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Do Super Bowl Appearances Correlate to Real Estate Prices?

January 16, 2014

Money Magazine: The Real Estate Market is Back

March 18, 2013

Money Magazine: The Real Estate Market is Back

Posted: 18 Mar 2013 04:00 AM PDT

Last Friday, we ran an InfoGraphic from that showed that the real estate market was coming back. Some objected that the information was from a survey of industry players that may have a natural bias. For the doubters, here is the cover of the latest edition of Money Magazine released this past weekend.


The magazine supported their case by explaining:

  • In the last year, home prices increased in 92 of the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas
  • Homes are more affordable than they’ve been in 40 years
  • The number of houses for sale is at the lowest level in a decade
  • Price increases are projected for most of the country this year

It seems that even the unbiased realize that Housing is Back!

Is Homeownership a Good FINANCIAL Decision?

February 13, 2013

Many have reported on Robert Shiller’s recent comments on the investment aspect of homeownership. Shiller, a Yale professor and co-founder of the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, is famous for making provocative comments on house prices and the financial benefits of owning a home. In a recent Bloomberg Television interview, Shiller responded to a question about homeownership as an investment this way:

“So, why was it considered an investment? That was a fad. That was an idea that took hold in the early 2000′s. And I don’t expect it to come back. Not with the same force. So people might just decide, ‘Yeah, I’ll diversify my portfolio. I’ll live in a rental.’ That is a very sensible thing for many people to do.”

Today, we would like to debate Shiller’s notion by offering three FINANCIAL reasons to purchase a home:

1.) You Can’t Live in Your IRA

When you buy your own home you are not taking available dollars away from another investment. You are replacing one housing expense (rent) which has no potential for a return on investment with another (mortgage payment) that does give you an opportunity for a return. We realize that there has been research showing that over the last 30 years renting has been less expensive than owning. That research also says that if you invested the entire difference between the rent payment and mortgage payment you may have done better financially. There are two challenges with this conclusion:

  • Today, in the vast majority of the country, renting is actually more expensive than owning a home.
  • History has proven that tenants DO NOT invest the difference in their rent and mortgage payments.

2.) Homeownership Creates Wealth

Paying a mortgage creates what financial experts call ‘forced savings’. The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University released a study titled America’s Rental Housing: Meeting Challenges, Building on Opportunities. In the study, they actually quantified the difference in family wealth between renters and homeowners:

“[R]enters have only a fraction of the net wealth of owners. Near the peak of the housing bubble in 2007, the median net wealth of homeowners was $234,600—about 46 times the $5,100 median for renters. Even if homeowner wealth fell back to 1995 levels, it would still be 27.5 times the median for renters.”

3.) There Are Tremendous Tax Advantages to Investing in a Home

There is no doubt that selling an investment such as gold is easier than selling your home. However, this liquidity comes at a price. The price is called capital gains. That is the tax you pay on any financial gain you receive from the investment. This tax doesn’t apply the same way when you sell your primary residence:

Theresa Palagonia, a CPA and the Accounting Manager for the firm G.S. Garritano & Associates, was good enough to explain the Home Sale Exclusion Rules:

“You may qualify to exclude from your income all or part of any gain from the sale of your main home.

Maximum Exclusion

You can exclude up to $250,000 of the gain on the sale of your main home if all of the following are true:

  • You meet the ownership test.
  • You meet the use test.
  • During the 2 year period ending on the date of the sale, you did not exclude gain from the sale of another home.

If you and another person owned the home jointly but file separate returns, each of you can exclude up to $250,000 of gain from the sale of your interest in the home if each of you meets the three conditions listed above.

You may be able to exclude up to $500,000 of the gain on the sale of your main home if you are married and file a joint return and meet the requirements. (Special rules apply for joint returns.)

We will let you decide for yourself whether homeownership makes sense financially.

