Special Features

As 70 million baby boomers reach retirement, will just any ranch do? Introducing easyHouse by Boulder Creek

By Mark Samuelson

Boulder Creek s David Sinkey joins Teri Winchester (left) and Connie Archer in front of the easyHouse ranch model at Outlook in Castle Rock.
With 70 million baby boomers headed for retirement across the country, including many empty-nest types searching here in Colorado for ranch style homes, will just any single-level plan work okay for an aging buyer? Builders all over offer ranch plans - but the builder that led the field in single-level living believes that being a ranch isn't enough - that a home designed to work for those buyers needs to go way beyond traditional ranch design.Boulder Creek Neighborhoods has been talking with its hundreds of buyers - combing their needs and experiences to find out what a ranch really needs in order for a buyer to live life to the fullest. The result is easyHouse - single level designs that have dozens of features that buyers headed into those post-50 years are going to need.

"We knew lots of competition would be coming," says Boulder Creek president David Sinkey during a quick preview. "We see other builders trying to design for this market, and while they get two or three things right, they often make compromises on the rest." In easyHouse you'll see virtually NO steps - not from the garage, the deck, nor into the shower. Doors are 3-foot-width - even closet doors and pantry doors. Kitchen islands are set well back from surrounding counters.

Stairwells are wider (Boulder Creek includes large finished lower level space standard in these); and every plan has flexible spaces - say, an office, or morning room, or for a grand piano. Homes each have at least two full bedroom suites on the main-level (some three) - situations that can work for a 'cross-generational' buyer that may have a parent coming home, or a kid moving back in. "I like the openness," said Doug Carnahan of Larkspur, who with wife Patricia got in for a look last week, after exploring alternatives to their older house for some time.

Meanwhile, whether or not you're part of the 50-plus set, you'll see considerations designed to appeal to any experienced buyer: "People who have owned homes for years have artwork, and we're showing places to put that," says Teri Winchester, who along with Connie Archer will be on hand at the Castle Rock community.

easyHouse is set to open Saturday, Sept. 6 at Outlook in Castle Rock, in the Plum Creek golf course community; and at The Lakes at Centerra, a new Loveland master plan taking shape near the Centerra shopping center. Both will feature Boulder Creek's signature low-maintenance services such as lawn care and snow removal - along with two dozen features that may be less visible, but that make easyHouse work better for fifty-plus buyers than many other ranches.

This weekend you can visit EasyHouseforLife.com to join the VIP list for upcoming easyHouse Grand Openings and information (Boulder Creek expects to bring easyHouse to from five to seven Front Range communities over the coming year).

WHERE: VIP interest list for easyHouse single-level homes designed to age-in-place, by Boulder Creek Neighborhoods; models open Sept. 6 at Outlook at Plum Creek in Castle Rock, and at The Lakes at Centerra in Loveland. Visit the web site now for advance information, and to receive details on future grand openings.

PRICE: $450,000 - $600,000, varying by location

WEB: easyHouseforLife.com

Mark Samuelson writes on real estate and business; you can email him at mark@samuelsonassoc.com.You can see all of Mark Samuelson's columns at DenverPost.com/RealEstate. Follow Mark Samuelson on Twitter: @marksamuelson

  • Metro Denver’s housing market developing a split personality, sending rents down and home prices up

