Thursday, March 26, 2009

From A Slow Crawl…To a Brisk Walk

I heard someone earlier this week say that the housing market has gone from a slow crawl to a brisk walk. I think that is the perfect metaphor to explain the recent changes in the real estate market. The market is coming back. It’s not roaring, but it’s coming back.

This week, according to, U.S. mortgage applications jumped as record low interest rates spurred a surge in demand for home refinancing loans. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage applications, which includes both purchase and refinance loans, increased 32.2 percent to 1,159.4 for the week ended March 20. Refinancing accounted for 78.5 percent of all applications.

Furthermore, interest rates on mortgages fell after the Federal Reserve last week said it would buy Treasury securities for the first time in more than four decades as well as more than double its planned purchases of mortgage-related securities. reported that “Borrowing costs on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, excluding fees, averaged 4.63 percent, down 0.26 percentage point from the previous week, reaching a record low….Interest rates were well below year-ago levels of 5.74 percent.”

Meanwhile, according to Realty Times, housing starts took a surprise jump of 22 percent in February over January's depressed levels. Most of the increase was attributable to apartments and condominiums, but single family starts were up by one percentage point, and new home permits were up by 11 percent, after months of sharp declines.

Existing home sales are also seeing some good trends. NAR reported this week that sales activity for single family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops rose 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.72 million units in February from a pace of 4.49 million units in January.

Last week I recommended that you watch Coldwell Banker president and CEO, Jim Gillespie on CNBC’s “Roadmap to Rebound” which focused on the state of the housing market. If you missed it, Gillespie stated that “the government could do a lot more than they are already doing in order to get the real estate market moving again.” Congressmen and economists continually say that in order to get the economy going, we need to first get real estate going. Gillespie believes that two key changes are needed in order to get the economy moving, and the first item that needs to be addressed is to set a fixed-rate mortgage. “Lowering the interest rate to 4% to 4.5% for 12 months is one way to get the inventory moving.” Along with setting a fixed-rate mortgage, increasing the tax credit to $15,000 and including all buyers of primary residences will help move buyers along and get the market to shift.

Gillespie also stated that the demand side needs to be looked at closely, because once we start to burn off the inventory that we currently have, prices will begin to stabilize and go up again, which will help those in distressed situations. “Fifty-five percent of loan modifications have failed after six months because jobs are not being created and homeowners are losing the jobs they have,” says Gillespie. “In order to create jobs, we need to create demand, both of which will get the housing market and economy moving.”

I for one appreciate seeing our leadership team speaking out on our behalf, serving as the visionaries for our industry. It’s enlightening and certainly makes me proud.

Now, let’s take a look at this week in real estate:

