An Open Letter to My Non-Profit Colleagues

Greetings Nonprofiteers!

We all know that a strong and vibrant community makes real differences in real lives. That’s why your work to build, sustain, and strengthen our common fabric provides lasting inspiration well beyond the walls of your organizations.

As the owner of Conscious Real Estate – the premier Denver residential real estate brokerage that gives back to our community – I sought to develop brokerage that followed this example.

That’s why Conscious Real Estate, as a standard practice, donates 10% of every commission to a nonprofit of our client’s choice.

Through our work, I have met many of you, donated to some, and endeavor to take common cause with all your efforts.

We here at Conscious Real Estate are grateful to have had the opportunity to do this work over the past three years and watch your organizations grow and flourish. At the same time, we are dismayed by the obvious headwinds facing nonprofits in 2017 and beyond. With that in mind, Conscious Real Estate is committed to redoubling our efforts to sustain your vital role in our community.

A bit about how our brokerage works: When a Client purchases or sells a home through a Conscious Real Estate agent, the Client chooses a non-profit to which we donate 10% of the sale commission. While Conscious is exclusively a residential broker, we facilitate a similar arrangement for commercial real estate transactions through a partner broker, Forte Commercial Real Estate. Put another way – the more we grow, the more we give.

Allison Parks (Conscious Real Estate Founder, left) with Tiana Nelson (President and Chief Operating Officer, PawsCo)

So what are the results so far? In 2016, our average donation per transaction was well over $1000. This is real money for real organizations providing support and development to real communities – our community.

While we have received extremely positive feedback about the impact we have made thus far – feedback that we treasure – we still have significant work ahead of us. Our efforts to continue supporting you rely on your generous referral of Conscious Real Estate to your friends, family, and supporters. At the same time, we know that since your hands are always busy and your time is always short, you can’t regularly engage with Conscious to learn about the work we do.

In our heartfelt effort to keep an open line with our non-profit friends, we created this (occasional) newsletter just for non-profits to speak to only your needs. Through this forum, we seek to establish a tighter bond with you so you know the initiatives we pursue to support your work.

With this newsletter, we will include a toolbox for you that will include pre-written social media posts, pre-written newsletter blurbs, and ways that you can mention us to your supporters. We can also provide fliers, business cards, and other collateral to assist in your outreach efforts. Also, since this is a collaborative effort, we look forward to your feedback about the trends in the non-profit world and how your organizations can best be supported.

Finally – if we haven’t met – let’s meet! Please don’t hesitate to contact me through telephone, text, tweet, or smoke signal. I’d love to make your acquaintance. Again, I truly appreciate everything you do for our community and that’s why I created a business to help support you.

After all, you support our community – and that supports us all.


Warm regards,

Allison Parks

The Conscious Group Donates to the ACLU of Colorado

A champion for the people, the American Civil Liberties Union was born in the years following World War I. During those tumultuous times, many people feared the “spread of Communism” thereby rounding up “radicals” for deportation. To make matters worse, those arrested were treated inhumanely. The situation called for an advocate and the ACLU stepped up to the plate to defend their civil rights.

The ACLU also partnered with Clarence Darrow during the “evolution education” Scopes Trial of 1925, promoting the importance of academic freedom. The ACLU also backed Japanese Americans interred in “war relocation camps.” Later, the organization would challenge segregation in its many forms.

“The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. We’re a private institution funded exclusively by the generous donations of our supporters. Our mission is to protect, defend and extend the civil rights and civil liberties of all people in Colorado through litigation, education and advocacy.” – ACLU of Colorado

Fast forward to today and people are still being deported on shaky grounds, racism still exists, women and men are still on unequal grounds and civil rights are still being violated. Yet, the ACLU is working harder than ever to promote freedom and educate the public on their rights. While they are only able to take a few select cases a year and rely on volunteers to continue their cause, they have a lot of crucial guides on their website such as:

  • Protest/Demonstrations Rights
  • Encountering a Police Officer (with video tutorial)
  • Photographer’s Rights
  • LGBT Discrimination at Businesses
  • Students’ Rights at Public Schools
  • Rights of Nursing Mothers at Work
  • Disability Rights

The ACLU wants you to be informed, which is the best way to avoid your civil liberties being infringed upon. (They even have printable wallet cards on their site.) And, if something has happened to violate your rights, contact the ACLU to state your case and find out the next steps.

