It’s no surprise that the nation’s sluggish economic recovery may be slowing down the housing market (and visa versa).  But Realtors in Colorado and elsewhere around the country are reporting that mortgage financing and appraisal hurdles are increasingly playing a major role in knocking deals out of escrow and holding back the housing market’s turnaround.

Time magazine reported that 16 percent of all sales contracts failed in July because the buyers could not secure a mortgage, according to figures from the National Association of Realtors. In other words, one out of every seven contracts is going down due to problems that buyers are having getting mortgages. To look at it another way, writer Alison Rogers says, there are tens of thousands of people who are trying to buy homes but can’t because they’re denied a loan.

In her article, Rogers – a Manhattan Realtor and founding editor of the New York Post’s real estate section – concedes that it’s possible that the system is doing its job, and that those denied buyers shouldn’t get loans. “Maybe they’re poor credit risks, or their employment isn’t stable, or they’re trying to overpay for their target properties,” she said. “But I doubt that’s the only thing going on because the percentage of denieds spiked so suddenly, from 4 percent in May to 16 percent in June.”

While July turndowns are steady from June, it does look to Rogers like that quadrupling earlier this summer reflects that, “a credit spigot was shut off very, very suddenly.”

Cash purchasers, on the other hand, haven’t fled the market. Some 29 percent of July sales were all-cash transactions.  NAR reports that “the bulk” of these are investors.  “Those with means, it appears, still believe in housing, perhaps lured by the slump’s relative bargain pricing. (Or they’re fearful of the daily rollercoaster of the global equities markets),” the Time article noted.

Difficulty in securing financing isn’t the only hurdle buyers are facing today. Local Realtors are reporting that surprisingly low appraisals are preventing many sales from going through. Colorado agents aren’t the only ones who are experiencing this issue. The Wall Street Journal, in a recent front-page article, noted Realtors all across the country are running into the same problems.

According to the Journal’s reporters, real estate appraisers, who were criticized by some for being too generous in their property valuations before the housing market fell, may be going overboard in the other direction.

“One of the conclusions from the housing bust: The appraisal system was broken,” the Journal said. “One of the conclusions some have drawn from the struggling recovery since then: The appraisal system is still broken, but in a different way. There is little doubt that home values have depreciated sharply in recent years for the most basic of economic reasons: excess supply of homes on the market and weak demand. But some realtors, home-sellers and economists believe low-ball appraisals also are undermining a housing recovery.”

The Journal said some real estate professionals believe that lenders are pressuring appraisers to come in with lower estimates. Banks also are using less-experienced appraisers, who often don’t appreciate factors that make a home worth more, they say. And valuations are being heavily influenced by distressed sales priced at a discount to the rest of the market.

Lenders are “instructing appraisers to be a little conservative, and that responsibility on the one hand is seen as credit tightening and, on the other, as exacerbating the housing problem,” Columbia Business School economist Chris Mayer told the Journal.  A research paper last year titled “How Much Is That Home Really Worth?” by economist Leonard Nakamura at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, cited a downward bias in appraisals.

In talking with Coldwell Banker agents around Colorado, there have been many anecdotes about sales being slowed down, renegotiated or even lost due to appraisal and mortgage financing issues. It does seem to be happening more and more these days.

While it’s important for lenders and appraisers to be cautious and prudent given the problems of the past, they also need to be reasonable in their approach and make sure that the pendulum hasn’t swung too far in the other direction. The recovery of the housing market is too important to throw more hurdles in its path

Below is a market-by-market report from our local offices:

Boulder – The last two weeks in August tend to slow down due to parents getting kids back to school.  While the numbers are down when comparing these numbers to two weeks ago they are not significantly down from the same period in 2010.  Only new listings taken are down significantly during the same period in 2011 & 2010.  This is a continuing trend in 2011 of the lowest inventory levels in the past ten years when comparing month to month levels such as August to August.

