blog we follow several different measures of home prices. Here is a summary of recent reports:

The National Association of Realtors releases a monthly report on median home prices and transactions. The report only covers the western US as a region and does not have specifics for Colorado or the Denver area. The most recent report is through June, and shows prices increasing 9.5 percent in the west, year over year. The May data showed prices falling 12.6 percent, year over year, for that month.

The Colorado Association of Realtors released median home price data specific to Colorado and many of its regions. The CAR data for May showed the median price down 10.4 percent in May, year over year. In Denver metro, the price was down 3.2 percent.

Case-Shiller has released its home price index for May (actually a 3-month average through May). The data is for the Denver metro area only. Its index shows Denver prices down by 3.3 percent.

Corelogic released home price data specific to both Colorado and the Denver area. Corelogic reported most recently that in May, home prices decreased 3.9 percent in Colorado and 3.6 percent in the Denver area.

The Federal Housing and Finance Agency, which is focused on GSE-related transactions, reported regional data for May in which the Mountain region, including Colorado, posted a home price decline of 9 percent. FHFA also released regional data which has data specific to Colorado and all Colorado metro areas. The second Q report through June is not yet available, although the 1st Q report reported that Colorado experienced a price drop of 6.3 percent, with Denver metro prices dropping 1.6 percent.

All price measures reported here showed year-over-year declines in home prices in Colorado and metro Denver for May. The one measure providing June data, NAR's existing home sales report, showed a price gain of 9.5 percent for the region. How much this regional number applies to Colorado remains to be seen. The data is overwhelmingly in favor of a price drop from May 2010 to May 2011, but June may show increases. In fact, the aftermath of the home buyer tax credits points toward a year-over-year gain for prices in June and during the summer. Since demand dropped off so significantly immediately following the end of the tax credits, it stands to reason that home prices would be depressed following the end of the tax credit (i.e., during Summer 2010) and that a year-over-year comparison between this summer and last summer would then likely produce a percentage change in positive territory. Whether or not this would signal a price increase in the larger economic context may not be clear until the fall.

Multifamily permit trends in Colorado counties since 2008

During the first half of 2011, 89 percent of all new multifamily permits were issued in only three Counties: Denver, El Paso and Larimer counties.

This percentage is down slightly from May 2011, in which 95 percent of new permit activity was found in the three counties. Since May, multifamily permit activity has increased in Mesa, Boulder and Summit counties.

Through June 2011, there have been a total of 1163 multifamily permits issued in reporting counties. Of those, 1039 were in Denver, El Paso and Larimer Counties. Totals for all counties that reported multifamily permit activity:

Denver 683
El Paso 230
Larimer 126
Mesa 64
Boulder 34
Summit 16
Boulder 10

The first map divides counties with permit activity in quartiles. Quartiles are based on a multifamily permit index based on the number of permits compared to the number of existing housing units in each county.

Top Q: Brown
2nd Q: Green
3rd Q: Orange
Bottom Q: Yellow
No MF permits issued: White

If we look at multifamily activity over time, we see that multifamily permit activity has increased in some areas in recent years, while it has decreased in other areas.

In the chart, we see multifamily permit activity from 2008 through June 2011. In some areas, a large number of permits were issued, but in those same counties, almost no multifamily permit activity has been seen since the financial crisis of 2008. In Adams County, for example, 108 MF permits were issued in 2008 alone, yet from 2009 to June 2011, only 33 permits have been issued. No multifamily permits have been issued in Adams county during 2011. Araphoe County has seen a similar trend in which mutifamily permits have waned since 2008, with no multifamily permits being issued in 2011.

On the other hand, in El Paso county, where permit activity also dropped off sharply in 2009, multifamily permit activity in the first half of 2011 is almost three times 2010's full-year total. At the current pace, El Paso County will match the number of multifamily permits issued in 2008 before the crisis.

The next two maps show the overall relative trends for reporting counties since 2008 and since the financial crisis.

In first map of the two shows multifamily permit activity in all reporting counties including 2008 through June 2011. Note that multifamily permit activity is widespread and that numerous mountain and western slope counties are in the top two quartiles. Mesa, Weld and El Paso Counties are all in the top quartiles.

The last map shows permit activity by quartile in the period including 2009 through June 2011. Essentially, we're looking only at permit activity after the 2008 financial crisis. We see that since the crisis, multifamily permit activity is much less widespread and also that Mesa County and El Paso County have fallen to the third quartile. Weld County has fallen to the bottom quartile.

Looking again to permit activity for the first half of 2011 (see the map at the top of this article), we see that El Paso and Mesa Counties has risen to the top quartile again, and in all periods surveyed, Denver County remained in the top quartile while Larimer County has remained in the top two quartiles for the duration.

Clearly, the counties with the most robust activity in multifamily permits, relative to other counties, have been Denver County and Larimer county. Also, during the first half of 2011, El Paso County has seen significant growth allowing it to become one of the most active counties in multifamily permitting right now.

This examination of the past 42 months also allows us to make some guesses about where new multifamily construction will actually take place over the next two to three years. While many counties saw relatively large numbers of permits issued in 2008, it is likely that in many cases, the intervention of the financial crisis prevented many of these permits from becoming housing starts. In many of those cases, the projects are likely still pending if they are proceeding at all. If they are still pending, permits issued in 2008 may still provide some indications of where new multifamily construction may take place in the near term.

Note: When discussed here, a "multifamily permit" refers to one unit in a building of 5 or more units. Counties shown in white have reported no multifamily permits issued.

Housing News Digest, July 29

Real GDP still below Pre-Recession Peak

• GDP: Not only has growth slowed, but the recession was significantly worse than earlier estimates suggested. Real GDP is still not back to the pre-recession peak.

Frazier Family in Colorado Reaps Economic Solar Rewards
An ex-Miami homeowner turned west toward Boulder, Colorado, Kate Frazier and her family have begun to change their lifestyle since they moved into their new housing development called Holiday in 2007. These homes were state of the art with renewable energy systems including residential solar installations on the rooftop.

Ultra Petroleum makes bid on Colorado Springs acreage
Houston-based Ultra Petroleum CorpbizWatch ’s $26.5 million cash bid to buy undeveloped real estate in Colorado Springs has been postponed until Aug. 3.

The swath of 18,000 acres known as the Banning Lewis Ranch and near the Niobrara shale was intended to be a master planned community including as many as 75,000 homes. However, several years of false starts strained finances, and last year owners sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

ConocoPhillips to look for oil in Denver suburbs

ConocoPhillipsbizWatch will expand its search for oil within the Niobrara play by acquiring rights to as many as 46,000 acres in Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas and Elbert counties. The Houston company isn’t saying how much it’s paying in a deal struck with Lario Oil & Gas Co.

Hit with foreclosures, Bank of America donating, demolishing homes
Bank of America Corp., faced with a glut of foreclosed and abandoned houses it can’t sell, has a new tool to get rid of the most decrepit ones: a bulldozer.

The biggest U.S. mortgage servicer will donate 100 foreclosed houses in the Cleveland area, and in some cases contribute to their demolition in partnership with a local agency that manages blighted property. The bank has similar plans in Detroit and Chicago, with more cities to come, and Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Fannie Mae are conducting or considering their own programs.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Manufacturing slows in July

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City today released its manufacturing survey of the Tenth District, which includes Colorado.