Negative Equity: The Latest Statistics

January 25, 2013

Why I’m a REALTOR - And Why You Should Care

January 5, 2013
Why I’m a REALTOR - And Why You Should Care December 9, 2012 By Anthony Gilbert Leave a Comment There’s a common misconception that real estate agents only care about “the money” - their commissions. All commission-based compensation structures are an “easy target,” no matter the industry. Particularly in real estate however, the discussions tend to revolve around the expense of using an agent, rather than the benefits. This focus on "price" has led to "discount" agents and limited service listings (where the seller pays only to be entered into the MLS). While those options clearly have a place in the market, I do not believe they truly match the needs of most buyers or sellers. Whether they know this or not, is another matter. Why the Focus on Commissions? I believe potential clients (mostly home sellers) focus on commission because too many agents overlook the importance of first establishing trust - followed by a frank and detailed discussion regarding the benefits of our services. Agents also often make the mistake of steering potential clients towards their own (the agent’s) biases and beliefs without any data to back-up their opinions, and worse... without truly listening to, or at least validating the desires of the client. Furthermore, buyers and sellers all too often overlook the importance of assessing the personal and professional qualities of the agent. All agents are not created equal, and beyond knowing “real estate,” it’s just as important (if not more so) to know what truly motivates the agent to do a good job - besides just “getting paid.” Why should you care? Well... because sooner or later in the course of the home buying or selling process, there will likely be multiple occasions when you’ll take comfort in knowing your REALTOR truly has your back! Earning the Business & Setting Expectations When meeting with a prospective client for the first time, the possibility of compensation never enters my mind. Seriously... it’s the farthest thing from it at that moment. Rather, my focus is demonstrating a high-level of professionalism, integrity and competence, while conveying to the potential client how my services will benefit them. Notice I often say “prospective client” and “potential client.” When first meeting people, while I’m completely confident in my abilities, I do not presume they will choose to work with me at that time - even if they’ve been referred. In fact, I’m often the first agent to suggest to home buyers that they “interview” more than one agent to find the right fit. Why? Because I strongly feel that all business must be earned - I do not feel I’m “entitled” to someone’s business just because I hold a real estate license. More to the point however, I want to make sure all of my potential clients recognize that the process of choosing an agent should in fact be a conscious decision. I’m not comfortable being an agent “by default.” It is for this reason that I prefer a friendly and casual meeting before getting down to business, with the primary goal of simply getting to know each other. Of course, I realize that’s not always possible. Why I Became a Real Estate Agent It probably goes without saying, that I like to have money in the bank just as anyone else. However, I am very proud to say that my priority is squarely with my clients, keeping-track and following-up on all fronts to make sure everything is in place for closings to happen on schedule. Yes... some elements (such as lending and the other agent’s duties) are out of my control; but I can certainly attempt to make sure that all the other parties are working for the same common goal - and that includes motivating the client to take care of their own responsibilities too. At the close of each transaction, I’m reminded of why I became a Real Estate Agent - and it positively has NOTHING to do with commissions. Beyond my true interests in real estate, the primary motivating factor is simple - it’s the genuine satisfaction I feel knowing I’ve played an important role in the client’s home buying or selling experience. Of course, the ultimate thrill is when clients sincerely express their appreciation to me - and better yet, when they refer me to family and friends. Thus at the end of the day, the true “reward” is not the commission; rather, it’s the simple validation from clients and others that I really have done a good job.

5 Reasons to Buy a Home Now Instead of the Spring

November 28, 2012

Price Increases Are on the Horizon

Prices were expected to bounce along the bottom this winter. However, many pricing indices (examples: CoreLogic, FHFA, LPS, Case Shiller) are reporting that prices are continuing to rise.

Rents Are Skyrocketing

Rents historically increase by 3.2% on an annual basis. A study issued earlier this year projects rent increases of 4% for the next two years. Trulia recently reported that rents this year have actually shot up by 5.4%.

Interest Rates Are Projected to Rise

The Mortgage Bankers Association has projected that the 30-year mortgage interest rate will be 4.4% by the end of 2013. That is an increase of approximately one full point over current rates.

Buy Low, Sell High

We would all agree that, when investing, we want to buy at the lowest price possible and hope to sell at the highest price. Housing can create family wealth as long as we follow this simple principle. Today, real estate is selling ‘low’. It’s time to buy.

ABOR Observer August 2012

August 13, 2012
Aspen - Centennial owners press for public assistance with repairs, Lodging availability still on decline, Obermeyer Place developer, city even-steven on land lease deal, Housing summit to examine Housing Authority role in community, Occupancy up sharply in June, Aspen Skiing Co. reaches out to Asian market, Council priorities for coming year affect developers, business owners, New East Cooper building draws high end retailer & top rent, Romney raises $2.5 million at fundraiser, and more....

Snowmass Village - Planning Commission OK with Westin and Mall PUD amendments, Related Colorado executive takes long term view of Base Village, Snowmass council likes entertainment district idea, Snowmaking to come from Ziegler Reservoir, Lead paleontologist for Snowmastadon dig named to Smithsonian, Viceroy Snowmass recognized by, and more...

Basalt - Town manager calls for growth controls to be set aside, Kane leaving post as town manager for Design Workshop, Foreclosure filings down in Eagle County portion of valley, up elsewhere, Bear incidents on the rise in mid-valley, Library district faces budget shortfall, Whole Foods set for Aug. 15 opening, and more....

Pitkin County - State sides with county in Little Nell valuation appeal, State law ups taxes on agricultural properties, P&Z recommends rule change to allow ABC market expansion, Cattle, horse operations facing shortage of hay, County OKs more nighttime concrete plant operations in Woody Creek, No-go for study of relation between real estate values and river, Bear ordered to remove roof, Shield-O open space funds appropriated, Shield-O open space funds appropriated, Fire restrictions partially lifted, Money available for energy upgrades, County says no to airport valet service, Woman sentenced to 8 years probation for theft from home owners association, and more...

Downvalley and Beyond - Carbondale, Garfield County stake claim to Ruedi water, Habitat for Humanity eyes Keator Grove, RVR golf course investors promise major improvements, Glenwood Springs allows chickens with new ordinance, Population growth flat or down in resort counties, CDOT examining high speed rail from Denver to Ski Country, and more...

If you'd like to read the full ABOR Observer August 2012, please click here.