Colorado Springs – Showings and sales have been staying steady overall.  Most of Colorado Springs’ school districts have started back to school over the past few weeks.  This is keeping listing inventory at a steady level, as buyers have tried to make the transition into the district of choice by now.  Buyers are still in the market to purchase homes with interest rates in the local market still at historic lows for a 30 year loan.  Foreclosure activity has shown a sharp decrease in the Colorado Springs market.  Overall, a very steady Real Estate Market.

Denver Central – It still looks like this market is holding its own.  For the last couple of months everything seems to be pretty steady.  A lot of move-up buyers are still on the fence right now waiting to see what the politicians do and to see what happens with the stock market.

Larimer County – Median sales continue to creep upward with the July median sales price for single family homes in Fort Collins, tipping over $250,000.  With the majority of closed units in the $250,000-$299,000 price range, it is readily apparent that this price point is the hot ticket and stabilizing prices for well-maintained homes in desirable locations.  There are still lots of great deals out there both below & above this range – but the qualified buyers are fewer and farther between.  Investors continue to snap-up investment properties as the rental market continues showing market strength with vacancy rates in the low 6% range.  With the days getting shorter and autumn quickly approaching – there is some great inventory in the marketplace with super-favorable interest rates.  Don’t wait until the newspaper or CNN or Case-Schiller verifies that the market has turned for the better.  It may be too late!!!  Contact your Coldwell Banker agent today for a market snapshot of your home and see where it sits in the current marketplace!

North Metro – The Coldwell Banker North Metro office continues to help buyers & sellers close on homes. Set to close 110 properties in August, which is up slighlty from a year ago at the same time.  40 new homes are on the market in August with prices ranging from $80000 to $1,500,000.  There was a little slow down the first part of August in the number of showings our listings were having.  Was it vacations? Getting the kids back to school?  Not quite sure what to attribute that to, but in the past week we’ve seen an increase in the showing activity & at open houses.  If a home is priced “to sell” in this market, multiple offers are being submitted.

Parker – Finally, there are more homes hitting the market again.  With the increasing listing inventory, the showing activity is going up as well.  Sales activity is holding steady on a higher level than the recent months.  Because of the stable, low interest rates and with the steady buyer activity, values have stabilized in most of Douglas County!  Parker is preparing for the big Ride the Range event, Monday September 12th.  We are expecting the riders around 2:15PM.  What a great experience it will be!

Denver Central – The agents are very busy with buyers.  Believe it or not, there is a lack of good, saleable properties.  When we contact a neighborhood directly with a request to sell to a qualified buyer, there are several responses from potential sellers.  The sellers seem to be hesitant to place their homes on the market, yet they want to sell.  Sellers are encouraged to contact a CB Real Estate agent for a market analysis to see if it makes sense at this time to sell.

That’s it for now!  Make it a great week!

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Maybe it’s just a late spring. That’s one possible explanation for what’s happening in the Colorado housing market. Normally, the real estate market picks up in March, April and May and then takes a breather over the summer for vacations, graduations, weddings and other activities. But this year it seems like that’s being reversed.

After a modest spring, the local housing market has been heating up this summer with strong sales in June and even into July in many areas. Sales activity has been especially robust in the higher end markets.  But even the mid-level market was surprisingly active (more on that below).

An interesting trend emerged from last month’s sales figures: in June, most Colorado markets had a higher number of million-dollar home sales, in some cases the highest since 2008. Some recall that was just weeks before the collapse of Lehman Brothers which sent the financial markets into a tailspin and pushed the economy into the “Great Recession.” Now, three full years later, there’s a much brighter picture for the local housing market.

The high-end of the market is not the only segment doing well. The entry level and mid-level markets have shown solid signs of improvement as summer rolls along.

The only thing holding back the lower end of the Colorado market in many cases has been a lack of inventory. Inventory remains elusive in many markets. Because of the shortage of good, well-priced homes, multiple offers are picking up in many
communities. In nearly every one of our regional markets, there are multiple offers for a well-priced, well-located, and nicely staged home in the entry price level for that market.