This is not directly related to housing, of course, but just as an FYI, here's the report summed up in a few sentences:

Growth in Tenth District manufacturing slowed in July after a solid rebound in June. However, producers remain generally upbeat about future activity. Price indexes were little changed from the previous month, though plans to raise selling prices eased somewhat.

The year-over-year factory indexes eased slightly, but remained at solid levels. The composite year-over-year index edged down from 31 to 24, and the production, new orders, shipments, and order backlog indexes also fell.

The employment index moved slightly lower after reaching a sixyear
high last month. The capital expenditures index eased from 13 to 8, while the new orders for exports index was basically unchanged.

Remodeling projects increase 21 percent in U.S. West

Residential remodeling activity increased 21 percent in the Western U.S. from May 2010 to May 2011. According to the May 2011 Residential Buildfax Remodeling Index, released last week by BUILDERadius, The Western U.S. showed the largest rate of increase in its index value, outpacing all other regions.

According to Buildfax's June 2011 release:

The Residential BuildFax Remodeling Index rose 22% year-over-year—and for the nineteenth straight month—in May to 124.3, the highest number in the index to date. Residential remodels in May were up month-over-month 14.6 points (13%) from the April value of 109.7, and up year-over-year 22.1 points from the May 2010 value of 102.2.

“Through the first five months of 2011 we have seen impressive gains within the remodeling index and May has continued that trend with a record setting month,” said Joe Emison, Vice President of Research and Development at BuildFax. “Even with the continued struggles in the economy, the remodeling industry has been a bright spot, as consumers look to make upgrades to their current homes, rather than purchasing a new residence. Based on the trends from the first months of this year, we expect to continue seeing strong gains from coast to coast.”

In the graph, we see that the year-over-year percent change in the western region has fallen slightly below the national index, but outpaces all other regions.

Overall, the report suggests substantial increases in the amount of residential remodeling activity in the economy. Often, remodeling activity reflects an availability of household capital for some construction and home-improvement activities while there may be an absence of the large amounts of household capital necessary for relocation and new home purchases.

As we've seen in recent data for housing starts in the West, new single-family home construction remains at historic lows. Construction in multifamily housing has increased, but new permit activity and starts are both down in single-family housing. In an environment of little new single-family product and lackluster sales, many homeowners have turned to remodeling projects, as is reflected in the May report.

The big exception is the Midwest region, which has shown substantial decreases in remodeling activity over the past three months.

As a supplement, I've included the second graph which shows the year-over-year change in the numeric value of the index by region.

About the BuildFax Remodeling Index

The BuildFax Remodeling Index is based on construction permits filed with local building departments across the country. The index tracks the number of properties permitted. The national and regional indexes all have an initial value of 100 set in April of 2004, are based on a three-month moving average, and are not seasonally adjusted.

FHFA: House prices fall 9 percent in mountain region

House prices in May in the Mountain region, which includes Colorado, fell 9.0 percent, year-over-year. Nationally, the house price index fell 6.1 percent. The new house price index numbers, released last week by the Federal Housing and Finance Agency, also showed that the national index is down 18.9 percent from the peak level reached in June 2007, while the Mountain region's index is down 30.6 percent over the same period.

The FHFA monthly index is calculated using purchase prices of houses purchased with loans that have been sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. It is a repeat-sales index similar to the Case-Shiller index, but limited to GSE loans.

The decline in house prices, both regionally and nationally, continues the trend that began in mid-2007 as prices have fallen almost constantly since the peak.

From April 2011 to May 2011, however, the US index increased by 1.2 percent, which is one of the largest month-to-month increases recorded since 2006. Over the same period, the index rose 3.4 percent in the mountain region.

Notably, the FHFA index does not show a "double dip" as can be seen in the Case-Shiller data (shown here), in which prices begin to recover in 2009, but then fall again after mid-2010. The FHFA monthly data shows almost nothing but losses following mid-2007.

The second chart shows each month's house price index compared to the same month a year earlier:

We can note that the Mountain region has performed more poorly (from a seller's perspective) than the national index. This runs contrary to some local experience and some statistics. The Case-Shiller data for the Denver metro area, for example shows that local prices did not decline as much as the national composite index following the financial panic in 2008.

Since we're looking at regional, data, however, we have to keep in mind that this data reflects house prices in Arizona and Nevada, and this no doubt will continue to put downward pressure on regional prices for now.

Comparisons with other indices:
The National Association of Realtors data shows increases in home prices and home sales activity in May 2011 compared to May 2010.

NAR data tends to be very optimistic (from a Realtor perspective) compared to other indices like CoreLogic or Case-Shiller, but we would nevertheless expect a bit of an increase from May 2010 to May 2011. May 2010 was a period of depressed sales and prices since it immediately followed the end of the homebuyer tax credits. Nevertheless, the FHFA data for May shows a continued decline.

Case-shiller also showed continued declines for home prices in May 2011, when compared year-over-year. The Case-Shiller decline, however, was smaller than the FHFA decline with a drop of 4.6 percent.

The national CoreLogic home price index fell 7.42 percent during this period, and the Corelogic index for Colorado fell 3.93 percent.

Pending home sales up 15.5 percent in West

Pending home sales in the western US fell in June rose 15.5 percent year over year, according to new pending home sales data released today by the National Association of Realtors. According to the press release:

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said there may be some increase in closed existing-home sales. “For the majority of transactions, the lag time between pending contacts to actual closings is one to two months. Therefore, the two consecutive months of rising activity should lead to overall improvement in closed sales in upcoming months,” he said. “Though a higher than normal cancellation rate can hold back final closing figures, it could well be that some past cancellations are nothing more than delayed buying decisions rather than outright cancellations.”

Yun said tight credit and economic uncertainty have been constricting the market. “The best way to ensure a more solid recovery in housing is to simply return to normal, sound credit standards so more creditworthy home buyers can get a mortgage,” he said.

The pending home sales index for the western region of the US, which includes Colorado, rose from 96.9 to 111.9, year over year, while the national index rose 17.3 percent from 92.7 to 108.7, year over year.

All regions of the country showed gains in pending home sales, year over year. The rise from June 2010 to June 2011 reflects the drop off in new pending home sales that followed the end of the homebuyer tax credit in April 2010. Homes needed to be under contract by April 2010 to be eligible for the tax credit. New properties under contract fell after April, so year-over-year comparisons with May 2010 and June 2010 are likely to show gains.

Month to month, the pending home sales index rose 6.7 percent in the West and 5.7 percent nationally. This was expected as home buying tends to increase from April to May.

The West showed the second-smallest increase in the index among all regions. the Midwest showed the biggest gains with a year-over-year increase of 22.1 percent.

Pending home sales help us predict future closings, so this news suggests that closings in June and July may be stronger both month over month and year over year.

Closings have been rather weak in Colorado so far this year. Comparing to 2010 is of limited value due to the tax credit-driven run-up in closings, but compared to both 2009 and 2008, total closings in 2011 are either flat or down. According to the CAR data (seen here) there have been 21,262 closings through May in 2011. During the same period of 2009, there were 21,152 and during 2008 there were 26,586. There were 23,461 during the same period of 2010. So far, 2011 is about even with 2009, which was a weak year.

Housing News Digest, July 28

Local apartment rents climb to record high
Apartment rents are soaring as units continue to fill up, two reports show.