In our state of Colorado, immigration and criminal justice reform are top concerns. On immigration, many Colorado residents worry about the new administration and how the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will handle their cases now. In fact, ICE reports that immigration-related arrests are up by 40% in 2017.

And, in April of this year, 26 people in Colorado and Wyoming were arrested on immigration charges. Some of the recent arrests are clouded in suspicion over how the arrested were treated. In one claim, a Gunnison man says he was detained for multiple days without being told why.

“You don’t look like you were born in Montrose,” one of the agents told him, according to one of the suits. The man is a U.S. citizen and was born in the States.

He also says he was searched without a warrant. It took several days, several facilities, and the showing of his birth certificate from an immigration rights advocate to get him released – without letting him call his family, and with a dead cell phone and only $5 dollars in his pocket. These are the types of issues that the ACLU picks up on and hopes to eliminate when it comes to erroneous immigration enforcement.

On criminal justice, there are a lot of ways that Colorado can improve through the assistance of the ACLU. In one recent example, the Department of Youth Corrections was charged with using straitjackets, solitary confinement and physical force to subdue the inmates.  

“Youths locked up in Colorado’s juvenile corrections system are isolated for hours in tiny, barren rooms, wrapped in full-body straight jackets, and subdued with “knee strikes” and other pain-compliance techniques that have ended with rug burns, according to a detailed investigation released Thursday.” – Daily Record Colorado

And, in another case, an adult male prisoner was forced into solitary confinement for over 15 years. Sam Mendez, shown below in this video courtesy of the ACLU, now suffers from mental illness. You can watch his story below.

The ACLU is an important nonprofit that we value dearly. Their commitment to some of the most important facets of our society is admirable. They are here for humankind by supporting:

  • Criminal Justice Rights
  • Freedom of Expression and Religion
  • Government Transparency
  • Immigrants’ Rights
  • LGBT Equality
  • Privacy & Technology
  • Racial Justice
  • Reproductive Freedom
  • Student & Youth Rights
  • Voting Rights
  • Women’s Rights

At Conscious Real Estate, we donate 10% of every home sale to a nonprofit of our clients’ choice. This pic is of agent Kimberly McAleenan and founder Allison Parks presenting their check for donation to the ACLU of Colorado to Jill Higham, Philanthropy Director and Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, Executive Director.

socially conscious real estate, the conscious group, allison parks, real estate denver

Kimberly McAleenan (center, left) and founder Allison Parks (center, right) presenting their check for donation to the ACLU of Colorado to Jill Higham (left), Philanthropy Director and Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, Executive Director (far right).

For more information on the ACLU of Colorado, click here.

And, to connect with one of our socially conscious realtors, click here.


Change the World with Conscious Real Estate

How much do YOU want to change the world?

Here at Conscious Real Estate, we want to change the world a lot. Let’s talk about what we do… We help people buy and sell houses and we love that!  But we took it one step further and created a philanthropic real estate business model.

We are Colorado’s only real estate social enterprise.  Each time one of our clients buys or sells a home with us, we contribute 10% of our own commission to the nonprofit of our clients’ choice.


Here is some sad news… On the day of this writing, August 21, 2015, Conscious Real Estate did NOT close on any homes.  Yet a quick look at the MLS states that 299 homes sold on this day in Colorado.  Our owner, Allison Parks, decided to tally up the total sales prices of 100 of these homes.  Taking the total of these 100 sales into consideration and considering that commission is negotiable, our estimate is that if those buyers and sellers would have used Conscious Real Estate on just one side of the deal, that would have generated around $75,000 to $100,000 for nonprofits.  That’s right… we could donate that in just one day of real estate sales.

Imagine what a DIFFERENCE that $75,000 to $100,000 could make in our local and global community from JUST… ONE… DAY of people buying and selling houses with Conscious Real Estate.  And that’s if we only represent 1/3 of Colorado’s home sales from that one day…

Now imagine if those buyers and sellers used Conscious Real Estate for those 100 home sales each day next week, just Monday through Friday.  That would create $375,000 to $500,000 for nonprofits in just one week.  What difference do you think that could make?