Clearly, Colorado’s relatively strong economy, is playing a key role in the housing market.

This all is not to suggest the housing market is completely out of the woods. Real estate is very much a local business. And while many Colorado markets are on the mend, others are still softer than they were a few years ago. And there still is an
overhang of distressed properties that will continue to come on the market as bank owned REO sales in the months ahead.

While the nation’s fragile economy is quite serious, and most recently the stalled talks to come to terms with our national debt limit, the Colorado real estate activity that continues to move forward is one thing to be thankful for.  Coloradans are fortunate to live and work where they do.  The limited housing stock, diverse job base, incredible universities, and great weather are all factors that help homebuyers focus on these terrific home values and low mortgage rates.

Below is a market-by-market report from local offices:

Boulder—Showing numbers have dropped by 33% over the past two week period and the under contracts and pending contract categories have experienced a similar drop.  This is the slow down that takes place every year with families beginning their summer vacations and taking advantage of the extended time off created by the fourth of July holiday weekend.

Colorado Springs—Sales have increased and agents still have a lot of buyers that they are working with. Listings have decreased but a big part of that has to do with sales and the July 4th holiday.  Showings have been steady during the week but very slow on weekends.

Denver Central—It seems that over the recent 4th of July weekend, everyone took the weekend off.  Listings have slowed down the last two weeks. It seems that families are taking vacations & time off. Under contracts are still holding steady which is good.  It appears that the $500,000 has slowed down a bit, but the under $200,000 which show well and are in good condition are
doing well.

Evergreen—Listing inventory has increased with a total of 27 new listings for June, totaling over $13,000,000 and including 11 luxury properties. Showing activity has increased by 50% this last June compared with 300 showings in May.  Selling activity has improved with a total of 16 listings totaling almost $6,500,000 going under contract including four luxury properties. Sixteen buyers have also gone under contract with a total volume of $5,000,000.

Larimer County—June sales for the office will likely fall short of last year’s run-up to the end of the Homebuyer Tax Credit but the open contracts for July demonstrate resilience for our mid-summer sales season. July may end up as Larimer County’s peak sales month as was the norm prior to 2007.  Showings remained at seasonal highs right up until the Independence Day holiday weekend where the numbers fell off dramatically.  Activity is likely to rally back quickly as buyers start thinking about getting into their new home before the start of school in mid-August. The summer heat is upon us & the afternoon monsoon rain pattern has
begun in earnest.  Everything is green & beautiful & for homes that aren’t already on the market – now would be a great time as inventory levels remain substantially below the last several year’s numbers.  Activity has broadened in to the higher price ranges of the three hundreds where earlier in the season sales have been dominated by the under $300,000 price point.  Vacancy rates within the residential rental market remain at stunningly low rates & it appears as though lease rates are inching up with demand outstripping supply. This trend appears likely to remain in place for the next several years.

Parker—Listing inventory has been decreasing which should be theoretically good for home values. However, contracts on our office listings are pouring in and buyers seem to have come out of the closet. The Parker Office has experienced almost a doubling of incoming offers! Are buyers finally getting the message that it is truly an excellent time to purchase a home or invest in property? An agent out of the Parker office that lists property for various banks shared a recent statistic: for every 1 foreclosure listing on the market today, there are 50 in bank inventory. This has the potential to halt any increase in home values and is a great reason for potential sellers to get their property on the market today and avoid that type of competition. The ability to predict the future would come in very handy right about now!

Southeast Metro—Welcome to July! What a June it has been – there has been much better activity as we roll into summer.  With decreasing inventory, there are multiple offers on properties & buyers not getting the homes that they really wanted.  If buyers are
trying to put in a low offer & try to see what the seller will actually sell for, they are losing out.  Buyers must come in as strong as possible on their initial offers.  Sellers would be well advised to get their homes on the market NOW & take advantage of all the motivated buyers out there.  If sellers price their homes correctly, considering condition, location & market statistics for the
neighborhood , they will be very pleased with the results.  In the upper end, there is an increase in buyer activity & homes are moving in this sector also.  Price is so important & sellers would be well advised to choose their agent & the agent’s brokerage with a keen eye to what that agent & the brokerage provide to get the job done.  In this full service world, this choice will
make a huge difference in a successful sale, in a timely manner.  Here’s to a successful summer!