The average monthly rent for a Colorado Springs-area apartment jumped to a record high of $759.01 during the second quarter, according to a report released Wednesday by the Colorado Division of Housing and Apartment Association of Southern Colorado. That’s up $22 from the first quarter and $40 from the same period last year.

Rents were up nearly everywhere in the Colorado Springs area. The highest average rent, $848.54, was found in the far northeast part of the city, up from $840.25 a year ago. The only area with a year-over-year decline in rent was Security-Widefield-Fountain south of Colorado Springs, where the second-quarter average rent of $577.16 was $38.50 lower than the same period in 2010.

RealtyTrac: Colorado 9th for foreclosures
In addition to Greeley, others with foreclosure rates among the top 20 included Boise City-Nampa, Idaho, Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga., and Salt Lake City.

California, Nevada and Arizona cities accounted for all top 10 metro foreclosure rates and 15 of the top 20 metro foreclosure rates in the first half of the year. Only one Florida metro area posted a foreclosure rate among the top 20 — Cape Coral-Fort Myers at No. 12 — in sharp contrast to the first half of 2010, when Florida cities accounted for nine of the top 20 metro foreclosure rates nationwide.

Developers break ground on the Peaks at Woodmen
This week, 10 apartment buildings that will house 230 luxury living units began to emerge at the undeveloped corner of Woodmen Road and Union Boulevard.

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) is withdrawing from the foreclosure business.
The organization has issued a policy update to its members stating that no foreclosure proceeding may be initiated in the name of MERS and no legal proceedings in a bankruptcy may be filed in the name of MERS.

Before a lender or investor starts a foreclosure or files a bankruptcy motion, they must execute an assignment of the security instrument from MERS to themselves as the mortgagee and record the transfer with the applicable county clerk or public land records office, MERS said

29-unit Denver condo building sells
The Inca 29 Urban Brownstones in Denver sold for $5.39 million. The building near Commons Park has 29 units that sell for $475,000 to $1.42 million. Dennis Huspeni reports on this and other sales in his Real Deals blog.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kansas City Fed: region "expanded at a moderate pace" in June

The Federal Reserve today released its July Beige Book. Some snippets from the District 10 portion, which includes Colorado's economy:

The Tenth District economy expanded at a moderate pace in the June and early July survey period. Consumer spending rose solidly and was especially strong among restaurants and auto dealers. Factory production rebounded from weakness in the prior survey period, and high-tech and transportation services firms reported continued growth. District bankers reported weaker loan demand but increased deposits and improved loan quality. Weak home sales and expanded inventory levels further pressured single-family home prices, while commercial real estate activity remained slow but stable. Activity in the energy sector was robust as drilling expanded in most District states. Conditions in agriculture were generally strong. Rising input costs were reported in several sectors, but wage pressures were limited to select industries and occupations.

Consumer Spending

District tourism visitor counts were generally up, especially at Colorado mountain resorts, but were slowed by wildfires and drought in northern New Mexico. District hoteliers reported increased occupancy and daily room rates.

Real Estate and Construction

Excess inventory weighed on single-family home prices, while commercial real estate remained weak but stable. Real estate firms reported flat existing home sales, higher home inventory, and lower home prices in June and early July. Contacts reported an increased share of existing home purchases by investors in all-cash transactions. Expectations for improvement in the housing sector were subdued. Home builders reported little new construction activity but noted increased buyer traffic. Entry-level homes sold well, along with high-end homes in some Colorado mountain resort communities.

Wages, Prices and Inflation

District contacts reported only limited wage pressures but noted additional upward pressure on input prices. Labor shortages and wage pressures were reported in the retail sector and for select occupations in the high-tech, energy, and transportation sectors. In addition, several contacts expected future non-wage employment costs to rise as a result of increased state unemployment insurance premiums. Manufacturers reported continued upward pressure on input costs; slightly fewer manufacturers reported increased finished product prices.

Housing News Digest, July 27

Commissioners agree to sponsor Centennial grant application
STERLING -- The Logan County Commissioners delayed their public hearing on a proposed Colorado Division of Housing grant application on behalf of Centennial Mental Health on Tuesday until representatives could arrive. They later opened the hearing when the representatives arrived but there were no comments from the public attending.

Regional Housing Alliance makes homeownership real
It is a great time to buy a home in La Plata County, and the Regional Housing Alliance of La Plata County can be an important partner throughout the process.

Condos and homes are now affordable for many of us who thought we could never own a home. If you have ever wondered whether you could afford to buy and have one hour to spare, United Way of Southwest Colorado encourages you to visit with the amazing staff at the Regional Housing Alliance to learn how the process can work for you and your family.

Banks closing in Colorado at unprecedented pace
Even as the economy continues to show tepid improvement, more Colorado banks have failed this year than in the past two years combined, and perhaps more since the savings and loan debacle in the 1980s.

Four of the banks had presences in Fort Collins, Loveland or Windsor, and all but one were acquired by other financial institutions.

The Colorado Division of Banking on Friday closed Greeley-based Bank of Choice; two weeks ago, the state shut down Signature Bank with branches in Windsor.

‘Greening the MLS' will take some time
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado — Area real estate listings now include information about energy efficiency improvements, indoor air quality and whether sustainable building materials were used during construction.

MBA: Mortgage Purchase Application Index Lowest Since February

The Refinance Index decreased 5.5 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 3.8 percent from one week earlier.
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 4.57 percent from 4.54 percent, with points increasing to 1.14 from 0.98 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ratio loans.

Colorado Springs apartment rents hit all-time high, climb 5.5 percent

Click here for the report.

The average rent in the Colorado Springs metro area hit a new high during the second quarter of 2011, climbing 5.5 percent, year over year, to $759. According to a new report on apartment rents and vacancies, released today by the Colorado Division of Housing and the Apartment Association of Southern Colorado, the average rent for the region was up from $719 reported during the second quarter of 2010, and was up from 2011’s first quarter average rent of $737.

The median rent also hit an all-time high of $740 during the second quarter, rising from 2010’s second-quarter median rent of $684.

The average rent increased in all types of apartments measured, including all types of units from efficiency apartments to three-bedroom apartments.

The average rent also increased in all sub-markets measured during the second quarter except in Security/Widefield/Fountain where the average rent dropped from $615 to $577, year over year. The average rent in the Northwest region of Colorado Springs, on the other hand, increased 67 dollars from $765 during last year’s second quarter, to $832 during the same period this year.

“The second quarter of this year continues a trend of solid rent growth in the area,” said Gordon Von Stroh, a professor of business at the University of Denver, and the report’s author. “Growth in both the average rent and the median rent has outpaced inflation over the past year, so we’re seeing some real growth which was expected now that many vacancy rates in the area have been cut in half over the past couple of years.”

Average rents for all market areas were: Northwest, $832; Northeast, $727; Far Northeast, $848, Southeast, $673; Security/Widefield/Fountain, $577; Southwest, $781; Central, $720.

The apartment vacancy rate in the Colorado Springs metro area rose to 6.4 percent during the second quarter of 2011, rising from 2010’s second-quarter vacancy rate of 5.8 percent. The second-quarter rate increased from this year’s first quarter rate which was also 5.8 percent, and a ten-year low.

