An eerie glowing full moon rises behind a tall skyscraper in the Denver Colorado skyline.

An eerie glowing full moon rises behind a tall skyscraper in the Denver Colorado skyline.

1)  If you haven’t already heard, Denver has 300 days of sunshine per year.  It keeps us cheerful and bright.  Sunshine combats Seasonal Affective Disorder and allows us to occasionally wear shorts in December.

2)  The mountains are right there.  Not a skier or snowboarder? Hike. Kayak. Climb. Snowshoe. Stand-Up Paddleboard on the rivers. Take photographs. Breathe.  Even if you choose to never set foot in the mountains, the front range always looks stunning from the city.

3)  Strong economy. Denver has diverse and growing industries – technology, natural gas, clean energy, mutual funds, tourism.  Our unemployment rate is lower than that of New York City.

4)  No shortage of great restaurants.  When I need to entertain guests, my problem isn’t “Which restaurant is good enough?”  My problem is “Which great restaurant is perfect for this occasion?”

5)  Lower cost of living than coastal cities.  Considerably lower.  The median price of a single-family home in Denver was $285,000 in the third quarter of 2013, compared to New York’s median of $515,000.

6)  Parks. (No, not Allison Parks, though I am a GREAT reason to move to Denver.) Denver has the largest city park system in the nation. Denver has more than 200 parks within the city and 20,000 acres of parks in the nearby mountains, including spectacular Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The city has its own buffalo herd and every year plants more than 200,000 flowers in 26 formal flower gardens.

7)  Denver is a cultural city with the second highest educated population in America. In its Old West days, Denver had a performance of Macbeth before it had a school or a hospital. Today, the Denver Performing Arts Complex has nine theatres seating 10,000 people and is second only to New York’s Lincoln Center. The seven county metro area has a self-imposed sales tax for the arts that raises up to $40 million a year, which is distributed to 300 arts organizations and facilities.

8)  Denver is one of only a few cities to have seven professional sports teams. Denver also has horse racing and a professional rodeo. Denver has 90 golf courses, 850 miles of bike paths and the nation’s largest city park system.

9)  Denver brews more beer than any other city.  If you’re a beer lover, you could tour artisan breweries for days.

10)  Denver really is the Mile High City. There is a step on the State Capitol Building that is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level. In Denver’s rarified air, golf balls go ten percent farther. So do cocktails. Alcoholic drinks pack more of a wallop than at sea level. The sun feels warmer, because you’re closer to it, but your coffee is cooler, because water boils at 202 degrees.

If you’re ready to relocate to Denver, let Conscious Real Estate help you find your new home! To contact one of our agents, call 303-908-9873 or email our owner, Allison Parks, at allison@theconsciousgroup.com.

A purple button with the word Give on it

While most economists agree that the Great Recession is over, many nonprofits in Colorado and across the nation have not recovered from their fundraising declines that began in 2008.

The Colorado Nonprofit Association reports that while nearly 58% of our state’s nonprofits state that they will meet or exceed their individual donation goals, more than 34% will fall short.  Nearly 77% of Colorado nonprofits have noticed an increased demand for services this year, but 22% had to cut back on programs and nearly 17% turned away clients.

Food pantries have taken a large hit, as the food stamp program benefits have been decreased.  The Colorado floods also hurt many nonprofits, as donors redirected their giving from their usual beneficiaries to the flood efforts.

The Denver post reports experts’ estimate that it will take about seven years for charitable giving to return to the pre-recession levels.  People are reluctant to part with their money unless they think the economy is stable.  On a positive note, Colorado Gives Day raised $15.4 million for Colorado nonprofits in 2012, while 2013 Colorado Gives Day broke a record by raising over $20 million.

Here at Conscious Group, every day is Colorado Gives Day.  We strive to always give back to our local and global community, by contributing 10% of all commissions from home sales and purchases to the nonprofit of our clients’ choice.  Come make a difference with us when you buy or sell your next home – it feels pretty good and you might just have fun!

concept of making money from a house

Renting out a home may not be desirable for everyone, but homeowners can supplement their income by renting their home or a room in their home on the popular vacation websites, Airbnb and VRBO.  I first learned of these sites when a friend decided to try Airbnb in New York City as an alternative to a hotel room.  A decent hotel room in New York can easily cost at least $300, while she found a room in someone’s home for $100.  She said the homeowner made her a lovely breakfast and showed her some fun places around the neighborhood, making it a better experience than what she would have had in a hotel.