  • Boulder/Longmont—Our Boulder office reports that the past few weeks have been a bit slow with properties going under contract. The feedback from the Agents is that with all the talk and hopes that the stimulus items will include further reductions in the interest rates before they commit to writing an offer. While we are still actively taking listings, ONLY the homes that are priced well are being shown and getting offers. The homes that are priced at a value to the public are getting multiple offers allowing for the seller to get more than what they originally priced. The Longmont office reports that showings were off 6% from the previous week. Calls into the office from potential sellers and buyers were up. Buyers are using many methods of searching for properties. They are reading specialty home sales magazines, newspapers and using the Internet. Some buyers are realizing that well priced properties need quick action, they are sold quickly. Overall, days on market have decreased 11% year over year.
  • Evergreen/Conifer—Our Evergreen office reported it had a total of two new listings for the week. Two listings went under contract, one was a short sale. Two buyers went under contract—both are short sales. Three other offers are pending acceptance—one is an REO and the other two were short sales with multiple offers. One Agent was preparing to make an offer on a bank owned property but was unable to submit because the bank stopped taking offers after 18 were submitted. The listing was in the $150,000 price range in Denver. We had 83 showings for the week.
  • Denver Central—Our Denver Central office reported that spring is adding many new observers to open houses and the low rates combined with the new tax incentives have many buyers anxious to tie up a property to add to the interest deductions they get normally. They know the longer they are in the home the more interest is available to deduct for 2009 tax year. With the new additional incentives it makes for a nice bonus around April 2010.
  • Devonshire—What a strange market. We are seeing homes go under contract at a slower pace but once under, they don't seem to be falling as frequently as before. Buyers seem to be doing their due diligence before going into contract. One of our professionals in the office is counseling her clients that in this age of "restructuring,” purchase a home because it's a place that you want to remain and in a neighborhood that you love. Do not purchase a home for the quick money you will make on it. These comments seem to have real value and we see inventory decreasing. It's a perfect time to buy the home you want in the area you love. Seeing homes selling spurs sellers to get their homes on the market. Things are looking up and we look forward to an active spring/summer season.
  • Douglas County—Our Southwest Metro office reports that showings this past weekend were the best yet! Our open house activity was fantastic with Agents having such busy open houses that some ran out of flyers! Buyers seem anxious to find homes and our Agents are busy writing offers. It seems as though sellers and buyers are beginning to see a little light at the end of the tunnel. There is excitement around the office and among the Agents.
  • El Paso County—Our Colorado Springs office reports that open houses are still active. We’re seeing lots of buyers in town just checking things out to see if they want to accept a transfer to Colorado Springs. USAA transferees from Sacramento are getting several options for relocating as are some Lockheed people from San Jose. Foreclosures are slowing down as are short sales. Buyers get frustrated when they try one and avoid them after that. Lenders are tightening up finally.
  • Larimer County—Our Fort Collins/Loveland office reports that as predicted, showings during Spring Break week in Larimer County increased dramatically with many families remaining in town and weather cooperating beautifully. We are expecting to see an uptick in contracts in the following week especially with 30 yr fixed rates now in the 4.6% range. Despite continued unsettling economic news on both local and national fronts, Northern Colorado enjoyed a key job creation groundbreaking ceremony of their 2nd blades plant and 1st nacelle assembly plant in neighboring Weld County. At full capacity, these two operations will employ over 1300 people in the area.
  • North Metro—The North Metro office notes that the market under $250,000 is very hot right now. Inventory is low and several homes are getting multiple offers. Interest rates are low and buyers have gotten off the fence.
  • Parker—Listings as well as showings were up again last week. The traffic through open houses is way above average. For the first time in months we see stable values in some communities. Canterberry Crossing, Stonegate and other established neighborhoods show a drastic increase in sales activity. More and more, energy priced listings receive multiple offers. We continue to watch the trend closely and are confident that we will be able to announce a shifting market for some areas in Douglas County soon.
  • Southeast Metro—Showing activity continues to increase. Our office set 660 showings last week! Several market adjustments were put into place on our listings. Lots of traffic at open houses and buyers are making offers quicker as inventory continues to decrease in the price range $200,000 to $300,000. Outer areas are still sluggish as inventory is at a stand still.
  • West Lakewood—One buyer had 20% down, excellent credit asked for $2000 in seller concessions. The seller countered without the concession and the buyer took the counter offer. We are seeing a reduction in the number of bank owned listings that are coming on the market. Showings are up substantially as are visitors to open houses. More offers are coming in. A lot of first time buyers in the market are now taking advantage of the $8000 tax credit. One Agent put three of her listings under contract and is writing on one of her own listings with her buyer.

After a week of positive indicators, my best advice is for buyers to get out there. There are some fantastic deals out there right now and as more people begin to realize it, competition will come back and begin to drive activity. You know what they say about the early bird!

The weather over the next few days is going to be cold and wintery—even after my message last week in which I kicked off spring. Stay warm and safe and have a wonderful weekend!

Until next week,
Make it a great one,

Chris Mygatt
President and Chief Operating Officer
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Colorado

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It Was a Week of Surprises…And Best of All, Spring Has Sprung!