The vacancy rate declined in the Northwest, Northeast and Central areas of Colorado Springs, while the vacancy rate increased in Far Northeast, Southeast, Southwest and the Security/Widefield/Fountain area.

Vacancy rates for all market areas were: Northwest, 5.8 percent; Northeast, 5.4 percent; Far Northeast, 7.5 percent, Southeast, 9.0 percent; Security/Widefield/Fountain, 15.0 percent; Southwest, 4.8 percent; Central, 4.3 percent.

Apartment Realty Advisors is also a major sponsor of this report. The Vacancy and Rent Surveys are a service provided by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Colorado Division of Housing and the Apartment Association of Southern Colorado to renters and the multi-family housing industry on a quarterly basis. The Colorado Springs Area Vacancy and Rent Survey reports averages and, as a result, there are often differences in rental and vacancy rates by size, location, age of building, and apartment type. For more information, please see the Division of Housing’s economics blog at

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Among the states, Colorado posts 23rd highest unemployment rate

According to the BLS press release:

Regional and state unemployment rates were little changed in June. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia registered unemployment rate increases, 8 states recorded rate decreases, and 14 states had no rate change, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Thirty-nine states posted unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, eight states and the Dis of Columbia reported increases, and three states had no change. The national jobless rate was little changed at 9.2 percent, but was 0.3 percentage point lower than a year earlier.

22 states reported unemployment rates that were higher than Colorado's, including California, Nevada, Florida, Michigan and Washington State.

Colorado's unemployment rate has moved below the national rate for the third month in a row following a three month period(January-March 2011) during which Colorado's unemployment rate was higher than the nation's. Prior to January 2011, the unemployment rate in Colorado had been below the national rate for several years.

The graph shows a comparison between the two rates since 2006:

The unemployment rate in Colorado fell slightly from May to June, falling to 8.5 from 8.7 percent, according to the seasonally-adjusted numbers. The national rate rose slightly from 9.1 percent to 9.2 percent during the same period.

The BLS map below shows state by state comparisons.

Within the Rocky Mountain region, Colorado has the third highest unemployment rate:
Arizona, 9.3%
Colorado, 8.5%
Idaho, 9.4%
Montana, 7.5%
New Mexico, 6.8%
Utah, 7.4%
Wyoming, 5.9%

With Colorado's unemployment rate below the national rate, Colorado may continue to be seen as a desirable location for job seekers. This may in turn impact overall household formation in Colorado and the demand for housing.

Colorado remains in the middle of the pack when it comes to statewide unemployment rates. At the regional level, however, Colorado contains some metro areas that have unemployment rate well below the national rate, such as the Boulder area and the Fort Collins area.

Housing starts in West at 33-month high, multifamily starts make gains

Housing starts in the West Census region of the US, which includes Colorado, were up 26 percent from June 2010 to June 2011, counting both single-family and multi-family units. According to new housing construction and housing starts data released today by the US Census Bureau, there were approximately 13,700 housing units started in the West during June 2011. Of the new units started, 8,900 were single-family structures and 4,800 were structures containing more than one housing unit.

Nationally, housing starts rose 16 percent during the same period, with total housing starts rising to a total of 62,900.

Total housing starts remain well below peak levels both nationally and in the West. June 2011 housing starts in the West were 76 percent below the peak reached during May 2004. Nationally, June 2011 was 68 percent below peak levels. The national peak in housing starts was reached during May 2005.

Multifamily starts have rebounded more than single-family starts. In the West, single-family starts are 81 percent below peak levels while multifamily starts are only 29 percent below peak levels.

The West census region includes California, so given the size of the West census region, the fact that total housing starts are at 13,700 indicates that new home construction continues to be very light throughout the region. Housing starts totals ranging from 35,000 to 45,000 were common from 2004 to 2006.

The first graph shows the difference between single-family starts and starts for structures with more than one housing unit. Both remain near ten-year lows, and single-family starts fell 5.3 percent from June 2010 to June 2011. Starts for structures with more than one unit, however, increased by 242 percent during the same period, rising from 1,400 units during June 2010, to 4,800 units during June of this year. Given recent data showing strength in the demand for rental-housing, the housing starts data may suggest that developers of rental housing are beginning to move forward with construction of new multifamily structures.

The second graph shows month-by-month comparisons in housing starts for each year in the West. June's housing starts total increased from May to June as was expected. June tends to be a robust month for new housing starts. However, the June 2011 total of 13,700 starts is the third-lowest total for June housing starts in more than 10 years. On the other hand, June produced the largest number of housing starts reported in any month since October 2008 suggesting that stability may be returning to the market for new construction.

More sustained growth was visible in starts for structures with more than one housing unit. June was the fourth month in a row in which growth in multifamily starts has been significant. As can be seen in the third graph, the June 2001 multifamily total for starts has greatly exceeded the totals for both 2009 and 2010. With the exception of July 2010, June 2011's total for multifamily starts is the largest total since August 2008, before the 2008 financial panic.

This data suggests that multifamily starts have established a clear growth trend over the past several months, and given the demand for rental housing as an alternative to home ownership, this trend is poised to continue.

NAR: Home prices in U.S. West rise 9.5 percent

Home prices in the West region of the U.S., which includes Colorado, rose 9.5 percent from June 2010 to June 2011. According to new existing home sales data, recently released by the National Association of Realtors, home prices rose more in the West than in any other region. The median home price in the Midwest, for example, fell 5.3 percent from June 2010 to June 2011.

The first graph shows median home prices for all regions plus the U.S. The median home price in the West surged above the annual median prices in the West for 2009 and 2010, but remains below the annual median price for 2008. The median price in the west during June 2011, rose well above the median prices reported during all months of the previous year, rising to $240,400. During June of 2010, the median price for the region was $219,600.

This is a very large and uncharacteristic increase in the West, and tends to contradict recent trends which show much more subdued increases. As a regional number, it does suggest that demand in many areas of the region, such as California and Arizona, may be experiencing some substantial increase in demand, but a trend has not been established at this point.

Nationally, home prices rose 0.8 percent, year over year.

Home sales transactions (closings) fell 2.6 percent in the West region, which was the smallest drop in home sales closings of any region, year-over-year. Home sales dropped 16 percent in the Northeast from June 2010 to June 2011, and closings fell by 8.8 percent nationally during the same period.

The second graph shows closings by region. Closings have grown for the past four months, largely driven by seasonal factors, but June 2011 closings remain below June 2010 levels. All regions showed declines in the year-over-year comparisons for June.

Much of this can be attributed to the closings left over from the rush to purchase properties under the homebuyer tax credit. To take advantage of the tax credit, properties needed to be under contract by April 2010. June 2010's closings reflect this. So, it is to be expected that closings are down in June compared to one year earlier.

Nevertheless, both home purchase activity and median prices remain below the peak levels experienced during 2009.

Note, see the most recent Colorado median home price and closings data from the Colorado Assoc. of Realtors, for more local sales activity and median prices.

The NAR tends to be the most optimistic among the various reports on home prices and home sales activity. The most recent Case-Shiller data, although only through May, suggests continued declines in prices.

Mass layoffs down 27 percent during first half of 2011 in Colorado

Mass layoff events fell 27 percent to 54 events during the first half of 2011 in Colorado. There were 74 mass layoff events during the same period last year. According to a new report released last week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 9 mass layoff events during June 2011, which is down 35 percent from the 14 events reported during June of last year.

