Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The TOP Boulder Real Estate Sales of 2016 (Deal #1)

by Osman Parvez
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Here we go. The highly anticipated top sale of the year.

Nearly 5,000 homes traded hands in Boulder County during 2016. Over 400 exceeded prices of $1MM. Almost 100 exceeded $2MM. But only 19 sales were in the lofty $3MM+ category. 

In this series, we've focused on the most luxurious, over the top real estate that traded hands in Boulder last year, and this one tops them all. It's an estate worthy of magnates, an heirloom for future generations, a setting for a Gatsby party.  Welcome to 1002 Mapleton Avenue.  Sale price: $7.8MM.

Looking for the rest of the series? #2 is HERE.


1002 Mapleton Ave

Behind unassuming wrought iron gates, in the heart of Boulder's historic district, lies an "iconic estate on a beautiful half acre lot perched atop Mapleton Hill."  

The historic home was originally constructed in 1908 and retains the beautiful period architecture. The interior has been completely updated and now features nearly 6,000 SQFT of high-end features and finishes. A pool and separate guest cottage overlook the Flatirons & downtown Boulder. 


 Click HERE for the eye candy.

Deal notes: Typically, estates of this caliber are rarely available. This particular home sold at a 7.4% discount from asking. The property also previously transferred ownership in November 2013 for $6.4MM after about 2 months on market. It's unclear if the previous owner made any improvements during their tenure, but it appears to have been a wise investment. Mr. Market rewarded them with a ~6.5% unlevered IRR. The lucky new owner is serial entrepreneur Godard Abel


Investing in high-end real estate in Boulder? Give us a call at 303.746.6896. Each of our clients goals are different. When you meet with us, we’ll analyze and discuss your specific objectives and attitude toward risk. To achieve success, we leverage our in-house expertise and our network of relationships throughout the Boulder real estate community. Through it all, we offer attentive service and deep market knowledge.

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Ready to buy or sell?  Schedule an appointment or call 303.746.6896. 
You can also like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

As always, your referrals are deeply appreciated.  

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The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

The TOP Boulder Real Estate Sales of 2016 (Deal #2)

by Osman Parvez
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Imagine living minutes from Boulder, surrounded by thousands of acres of protected open space. Neighbors, what neighbors?  

This epic 5 bedroom, 6 bath home features beautiful, unimpeded views of the Flatirons and back range but is still only a few minutes from downtown Niwot. It was built with contemporary finishes throughout and includes a carriage house, finished barn, an equipment barn and - of course - stables for your purebreds. Situated on 35 acres of agricultural land backing up to 2,000+ of acres of protected open space. 

8175 N. 73rd Street is the #2 Top Real Estate Deal of 2016. 

Note: This post is part of a series highlighting the top sales of 2016. #3 is HERE.

8175 N. 73rd Street, Niwot. $6.25MM
Click HERE for details and eye candy.

Deal Notes and Fun Facts: The sellers of this lovely property were Gail and Michael Markel. Recognize their names? They're part of the team behind well known local builder Markel Homes

Markel is currently investing heavily in Longmont in two locations; Prospect and West Grange. Smart move. It's one of the few large developable parcels left in the corridor between Boulder and Longmont. 

As this home illustrates - buyers at the higher end of the Boulder market should be patient and judicious. Unlike other segments of the market where bidding wars are routine, the $3MM+ market is saturated. If your Realtor tells you should rush in and write an offer immediately, you should find a better Realtor.  

Stunning as it is, this home was on the market for several years. It was also originally listed at $7.3MM, which illustrates another point. Even real estate industry insiders can give in to greed and ego. Do your homework. There is no short-cut to thorough analysis. Remember, intelligent real estate decisions are based on a deep analysis of market conditions. 

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Ready to buy or sell?  Schedule an appointment or call 303.746.6896. 
You can also like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

As always, your referrals are deeply appreciated.  

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The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

January Starts with a Bang [Fresh Listings, Get 'Em Hot]


It’s mid-January. As usual, inventory has started to rise. Are you ready to see some houses? 

This week's fresh listings include high-end luxury homes, curious investment opportunities, and swanky condos with protected views. There were over 60 new listings that hit the Boulder area market. We’ve culled the bad locations, re-freshed old listings, and otherwise uninteresting properties. Here's what's worth seeing. 

To schedule a private showing, which includes a discussion of valuation, negotiation strategy, market and price trends, call Osman at 303.746.6896.