In one month, it would create $1,500,000 to $2,000,000 for nonprofits.  What difference would THAT make?

In a year, that would create $18,000,000 to $24,000,000. That is an enormous amount of money to give away and quite frankly, nothing would make us happier.


Every day at Conscious Real Estate is Colorado Gives Day.

We’re here, folks.  We are willing to do the work.  We are willing to grow as big as we need to, we are willing to hire more people and create jobs, and we will always keep our commitment to customer service our top priority.  We know that, without our clients, we are nothing. We will keep our communities close to our heart every step of the way and implement innovative business practices that increase the greater social good.

If you would like to change the world with us and you have a friend who is planning to buy or sell a home, let them know that they can make a difference with their next real estate transaction if they work with Conscious Real Estate.  For more information, please contact Allison Parks at 303-908-9873 or


Bursting Denver’s Housing Bubble: Navigating Denver’s Real Estate Statistics



For two years, everyone has been asking me whether I expect a housing bubble to occur in Denver. Like any market, it will have to drop or plateau eventually. No commodity enjoys a steady increase until the end of time.

In the meantime, I come across a lot of articles and blog posts making some pretty broad claims about the Denver real estate market. The ideas are not necessarily wrong, but there’s more to the story.  

So, why should I just read this stuff over breakfast and roll my eyes, when I can share what I know with all of you?  I’m going to burst some of these bubbles, but not without a quick review of Economics 101.

Supply and Demand – Part 1: Denver’s supply of homes for sale is still very, very down. As long as this continues, Denver’s supply of homes for sale (or lack thereof) is a major contributor to our current seller’s market. Think about it… if, all of a sudden, the amount of homes for sale on the market increased by 500%, that would decrease the competition amongst buyers. If competition amongst buyers decreased, prices would go down

Supply and Demand; Part 2: We still have a lot of demand. People are moving to Denver at record rates. Denver consistently is rated as a top city for job-seekers, a top city to start a business, a top city for IT job-seekers, a top city for young people, and the list goes on. Based on historical trends, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that an average of 50,000 people will continue to move to Denver on a yearly basis.  Demand isn’t likely to go down; there is a limit to how quickly builders can build and many builders won’t want to over-speculate this soon after the recession. Therefore, we are likely to continue to have a demand greater demand than supply.

Our Local Economy: The Denver metro area economy is diverse and consistently growing. I read a blog post recently saying that “Denver is just a boom town and will fail like Detroit.” Doubtful. Detroit depended primarily on the auto industry; they did not have a diversified economy. Denver has a variety of industries which are flourishing.

As mentioned in every article about Denver for the past few years, we have weed. We have tourism, for the mountains… and for the weed. This keeps our restaurants full, our hotels full, keeps people shopping in our stores, drinking in our bars, and smoking our weed. We have tons of tech companies, most of which are growing, including a new Google campus which is coming soon in Boulder. We have an ever-growing clean energy industry. (On the flip side, we have a quite a lot of oil and gas companies here in Colorado, although, this industry has recently taken a major hit and people have been losing jobs in oil and gas. Note: oil and gas only accounts for about 10% of our total industry.)

National Interest Rates:  They’re still pretty low. A lot people, including myself, thought interest rates would rise by the end of last year. We were wrong. As long as interest rates remain low, it will keep mortgage rates lower, even if the home price is higher, so people are still very interested in buying now. The Fed has been meeting to discuss raising interest rates and although a couple of folks are bulldogging to raise them, most members of the Fed are interested in keeping interest rates low for a considerable amount of time. If there is a rise in interest rates, it’s not expected to be a major rise for at least several years.

*Note: although this is dependent on your home price and monthly mortgage payment, overall, you will save a lot more money over the course of a 30-year-loan if you buy at a lower interest rate than if you wait around for home prices to drop. The highest likelihood of Denver home prices dropping is if interest rates rise, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will save money.

Got it?  