Monthly mass layoff events grew rapidly after October 2008 in Colorado, and have gradually lessened since early 2010.

Nationally, mass layoff events decreased 10 percent from 1,861 during June 2010 to 1,661 during June of this year.

In the year-to-date total for June, mass layoffs have now fallen two years in a row after peaking at 97 mass layoffs during the first half of 2009. The second graph shows year-to-date totals for June since 2001:

Mass layoffs were rare from 2004 through most of 2008.

Overall, the most recent mass layoffs data suggests that the employment situation continues to stabilize. New layoffs continue to lessen, but as we've seen in the most recent employment data, job growth continues to disappoint.

New jobless claims

New claims for unemployment insurance rose year over year in June by 42 percent to 708 in June 2011. There were 1,237 new claims during June of last year. New claims for unemployment insurance have also gradually fallen since early 2010. Nationally, new claimants fell 6.5 percent during the same period.

As can be seen in the third graph, year-over-year changes in new unemployment claims points toward more and more stability in the labor markets as most year-over-year changes has been below zero since late 2009.

In year-to-date totals for new unemployment claims through June, totals are down 20 percent year over year. There were 5,695 new claims during the first half of 2011, compared to 7,163 new claims during the same period last year. In the year-to-date total for June, new claims for unemployment insurance have now fallen two years in a row after peaking at 8,919 claims during the first half of 2009. The last graph shows year-to-date totals for June since 2001:

The year-over-year comparisons clearly show that both new claims and mass layoffs are down from both 2009 and 2010 so far this year. However,total employment in Colorado is still 179,000 jobs below peak levels. New layoffs and new unemployment claims continue to fall, but there is little job creation going on at the same time to provide for re-entry into the workforce. The fact that recent layoffs are such a small portion of the total number of jobless persons suggests that those people who are unemployed have been unemployed for an extended period of time. (The most recent Colorado employment data states that there are 234,477 unemployed workers in Colorado.)

Colorado loses 7,500 jobs in June, unemployment rate declines

Colorado lost 7,559 jobs in June 2011 compared to June of last year, but the non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate fell year-over-year from 8.9 percent to 8.7 percent. According to the most recent employment data released by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, total employment in June, not seasonally adjusted, fell to 2.453 million jobs. There were 13,788 fewer people in the work force during June, compared to June 2010, which contributed to the decline in the unemployment rate.

From June 2010 to June 2011, total employment fell 0.3 percent, while the labor force shrank 0.5 percent. The total labor force in May included 2.687 million workers.

As can be seen in the second graph, total employment and total workforce size have decreased month-over-month, and both remain down in year-over-year comparisons. Both remain well below the July 2008 peak.

The employment total is 179,000 jobs below the peak levels experienced during July 2008 when there were 2.63 million employed workers. Compared to the labor force peak in July 2008, the labor force is now down by more than 79,000 workers.

In the third graph is shown the year-over-year comparisons, by percent, for total employment. Not since August 2008 has Colorado posted a positive change in total employment when compared to the same month a year earlier. Although overall total employment has increased since January 2010, employment totals remain negative in each year-over-year comparison. The annual declines, however, have generally grown smaller in recent months. The last four months (March, April, May and June 2011) have shown some of the the smallest year-over-year drops in employment since September 2008 when total employment fell 0.3 percent from the previous September.

The graph also shows the year-over-change in total employment. Total labor force size has fallen more than employment in the last four months, which helps to explain the drop in the unemployment rate. Although the state has not actually added jobs in the YOY comparisons, the number of people looking for work (as defined by the Household Survey) has declined, pushing the unemployment rate down.

These numbers come from the Household Survey employment data, so the size of the workforce is dependent on the number of people stating that they are actively looking for work if not employed. Discouraged workers who have stopped looking for work are excluded.

Case-Shiller: Denver home price index falls 3.3 percent, year over year

Case-Shiller’s home price index for the Denver area rose 1.4 percent from April to May, and fell 3.3 percent,year over year, from May 2010 to May 2011.

According to the May report from the S&P;/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, including data up through May, many cities measured by the index showed improvement from April to May. The increase largely reflects seasonal factors.

The report noted that there were signs of life in the industry, but that annual comparisons still showed some hesitancy in the markets:

“Other recent housing statistics show that single-family housing starts were up moderately in June, and are at about the same pace as a year ago. Existing-home sales were flat in June, reportedly because of contract cancellations and tight credit. The S&P;/Experian Consumer Credit Default indices showed a continuing decline in mortgage default rates since last winter. Other reports confirm that banks have tightened lending standards in the past year, making it harder to qualify for a mortgage despite very low interest rates.

Combined, these data all support a continuation of the ‘bounce-along-the-bottom’ scenario we have witnessed in the housing market over the past two years. “While the monthly data were encouraging, most MSAs and both Composites fared poorly in annual terms.

In terms of year-over-year comparisons, Denver's market showed a less-small decrease than all but four of the 20 cities measured in the index. Only Washington, D.C. showed a positive increase, with the index rising 1.3 percent. The index dropped in all other cities. Boston, Los Angeles and New York showed slightly smaller declines than Denver, with all three cities' indices falling 3.2 percent.

Phoenix and Tampa reported the largest declines, with the home price index in both cities dropping 9.5 percent.

The first chart shows trends in the Case-Shiller index for the Denver area and for the 20-city composite index. It is clear that Denver did not experience the kind of price bubble that occurred in many other metropolitan areas, and consequently, the index has not fallen nearly as far in Denver compared to the larger composite. Prices have been largely flat since mid-2009.

The 20-city composite is down 32.3 percent since it peaked in July 2006, but the Denver index is down only 11.6 percent from its August 2006 peak.

Nevertheless, the Denver index has returned to 2003 levels. In addition, the Denver Index remains near the lowest level experienced since July 2009, and is now 3.1 percent above where it was when it hit its initial recessionary trough in March 2009. The Denver Index was 124.00 during May 2011, and it was 123.78 during May 2009.

The second chart compares year-over-year changes in the Denver area index and in the 20-city composite. The Denver index did not achieve the rates of growth experienced by the national index, but the Denver index did not experience comparable rates of decline following the onset of the national recession either. Overall, the index has been less volatile in Denver than has been the case for the 20-city composite. However, year-over-year growth in the 20-city composite during May was negative with a decrease of 4.0 percent, and the Denver area index’s fall of 3.3 percent is the eleventh month in a row in which the growth rate has been negative. In the 20-city index, the year-over-year change has only been negative for the most recent eight months.

The last chart provides a closer look at year-over-year changes in the Denver index. Note that for July through May, the change has fallen below zero, and reflects the end of the homebuyer tax credit’s end which has led to a fall in demand and a decline in the home price index. The upward trend in the index in response to the tax credit is clear during late 2009 and early 2010.

In recent months, the Denver index has been slightly above the indices for the same months of 2009. Comparisons with the same period of 2010 is problematic given the large effects of the end of the tax credit. Comparing to 2009, we see that prices have still moved little since the first half of 2009 when the index was in the 120-123 range. During the first half of 2011, the Denver index has been in the 122-124 range, signalling very limited growth over the past two years.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Housing News Digest, July 26

Denver-area apartment vacancies at 10-year low
That rate was 21 percent lower than the 6.1 percent vacancy rate for the second quarter of 2010, and also lower than the 5.5 percent rate for the first quarter of this year.