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The Observer - March 2012

March 7, 2012
CAR and NAR Updates -

CAR Opposes Bill To Prohibit the Use of Credit Information By Employers, Podcast: Get Ready to Rally, HUD Announces Proposed Rule to Reduce Permitted Seller Concessions, Colorado Hill Visits at 2012 MidYear Meeting Registration, and more...

Aspen -

Council set to revise downtown development rules, Feds see habitat protection as main hurdle for hydro plant, Little Annie’s, Benton Building saved in deal with Aspen Core Ventures, Dancing Bear owner to focus on selling Phase One, Fox Crossing homes, lots on the auction bloc, Mason Morse building seeks penthouse, historic designation, City approves Aspen Walk after more than three years, Aspen economy improving, Aspen/Snowmass defies downward trend in bookings, Aspen now in same climate and plant zone as Rifle, New restaurant envisioned for 129 year old home, Frontier ending service to Aspen, and more...

Snowmass Village -

Westin construction timeline protects summer events, Hypo files another lawsuit against Related, County, banks dispute value of Viceroy, Base Village properties, and more...

Basalt -

Basalt amends code to allow chickens, Wildlife officer pleads for closures on midvalley lands, Basalt resists endorsement of El Jebel intersection, and more...

Pitkin County -

Pitkin County building permits near 20-year low; Aspen sees growth, Historic ranch home may be refurbished if county lifts affordable housing restriction, Thompson Divide Coalition offers $2.5 million to buy down gas leases, Morris & Frywald, Chaffin Light announce merger, County wants to keep USFS parcel in public hands, Gould, local subcontractors to build RFTA upgrades, Cell service on tap at Sundeck, and more...

Glenwood Springs -

BLM reviewing gas lease at edge of neighborhood, and more...

To read the full edition of The Observer, March 2012, click here.
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The Observer - February 2012

February 10, 2012
Aspen - Mayor calls for end to infill incentives, Deal to save Benton Building, Little Annie’s goes to full council, Hydro election appears likely, Galena Community Connection advances with council support, Aspen Walk back in play, Unit owners sue developers at Dancing Bear, Council splits on AACP hearings, X Games attendance down 5 percent, Country Day to relocate during campus makeover, Taxi for Tips driver Phil Sullivan jailed, New trails, habitat protection in works for Sky Mountain Park, Police seek rogue artist, and more....

Snowmass Village - Property owners paying for Related-Hypo dispute, Lodging rates remain strong through December, Droste brothers in legal fight over Brush Creek land sale, Latest rent disputes over Base Village total $1.3 million, National Geographic, PBS to feature Zeigler find, and more...

Basalt - Judge upholds RFTA’s eminent domain claim, Retirement community considered in Basalt, Road realignment may chew up park,  School district won’t rehire superintendent, Grace Park open house set in Basalt, Basalt voters to decide bag ban, and more...

Pitkin County -  Push back forces county to revise winter closure recommendations, Feds contacted about coal mining near Redstone,  Realtors, business leaders meet with Tipton on Hidden Gems, Road work on summer schedule, Interest in affordable housing dips, and more...

Downvalley - Carbondale voters reject Village at Crystal River, and more...

To read the full Observer, Feburary 2012, please click here.
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The Observer - January 2012

February 8, 2012
Aspen - Neighbors sue to stop Boomerang,  Benton, Little Annie, parking lot redevelopment heading to Council, Dancing Bear under contract, Hydroelectric rezone unanimously approved, Aspen retail economy improving, Council opts for continued AACP review, Value of TDRs drop sharply, Forest Service moving ahead with West End sale, Runway extension improving resort access, ACRA expands marketing efforts, Cassin leaving Aspen Environmental Health Department, St. Regis renovations largely complete, Food & Wine: Jimmy’s among top bars in USA, Art Museum exploring geothermal option, and more...

Snowmass Village - New owners of Base Village looking to sell, Fossil find garners national media and a book, Snowmass economy shows signs of recovery,  New Year’s Eve skiing ruined by winds, ande more...

Basalt - RFTA sues to condemn in Basalt, Basalt recovery coming along slowly, Three area schools honored by state, Basalt Winter Market in full swing, Basalt High Senior earns 144 merit badges on way to Eagle Scout status, and more...

Pitkin County - Overnight cabins approved in Ashcroft, Resorts, Forest Service face off over water rights, Property taxes down 12 percent, Conservancy eyes Coal Creek clean-up, Open space renamed “Sky Mountain Park”, and more...

Downvalley -  Carbondale to decide fate of mixed-use development, Carbondale bag ban headed for vote, Glenwood council considers recreation tax, County affordable housing rules likely to loosen, and more...

To read the full Observer, January 2012, please click here.
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The Observer - November 2011

November 8, 2011
NAR - REALTOR Party – Vote – Act - Invest -- We are the REALTOR® Party: An energized movement of real estate professionals fighting...