I’m ready to get really dorky. Let’s analyze some Denver real estate statistics, so I can justify that Master’s degree that’s stashed in my closet…

Here’s one I saw recently from a Denver real estate authority…

In 2015, 10% less units sold under $500,000, while 34% more units have been sold above $500,000 compared to 2014.” It goes on to say that this indicates an overall price appreciation…

Here’s the thing… Sure, any Realtor working in the front lines of our local market will acknowledge that prices have been rapidly increasing. However, you can’t use that statistic to necessarily indicate an overall price appreciation. It could simply mean that less properties went to market under $500,000… If less properties go to market under $500,000, then less properties will sell under $500,000. It’s simple. If we are staying abreast of real estate statistics, we know that properties are generally being absorbed into the market within 4-6 weeks… Therefore, what is released into the market will be absorbed. If properties over $500,000 are being listed, they will likely be sold.

It’s likely that people with properties under $500,000 heard the news about how competitive it can be to find a home under $500,000; therefore, they are choosing not to sell at this time because they believe it will be difficult to find a replacement home. People selling properties over $500,000 don’t face as much market competition if they purchase a similarly priced replacement home in the Denver metro area, so perhaps people at that price point are simply selling their homes at a higher rate than people with homes priced under $500,000.

(This would explain a lot, because if these folks are simply moving within the metro area, then the seller’s home will go on the market, be purchased by a new buyer, and then the seller will buy a new home which likely also costs over $500,000, therefore resulting in two homes over $500,000 being sold. Generally, someone purchasing a home over $500,000 is less likely to be a first-time home-buyer, whereas someone purchasing a home under $500,000 is more likely to be a first-time home-buyer. A first-time home-buyer is someone who is no longer renting or living in mom’s basement, so they are only taking place in ONE real estate transaction. Buyers and sellers over the $500,000 price point are more likely to be participating in TWO real estate transactions, as such, creating a higher statistic of homes being sold over $500,000. In any case, although rapid appreciation is certainly real – we cannot simply assume that this statistic is indicative of purely of home price appreciation.)

I mean, hey… murder rates and ice cream sales both rise during the same time of year, but should we assume that ice cream causes murder?

Lets talk about some more statistics I’ve seen out there…

Another real estate agent/blogger calls himself “The Denver Expert” and encourages readers to “outsource their nerd.” Excuse me while I outnerd this guy and not break a sweat in the process… The “Denver Expert” posits that areas with higher home prices appreciate less than areas with lower home prices, while areas with the lowest average home prices are experiencing the highest rates of appreciation. The 5 areas listed with the lowest home prices are San Rafael, Clayton, Wash Park South, Whittier, and Cole, and it is reported that these neighborhoods are appreciating at a rate of around 19% per year. I live in the zip code of 4 of these neighborhoods and sell properties in these neighborhoods regularly.

What I can tell you is that, yes, the neighborhood has appreciated… a lot! But it has not truly appreciated at a rate of 19% per year. If it were unadulterated appreciation, the homes would have just increased in price with no outside forces at play —–> which means you could have purchased a home five years ago, done absolutely no upgrades beyond necessary maintenance, and had your home value increase by 19% each year.

That would be awesome, but that’s not what’s happening here… I can tell you from living and working extensively in the 80205, this phenomenon can largely be explained by a human species called “A Fix-and Flipper.” As the traditionally posh neighborhoods in Denver remain out of reach for many, people move to up and coming neighborhoods where prices are more affordable. Home-flippers get hip to these trends and they start flipping in these neighborhoods knowing that they can make money on their investment.

I purchased my home in July of 2013 and in that time, 5 homes have been fixed and flipped within 2 blocks of my home. Therefore if someone bought these homes at $350,000, put some work into them, and sold them for $500,000 within the same year, it looks like prices are increasing rapidly. The statistics don’t control for fix and flips; they only show the overall numbers. When you see these dramatic statistics for Park Hill, Whittier, City Park West, and so forth… you’re not getting the whole story.

Similarly, when you purchase a home in Wash Park East or Country Club, that home is already going to be outfitted with luxury upgrades. There isn’t a whole lot one can do with a such a property to add value. It’s already a luxury home. It already has Viking appliances, a top of the line bathroom, and maybe a heated garage. It already has the best roof that money can buy. Therefore, the value increases for these homes will not be nearly as grandiose.

All in all, my advice is to not be too scared of the market. It possibly will plateau or maybe even drop at some point. (A lot of people who were afraid to buy two years ago, but if they would have bought then, their home values would have appreciated during that time. In the meantime, their rents have only gone up.) All commodities drop. And they usually go back up. If your home value drops, treat it like a stock and don’t sell when the market is down.