“Once the market hits that 5 percent level, that’s generally the equilibrium level,” said Gordon Von Stroh, report author and professor of business at the University of DenverbizWatch.

Senior housing project receives grant
LAFAYETTE - A senior housing project in Lafayette will receive a $550,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

The Boulder County Housing Authority will receive the money for its Josephine Commons project, which will build 44 one-bedroom units and 30 two-bedroom units.

Metro-area apartment vacancies hit 10-year low, pushing rents up
The rents at Green's complex have soared — anywhere from $110 to $135 a month more than what she paid.

She has friends from the Crested Butte/Gunnison area who recently wanted to move to Denver. But rental rates have risen so much they can't afford it.

Green's analysis is supported by a report released Monday that said apartment vacancies in the metro area have fallen to a 10-year low in the second quarter of 2011, with a vacancy rate of 4.8 percent.

Boulder, Denver metro rental vacancies at 10-year-low
Boulder and Broomfield counties -- considered in the report as one market -- posted a vacancy rate of 4.6 percent and average monthly rents of $1,016.15, the highest in the six-county metro area. The Boulder region had a vacancy rate of 4.9 percent during the comparable quarter last year, and its average monthly rent was $995.07.

The Boulder region's multifamily market, like much of the rental market in the surrounding Denver metro area, grew more constricted as a result of pressures from the economic downturn, a population boom among young adults and in-migration, said Gordon Von Stroh, professor of management at the University of Denver and an author of the quarterly report.

CMU feeling the housing pinch
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Colorado Mesa University continues to grow each year but with high enrollment, the college is having to rethink and redistribute housing for incoming students.

Freshman year of college is an exciting but nerve-racking experience--especially if you have no where to live.

"It's totally possible we'll have every student-- have a room for every student on opening day,” says Vice President for Student Services John Marshall.

Housing News Digest, July 25

Government Considers Ways to Rent Foreclosed Homes
The Obama administration is examining ways to pull foreclosed properties off the market and rent them to help stabilize the housing market, according to people familiar with the matter.

While the plans may not advance beyond the concept phase, they are under serious consideration by senior administration officials because rents are rising even as home prices in many hard-hit markets continue to fall due to high foreclosure levels.

Met Denver apartment vacancies drop to lowest level in a decade
Apartment vacancies in the Denver metro area fell to a 10-year low in the second quarter, dropping to the lowest vacancy rate since the first quarter of 2001, according to a report released Monday.

The vacancy rate fell to 4.8 percent with apartment vacancy rates falling 21 percent year-over-year from last year's second-quarter rate of 6.1 percent, accord to the Apartment Association of Metro Denver and the Colorado Division of Housing.

Denver area vacancies hit a 10-year low
The Denver area trend is similar to what's happening around the nation, according to a Housing Market Insights report from Morgan Stanley (MS: 23.58 -1.34%) last week. Morgan Stanley researchers noted consumers shaken by mortgage delinquencies, foreclosures and liquidations are gradually becoming renters in today's marketplace.

Bank of Choice gets taken over
Bank of Choice, Greeley's largest locally owned bank, was seized by regulators Friday, just two weeks after authorities took over a failed Windsor bank.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. worked out a purchase agreement with a Kansas City, Mo., holding company for Bank of Choice. Bank customers at all 17 branches, including the two Greeley locations, 7251 20th St., and 3780 10th St., will have normal access to their accounts and bank services, according to the FDIC. The bank will continue normal operating hours today under the direction of National Bank Holding Corp. The bank's name will not change.

: Real estate market still faces challenges

Halfway through 2011, key sectors of the Pikes Peak region’s real estate market continue to struggle.

Sure, there are occasional positive signs — such as low home prices and mortgage rates that have attracted buyers — and some real estate industry experts are cautiously optimistic better times are ahead.

Metro Denver apartment vacancies fall to ten-year low

Click here for full summary.

The apartment vacancy rate in the Denver metro area fell to 4.8 percent in the second quarter, dropping to the lowest vacancy rate recorded since the first quarter of 2001. According to a report released Monday by the Apartment Association of Metro Denver and the Colorado Division of Housing, apartment vacancy rates fell 21 percent year-over-year from last year’s second-quarter rate of 6.1 percent. The vacancy rate was also down from 2010’s first-quarter rate of 5.5 percent. The vacancy rate generally falls from the first to the second quarter as a result of seasonal factors.

As vacancy rates moved down, the area’s median rent increased. During the second quarter of 2011, the median rent in metro Denver rose to $863.37, increasing 2.5 percent from 2010’s second-quarter median rent of $842.70. In county-level market areas, the median rent rose in Adams, Arapahoe and Jefferson counties, but fell slightly in Denver County, Douglas County and the Boulder/Broomfield area. The region with the largest year-over-year increase in median rent was Arapahoe County with an increase of 4 percent from $806.11 to $838.79. The largest decline was found in Denver County where the median rent fell 1.6 percent from $814.14 during 2010’s second quarter to $800.94 during this year’s first quarter.

Although market rents increased in many areas over the past year, rental losses due to concessions, discounts and delinquencies rose slightly. Rental losses rose to 11.4 percent during the second quarter of 2011, rising from 2010’s second-quarter rate of 9.6 percent.

2011’s second-quarter vacancy rates by county were Adams, 5.2 percent; Arapahoe, 5.5 percent; Boulder/Broomfield, 4.6 percent; Denver, 4.1 percent; Douglas, 3.8 percent; Jefferson, 4.5 percent.

Median rents for all counties were: Adams, $863.85; Arapahoe, $838.79; Boulder/Broomfield, $969.13; Denver, $800.94; Douglas, $1015.33; and Jefferson, $813.50.

The Vacancy and Rent Surveys are a service provided by the Apartment Association of Metro Denver and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Division of Housing to renters and the multi-family housing industry on a quarterly basis. The Colorado Vacancy and Rent Survey reports averages and, as a result, there are often differences in rental and vacancy rates by size, location, age of building, and apartment type. The full report is available through the Apartment Association of Metro Denver at; and limited information is available online at the Division of Housing web site:

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Are You Covered?: Renters Insurance Guide from DORA

The best time to review your renters of homeowners policy is before disaster strikes. This brochure from the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) is a tool to help consumers answer common questions about finding the right insurance policies to cover their home and possessions.

Click here for the brochure from DORA.

$2,500,000 in NSP funds awarded to Adams County

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs has announced that $2,500,000.00 in Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds has been awarded to Adams County for the following project:

Adams County Housing Authority (ACHA) has been awarded an NSP3 grant of $2,500,000 for the acquisition, onsite infrastructure and construction of the land at 88th and Welby Road in Thornton. This property will be known as Welby Station and is next to the site of the future north line of the light rail. Welby Station Apartments will be developed in two phases, the first which shall be approximately 119 units of affordable and mixed-income apartments rented to households with incomes at or below 120% of Area Median Income (AMI). 85 units or 71% percent of these funds must serve households having incomes at or below 50% of AMI. This Project will benefit the State by stabilizing communities through the purchase, rehabilitation and rental of abandoned or foreclosed properties. The units will be located within a Division of Housing (DOH) designated census block group(s) serving one of the areas of HUD-designated NSP 3 greatest need within the State. This project is the first of a two phase development project and will be built to Enterprise Green Communities standards and will include amenities such as washer-dryers and dishwashers. Site amenities will include clubhouse, pool and playground.