First, reported a sudden, unexpected surge in U.S. housing starts. According to the Commerce Department, housing starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 583,000 last month, up 22% from a revised 477,000 in January. The big surprise: Economists were expecting starts to decline to 450,000, according to consensus estimates by

Furthermore, applications for building permits, considered a reliable sign of future construction activity, rose 3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 547,000 last month. The other big surprise: Economists were expecting permits to fall to 500,000.

Also interesting this week, retail sales figures fell much less than expected in February, and surprisingly strong January sales were revised even higher. According to, “U.S. store sales showed a smaller-than-expected decline in February after an unexpected surge in January that was bigger than originally reported…The Commerce Department said total retail sales fell 0.1% last month, compared with January’s revised increase of 1.8%. Economists surveyed by had been expecting a decrease of 0.5% for February.”

So, is it safe to call this a trend? Are we out of the woods yet? It’s tough to say. In all honesty, you don’t know whether or not you’ve hit bottom until you’re on your way back up but it seems some of the critical signs are starting to show signs of life which is welcome relief for our wounded economy.

Also in the news this week, the Federal Reserve announced plans to purchase up to $750 billion in mortgage-backed securities and up to $300 billion in longer term Treasury securities. Our representatives at the National Association of Realtors applauded the plans noting “This is great news for American home buyers and homeowners because mortgage interest rates will continue at historic lows.”

What this means for Americans is that a greater number of home buyers will be able to purchase a home and homeowners facing challenges will be able to refinance into better terms. As NAR noted, “We already are experiencing a great improvement in housing affordability due to historically low interest rates and the Fed’s move will push affordability conditions to the best levels in 40 years. In addition, continued low rates will lessen foreclosure pressure and help stabilize home prices sooner, as more Americans buy homes and draw down inventory.”

Along the lines of mortgage relief, the Treasury Department this week launched a new website for consumers seeking information about the Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable loan modification and refinancing program. The site,, offers features including interactive self-assessment tools that will empower borrowers to determine if they are eligible to participate and calculate the monthly mortgage payment reductions they could stand to realize under the Making Home Affordable program.

This is a helpful site that we should all be sharing with our friends, families and clients alike.

Finally, on Friday, Jim Gillespie, president and CEO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC, will participate in a discussion about the state of the housing market, live from the New York Stock Exchange on CNBC. This will occur on Friday at approximately 4:30 p.m. (Eastern).

Jim will participate on the “Roadmap to Rebound” segment hosted by Maria Bartiromo. Yale economist Dr. Robert Schiller and Sanjiy Das, CEO of CitiMortgage, will also participate.

In another powerful symbol of what our Coldwell Banker and Realogy leaders are doing on behalf of consumers and the real estate sector in general to enact change that will stimulate housing and ultimately the economy, Jim plans to call upon government leaders to enact a $15,000 non-refundable tax credit to ALL buyers and also a mortgage buy down that would bring rates to the 4-4.5% range. This, NAR reports, could generate an additional 840,000 home sales over 12 months. This home buying activity would have major implications in stimulating the overall US economy since NAR also reports that each home sold generates more than $60,000 in economic activity. The proposal would also have a greater impact on foreclosures than the current stimulus package. I hope you will all watch.

Now, with all of that exciting news for the week in tow, let’s take a look at our local real estate news:

  • Boulder/Longmont—Our Boulder office reports that new listings are down 10% from the week before, but listing activity is still very busy. Sales in the second week of March increased by 23% (from the previous week). Showing activity continues to climb and based on Agent reports there are loads of buyers out there. They still are taking longer to pull the trigger than in past years, but not as many seem gripped by fear as a few months ago, as the increased rate of sales shows. Houses that are in top condition and under the median price ($539,000 in Boulder) are selling briskly, often within 10 days of listing. Our Longmont office reports that showings were off 11% from last week. We are seeing activity in the new builder market. Builders are offering some super incentives and buyers are seeing great values. We are still seeing a lot of buyers "sitting on the fence.” They are waiting for the interest rates to go down or they are waiting for the prices to decline—the problem, there hasn’t been much movement on either end. We are all waiting for the press to realize that real estate markets are local and we are not in any kind of drastic state here in Longmont.
  • Conifer—Our Conifer office reports one new listing during the week. Four listings went under contract during the past week plus one buyer—one listing was under contract within one day of going on the market and one within two days. Showing activity continues strong with 34 showings during the week.
  • Evergreen—Our Evergreen office reports a total of five new listings for the week. Two listings went under contract. We had 73 showings for the week plus seven Agent previews for a total of 180 thru mid-month.
  • Denver Central—Our Denver Central office reports that buyers can expect to compete with other offers for ANY property priced under $250,000 in the Denver Metropolitan marketplace. There is renewed interest from buyers because of low mortgage rates, new tax incentives and an overall feeling that the Denver market has hit bottom in inventory. Anticipation is high that price increases will follow shortly.
  • Devonshire—Our Devonshire office is reporting that even in these challenging times we are still setting showings at a pretty good rate so we know that buyers are out there. Buyers are very hesitant to make offers and commit to purchasing at this time as they are feeling the angst of the current economic conditions. With rates for mortgages dropping again, it may be the perfect time to buy. If sellers are pricing their homes correctly, they are selling. As real estate brokers, we continue to underscore our value as we are knowledgeable on what it takes to get transactions done. It would behoove consumers to use a full time real estate professional. We are making a concerted effort to get the good news out there when most news seems to be gloomy at best. It may be a great time to buy. Interest rates are fabulous and sellers are pricing their homes realistically at last.
  • Douglas County—Our Southwest Metro office reports that our showings have increased as well as the attendance at our open houses. We have had several Agents report excellent turn out at their open houses and they have picked up buyers and listings. We had a phone call from an article regarding our community service that was run in last Sunday's paper. Our mortgage rep is quite busy and buyers are ready to start taking the steps to buy a home.
  • El Paso County—Our Colorado Springs office is reporting steady sales and showing activity. We had our first VA listing cancellation due to the new government guarantee on VA loans. I suspect there will be a few more this week. Commercial financing is extremely tight and guidelines need to be checked daily. Work has stopped on the new mall at Highway 83 and Voyager due to construction financing changes.
  • Larimer County—Inventory is increasing throughout Larimer County as the prime selling season inches closer. However, the market remains very price sensitive—so those sellers with super clean homes and terrific curb appeal will continue to have a leg-up on the competition. Many buyers are looking at foreclosures and short sales but due to substantial waiting periods for responses from banks, many don't have time to wait. With the change to daylight savings, we're seeing an increase in showings weekdays as buyers are able to view properties after work.
  • North Metro—We have seen a big increase in activity in March so far. The lower-end market is very hot right now with multiple offers common. We are seeing increases in sales volume overall.
  • Parker—Our Parker office is reporting that activity has increased and although we see more new listings on the market, the inventory did not go up because the sales activity is steady as well. Traffic through open houses was very high over the last weekend and the call volume on our listings has increased as well as an increase in showings. Sellers are now better educated through our Agents and are power pricing their homes to create more energy in the buyer pool. They also react faster to changes in the market.
  • Southeast Metro—Brokers are very busy writing offers! In some cases, brokers are writing at least three offers before going under contract due to multiple offer situations. Showing activity continues to increase as we are now consistently setting over 500 showings a week. We are also seeing an upswing in traffic at our Previews properties, too.
  • West Lakewood—Our West Lakewood office is reporting that open houses are very active. We had 19 groups at one home and 23 at another. It appears that many of the buyers are relocating or want to relocate from other parts of the country. Most Agents are working with from one to five sellers who are getting ready to place their homes on the market in April.