As a final note, from everything I’ve seen, I do expect rentals to continue to rise. If you are renting, but are fearful of buying a home, you should probably fear the opposite. Home prices may drop at some point, but rentals are likely to go up and up and up. In fact, if you’re looking to invest some money, I would strongly consider getting a rental property in Denver.

If you have any questions about the Denver housing market, are interested in buying a home, or would like to find out your home’s current value if you are considering selling, please call Allison Parks at 303-908-9873 or email her at We are Conscious Real Estate – the brokerage that loves our local and global community – contributing 10% of all realtor commissions to the nonprofit of our client’s choice in our efforts to change the world through real estate. 

Are Marijuana Stores Bad for Your Neighborhood?

The marijuana state, Colorado grunge rubber stamp, vector illustration

Many homeowners have feared that the introduction of marijuana dispensaries and stores would place neighborhoods at risk by contributing to higher crime rates and nuisance factors.  This is a valid concern – I notice everything in my neighborhood that could affect my home value, even if it’s as minute as a neighbor getting a new roof.  Homeowners SHOULD consider their home as an investment.

However, a study from the University of Colorado at Denver, one of my alma maters, has shown that pot shops do not negatively affect local neighborhoods, cause higher crime rates, or create other undesirable outcomes.  The study focused on 275 marijuana distribution facilities in 75 Denver area neighborhoods, comparing 2010 census data to data from the 2000 census before dispensaries were legal in Denver.  This study sought to discover whether dispensaries qualify as “locally undesirable land uses,” evaluating whether or not these types of businesses contributed to higher crime rates, economic injustice, etc.

The study authors expected to see inequalities especially with shops located in poorer neighborhoods.  However, the research showed no relationship between marijuana store locations with poverty rates or ethnicity, as recreational pot shops are dispersed widely throughout the Denver area.

“Everybody is saying that [marijuana stores] are undesirable.  If that’s the case, it’s certainly not showing up in the data,” said Paul Stretsky, co-author of the study and professor at University of Colorado at Denver’s School of Public Affairs.

Vail Real Estate Market Begins to Grow After Recession


The Vail real estate market hasn’t recovered as quickly as the Denver metro area.  Land Title recently released its 2013 numbers for Eagle county’s real estate market:  the 2013 numbers are similar to 2012 — a few more transactions made, a bit less sales volume. That’s a welcome change from the swings seen in the years since the national economic slump first hit the High Country.

The steadiness in the market means we could be ready for positive changes, as the numbers for 2013 may not reflect the strength in demand.  Certainly, there’s more demand for than homes available in some areas.

The demand is increasing and is just starting to be reflected in price, which may prompt potential sellers who have been waiting to finally bring their property to market.  It may also spur a bit of construction.

While prices are beginning to rise, values remain fairly low, particularly when measured against the highs from 2007 and earlier, with values remaining around 25 to 30 percent below 2007 values.

Aurora Light Rail Development is Leading to High Expectations

Light Rail Station Right sign

The Aurora light rail along I-225 is expected to be completed in 2016.  City officials hope this 10 mile stretch will become Aurora’s main street, hosting shops, restaurants, residential, and office buildings near the light rail stops.  Many of the plans are expecting vertical development including high-end condos and office buildings.  Aurora Mayor, Steve Hogan, says “It’s an opportunity for Aurora to stop accepting average and start shooting for the stars.”

Critics believe this goal may be difficult to attain.  Aurora City Councilman Bob LeGare says that the market for rentals isn’t realistic.  Commercial space in Aurora usually sits around $17-18 per square foot at the high end, while plans for the development are aiming for office space at $25 per square foot.  The higher price required for developers to make a profit is largely due to zoning is transit-oriented developments.  A development of four stories or higher must have a parking structure and elevators, so the cost is passed on the tenant.

Development around Littleton’s light rail system has had moderate success, while Lakewood’s light rail line has been open for 10 months and has not yet seen transit-oriented development.

Mayor Hogan admits, “Maybe we are expecting too much or aiming too high.  But if you never try, then he’s [Councilman LeGare] right.”