$550,000 awarded for new construction in Boulder County

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs has announced that $550,000.00 in HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) funds has been awarded to Boulder County for the following project:

The Boulder County Housing Authority (BCHA) has been awarded a grant of $550,000 for the new construction of 74 units of senior rental housing at Josephine Commons located in the City of Lafayette, Boulder County. The project consists of 44 one-bedroom and 30 two-bedroom units and will be financed with 9 percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. It will serve senior households earning less than 60% of area median income, with 15% of the units dedicated to households earning less than 30% of AMI. BCHA will coordinate supportive services for the residents, including transportation, nutrition education and counseling, and diabetes support groups through its collaboration with the Boulder County Aging Services Department.

The Long-Term Care Advisory Committee is currently accepting applications

The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance (HCPF) of behalf of Colorado was awarded a five-year $22 million federal grant to implement the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program in Colorado. MFP is a federal grant to build and improve the infrastructure that supports home and community-based services (HCBS) for people of all ages with long-term care needs.
The vision of the project is to transform long-term care services and support from facility-based and provider-driven care, to person-centered and consumer-directed, community-based care with the primary goal of transitioning nearly 500 people back into the community.

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Division of Housing and Department of Health Care Policy and Finance are currently working on an Inter Agency Agreement to create a multifaceted housing strategy over the next six years to expand housing options and access to housing for these individuals.

The (HCPF) Long-Term Care Advisory Committee is currently accepting applications for membership. If you are interested in applying, please access the Boards and Committees. This committee will serve as the steering committee for MFP.

Application and Information can be found at:;=1220351442908&pagename;=HCPF%2FHCPFLayout

If you have specific questions or you would like to know more how your agency can participate in the MFP initiative, please contact me directly [email protected]

Friday, July 22, 2011

Housing News Digest, July 22

San Diego’s Affordable Housing
The $44 million apartment project will cost an average of $477,743 per unit, 90 percent of which will be paid by taxpayers. That’s twice what private developers say they’re spending to develop high-end apartments in the city today.

Local real estate market showing signs of growth
The boom times aren’t back yet, but some realtors say they are seeing signs of improvement in the local housing market. More people seem willing to look at houses lately than they did a year ago at this time.

Pamela Kenton is a broker/agent with Southern Colorado Realty who said she has sold several houses in recent months. Sale prices on those homes varied widely, between $45,000 and $300,000.

“We have had a better spring and summer this year than we did last year,” Kenton said.

The average list price for a home in Trinidad was $164,000 as of the week ending July 12, according to figures available on the website

Denver median home inventory lowest in U.S.

The median age of Denver’s house inventory was the lowest of 146 metropolitan statistical areas tracked by in June, the third consecutive Denver could be described as the fastest selling housing market in the nation, using this measure.

While the median age of inventory is not a frequently cited metric, in recent months it has been used as a proxy for the sales velocity of homes by some real estate observers and analysts, which have anointed Denver as the fastest selli home market in the country, based on Denver’s No. 1 ranking using this calculation. However, the age of inventory should not be confused with the more common method of tracking how long it takes to sell a home, the average number of days on the market.

NAI Shames Makovsky adds division
Colorado commercial real estate firm NAI Shames Makovsky added a third-party property management division, the company announced.

Construction permits issued for Kent Place

Englewood has issued permits needed in order for construction to begin on roads, utilities and grading for the Kent Place project.

“The developer plans to begin on- and off-site road and utility work by mid-August,” Rick Kahm, public works director, told the city council at the July 18 meeting. “The off-site road work on University and Hampen required approval from the Colorado Department of Transportation and from Arapahoe County respectively. The city would not issue permits until those agencies approved the road work. Since we have now received written approval from each of the agencies, the contractors received their permits earlier today.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Housing News Digest, July 20

Panel: Denver commercial real estate poised for rebound
All three commercial real estate market sectors in metro Denver stand poised for a rebound, some quicker than others, a panel of experts said Tuesday at the Colorado chapter of the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association’s annual mid-year forecast event.

Forest City writes check to Urban Peak
Forest City Stapleton, Inc. announced today it will make a $54,600 contribution to Urban Peak, representing the gross proceeds of ticket sales for the recent tours of the 2011 HGTV Green Home at Stapleton.

Urban Peak is a Denver-based nonprofit organization that provides a variety of services including shelter and meals, education, employment, housing, and medical care to help homeless young people.

Existing Home Sales in June: 4.77 million SAAR, 9.5 months of supply
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, declined 0.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.77 million in June from 4.81 million in May, and remain 8.8 percent below the 5.23 million unit level in June 2010, which was the scheduled closing deadline for the home buyer tax credit.

On Track for Record Low Housing Completions in 2011
The Commerce Department reported that US manufactured housing shipments ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 48,000 in May, up slightly from April’s 46,000, but still an incredibly low pace by historical standards.
Total housing production in 2011 should fall south of 600,000 units, compared to the 2.092 million housing units that came on line in 2006.

Survey Uncovers "Optimism" Among Counseled Distressed Homeowners
A number of government and industry studies indicate housing counseling increases the odds a distressed borrower will receive a loan modification or workout plan, and in many cases, counseling brings with it better, more sustainable terms.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Housing News Digest, July 19

Keepin' It Cool: How the Air Conditioner Made Modern America
Before air conditioning, in a bygone and surely less comfortable era, people employed all sorts of strategies for keeping cool in the heat. Houses were designed with airflow in mind -- more windows, higher ceilings. A style once prevalent in the American south, the dogtrot house, was really two smaller cabins -- one for cooking and the other for living -- connected under one roof with an open-air corridor between them. In addition, many homes had porches where families could spend a hot day, and also sleeping porches with beds where they could ride out a hot night. Many home designs took passive solar design principles into account, even if they didn't name them as such.

'Robo-signing' foreclosures haven't gone away
America's leading mortgage lenders vowed in March to end the dubious foreclosure practices that caused a bruising scandal last year.
But a Reuters investigation finds that many are still taking the same shortcuts they promised to shun, from sketchy paperwork to the use of "robo-signers."

Loan Lottery Could Save Homeowners In Foreclosure
Homeowners who are at least 90 days late on their payments and at risk of foreclosure because of unemployment, wage reductions, underemployment or a medical condition could get up to $50,000 to cover a portion of their monthly mortgage payment for up to two years. The money can also be used to pay missed monthly payments or past due charges including principal, interest, taxes and insurance

Residential listings down in Northern Colorado
LOVELAND - New data compiled by Information and Real Estate Services shows that residential listings are down in all three Northern Colorado areas surveyed - Loveland/Berthoud, Greeley/Evans, and Fort Collins - but median sales prices are up 1.5 percent in the Greeley/Evans area.

In Fort Collins, year-over-year listings of single-family detached properties from June 2010 to June 2011 have decreased 8.9 percent from 1,595 to 1,425; in the Loveland/Berthoud area, listings have decreased 11.6 percent from 1,101 to 973; and the Greeley/ Evans area experienced a 20.4 percent decrease from 710 listings to 565.