Fresh Listings

Boulder 

2299 4th Street | $6.25MM | More Details 
Built in '12, this stunning home is minutes from downtown, nestled between Sanitas and Settlers’ Park open space. It’s well appointed with modern finishes and has excellent outdoor and indoor entertaining spaces. From a valuation perspective, the location is spot-on but the photography is off season and there is “money shot” of the Flatirons. Note:  Golden Retriever not included. 




1618 Spruce Street | $2.3MM | More Details 
This particular Victorian is wonderfully charming and appears to be in good nic, with the kitchen and many finishes updated since the property last traded hands in 2010. The carriage house and garage studio are not included in the square footage, as listed. I don’t expect it to last long. 

For those in the know, this property’s RMX-1 zoning in downtown Boulder allows owners special privileges to create and rent out detached secondary dwellings. These spaces often function as home offices, in-law or au pair suites, guest quarters, or provide short-term/long term rental income to offset ownership costs. Even in a down market, buyers snap these up, which translates to lower risk as we near the end of a real estate cycle. 

What’s that, your agent never mentioned RMX-1, pretends real estate only goes up, and doesn’t care about capital preservation? Find a better Realtor. 



405 Hapgood Street | $2.2MM | More Details 
The last few years in Boulder have seen a flurry of remodel and scrape/build reconstruction, especially at the higher-end of the market. Scrapable lots in premium locations have become scarce. This one has an existing post-war structure (easier to demo, permit already issued) and a giant lot, allowing buyers more flexibility to comply with Boulder’s extensive development regulations. It's a great perch for building your dream home. 




3135 4th Street | $1.73MM | More Details 

There’s a lot to like about this 15 year old house in Newlands. The location is right on the most popular cycling route through the neighborhood, with social trails into Mt. Saints nearby. The interior still looks contemporary, although it could use a refresh on the outside. Tech features allow owners to monitor the home remotely. The seller paid $1.2MM in 2013. 



953 11th Street | $1.43MM | More Details 

A nice historic charmer with a classic floor plan. Walk to venues like Chautauqua or Macky Auditorium. Neighborhood has high student density but it varies block to block. One potential issue is the lack of a garage. 


As an aside, I’ve negotiated many deals with this listing agent and it's always a pleasure. He’s a straight shooter and always handles everything with integrity… just like how we roll. 




4522 13th Street 6-H | $925,000 | More Details 
I’m a believer in Uptown Broadway. This particular unit has the best location of the whole complex, with beautiful unimpeded views of the flatirons. Higher-end finishes featured throughout. Easy walk to Wonderland Lake open space, nearby coffee, restaurants and retail. Likely continued neighborhood improvement via the North Boulder Subcommunity Plan.   

Full disclosure: I own investment property at Uptown and we’ll be hosting the grand opening of our new office there this summer. 



3240 15th Street | $890,000 | More Details 
This location is a hidden gem, directly North of the Long Seed Farm and the community gardens. It also has nearby bike path access for a stroll or ride to Ideal Market and even into downtown Boulder. Late 80’s construction and finishes.  Minimal quarterly HOA payments. Awesome neighbors (ask me).




701 Pearl Street 4 | $525,000 | More Details 
I’ve seen other units in this building and it’s funky, to put it mildly. Still, for a location that's stumbling distance to the restaurants, bars, and offices of downtown, it’s tough to beat. Decent size. Two carport spaces. 

Due diligence: check the popcorn ceiling for asbestos. Maybe you'll get lucky, but it’s the right vintage. 




Louisville 

684 W Aspen Way | $530,000 | More Details 
Early 80’s construction, 3 bed, 2 bath with about 1,800 SQFT. Near open space and multi-use paths, not far from downtown Louisville. Short commute into job centers along the tech corridor. These bi-levels are pretty straight forward homes and this is a decent location. Interior finishes are dated but you’re starting past the era of lead based paint which is a plus.



Investment Opportunities 

1645-1647 7th Street | $769,000 | More Details 
A unicorn duplex located in an area with a lot of other rentals, but within close proximity to downtown via the Boulder Creek path. Supposedly, the owner has been occupying both sides and it’s not conforming. Due diligence should include verification of the legal rental potential and a determination of whether future improvements are at all possible. If it’s legit, you can live in one side and rent out the other. Not a bad option for younger buyers or executive/seasonal use.


Photo Credit: Pigoff Photography

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The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate.