Aspen - City amends hydroelectric plant application, CEO Kaplan calls for more new lodging, Developer pushes for demolition of Benton Building, Lodge at Aspen Mountain officially dead, Geothermal drilling moves ahead over neighborhood objections, Aspen Walk still not walking, Aspen, Carbondale won’t let you bag it, Forest Service may sell lots in West End, Free buses remain between Aspen and Snowmass, Sales picture in Aspen improving, Snowmass, Buttermilk tops in snowboarder poll, Chamber kills Wintersköl slogan, Polo championships set for Rio Grande Park, “Before Aspen” theme at center of Skico marketing, Aspen to pocket $250K on affordable housing sale, and more...

Snowmass Village - Skico, Centurion among Base Village bidders, Snowmass explores sister city relationship with Japanese resort, Base Village receiver sues project builders, and more...

Basalt -  Town council backs off rental restrictions, Whole Foods building includes prime retail spots, Fowl play still allowed in Basalt, Basalt considers riverfront investment, Business activity up in Basalt, and more...

Pitkin County - Senators call for slowdown of Thompson Divide drilling, New state law strips homeowners of agriculture tax breaks, County presses developer on tax break, Commissioners: Lenado preservation plan not ready, County opposes Air Force training plan,  Victim’s relatives urge trial for inspectors, Pitkin County homeowners are “energy smart”est, and more...

Downvalley - Carbondale voters to decide controversial amendment, Garfield County gravel pit expansion scrapped, and more...

To read the full Observer, November 2011, please click here.
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The Observer - September 2011

September 7, 2011
Aspen - Council agrees on advisory status for AACP, Lift One Lodge receives P&Z blessing, Development activity up sharply this summer, City moving ahead with tax on housing rentals, Benton Building, Little Annie’s OK’d for demolition, Chabad Aspen renews plans for center on Main Street, Boomerang approval challenged in court, Fornell affordable housing approved,  Aspen Walk shrinks, June retail and lodging sales up sharply,  Local Community Banks sold, American Airlines enticed with cash, marketing incentives, Wheeler renovation on schedule, over budget, Wheeler renovation on schedule, over budget, Homeowners association sues over smoking tenant, and more...

Basalt - Pan and Fork’s days are numbered, Gun range noise mitigation postponed, Senior community planned in Basalt, June sales rise in Basalt, Basalt OKs bag fee, Resident allowed to keep chickens

Snowmass Village - New roundabouts top capital plan in Snowmass Village, Life a little less sweet in Base Village

Pitkin County - Assessed value of Pitkin County dives, Assessed value of Pitkin County dives, County eases rules for ag buildings, Appraisal indicates open space purchase was a good deal, Redstone hydroelectric plant nominated as “endangered”, Redstone hydroelectric plant nominated as “endangered”

Downvalley and beyond - Final vote on Carbondale mall development imminent, Strang Ranch to host sheep dog finals, Strang Ranch to host sheep dog finals

To read the full Observer, September 2011, please click here.
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The Observer - August 2011

August 4, 2011
National -  Earlier today, President Obama signed into law, S. 365, the Budget Control Act of 2011, more commonly known as the Debt Ceiling Bill. After careful analysis of the bill we can report that it contains NO DIRECT IMPACT ON REAL ESTATE TAX RULES OR SPENDING PROVISIONS.  And more...

Aspen - SCI zoning trips up yoga co-op, America Airlines begins service this winter, Burlingame II proceeds, Boomerang recieves council OK, Geothermal energy testing approved, City sales taxes up year over year, Art Museum housing play okayed, Skico names new VP of Marketing, Renewable energy event organizer "neutral" on hydro plant, and more...

Snowmass Village - Silvertree, Wildwood, Snowmass Conference Center sold, Capitol Peak Lodge owners sue developers, Topsy-turvy retail sales in Snowmass Village, and more...

Pitkin County - Pitkin County prevails in backcountry zoning challenge, County / energy firm spar over gas drilling regs, Airport terminal finalists emerge, Residential construction still weak in Pitkin County, County focuses on road funds in Woody Creek, Heavy rains close Rio Grande Trail, Hidden Gems stokes membership at Wilderness Workshop, and more...

Basalt and Beyond - Pan and Fork sale postponed, Downvally communities ask for say in large development, Two counties move to protect riparian area, Solar farms gains support from Eagle Commissioners, Carbondale fire district considering tax question, and more...

To read the full Observer, August 2011, please click here.

The Observer - April 2011

April 11, 2011
Aspen ~
Smaller Lift One proposal returns to P&Z
Architecture firms rehiring
Housing board continues wrangling with uncooperative homeowner
Aspen affordable housing regulations heading to Supreme Court
And much more...

Pitkin County ~
Opposition to Crystal mine proposal grows
County amending code to protect building rights
Feds commit $9.1 million to runway extension
Airport redevelopment begins to take shape
And more...

Snowmass Village ~
Snowmass Mall, Center thriving compared to Base Village
Judge rules against Viceroy developer
VP Biden praises veterans in Snowmass
Timbers Club expansion notable in down economy
And more....

Basalt ~
Whole Foods gives up on Willits
Economic activity still declining in midvalley
Midvalley rec center takes shape
And More...