    Metro Denver’s housing market could diverge in a big way this year, with apartment rent increases slowing to a crawl or even reversing, while home prices continue to race higher.
    Signs of cooling are strongest on the multifamily side, where a large number of high-end units are expected to hit the market this year.
    ApartmentList estimates Colorado apartment rents rose 1.8 percent year-over-year in December, while metro Denver apartment rents are up 0.8 percent, both down from annual rent increases in the 4 percent range in July.
    Axiometrics estimates that metro Denver apartment rents were rising at an annual pace of 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter, down sharply from the 6.4 percent pace they moved into 2016 with.
    Abodo, in its annual rent report, puts metro Denver in the category of declining markets, recording a 6.7 percent drop in one-bedroom apartment rents in January compared with a year earlier, the seventh steepest decline among the cities it tracked.
    “We anticipate that, starting with luxury developments, the rent for apartments in Denver should remain pretty consistent in 2017,” said Sam Radbil, a spokesman for the Wisconsin-based online apartment listing firm.
    Seattle-based Zillow, whose rental index includes single-family homes, puts metro Denver rent increases around 2.8 percent last year and is projecting an increase of 2.5 percent this year.
    One of the more upbeat reports comes from RealPage in Texas, which estimates metro Denver rents are rising at a 4.4 percent pace, down from gains in the 8 percent to 10 percent range a year ago.
    “It has been a meaningful slowdown,” RealPage chief economist Greg Willett said. “But it is still a good number.”
    In metro Denver’s favor are the large number of young adults moving in to take relatively higher-paying jobs which can support the higher-priced units hitting the market, he said.
    “Denver is pretty much viewed as the perfect rental market,” he said. “The demand numbers are very solid.”
    RealPage estimates about 11,000 apartments came onto the market last year and that another 13,000 should become available this year out of a construction pipeline of around 21,000 units.
    So far, the Denver market has managed to absorb the new supply, but landlords, eager to fill their projects, are offering more concessions — including a month or two of free rent — to win over tenants, a key reason why rent increases have slowed.
    Willett said apartment developers, initially focused almost exclusively on downtown areas, are casting a wider net, although the economics have them still focused on higher-rent or luxury units.
    Whether the metro Denver apartment market holds up or rolls over will depend mostly on continued job growth and in-migration, given that developers can’t easily put the brakes on projects launched years earlier.
    Abodo notes that Denver, while still enjoying strong population gains, ranked second among the country’s 50 largest cities for the percentage of the population moving out.
    Home prices
    If too much supply is an issue with apartments, the opposite is the case with single-family homes and condos, where new construction has failed to keep pace with gains in population and employment.
    The Colorado Association of Realtors estimates the median price of a home sold in Colorado last year rose 10 percent, with both new listings and the inventory of homes available for sale in December at historic lows.
    The Denver Metro Association of Realtors puts the gain of the median price of a home sold last year at 11.4 percent, down from 14.2 percent in 2015.
    “We are looking at a 2017 that looks a lot like 2016, with some of the froth off the market,” said Mark Trenka, chairman of the Colorado Association of Realtors.
    Stable or falling rents could leave more tenants comfortable with not making a move, while also persuading some investors to take their chips off the table and sell their rental homes.
    Rising mortgage rates could also prove a headwind to future price increases by reducing the ability of buyers to qualify.
    “Each rate increase takes a small percentage of buyers out of the market,” Trenka said.
    But a slowing in home price gains from the double-digit pace of the past two years could actually be health for the market.
    Zillow predicts metro Denver will rank as the country’s ninth hottest real estate market this year, with home prices rising 3.6 percent. That is down from a 9.7 percent increase last year that made the city the country’s hottest housing market.
    Among metro Denver’s hottest neighborhoods, with home-price appreciation rates of 7.6 percent or higher, are Aurora’s City Center North and Centretech neighborhoods and Denver’s Elyria-Swansea, Globeville and Westwood neighborhoods, Zillow said.
    Clear Capital is calling for a 7.3 percent increase in metro Denver home prices this year, down from the 10.7 percent increase last year. That places Denver second in its rankings after Dallas.
    Not every forecast expects metro Denver to come off its double-digit pace. VeroForecast places five Colorado cities among its list of the 25 top performers for home price gains in 2017, led by metro Denver with a 10.2 percent gain that will rank second only to Seattle at 10.6 percent.
    Other top performers among Colorado cities include Fort Collins at No. 11 with an 8.5 percent gain; Boulder at 14th with an 8.2 percent gain; Greeley at 18th with a 7.6 percent gain; and Colorado Springs at 24th with a 7.2 percent gain.
    Across the state, foreclosures, a measure of distress in the for-sale housing market, continue to drop. Colorado foreclosure starts were down 18.4 percent last year and they are down 83.05 percent from the peak hit in 2010, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.
    CoreLogic found that Colorado and metro Denver had some of the lowest rates of homeowners in a negative equity positions, meaning they owed more on their mortgage than their homes were worth, which is a big contributor to foreclosures when a market softens.