Southwest Metro—Even with the 4th of July weekend, showings were still very good.  There was a tremendous number of
listings over the last two weeks as well as contracts to purchase homes.  Open houses have been very busy as well as floor calls.  There is a good amount of activity in the price ranges between $300,000 to $450,000.  Agents are seeing clients ready to move up to larger homes & are feeling good about the economy & ready to list and buy.  Sellers and Buyers are no longer waiting and are ready, willing and able to move forward.  There is very good and positive activity in the office as well as with clients.

Denver West—The Denver West office is in the summer real estate market frenzy.  Listings that are in show condition & priced for the market are receiving multiple offers.  Many of these homes are priced in the $250,000 to $400,000 price range.  Buyers
have quickly learned that if they love a home, they need to act relatively fast in regards to making an offer.  In addition, they need to make a realistic offer or they risk losing the home to a multiple offer situation.  There have been some situations where listings have gone under contract & have back-up offers as well.  In this situation, the buyers in first place need to be realistic in regards to their inspection notice requests.

Connifer—Listing activity has stabilized with eight new listings for the month of June.  Showing activity has increased 77%
with 165 showings in June compared to only 93 for May.  Six listings went under contract and five buyers went under contract. The majority of showing activity in the HWY 285 corridor is in the $200,000 to $300,000 range.

COLDWELL BANKER PREVIEWS INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTS

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage has done it again! We are extremely pleased to share that Coldwell Banker Previews International has proven itself, once again, to be the leader in luxury home real estate, this time representing the highest known residential real estate brokerage sale in the history of Los Angeles.

CLICK FOR FULL PHOTO GALLERY

Late last week, our very own Sally Forster Jones with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Beverly Hills, co-brokered the sales transaction for the Spelling Manor.

As I’m sure you know, The Manor (as it is known), was built by entertainment royalty Candy and Aaron Spelling and is widely recognized as one of the most famous mansions in U.S. history.

While the details of the transaction itself are closed, more information is available by reading Friday’s Forbes Magazine story.

Time and again, the world’s most affluent call upon Coldwell Banker Previews International to represent them in the sale of their discerning properties. Just consider this:

  • Coldwell Banker Previews International property specialists participated in nearly 13,547 transaction sides of homes priced at $1 million or more in 2010 with a total sales volume of $25 billion

  • On average, Previews handles $68.9 million in luxury home sales every day*

  • In 2010, Coldwell Banker was the only brand to sell one of the Top 10 most expensive homes in the United States – “Le Belvedere” originally listed for $85 million

Previews has a track record of being selected to represent some of the world’s most equisite properties, including 3 out of 5 of the priciest homes in the U.S.**

A mistake that Coldwell Banker sees from time to time is that some consumers think that we’re a bank. Our agents have even shared some funny stories about it on our Facebook page! So we thought it was time to deal with this in a humorous way…

We have partnered with popular comedy website FunnyorDie.com to create new a video series called The Truth! Hosted by comedic actor Alan Thicke and filmed like an “Unsolved Mysteries” episode, The Truth! reveals a common misconception in today’s society and then explains the reality behind the myth – then subtly mentions the fact that Coldwell Banker is not a bank.

The first episode deals with a common mistake about bulls and the color red. There are three episodes in total and one will be released every Monday for the next two weeks. Click here to view the video and be educated by The Truth!

Do you feel now is a good time to buy?