With spring break ending and the weekend weather outlook to be gorgeous, look for the first of the spring garage sales as well as lots of great homes holding open houses! For a schedule of open houses, go to or Spring has sprung!

Until next week,
Make it a great one,

Chris Mygatt
President and Chief Operating Officer
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Colorado

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What Will Real Estate’s Big Selling Season Bring?

With real estate’s traditionally busy Spring selling season right around the corner, what do we expect March-June to do for our market this year? Well as much as I’d love to say that we anticipate a sudden, overwhelming surge in sales and that all of our challenges are behind us, I won’t. What I can say is that we are seeing some bright spots thanks to heightened consumer confidence, following the recent legislation passed by the Obama administration. January and much of February had many buyers sitting on the fence as they awaited the results of the Economic Stimulus Package. The lowering of interest rates, induction and improvement of the home buyer tax credit, reduction in preventable foreclosures and reinstatement of the higher loan limits now have some buyers getting off the fence.

We’re definitely feeling the beginning effects of this, in many markets, with an increase in calls to our branch offices and Agents as well as increased traffic at our open houses.

But will this “interest” translate into closed transactions is the million dollar question.

Though none of us holds a crystal ball, I would say that we’re anticipating a moderate Spring. In markets hardest hit by foreclosures, we still have quite a few distressed properties to weed through before we can begin to work our way up. Our hope is that the recent passing of the foreclosure prevention plan will significantly reduce the number of foreclosures hitting the market over the next several months, and once this takes effect, we should be able to weed through the current inventory and start making our way through to the other side. In all honesty, this could take several months before we really feel its full impact.

For those markets impacted less by foreclosures and more so by Wall Street and the general state of the national and global economy, we’re really facing two main challenges: a lack of quality inventory and buyers who are struggling with whether or not to get off the fence.

Many buyers right now have misgivings about whether or not now is the best time to buy. Many are trying to time the market. My response to this is, it is very difficult to time a market. Just as you can’t time the stock market, you can’t time the real estate market. Real estate needs to be seen as a long term investment. If you plan to stay in your home for two, three or even five years, buying now probably makes good business sense. And that is solely if you are looking at purchasing a home from a business or investment purpose. But as we all know, purchasing a home isn’t just an investment. Home is where we live. Where we raise our families. Where we create memories. Rather than simply trying to time the market, we should be reminded of this fact and instead, focus on choosing the best home in which we can make that “life” happen. Of course, prosperity in real estate is how the majority of Americans have built their wealth in this country and I for one won’t overlook that fact but I do think it is important for all of us to reflect on the fact that beyond being a solid investment, our home is much more than that.

For buyers who are out there and are considering buying right now, if you plan to stay in your home for a long period of time, you probably can’t go wrong purchasing today. Though we anticipate moderate home sales in the near term, buyers are ultimately expected to respond to much improved affordability conditions as well as the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit and the market will pick up. It’s just a matter of time. And when it does, that pick up will translate into more competition, less inventory and possibly higher home prices, resulting in less purchasing power for you. Consider my advice: waiting may cost you.

And with that news in tow, let’s take a look at this week in real estate:

  • Boulder—Our Boulder office reports that the first week of March showed a jump of over 30% in both new listings and properties going under contract. Agents are still reporting that buyers are taking a long time to decide but after they see several listings they are moving ahead with contracts. Our Longmont office reports that the wonderful weather continues to hold and it plays directly into the increased showings. The price point of our showings was down this week—all under $319,000. Deals are becoming more streamlined. We are seeing short sales closing in three weeks as well as the FHA bottlenecks clearing up. Properties that are priced well are being shown. Properties that are priced great are being sold! One of our listings came on the market this week & sold this week with multiple offers. It is a good time to buy in Longmont. The rental market continues to be strong and investors are paying attention to this situation.
  • Conifer—Our Conifer office reports one new listing during the week. Four listings went under contract during the past week, one with multiple offers. Our showing activity continues strong with 33 showings during the week.
  • Evergreen—Our Evergreen office reported a total of two new listings for the week. Two listings went under contract and two buyers went under contract. We had 86 showings for the week plus five Agent previews. There are a few sellers that are now offering to exchange/purchase homes of buyers interested in their property if the buyers need to sell their home to purchase, i.e. swap home in Evergreen for one in Highlands Ranch. Creative deal making is flourishing.
  • Denver Central—Our Denver Central office reports that we have seen a slight increase in our under contracts—a direct result of all the activity and appointments we have set over the past couple of weeks. Buyers are still tentative, but confidence is growing as we help to educate the public on the market and the benefits of home ownership. We are having success with our onsite Home Buyer Seminars and have decided to hold them monthly.
  • Devonshire—Our Devonshire office is reporting a lot of activity. Lots of offers are being written and buyers are finding themselves in competing situations. Unfortunately, a real stumbling block right now is the banks and the lack of timely responses to offers. Our showing activity is up and we are seeing more listings coming onto the market every week. We are encouraging all of our sellers to really work on their curb appeal and get those pansies planted on garden areas and pots as landscaping looks very tired this time of year. Buyers perceive that homes are well cared for when they see colorful plants out front. We are still forecasting a fairly strong spring. It will be about the pricing for all homes on the market.
  • Douglas County—The Southwest Metro office reports that open houses were very successful last weekend. We had several Agents who had as many as 15, 20 or 25 groups through and they picked up several buyers and potential listing opportunities. We are seeing buyers ready to make decisions to buy now and not wait. Our mortgage rep is still busy writing approval letters for our Agents and with the increased traffic at open houses we feel very good about where the market seems to be heading.
  • El Paso County—Our Colorado Spring office reports that condo sales are up 31% over January and single family up 22% over January. Average sales prices jumped $10,000 in one month and verifies that listing prices are remaining firm. Open houses got better and ad calls were much better than last month.
  • Larimer County—The Fort Collins/Loveland/Windsor area continues to see slow but steady activity in all areas of the market. Property showings for our offices remain well over 250 per week, with listings going under contract at a steady pace. With Spring Break approaching we may see a bump-up in weekday showings as many folks are staying put for the school holiday. Weather outlook appears to be mild. Our area received additional encouraging news with regard to the recent release of 4th quarter 2008 statistics by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO). Colorado moved to the 19th position in terms of national year over year change in value and the Loveland/Fort Collins metropolitan statistical area (MSA) reported just a .09% decrease in prices. This positions our area very favorably as an affordable market, highly attractive to future employers.
  • Loveland—See report for Larimer County.
  • North Metro—No information reported.
  • Parker—Our Parker office reported that we have added a number of great properties to our inventory again. The tour of our new listings created very positive feedback and most of those listings should create a lot of traffic and multiple offers soon. Since the total inventory in our marketplace is still dropping due to the number of expired and withdrawn listings, some areas are showing signs of a stabilized market. If the trends continue and the relation of new listings on the market to properties under contract shifts to a true declining inventory, we might see some areas actually increase in value within a few months.
  • Southeast Metro—Wow! Buyers are ready to move! Traffic at open houses continues to break all the rules for this time of year! We are averaging five showings during the first week that new listings are on the market. We will close on over 140 homes this month. Inventory between $200,000 and $300,000 is moving quicker than we can replace it and our luxury homes are seeing an increase in traffic as well.

As you can see, we really have a mixed bag. Some markets remain slow while others are seeing huge leaps in sales and contracts.

What I’ll leave you with this week is a reminder that, for buyers, opportunity is knocking this Spring. Buyers need to be aware of today’s advantages—attractive interest rates, increased affordability, sizeable inventory, increased loan limits, $8,000 first time home buyer tax credit and motivated sellers. The stars couldn’t be more perfectly aligned.