Carbondale/Glenwood Springs ~
Public outcry delays river deal
Re-1 school district deciding on $3.5 million in cuts
Outdoor recreation industry part of Glenwood redevelopment plan
And more....

Read the full articles at: The Observer - March 2011

The Observer - February 2011

February 4, 2011
Aspen ~
“Aspen Modern” map governs historic Post-WWII properties
Stage 3 owner seeks reductions, changes
Given developer wants $10 million plus two houses
Affordable housing developer seeks refund on tap fee
and much more......

Pitkin County ~
Open Space and Trails adopts land swap policy
Purchases adjacent to Wexner property raise speculation
Runway expansion proceeds with West Buttermilk water deal
Frontier continues service after busy year at airport
and more......

Snowmass Village ~
Base Village receiver proposes counter offer
Snowmass taxpayers hit up for Labor Day Festival costs

Basalt/Carbondale ~
Pan & Fork sale under contract
Glenwood Springs, Carbondale to promote business development
Thompson House preservation deal may be denied
Basalt closes in on funding to quiet shooting range

Read the full articles at: The Observer - February 2011

The Observer - November 2010

November 8, 2010
Aspen ~
City moves ahead with hydroelectric plant
Given hosts last lecture
Cooper Avenue owners planning spring demolition
Economic activity up through September

Pitkin County ~
AACP would raise affordable housing requirements
Entrance to Redstone envisioned
Library planning expansion

Snowmass Village ~
Mammoth moving to Denver
Droste Open Space deal delayed; SV voters OK $2 million
Gondola transit plan may soon be completely dead
Two more suits over Viceroy

Basalt/Carbondale ~
Roaring Fork Club seeks expansion OK
Basalt bars new marijuana facilities
Pop art museum opening in Carbondale
River access purchases moving ahead

Read the full articles at: The Observer - November 2010

The Observer - October 2010

October 12, 2010
Aspen —
City may suspend housing lottery for portion of Burlingame Phase 2...
City extends Dancing Bear’s vested rights...
Development fees may go up...
City re- examining stream flow options for hydro plant...

Pitkin County —
County working on pot farm regulations...
Public access part of Aspen Valley Ranch settlement...
County open space to buy two mid-valley properties...
Holy Cross Energy moves to grow renewables...

Snowmass Village —
Related seeks dismissal of lawsuits...
Viceroy purchaser sues for right to buy...
Mountain biking expanded in Elk Camp...

Basalt —
Willits goes to Bank of America...
Medical marijuana coming to Basalt...
Basalt’s sales tax collections rise for first time in two and a half years...

Read the full articles at: The Observer - October 2010

June 2010 - The Observer

June 18, 2010
The Apsen Board of Realtors has released the June 2010 edition of The Observer - please click here to view or download this file.

This comprehensive monthly report contains detailed statistics of the Aspen Real Estate market, and the entire Roaring Fork Valley including Snowmass, Basalt, Carbondale, and Glenwood Springs.

Managing the Stresses of Buying and Selling a Home

June 17, 2010
By Stanley Popovich

Many people deal with the anxieties of buying or selling a home. This process can be confusing to many people. As a result, here is a list of ways that a person can use to manage the anxiety of purchasing or selling a home.

The first step is to determine your goals in purchasing or selling a home. Determine what you want to accomplish. It will save you a lot of time and money in the long run if you know what you are looking for. Sit down and think about the overall goal of what you are looking for and convey this to your real estate agent. Some people like to write down their goals on a piece of paper so they have something to go back to when they get stressed.

Educate yourself on the steps of purchasing or buying a home. Go to your local bookstore and find some books that will explain the process of buying or selling a home. There are many books available that can inform you of the process and will help reduce the anxiety of the situation. Most importantly, you will be able to make smarter choices that will save you time and money.
Find a reputable real estate agent that can help you accomplish your goals. Ask some of your friends on who they recommend and get in touch with them. Referrals from people you know are a great way in finding a good real estate agent.

Get your finances organized. Make sure you have an idea on what you can afford and also make sure that your credit is good. The financial aspect of buying or selling a home does not have to be scary if you have a sound business plan and a realistic budget. Some people may buy a home that they can't afford and this can cause problems down the road. Determine what you can afford and develop a budget where you will be able to keep up with your bills.

In addition to using the services of a good real estate agent, try to get a friend who is more experienced to help you. Chances are good that you know someone who has purchased or sold a home. You could ask them for their assistance and ask them questions on what to do and what not do. Having a friend who can assist you along the way can really help reduce the anxiety of the process.

Read the fine print on everything before signing and do not assume anything. Ask questions if you are uncertain on some aspects of buying or selling a home. A good real estate agent will not mind if you ask questions, however you should do your part and try to educate yourself on the entire process.

There will be times when everything happens all at once. When this happens, a person should take a deep breath and try to find something to do for a few minutes to get their mind off of the current situation. A person could take a walk, listen to some music, read the newspaper or do an activity that will give them a fresh perspective on things. Once you calm down, you will better able to make the right decisions.

Purchasing or selling a home does not have to be a bigger deal than it has to if you take the proper steps. There is help out there if you get stuck or confused. The most important thing is to do your homework. Determine your goals, educate yourself on the steps to reach your goals, ask questions, and take it one step at a time. If you follow this advice you will be better able to reduce the stresses of purchasing or selling a home.