Brumit is sentenced to 6 years
A well-known Fort Collins real estate agent and sports booster was sentenced to six years in the Department of Corrections on Monday following his conviction for securities fraud in connection with a Ponzi scheme.

Jerry Brumit had pleaded guilty to two counts of investment fraud in May, and was sentenced by Judge Dave Williams on Monday after a lengthy, tearful hearing at which investors recounted the financial toll the losses have taken.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Housing New Digest July 18

BofA reports worst ever loss, margins shrink
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Bank of America Corp reported a record quarterly loss -- $8.8 billion -- as low interest rates squeezed lending margins at the largest U.S. bank.
The loss was widely expected after the bank said in June it settled with mortgage bond investors for $8.5 billion and was taking more than $14 billion of other home loan-related charges in the quarter.
But the bank's results, including its shrinking interest income, underscore the difficulties Chief Executive Brian Moynihan faces even if the bank moves past its mortgage problems. The bank's shares were down 2.8 percent, or 28 cents, at $9.44 in midday trading.

Firm picked to fill space Borders is vacating
DJM Realty of Melville, N.Y., has been retained to manage the disposition of the Borders Group real estate in the United States, which includes seven stores in Colorado. The closing of Borders leaves property owners with sizable vacant spaces, including 28,123 square feet at the Park Meadows mall.

Summary Box: Apartments drove June construction gains, but housing market remains weak
JUNE SURGE: Builders broke ground on a seasonally adjusted 629,000 homes last month, a 14.6 percent increase from May. Still, that is roughly half the 1.2 million homes per year that economists say must be built to sustain a healthy housing market.

APARTMENT GAINS: Apartment and condo construction jumped more than 30 percent last month. Renting has become a preferred option for many Americans who lost their jobs and were forced to leave their homes.

RPT-Behind foreclosure corner-cutting, troves of missing documents
NEW YORK, July 18 (Reuters) - Why have sketchy mortgage procedures been so difficult to root out? Some lawyers blame misguided efforts to cut costs. Most foreclosures are uncontested, they note. And so servicers save money by avoiding costly searches for missing original documents or hiring additional staff to deal with the surge in foreclosures.

Huge Jump in Housing Starts Does Not Point to Solid Recovery

Miller Tabak's Peter Boockvar provided that: "Bottom line, I repeat again that we don't need an increase in single family housing starts with a 9.3 month inventory to sales ratio of existing homes, but hopefully the pace of permits will prove the June jump as being an outlier (admittedly, the pace is still extremely depressed). Multi-family is where the housing construction benefits are being seen, and that will be the case for years to come."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Internship Opening: Communications and Research at CDOH

The Colorado Division of Housing (CDOH) is an agency of the State of Colorado. CDOH provides financial assistance to local governments and non-profits through grants and loans that may be used to finance the construction and rehabilitation of housing.

The Division of Housing also provides statistical data and research on real estate and demographics to the public, the governor’s office and the Colorado legislature.

CDOH seeks an intern for the fall semester to assist the Division’s communications director. The intern will assist with writing and proofreading of press releases, providing content for the division’s blog ( and social media outlets, and will assist with other communications and media-relations activities. This is an unpaid position.

When necessary, the intern will assist with the preparation of materials for legislative committees and staff and for media requests. The intern will assist the communications director at speaking engagements and meetings with policymakers and legislative staff.

The intern will have the opportunity to observe key division activities such as meetings of the State Housing Board and other public policy-related events and activities. Interns will become familiar with virtually all aspects of public affairs that impact the division including media pitches, developing research for public media releases, intergovernmental relations, interest groups, legislation, lobbying, and constituent services.

The ideal candidate will have excellent verbal and writing skills, an interest in business media and fiscal policy, and will have at least basic skills in using Microsoft Excel.

Please visit the division’s web sites for more information: and

To apply, contact the communications director here.

Consumer prices in June in western U.S. climb 3.1 percent

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released today the June CPI for US urban areas and regions. In the West region, from June 2010 to June 2011, the CPI increased 3.1 percent. This is the second-largest year-over-year increase since 2008, before the deflationary effects of the 2007-2009 recession began to be felt.

In the first graph, we can see that the CPI growth in June 2011 is now at the third-highest increase observed for June during the past ten years. Only 2006 and 2008 showed larger increases, and price increases in those years were partially countered by strong growth in employment and incomes, but at the present time, income growth has been flat in recent years, as discussed here.

The price increases are being largely driven by transportation costs, such as gasoline, which increased by 10.2 percent, year over year. Food costs also increased significantly, rising 3.6 percent. Price increases in housing have begun to inch up with June's year-over-year increase at 1.2 percent. Housing costs to consumers will likely move upward as rent increases in the face of building demand and little new construction.

Recent price increases will impact household calculations and attitudes on spending as many households conclude that discretionary spending will need to be scaled back in the face of increasing food and transportation costs. These price increases come in the face of continued lackluster performance in the labor markets. The most recent regional data, shown here, showed a surge in layoffs and a decline in new hires.

This in turn will have effects on home purchase activity as well. Note: In addition to the issue of disposable income is the issue of interest rates. Should the Federal Reserve conclude that inflation does need to be addressed, the resulting increase in interest rates would also push down home purchase activity. On the other hand, a slowing job market would produce deflationary effects, which would push the fed toward additional monetary easing.

The second graph shows year-over-year changes in CPI for all months since 2002. If current trends continue, CPI growth will return to pre-recession levels in coming months.

Mid-year 2011 Housing Snapshot now available

At four pages, the Housing Snapshot is a very concise summary of recent housing trends. It's published 6 times a year to provide a quick snapshot of housing trends in Colorado for the non-expert.

Click here for the latest report.

Housing News Digest, July 15

Cedar Heights developer in foreclosure
A Colorado Springs real estate company that’s developing home sites in Cedar Heights — one of the city’s most exclusive neighborhoods and home to million-dollar mansions — has been hit with a $5.8 million foreclosure notice.

Regional Housing Alliance puts ownership within reach
Like most of the country, Durango’s foreclosures and falling prices have made home ownership possible for many new buyers. Those with cash can take their pick of the bargains but, for everyone else, Durango’s prices are still too high and loans are now harder to get. Even people with steady jobs and good credit can find the prospect daunting. If you fall into that second group, take heart. Where there’s a will - and a little bit of help from the Regional Housing Alliance - there’s a way.

New apartments for seniors already has waiting list
The Cedar View Apartments Phase II, which opened this spring, provides subsidized housing to people who are 62 or older.

Sarada Leavenworth, division director for Volunteers of America, which runs the complex, said there is a huge need for affordable housing for Durango’s aged.

CDOT may buy foreclosed motel
The Colorado Department of Transportation may move forward with borrowing money from currently funded transportation projects to buy a vacant motel at the corner of 8th Street and Highway 24.
The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments Board of Directors discussed a proposal Wednesday to reallocate a portion of Colorado Department of Transportation money budgeted for purchasing right-of-way properties at the intersection of I-25 and Cimarron Street to fund the purchase of the Express Inn, a vacant motel in foreclosure at 8th Street and Cimarron Street.

UDR plans to sell 15M shares
UDR Inc. , a Colorado apartment operator, will sell 15 million shares of its common stock in an underwritten public offering, the company announced Tuesday.
UDR (NYSE: UDR) also plans to grant the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 2.25 million shares to cover potential overallotments, according to a release.