May Real Estate News


   May 2012

As I watch the Boulder County housing market ignite, a small voice says, “You have seen this movie before….”

In 1990, first child born, living on a busy Table Mesa corner west of Viele Lake, we needed a new house. And so we began to drive, my MLS book the size of the Manhattan phone book, the “sold book” a slim little thing with only the best stuff in it. Fine Realtor that I was, it took me a year to realize that we would buy what my wife wanted. Our child’s first complete sentence: “Daddy take me home.” Each weekend it was obvious that we had fewer new listings to look at. Our house had been worth $105,000 since the wheels feel off in 1983; but during 1990 a sign went up near us at $107,500, and down fast at full price; then $109,000, and on.

Then as now:

1. The rental vacancy rate in Boulder crested at 17% in 1989, and fell to 5% in 1990. This time we peaked at 12% in 2003, fell to 7%, and then re-peaked at 9% after Lehman. Now back under 5% for the first time since 1990.

2. More people moved out of Colorado than in from 1984-1990; in-migration resumed in 1991. Migration to Colorado slowed after the technology bust in 2002, but from 2000-2012, our population has grown from 4.1 million to almost 5 million.

3. As ’90-’91, the listing inventory 2011-’12 has dropped 40%.

4. We were the foreclosure capital of the US by the late ’80s, just as in 2004. We had worked off the supply by 1990 (quickly, with enlightened policies and credit). Today, Colorado has the 6th lowest mortgage-delinquency rate in the US.

5. New construction stopped dead in 1985, just as in 2007.

6. Rents began to rise in ’90, just as in 2011, encouraging renters to buy. In 1990 sales of starter condos began to rise with rents; I don’t see that yet, perhaps because the same converted condos are not aging very well.

7. In 1990 price increases began in South Boulder, just as now. We bought our new East Boulder house in the spring of 1991, and paid the owner less than she had paid the builder in 1986. Meanwhile we sold ours for $123,500 (not the best decision I ever made, but we needed to roll the equity). Not until mid-1991 did prices began to run north of Arapahoe, and in the County. Patience, now… patience.

From 1991-1994, Boulder prices rose 60%, and the County as a whole 40%. We will not have a run like that this time: jobs are too weak, and incomes have not grown as much. Half that? Maybe. But no mistake whatever about ignition.

Lou’s opinions are occasionally featured in national media such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, as well as local outlets like The Denver Post and Boulder’s Daily Camera. 

Lou is a mortgage banker with Premier Mortgage Group, in the trade for 25 years. In the ‘80s he was a bond-market investment banker, also working with regulators in the S&L meltdown. His checkered career in Boulder has included five years as president of Spruce Real Estate (’78-’83), and marketing manager of Holubar Mountaineering (’73-’78). He is the author of the nationally syndicated weekly “Mortgage Credit News” found at , together with a resume complete with confessions.


  LOU BARNES      Mortgage Banker   I   (303) 302-3837


Additional Local Statistics:

• Condos in Boulder priced below $500K – 32% Under Contract
• Condos in Denver priced below $500K – 23% Under Contract

• Condos in Boulder priced above $500K and $750K – 23% Under Contract
• Condos in Denver priced above $500K and $750K – 29% Under Contract

• SF homes in Boulder priced below $500K – 57% Under Contract
• SF homes in Denver priced below $500K – 50% Under Contract

• SF homes in Boulder priced between $500K and  $750K – 42% Under Contract
• SF homes in Denver priced between $500K and $750K – 27% Under Contract

Information Provided by IRES, Information and Real Estate Services and Metrolist. All reported sales were not necessarily listed or sold by Four Star Realty and Property Management, Inc. and are intended only to show trends in the area.


 2320 Andrew Dr
 Under Contract in 2 Days!
Superior, Colorado

5434 La Plata Circle
Under Contract in 8 Days!
Boulder, Colorado

 158 McAfee Circle
Under Contract in 10 Days!
 Erie, Colorado

10161 Fawnbrook Ln
Under Contract in 2 Days!
Highlands Ranch, Colorado
 Mortgage Type
 15 Year Fixed
 30 Year Fixed Jumbo
 30 Year Fixed
 5/1 Arm
 5/1 Arm Jumbo
 FHA 30 Year Fixed
Examples and are based on market conditions as of April 30th, 2012. Local rates include 1 point paid to Lender. This is not a guarantee of any kind.  Interest Rates are subject to daily change based on market conditions and a variety of specific
qualifications for borrowers 

Make your home offer stand out with a handwritten letter

By Melinda Fulmer of MSN Real Estate

Just as temperatures are starting to rise, so are multiple offers on prime properties in some recovering markets. To stand out from the pack, an increasing number of buyers are taking the old-fashioned approach and penning a love letter to sellers telling them what they adore about the house and why they are the best suitor to end up with it.

Is this tactic a good way to set your bid apart from the pack, or is it a waste of time? We asked agents what they thought about buyer letters and what they would include if they wrote one. Most said a sincere letter was worth a shot for a standard sale, not a bank-owned property. However, agents caution that buyers should never go rogue and submit a letter without their agent’s knowledge. “Buyers are never to have direct communication with sellers”.

Buyers should convey several things in a letter, including:

  • Specific features or things that they like about the house and the community.
  • A little bit about themselves, including names and ages of any kids.
  • Anything that speaks to their purchasing power or creditworthiness.
  • A commitment to the house and a willingness to do “whatever it takes” to land it.
  • Anything else buyer and seller have in common.

Keep it short and sweet and don’t give so many compliments that the sellers think they’ve under priced the home, agents say. And don’t expect your prose to bridge a $30,000 gap between your offer and the next bidder’s.

May 26th-28th

Boulder Creek Festival

May 28th

The Bolder Boulder

May 12th

Wash Park Home Tour, Denver

May 24th

Colorado Corks and Cuisine, Denver

May 13th

Mother’s Day 9K, Boulder


Courtney Craig
Broker Associate

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