Stan Popovich is the author of "A Layman's Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods" - an easy to read book that presents a general overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties. For additional information go to:

May 2010 - The Observer

May 7, 2010
The Apsen Board of Realtors has released the May 2010 edition of The Observer - please click here to view or download this file.
Posted by administrator

April Edition of The Observer

April 12, 2010
Happy April! Please click here to view the latest edition of The Observer.
Posted by Administrator

The Observer - October 2009

October 16, 2009
Aspen Board Of Realtors Observer

October 2009

Top Story —
A walk on the wild side of affordable housing development
The city of Aspen has been getting imaginative with its affordable housing program, undertaking or seriously considering several “outside the box” initiatives.
In one case, private developers are lining up to build affordable housing on city-owned land. Approximately a dozen developers submitted bids to build low- and moderate-income affordable housing projects on two publicly owned parcels in Aspen.
Two years ago, the city and housing authority had trouble finding anyone to bid on affordable housing developments. Now they hope to use public-private partnerships to develop vacant parcels more quickly than they would have by waiting for the necessary tax dollars to accumulate in the RETT-supported housing fund, which is depleted due to several large purchases in the last several years.
In another case, a private landowner is seeking permission to build affordable housing on a West End property and then be allowed to sell mitigation credits to developers in need.
Peter Fornell’s proposal would allow private parties to build affordable housing that is not associated with any other public or free-market development. Each unit would receive a credit that can be sold to developers who need to meet the city’s affordable housing mitigation requirements.
The idea was well received by council, which directed staff to develop amendments to the code for later review.
A third oddity in affordable housing development surfaced last month when, during work on the 2010 budget, the city announced it will continue “taxing itself,” requiring city departments to allocate a portion of their annual budgets toward an internal housing fund.
The program has been under way for two years, and work has already started on a five-unit development at the Aspen Business Center that will be for exclusive use by city employees.
Finally, the city of Aspen plans to purchase two affordable housing units in free-market complexes, remove their deed restrictions and sell them off on the free market. The impetus for the move came after the homeowners associations in the buildings levied large assessments to make building-wide upgrades.

Aspen —

Council not ready to OK Wheeler expansion
Aspen City Council will not grant conceptual approval of the Wheeler Opera House’s proposed expansion until they see a pro forma and a long-term operations budget for the expanded facility.
The proposal includes a new sub-grade theater, expanded lobbies on the second and third floor, a community meeting room, new offices for Wheeler staff and an affordable housing unit.
It has been reduced in size from four to three stories as a result of objections raised at the planning & zoning and historic preservation commissions.

Aspen Art Museum still searching for a new locale
The Aspen Art Museum, which reportedly had its best summer ever, is still looking for a new home. Museum executive director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson said they have met with various property owners in an effort to find a spot for a new museum. The current 7,000-square-foot facility is considered too small.
Voters last spring rejected the museum’s proposal to build a 30,000-square-foot facility on the publicly-owned Galena Plaza east of the Pitkin County Library.

Jewish center still interested in ranch site
Threats of litigation earlier this summer forced the Jewish Resource Center Chabad of Aspen to terminate its contract to buy the Silver Lining Ranch, a 14,000-square-foot building on 6.5 acres at the end of Ute Avenue on the east side of town.
Former tennis pro Andrea Jaeger, whose Little Star Foundation owns the ranch property, is in an ugly battle with neighbors who are threatening a lawsuit if the sale goes through. Chabad attorney Neil Karbank said Chabad remains interested in the property if the disputes can be settled reasonably in advance. The $13.5 million deal was originally supposed to close in June.

Lodge at Aspen Mountain developers file for bankruptcy
Aspen Land Fund II, the development group that wants to build a hotel at the base of Aspen Mountain, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month. John Sarpa, a principal with the group, said the bankruptcy was a strategic move to retain control of the property and its future. The filing came after Alpine Bank advised that it had entered into an agreement to sell its loan on the project to a third party who planned to build townhomes approved for the site several years ago. Aspen Land Fund II will continue to work with a citizen task force on plans for a 160,000-square-foot hotel it wants to build in the large empty lots on the west side of Aspen Street beneath Lift 1A.

Hotel Jerome facing foreclosure
Foreclosure proceedings were opened against the owners of the Hotel Jerome in late September.
County records indicate LCP-Elysian Aspen Owner LLC has an unpaid balance of $36,292,781 to newly formed Jerome Property LLC, which holds the deed of trust on the property.
Jerome Properties LLC was formed on Aug. 25 and six days later bought the deed of trust from Aurora Bank, an affiliate of Lehman Brothers Holding Inc.
Elysian Worldwide LLC and Lodging Capital Partners LLC, both of Chicago, purchased the 113,282-square-foot hotel in 2007 for $52.2 million from Oklahoma Publishing, which paid $33.7 million for the property in June 2005.