For sellers, pricing is key. Homes that are priced well (really well) and show well, are selling. Home that aren’t, sit. Consider this as you prepare your home for market and please, take my and your Agent’s advice, and don’t test the market. Price your home well from the beginning to generate the largest pool of potential buyers.

Until next week,
Make it a great one,

Chris Mygatt
President and Chief Operating Officer
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Colorado

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Foreclosure Prevention Plan Guidelines Revealed

Earlier this week, the Obama administration released the guidelines which enable lenders to begin modifications of eligible mortgages under the administration’s Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan. Here is a summary of the guidelines, direct from the Department of Treasury:

This “foreclosure prevention plan” (dubbed by the media as such) is estimated to help some seven to nine million homeowners make their mortgages more affordable and help to prevent the continuation of the devastation that foreclosures have caused in this country.

According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, “The Home Affordable Refinance program will be available to 4 to 5 million homeowners who have a solid payment history on an existing mortgage owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Normally, these borrowers would be unable to refinance because their homes have lost value, pushing their current loan-to-value ratios above 80%. Under the Home Affordable Refinance program, many of them will now be eligible to refinance their loan to take advantage of today’s lower mortgage rates or to refinance an adjustable-rate mortgage into a more stable mortgage, such as a 30-year fixed rate loan.

“GSE lenders and servicers already have much of the borrower’s information on file, so documentation requirements are not likely to be burdensome. In addition, in some cases an appraisal will not be necessary. This flexibility will make the refinance quicker and less costly for both borrowers and lenders. The Home Affordable Refinance program ends in June 2010.

”The Home Affordable Modification program will help up to 3 to 4 million at-risk homeowners avoid foreclosure by reducing monthly mortgage payments. Working with the banking and credit union regulators, the FHA, the VA, the USDA and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Treasury Department today announced program guidelines that are expected to become standard industry practice in pursuing affordable and sustainable mortgage modifications. This program will work in tandem with an expanded and improved Hope for Homeowners program.
With the information now available, servicers can begin immediately to modify eligible mortgages under the Modification program so that at-risk borrowers can better afford their payments.”

Industry online magazine, RISMedia, weighed in on the plan this week and offered this insight that I thought would be helpful:

I know that many clients have a lot of questions right now and we are working to gather some communication tools to help. One good option in the meantime is a consumer-friendly Q&A recently put together by the Treasury Department, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) located at

Now, let’s take a look at this week in real estate:

  • Boulder—Our Boulder office reports that new listings in Boulder County fell back about 30% after last week’s huge surge, but 10% of last week’s new listings went under contract within five days. Showings are holding steady. Our office is getting many requests for information about the $8,000 tax credit which is why our March Reality Check ( is proving so helpful to so many. The Longmont office reports that showings are way up this week—in fact, 38% up! Contracts on our listings are coming in much stronger at the end of the month. Sellers are making some tough decisions on price reductions now that we are approaching the “selling season.” Buyers for short sales and foreclosures continue to be present. The increase in FHA limits by county was great news and should help buyers in more income levels. Investors are still marveling at the market.
  • Conifer—The Conifer office reports increased listing inventory with two new listings during the week. One listing went under contract during the past week and had multiple offers. Showing activity continues strong with 25 showings during the week for a total of 141 for the month.
  • Evergreen—The Evergreen office reported steady news in listing inventory and sales activity. We had a total of five new listings for the week, while two buyers went under contract. We had one short sale go under contract at $725,000.
  • Denver Central—Our Denver Central office reports that the Agents are busy. Many Agents are having more appointments than ever. It is just taking some time to get deals to come together. We are seeing a slow down in the foreclosure market but short sales are still prevalent. Calls coming through to our floor have increased and we are experiencing more calls from people looking to make a career in real estate. We are focusing on our contracts and seeing great results.
  • Devonshire—Our Devonshire office reports that this week we had a definite surge in buyer activity. It seems that buyers are "pulling the trigger" on homes that meet their needs and now the issue is that they are caught liking homes that others do also. We have at least two examples of multiple offers—one of them over $800,000. The thought that we are working off of in our office is that if buyers like a home it is better to get in an offer and avoid the competing offer scenario. We look forward to a steady and good summer season.
  • Douglas County—The Southwest Metro office shares the great news that showings are continuing to increase week after week. Floor has been great this past week. We have six potential deals from floor. Our marketing of the Highlands Ranch has resulted in a $350,000 listing for one of our Agents. We did see three listings this week with multiple offers as well as nine buyers who were involved in multiple offer situations. Our mortgage rep is extremely busy taking loan applications which is a great sign for a good Spring.
  • El Paso County—Our Colorado Springs office shares news that showings have been heavier on the higher end properties. An estimated 28% of all showings are on properties over $300,000. Buyers seem to be predominantly corporate officers coming from tech industries that are consolidating locations. USAA closed its Sacramento office and is relocating its department heads here. Military are returning at a steady pace but not making huge impact in the buyer’s market. The builder market is still very quiet.
  • Larimer County—After increases across the board last week, our Fort Collins office reports steady news this week, though notes that the market continues to "march" forward slowly but surely. While showings were down, we did see a flurry of activity at the end of the month with closed transactions and homes receiving offers. Inquiries about the first time homebuyer tax credit is growing which points to a likely uptick in purchases for the $250,000 and under price ranges this Spring.
  • Loveland—The Loveland office reports that the market continues to slowly go forward. While showings are down, we did see a flurry of activity at the end of the month with closings and homes going under contract. Inquiries about the first time home buyer tax credit are occurring frequently.
  • North Metro—Our North Metro office is seeing increased buyer activity, especially since the stimulus package was signed. Many multiple offers on properties priced $250,000 and under. This has resulted in drastically reduced inventory in this category as well as reduced number of days on the market.
  • Parker—Our Parker office reports that not only buyers but also sellers seem to have come off the fence with the warm weather as an increase of new listings shows. However, since the activity of sales has increased as well, some of the overpriced listings have been taken off the market and the listing inventory continues to decline. It is still too early to call it a trend, but if the current activities continue for a few more months, we believe we may see home prices stabilize soon.
  • Southeast Metro—Our Southeast Metro office reports the traffic at open houses continues to escalate. We are seeing 20 plus people at most open houses within the energy areas of the city. Homes in good condition and in desirable neighborhoods are selling quickly. As the demand for some neighborhoods increases, we are also seeing sale prices increase over last year.

The news of the week is a breath of fresh air for millions of homeowners and for the real estate sector, it is just what the doctor ordered. It is imperative that we continue to move with speed to make housing more affordable and to help stop the spiral in our housing markets. I believe that this plan will encourage additional loan modifications and will ultimately reduce the foreclosure rate. In the end, this is one—and possibly the most important—way to stabilize prices and once again get us moving in the right direction. Helping families keep their homes is critical, both for the health of our economy and in neighborhoods across the country.

What I am most inspired by is the fact that I really do believe that we are headed in the right direction. On a local level, we’re already starting to feel the initial flow of these benefits. Though I can’t say it is across the board, in general, we are seeing increased floor activity, increased open house activity and buyers are finally getting off the fence and inquiring about the first time home buyer credit, increases in conforming loan limits and seeking counsel on whether or not now is the best time to buy.

I know I say this week after week and while I don’t want to sound too much like a Pollyana, I truly believe that we are well-positioned and poised for a recovery. No, it won’t happen overnight but Obama and his team have made it very clear that they can’t fix this economic crisis without fixing the housing woes and with the recent release of the second half of the TARP funds coupled with the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act and now the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan, the housing sector truly is in one of the best positions for a recovery.

Until next week,
Make it a great one,

Chris Mygatt
President and Chief Operating Officer
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Colorado