For those who have good credit, a secure job and financial viability, there is no denying that today is the smartest time in my 36 years in real estate to purchase a home. It’s all about I.I.I.P. Inventory, interest rates, incentives and price. In most markets around the nation, home inventory has increased giving buyers a greater choice. At the same time, mortgage rates remain at near historic lows and home prices have seemingly stabilized. 2010 saw median prices increase slightly by 0.2% to $172,900. Prices dropped about 2% in 2007, 9.3% in 2008 and 12.4% in 2009 according to the National Association of Realtors, the first time in history we saw price declines. This has made home affordability the best since at least 1973 and maybe ever.

Still, not everyone should buy a home. Those who are not financially secure or fear job loss, along with those who envision moving within a few years likely should not buy today. Also those who have a lower monthly payment via renting and enjoy having that discretionary income for a variety of reasons like traveling and entertainment should not buy today. But obviously there is a tradeoff and they may not benefit from long-term positive impacts of homeownership.

Are you concerned that first-time homebuyers are no longer in the market since they have propped up housing for back-to-back tax credits?

Absolutely not. There is plenty of pent up demand and there is interest in homeownership. There are currently more than 16 million renters in the U.S. according to NAR, up from more than 11 million in the early 2000s.

Also, household creation is lower meaning that many have put off homeownership.

In fact the 2009 & 2010 federal tax credits did their job and brought first-time homebuyers back into the market. First-time homebuyers in May accounted for 35 percent of all homes purchased. This group bought 46 percent of the homes a year ago at this time during the height of the federal tax credt.

The message has gotten through that now is a smart time to buy because of I.I.I.P. – interest rates are at historical lows, inventory levels are generally high, tax incentives have value and prices decreases seemed to have leveled off in many markets.

But there is still that obvious challenge of consumer confidence and personal financial viability. People need to have jobs and the confidence that they will maintain those jobs.

Do you think people still value the benefits of homeownership?

Homeownership is in our DNA; People don’t say, “When I grow up I want to rent…” We have to understand that home ownership is emotional. While it is an investment, it is an investment in our lifestyle.

Homeownership will also likely return to an investment in our lifestyle. The mid-2000s saw a shift in how we viewed our homes. While my parents never uttered the phrase “home appreciation,” that changed with the housing boom. We became fascinated with the paper gains our homes had made. Today, those who do not have to move are equally disappointed with the paper loss our homes may have taken since then. So while a home is an investment in our lifestyle, I’m not naïve enough to believe that we will ever forget that it does have financial implications. But we will not expect our homes to become winning lottery tickets and serve as “piggy banks.”

How does the current economic downturn affect the real estate market?

There remains a consumer confidence challenge impacting housing. Job loss – and fear of job loss – is keeping people from engaging in the process even as mortgage rates remain at near historic levels.

Today, the large number of homes available for sale provides home buyers with a wide range of choices. Interest rates remain low. Affordability has improved in many markets and is at historically strong levels. This is the smartest time to buy a home in my 36 years in real estate. While many might understand that, they are being influenced by the economic downturn and their decisions reflect this concern.

It’s clear that the housing market will play a role in our economic recovery and the good news is that price declines seem to have stabilized nationally. Yet we still have some challenges including a relatively high amount of homes on the market.

What real estate indicators are you following on a national level?

The key indicator in market conditions is always inventory. I would like to see us march back towards the six-month levels which normally indicate a balanced market between buyer and seller. Today we are at 9.3 months nationally according to NAR, up from a 9.2 month supply last month. This seems natural as more homes come on the market for the Spring market. Total inventory is 3.72 million homes, down more than 20 percent from record levels of 4.58 million in July 2008.

March saw the median home decrease in price to $166,500, down 4.6 percent from a year ago. While we have been seeing more stability each month +/- a percentage point or two, this month was impacted by an increase in distressed home sales. We must remember that last year at this time we were in the midst of the Federal homebuyer credit.

It is critical to remember that median price is heavily impacted by 31 percent of all May sales being of distressed homes and these types of homes usually sell for about 20% less than traditional homes.