Stage 3 developers contest foreclosure
Developer Aspen Main Street Properties LP has filed a lawsuit to stop Alpine Bank, from foreclosing on the half-developed property that once housed Stage 3 cinema.
The suit contends the bank has breached its contract to provide $11.1 million worth of construction and financing loans. It seeks to force the bank to provide financing to complete the project.
According to foreclosure documents, the developers have failed to make its monthly payments on its $4.72 million debt to Alpine Bank since May. The property will be sold at public auction on Dec. 13, unless the loan is cured or the courts intervene.

City to implement new environmental regulations
New development in the city of Aspen will be required to meet new standards that minimize environmental impact, beginning on Jan. 1, 2010.
The standards focus on energy consumption, stormwater runoff and air pollution. The new guidelines will set minimum standards, and then provide suggestions for ways a development can exceed those standards.

Aspen shapes global green building code
Aspen’s building code and its top building official, Stephen Kanipe, are being tapped as guides for a new model building code that incorporates energy efficiency and environmentally sound standards.
The International Green Construction Code (IGCC) will eventually provide a template for governments to use in greening up their own building codes without putting in too many man-hours or spending too much money. A draft, which is expected to parrot much of the language in Aspen’s code, is expected to be ready by March.

City hears solar co-op proposal
The Clean Energy Collective, a Carbondale-based firm, is proposing to use the roofs of Aspen’s Yellow Brick and Red Brick buildings for a 400-kilowatt solar panel array.
The plan calls for cooperative ownership among the Aspen electric utility customers who buy shares of the panels. The organization would be similar to the agricultural and food co-ops that exist in Carbondale. Tax credits and lower energy costs would accrue to individual owners.

Thrift Shop moves back to new home
The Thrift Shop moved back into a new building at its longtime location at 422 E. Hopkins Ave. The new building has 2,400 square feet of merchandise space — nearly double the area of the original shop.

Basalt —
Town, developer working to entice Whole Foods
Basalt officials and the developer of Willits Town Center, Joseph Freed & Associates, are examining ways to adjust previous approvals in order accommodate a Whole Foods Market in the commercial portion of the development.
The developer, hampered by the economy, was unable to complete foundation work for a Whole Foods center before June 1, 2009, allowing the grocery chain to back out of its commitment to build in Willits. JFA is also in negotiations with Whole Foods to bring in a smaller supermarket than originally approved. Basalt is listed among “stores in development” on Whole Foods Markets' website.

Stott’s Mill project back in review hopper
The developers of Stott's Mill are moving their project through the approval process, despite the slack economy.
The development would add a mix of 110 deed-restricted and free-market residences on land just north of Basalt High School. The mix includes:
- 35 units with deed-restrictions on price, buyer income and assets;
- 15 resident-occupied units with appreciation caps;
- 53 resident-occupied units without appreciation caps;
- 7 units would be for sale unrestricted on the free market.
The developer wants the town to extend its usual vesting of the approvals from three years to five because of the economic uncertainty. Review of the project continues on Oct. 27.

Midvalley property demolished
The converted ranch house in El Jebel that housed several failed restaurants was demolished last month. Basalt officials say there is no new application for development at the old Orchard Inn property on the southeast corner of the El Jebel traffic light.
The Weigner family converted an old ranch house on the property into a restaurant in the late 1970s. The site housed a succession of failed restaurants, including Cilantro, Calypso and Mermaids. The building has been empty for years.

Snowmass Village —

Related executives opening a bank
Three executives of the Related Companies are about to open a bank, much to the consternation of some Snowmass Village officials. Stephen Ross, founder, chairman and CEO of the Related Cos.,and senior executives Jeff Blau and Bruce Beal Jr. have been successful so-far in their bid to charter “SJB National Bank.”
SJB National Bank plans to start operations with at least $750 million after it gets Federal Reserve and FDIC membership, according to a Comptroller of the Currency notice.
Related, which is the managing partner in Base Village and separately owns six other major properties in the town, will not have any ownership in the bank. Blau owns a condo in Aspen’s Brand Building valued at $2.25 million. Snowmass Town Councilwoman Markey Butler noted her frustration that the executives could find the money to create a bank but couldn’t even camouflage the abandoned foundations that now mar the entrance to Snowmass Village. She suggested that the town point that fact out in a letter to federal bank regulators.

Contractor sues Base Village owner, again
Snowmass Base Village contractor CFC/PCL has filed its second lawsuit in three months against Related WestPac, claiming it is owed more than $3 million for construction management services and concrete work on the Base Village project. The suit claims breach of contract and asks a judge to approve the foreclosure and sale of the properties to satisfy the debt. Those properties include two buildings that have yet to be started, plus the partially built arrival center and Little Nell Residences at Snowmass luxury condo hotel.

Viceroy buyers want out
Seven buyers at the Snowmass Viceroy have filed a lawsuit to back out of their purchase contracts and get their earnest money back. The buyers claim the right to back out their contracts because developer Related Westpac did not file the proper documents regarding the layout of the condominium hotel with authorities.
The seven buyers paid $1.16 million in earnest money for contracts signed between December 2007 and March 2008.
Snowmass approves new chapel

The Snowmass Village Town Council approved a new Snowmass Chapel and Community Center.
The new building will be nearly 30,000 square feet, triple the size of what’s there now, with a height of nearly 60 feet at its tallest point and a 70-foot steeple.