At Airbnb, trustworthiness and customer satisfaction are highly valued and maintained through a 24/7 call line and review postings.  Vanessa Grout, a contributor to Forbes, writes that the popularity and feedback of this service has led her to believe using Airbnb to earn extra revenue for her second home is a great idea.  Also, if you can only rent a room in your home, Airbnb has a feature where you can market the room to people who share the same interests as you, so you could choose to rent your home to hockey fans or people who practice yoga!

So, how could this work for you?  If you purchased a mountain property in a desirable destination as an additional home, you could rent it out when you are not using it to generate additional income.  If you own a home in Denver and travel often, you could make money by renting your home while you are away.  Or, if you simply don’t want a full-time roommate, but have a spare bedroom, you could rent your bedroom part-time for additional income.  Clients in Boulder and Fort Collins have told me that they have no problem renting their homes to the parents of students during graduation week, so they leave town and have their vacations paid for!

Be aware:  Controversy has begun in New York, Miami, and Chicago, with complaints that people offering their homes on Airbnb are pulling revenue away from hotels and not complying with tax and zoning regulations.  A few Airbnb users have been hit with fines in New York.  Thus far, similar problems have not arisen with Airbnb and VRBO users in Colorado.

A Few Tips For Renting Your Home on Airbnb: 

Get insured.  Airbnb provides up to $1,000,000 of insurance coverage to its homeowners for loss or damage due to theft or vandalism caused by an Airbnb guest – this does not take the place of homeowners or renters insurance. Review your policy with your insurance carrier to make sure you have adequate coverage. It would also be sensible to secure valuables in a safe and store clothing in a separate locked closet.

Find long-term guests. Set a minimum stay of two or three nights. One night is just not enough. You don’t want to be a hotelier, deal with transients, or frequent key coordination.

Leave instructions. Leave a detailed list of instructions for your guests. You’ll receive many fewer questions during the course of their visit. Guests need to understand things like how to turn on the television, pool heater, alarm system, or any other tricky device.  Also provide a list of safety instructions and useful telephone numbers.

Energy efficient house graphics with question and percentage marks against grey background

Is the Denver housing market is in danger of a bubble?  If someone you know has purchased a home in the Denver metro area this past year, you will certainly have heard about skyrocketing home prices, bidding wars, and properties often selling for higher than the asking price.  Considering that the home prices have quickly been rising while our nation’s economy still feels shaky, this is an understandable concern.

As with any bubble, real estate, stock market, or otherwise, a bubble can only be predicted in hindsight.  We don’t know where the peak (or the crash, for that matter) will hit, until we are past the hump or slump.

It’s worth mentioning that the Denver real estate market was not as negatively affected as many parts of the United States during the recession.  The subprime mortgage game wasn’t as prevalent in Denver, our economy remained stronger than many major cities, and our percentage of foreclosures was considerably lower.  The Case-Shiller Denver Home Price Index reported that metro Denver home prices have met and exceeded the pre-crash peak in 2013.

Much of the price appreciation has been due to the drop in interest rates.  During the recession, interest rates have been at an all time low, in the Fed’s attempt to keep money in the system and create more consumer confidence in home-buying.  Whether the attempt was psychological or not, when you buy at a low interest rate, as long as you can make your mortgage payments, you will greatly benefit in the long run by saving a boatload of money throughout the years on interest.

Denver, depending on which statistics you read, historically has had a 5% appreciation on home values.  (I have seen statistics reporting this number as high as 9%, but for sake of being conservative, I will report the lowest number I have seen.)  Most investments won’t yield more than 10% per year on average, and let’s face it – you can’t host a holiday party in your mutual fund.

Overall, the Denver economy is pretty strong.  Even if home prices drop for a bit, they most likely will recover and continue to rise.  Our state’s population has grown at almost double the national rate over the past few years.  State Demographer, Elizabeth Garner, states that of this growth, 55-60% of people are moving here due to a job change, indicating that Colorado is showing job growth.  Also, many young families are eschewing the coastal cities for Denver for lower taxes, lower cost of living, access to parks, and sunny days.  The Denver economy continues to grow with diverse industries – natural gas, mutual funds, clean energy, technology, and well… marijuana.

So, what do I recommend?  If you’re financially and emotionally ready to purchase a home, do so.  Interest rates are still low enough that even if home prices drop after you buy, you will still save money in the long run.  The Denver economy has remained strong and shows no indicators of slowing down.  The population keeps growing in Denver, and increasing demand for homes will keep prices up.

If you think you may be ready to talk a real estate professional about purchasing or selling your home, please contact Allison Parks at Conscious Real Estate at 303-908-9873 or allison@theconsciousgroup.com.