Investors have returned to the real estate market as evidenced by the large amount of distressed properties being sold and the fact that 30 percent of all sales are cash deals, up from 25 percent a year ago. Investors accounted for 19 percent of all May sales.

NAR, in its first quarter report, showed that 34 of their 153 surveyed markets showed an increase in median price from a year ago.

For all of 2009, the median price was $173,200, down 11.9 percent from 2008. 2010 saw median prices increase slightly by 0.2% to $172,900. This has made home affordability the best since at least 1973 and maybe ever.

When will the real estate market turn?

I don’t have a crystal ball, but we have some positives. The first is that the market downturn has brought home affordability levels to the best in many, many years – at least to levels not seen since 1973 and maybe ever. The unsustainable increases we had in 1995-2005 have leveled off. Sellers have become much more reasonable in setting prices and as consumers begin to gain more confidence that prices have leveled off they will return to the market.

Real estate is positioned well for the future.

  • Baby boomers are in their prime real estate buying years and are 78 million strong.
  • The Pew Research Center reports minority homeownership levels still have room for improvement. The gaps between white and minority households remain significant with homeownership rates for Asians (59.1 percent), African-Americans (47.5 percent) and Latinos (48.9 percent) well below the 74.9 percent among whites.
  • Immigrants are moving to the U.S. by the tune of 1.1-1.5 million a year depending on the source. These are legal immigrants who add value to our country and society. They need housing.
  • Echo boomers will likely have similar economic impact in coming years that their baby boomers parents have had through their lives. Echo boomers are born between 1977 and 1994 and are 73 million strong and according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, 4 million turn 21 each year.
  • Household formation is also an important statistic. The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University projects at least 1.25 million households will be created annually from 2010-2020 and will be led by the echo boomers.
  • Between 2010 and 2020, the Census Bureau projects U.S. household growth to be in the range of 1.25 to 1.5 million per year, which will create an additional demand for housing. This should equate to a demand for 12.5 -15 million total new households during this decade.
  • People move for lifestyle. There have been 4 million marriages and a record more than 8 million babies born in the last two years indicating there is demand for housing. Many of these growing families have not bought a home and are either renting or living with family as they save for a down payment. We know there is pent up demand.

Why is now a smart time to buy?

I.I.I.P. Inventory, interest rates, incentives and price. In most markets around the nation, home inventory has increased giving buyers a greater choice. At the same time, mortgage rates remain at near historic lows and home prices have seemingly stabilized. 2010 saw median prices increase slightly by 0.2% to $172,900. This has made home affordability the best since at least 1973 and maybe ever. Prices dropped about 2% in 2007, 9.3% in 2008 and 12.4% in 2009 according to the National Association of Realtors. These were the first price declines in history.

We must remember that Americans move for lifestyle. They moved yesterday, are moving today and will move in the future. What has confused the real estate consumer is the ancillary activity surrounding the real estate market like the subprime mortgage issues impact on Wall Street, and stock prices of home builders. For the most part, these stories do not impact the everyday consumer although it will take some time to the subprime lending fallout to calm.

Remember most people will not sell their home for a loss unless there is catastrophic illness, injuries, loss of a loved one, sustained job loss or other major economic challenge. Yet because those who purchased in the last seven years may not have made money on their home, they are understandably hesitant to sell for a loss and move up even though lifestyle changes might dictate the time is right.

  • HOMES ARE MORE AFFORDABLE – Current housing prices are down 27% on average across the nation from peak values five years ago, and national housing affordability index continues to hover at record levels.
  • RATES ARE LOW – At 4.6%, 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates remain near historical lows.
  • TIMING IS EVERYTHING – Conforming loan limits will be reduced on Oct. 1, 2011, which will decrease the availability and affordability of mortgage credit for many home buyers in 42 states.
  • HOMEOWNERSHIP IS STILL THE AMERICAN DREAM – Nearly 9 in 10 Americans say homeownership is an important part of the American Dream.
  • FINANCING IS AVAILABLE – Today’s borrower needs to have stable employment of at least two years; sufficient income to cover monthly mortgage payment and living expenses; adequate savings to make at least a 3.5% down payment; and, in general, a credit score of at least 620. Buyers that meet these basic requirements and plan to live in the home are well on their way.