Pitkin County —

Exchange fuels approval of McClain Flats subdivision
Construction of a three-home compound on the site of the historic, 148-acre Stein Ranch on McClain Flats Road has received the nod from Pitkin County last month.
In exchange, property owner Bob Hurst agreed to transfer title to approximately 13 acres to the county, allowing the extension of Sunnyside Trail and the reopening of a rock climbing area known as Gold Butte, and an ice climbing area called Sewer Falls. Both climbing areas have been closed since the mid-1980s.
Hurst, a vice chairman at Goldman Sachs, must also restore 17 acres of degraded sagebrush and place more than 57 acres or his property under a conservation easement.
The three newly approved homes will be limited to 5,750 square feet above ground, and an additional 3,000 feet below ground with the purchase of transferable development rights. The property already includes a home of more than 12,000 square feet. Vested rights on the approval run to October 2020.

Local air service looks strong for the winter
United Airlines has added two additional flights to its schedule this winter: a third daily non-stop to Chicago and a fifth weekly flight to San Francisco.
The airline says it will continue flying 11 flights daily between Aspen and Denver, and three to and from Los Angeles. Delta will fly once daily between Aspen and Atlanta, and eight times a week to Salt Lake City, down from 13 flights last year. Frontier Airlines will provide the same level of service as last winter, with four daily flights between Aspen and Denver.

More parking at Lenado for snowmobilers
Pitkin County approved 10 and 15 new parking spaces for vehicles and trailers just up the Woody Creek valley from Lenado. Snowmobilers came out in force at a recent county meeting on the issue, saying they want to retain access to the public lands they’ve reached through Lenado for two decades.
The county commissioners backed a county staff recommendation, over the protests of Lenado and Woody Creek Road homeowners, to widen the road and create new parking for 10 to 15 vehicles with snowmobiles in tow.
The commissioners said they also wanted signs to be posted that make it clear where parking is allowed and where it is not. They will also ask the sheriff's office to step up patrols on Woody Creek Road.

Skico to lead charge for Pitkin County ‘green' fund
Aspen Skiing Company executive Auden Schendler said the company is ready to take a lead role in the campaign to approve a special financing district for energy upgrades in local residences. Pitkin County is seeking voter approval to issue bonds worth up to $7 million. The money would be made available in the form of loans to commercial and residential property owners seeking to finance energy efficiency improvements.
Repayment would occur over 15 to 20 years through a special assessment to property tax bills. The loans would be attached to the property rather than an individual, so the obligation to repay the loan would transfer to the new owner should the property change hands.

Downvalley/Regional —

Three local neighborhoods among America’s priciest
A median home price just under $3 million makes Old Snowmass — the 81654 zip code — is the 13th most expensive area to buy a home in the country, according to a survey by Forbes Magazine.
Aspen is the 20th most expensive with a median price of $2.74 million. Snowmass Village is 82nd, at a price of $1.76 million. Vail holds the 87th position with a median price of $1.72 million.
The country’s most expensive zip code is 07620, in Alpine, N.J., with a median home price of $4.14 million.
Median home prices in the survey are based on listings rather than sales.

Local governments receive windfall from energy revenues
A new law designed to spread the energy wealth to local communities, sponsored by Senator Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass Village), means a big financial boost for local governments in Garfield County. This year, Garfield county government will receive $11.64 million from severance taxes and mineral leasing on federal lands, significantly more than the $2.5 to $3 million it usually gets. The town of Carbondale will receive $847,000, more than 12 times the amount it was expecting. Glenwood Springs is slated for a payout of $1,275,174.
In Pitkin County, where very little energy extraction occurs, the windfall is minor, ranging from $1,702 for Basalt to $14,607 for the county government.

Wilderness campaign begins information campaign
A campaign to protect 400,000 acres of public lands in four counties is emphasizing that their proposal will have little impact on mountain biking in the Roaring Fork Valley. The Hidden Gems proposal would expand existing wilderness areas and create new wilderness areas primarily in Pitkin, Eagle, Summit and Gunnison counties.
With a few exceptions spelled out in federal law, wilderness designation bars all forms of mechanized travel, including mountain bikes. Horseback riding, grazing, hunting, fishing, hiking and mountaineering are all permitted in wilderness areas.
The Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association is opposed to the proposal on the grounds it would close six trails and take away areas that could be developed for mountain biking in the future.
Wilderness Workshop has removed more than 35,000 acres of proposed wilderness in Pitkin County to preserve 18 different mountain bike routes totaling 74 miles.

Beetle legislation headed to Congress
Colorado Sen. Mark Udall is pushing for quick passage of a bill that would allow treatment of millions of sick trees in Colorado and throughout the West. The bill would designate “Insect and Disease Emergency Areas” on national forest land, and secure non-monetary assistance to local governments and private landowners to log and treat tree stands that have been hit or are threatened by the beetles. The bill authorizes no money to assist with the efforts.

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