    Read more

  • Colorado homeowners will get a tax break, thanks to TABOR’s lesser-known cousin. But local governments will be squeezed.

    A little-understood provision of the state constitution will provide property-tax relief for homeowners across the state next year, but it could have cascading financial consequences for virtually all levels of Colorado government.
    Gov. John Hickenlooper in his State of the State address on Thursday highlighted the immediate problem for Colorado’s budget: a projected $170 million cut to school districts across the state in 2018, which the state is required by law to replenish from its own coffers.
    “The constitutional budget constraints for school finance are the thorniest part of our fiscal thicket,” Hickenlooper said, urging lawmakers in both parties to come together to find a solution.

    Read more

  • Climbing mortgage rates take bigger bites from budget, but the news is worse in some places than others

    Mortgage rates have shot up since the last election, requiring home buyers pay more each month today than if they had borrowed in October. But location matters in terms of how much more comes out of pocket.
    The National Association of Realtors took the median home sold price for U.S. every county and looked at the monthly payment on a 30-year loan with 10 percent down at various interest rates.
    Those rates included 3.5 percent, available before the election, 4.2 percent, around where they were in early January, and 5 percent, where NAR predicts they might reach next year.
    In percentage terms, a loan at 4.2 percent will cost a borrower 8.9 percent more a month than one snagged at 3.5 percent, while a loan at 5 percent will cost 19.6 percent more a month, assuming everything else stays the same.
    “Nationwide, it is estimated that the rise of mortgage rates from 3.5 to 4.2 percent increased the monthly payment by $75 while a rise from 4.2 to 5 percent will increase the monthly payments by $90,” Nadia Evangelou, a research economist with the NAR, wrote in her blog post.
    Related ArticlesJanuary 13, 2017

    Read more

  • Luxury homes sales in Vail on the rise as $23 million house sets new record

    Sometime in the fall, buyers began snapping up more luxury homes in the Vail Valley.
    Luxury housing specialist Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate said it had 16 houses in Vail that are priced at $3 million or more are under contract as of Friday. And that doesn’t include a Rockledge Road home, which just sold for a record-setting $23 million.
    Last year at this time? “It was very quiet last January,” said Julie Bergsten, vice president of operations and finance for Slifer Smith & Frampton.
    A lull hit the luxury housing market last year in many of Colorado’s ski towns. In the summer, real estate brokers in Aspen called it a nosedive as Pitkin County’s sales volume fell 42 percent from the prior year. But post election, activity appears to be ramping up.
    “Hangover from the recession maybe? I do think the election had something to do with it. Whenever there is instability, those buyers wait to see what’s going to happen,” said Bergsten, who categorizes homes as “luxury” if they are least $3 million. “If it feels uncertain, they’ll hold onto their cash and see what happens.”
    Courtesy of Donna CaynoskiThe record-breaking sale of the 11,509-square foot, seven bedroom, eight bath ski-in, ski-out property on the site of an original 1962 Vail homestead, closed in January.
    Evidence that certainty is back in Eagle County, which includes Vail and Beaver Creek, is evident in the Multiple Listing Service, which is used by Realtors. Approximately 38 Eagle County homes priced at $3 million and higher sold between Sept. 1 and now, according to the MLS. During the same period the year before, 34 sold. While the volume was near the same, price tags bumped the total up 33 percent to $227 million, from $171 million the same period of 2016.
    Related Articles

    Read more