 NOW IS THE TIME TO MAKE A MOVE

“As an artist and a homemaker i love creating comfortable and artistically Inspired environments. Environments that speak uniquely to the individual And express their sense of style. Art is my passion especially as that art translates into beautiful design.”
 
Jane Seymour has inspired millions of fans throughout the world not only with her on-screen performances but with her grace and style off-screen. Known for her dramatic talents, she is also drawn to drama in design. She recently launched her signature Hollywood Swank furniture and décor collection which evokes pure glamour in high style. An accomplished author, Jane Seymour has written numerous books, including “Making Yourself at Home”, a style book featuring her home and lifestyle tips. Throughout her illustrious career, she has been recognized for her work with 2 Golden Globes and an EMMY Award. Television viewers across the country welcomed her into their home every week on the hit network series “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman” and she charmed film audiences with memorable performances including “Somewhere in Time” with the late Christopher Reeve. Her most recent role was a truly unique one: She just returned from London where she stepped into the international spotlight as a special celebrity correspondent for Entertainment Tonight alongside Mary Hart, providing television audiences around the world with VIP access to the Royal Wedding.

Q. What makes an entrance to a home truly memorable in your eyes?

A. An entry hall that reflects the personalities of the people who inhabit the home.

Q. What style of architecture do you find most suits your taste?

A. I like homes that have a timeless feel and I am partial towards a stone finish. I like homes with wood, stone and elements of nature.

Q. What is your favorite room in a home and why?

A. The kitchen, because that is the room that the family invariably gravitates towards; it is the heart of the home.

Q. What inspired you to create Hollywood Swank?

A. We wanted something glamorous and contemporary which reflected the old and new Hollywood. The faux animal textures such as the crystal croc and leopard add some drama and excitement. The collection evokes pure drama that is striking and show-stopping.

Q. What is the first thing that you always notice when you walk into a room?

A. The atmosphere and combination of the energy of the people who inhabit the space. Whether it is ultra modern or cozy and eclectic it speaks volumes about the people who live there.

Q. What does a room need to have in order to capture and hold your attention?

A. A sense of drama. A great focal point whether it is art or dramatic furniture or colors. Lighting is probably one of the most important elements. The collection is described as “Casablanca” meets “An American In Paris” and celebrates the rich history of Hollywood cinema.
Q. What movies in your own career or in your experience most inspired and influenced your design sensibility?

A. I have worked with so many art directors from so many eras. I am constantly inspired. Most of the movies I have been in were period pieces.
Q. The collection embodies the glamour of Oscar night – What red carpet moment or Oscars memory played a role in inspiring the design?

A. I suppose Oscar night for “Walk the Line” when it was nominated for best picture. Our collection reminds me of that night and the glamour of that evening when everyone pulls out all the stops. It’s a red carpet Hollywood moment.

Forty of metro Denver’s leading luxury home experts met recently to review and analyze the state of the region’s upper-end housing market.  The meeting was held for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Previews Property Specialists at the Buell Mansion in Denver.  The Previews program is recognized as the premier marketing program for luxury homes worldwide.

Headed by Jill Croteau, Colorado regional Previews coordinator for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, the gathering was a continuation of the company’s focus on utilizing the recently enhanced Previews program to its maximum potential.  Attendees reviewed luxury home inventory in the Denver area, as well as market trends and activity. 

According to recent statistics for the first five months of 2011, Coldwell Banker residential Brokerage enjoyed a 9.1 percent market share in the luxury home market with 140 transactions with an average sales price of $769,000.  The company posted a total of 142 closed transactions for single-family homes, condominiums and townhomes priced from $500,000 to $1 million for the same period, which placed Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage number one among area real estate brokerages. 

“We had a great turnout for our latest Previews marketing meeting, and the networking among our luxury home experts was exceptional,” said Croteau.  “Following the meeting, we toured some of the finest luxury homes in the area.  During a challenging real estate market, the Previews program provides Coldwell Banker agents and their clients with a distinct advantage because of its comprehensive features and benefits.  The exposure for our luxury listings is unmatched in the industry and our marketing meetings help us utilize the Previews program on the highest level possible.”

Colorado’s new and improved Previews program is specifically designed to market homes priced at $500,000 and higher.  The program includes a luxury home marquee sign, high-gloss brochures and neighborhood announcements, and text-based electronic brochures.  Luxury homes are showcased on Realtor.com, Zillow.com, Trulia.com and YahooRealEstate.com, in addition to ColoradoHomes.com, ColdwellBanker.com and Previews.com.

For more information on the newly improved Previews marketing program, please visit ColoradoHomes.com, ColdwellBanker.com, and Previews.com. 

The Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage office in Greenwood Village is located at 8490 East Crescent Parkway, Suite 100 and can be reached at 303.409.1300.  Croteau may be reached directly at 303.882.9700, e-mail at jill.croteau@coloradohomes.com.

SkyNotFallingSo many giggled nervously as they thankfully avoided the end of the world a couple of weeks ago. But judging by the continued “end of the world” type coverage the Case-Schiller housing study got this week, maybe the market is nearing the end.

Yes. that is a joke, but the attention this report gets is amazing. It covers 20 markets, yes only 20, and that is just one of its many flaws. Yet many consider it “the be-all-and-end-all” economic indicator that defines the entire national housing picture. All real estate is local, and it is unfortunate that the reporting on a 20-city “national” index can have such a jarring impact on otherwise rational people.

Look at some of the headlines the other day:

“Home prices at lowest point since 2006 bust”

“Home values continue downward churn”

“No relief in sight’ for falling home prices

And even in paradise – Maui- the front page headline in the paper screamed “Crash Spreads.” And Maui isn’t one of the 20 markets. In fact the nearest market covered is San Diego, a mere 2500 miles away!

Shawn Daly, an agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Evanston, Illinois, had to calm down two skittish buyers this week.

One, who is currently working in Iraq, had initially placed on offer of $450,000 on a lakefront Chicago condo. The sellers countered with a price of $525,000. But after seeing Case-Schiller inspired headlines on the web, Shawn’s client emailed him to ask that he lower his offering price by $50,000. Shawn explained that the sellers did not agree with his first offer so if he went lower he wouldn’t get the home. The buyer calmed down and agreed.

Shawn correctly pointed that the Case-Schiller Home Price Indices are meaningless to individual buyers who are looking at specific houses, on specific streets, in specific neighborhoods.

Then yesterday, Shawn met another client for a tour of potential homes. They hardly said hello without telling Shawn they were more nervous than ever after seeing the report on the news.

A buyer has a right to be nervous, but it can’t be said enough. Now is the smartest time to buy a home if a buyer has the lifestyle reason, financial stability and viability to do so.

And it’s all about “Triple I…P”. Inventory, Interest rates, Incentives and Pricing. Start with inventory, because most communities have seen a rise in the amount of homes on the market, there are more choices. Interest rates for mortgages remain at near-historic lows and have actually trended down over the last 7 weeks, with Freddie Mac reporting 30-year fixed rates now averaging 4.55%. Incentives are the tax advantages to home ownership. And of course, there are prices. Prices are down from mid-decade highs, but in many, many markets are showing stability, slight declines or even increases. Home affordability remains near record levels and the price-to-value proposition in most markets is extremely compelling.

Consumers interested in buying a home, owe it to themselves to contact a real estate agent in the community they are interested in. Look at homes, do a rent vs. buy analysis, explore what is available in your price range.

Don’t just take ANYONE’S word for it. Do your homework.

You might just be surprised that the end of the world isn’t here yet … at least until next month’s report.

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