The TOP Boulder Real Estate Sales of 2016 (Deal #3)

by Osman Parvez
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Drive out of town on Lee Hill Road into the foothills, and you'll pass some of the most spectacular and exclusive real estate in Boulder. Wineglass Ranch comprises five large parcels on the north side of the road, each with 5 to 8 acres of land, directly abutting City of Boulder open space. 

415 Lee Hill Road was the #3 top deal of 2016. 

Note: This post is part of a series highlighting the top real estate deals of 2016.  Top sale #4 is HERE

415 Lee Hill Road | $5.9MM
Sitting on 5+ acres of exceptional Boulder real estate, the main house sprawls over 8,000 SQFT.  Constructed in 2014, it features four bedrooms and eight baths, a pool house, barn with a second garage and home office, and a "school house" with a full kitchen. 


Click HERE for the eye candy.

Deal Notes: Aggressively overpriced, it was first listed at $7.5MM in the spring of 2015. The seller eventually came to their senses and slashed the price to $6.5MM in May of 2016 before finally accepting an offer for $5.9MM.  

Discounts do not increase desirability. Price it right for a shorter listing period and maximum value, or overprice and chase the market. This deal illustrates the point. 

By the way, if you had bought this Wineglass Ranch trophy last year, you could have leaned over your back fence and chatted with David Jacobs, founder of Spyder. You could also buy his house.  It was on the market last year for $7.25MM .

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Ready to buy or sell?  Schedule an appointment or call 303.746.6896. 
You can also like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

As always, your referrals are deeply appreciated.  

--
The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The TOP Boulder Real Estate Sales of 2016 (Deal #4)

by Osman Parvez
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Who wouldn't want to take a long bubble bath, when you can enjoy it with a view overlooking Boulder? Or perhaps you'd like to dine with a sunset backdrop before snuggling in for a movie in your custom screening room?  

Ready for some serious eye candy? It's the #4 top Boulder real estate deal of 2016:

Note: This post is part of a series. Click here for house #5

19 Arrowleaf Court | $5.4MM


5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, and over 10,000 finished SQFT in one of the best locations in Boulder. If you haven't heard of it, Pine Brook is an enclave of luxury homes, just North of Mt. Sanitas. It's a fast bike ride down to downtown, or you could put on your hiking boots and take the trails instead.  


Click HERE for the eye candy.

Deal Notes and Fun Facts: Listed for wishful thinking multiple times, starting at $8.5MM in 2011. The seller cut the price six times and hung on for five years before tightening their belt and accepting a buyer's offer at $5.4MM.  

Remember: When it comes to real estate investing, hope is not a strategy. If your Realtor wants to price your home on the size of their ego, fire them and find a better real estate adviser. 

The new owner is a managing director of Capital Royalty Group, a financing specialist for the biotech industry. 

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Ready to buy or sell?  Schedule an appointment or call 303.746.6896. 
You can also like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

As always, your referrals are deeply appreciated.  

--
The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The TOP Boulder Real Estate Sales of 2016 (Deal #5)

by Osman Parvez
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The buyer of this stunning estate patiently scoured the Boulder real estate market, according to parties knowledgeable about the transaction. After years of searching, he finally found one that checked the boxes. 

It's the #5 top real estate deal of 2016.

400 Utica Avenue



Acquired at a 6.7% premium to the asking price, this $4.8MM trophy parcel comprises a generous 2.1 acres including a protected view corridor overlooking Wonderland Lake and the Flatirons.  

Most of the +2,800 SQFT on the main floor were designed to highlight the perch. Early 60's vintage construction is of little interest to the city, which means it should prove to have excellent bones on which to construct a modern dream home. We look forward to seeing how the new owner executes his architectural vision.  

Click HERE for more eye candy and details.

Note: I often grade locations and investment opportunities for my clients. This is what an A+ location in Boulder looks like. As we used to say on the Street: "strong buy."   



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Ready to buy or sell?  Schedule an appointment or call 303.746.6896. 
You can also like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

As always, your referrals are deeply appreciated.  

--
The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The TOP Boulder Real Estate Sales of 2016 (Deal #6)

by Osman Parvez
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Perfectly placed between Sanitas and Boulder downtown, this historic Craftsman style gem was comprehensively and tastefully updated. Why wait and build when you can have it all now? 2241 4th Street is the #6 top real estate sale of 2016.

Note: this post is part of a series on the top real estate deals of 2016.  #7 is HERE

2241 4th Street


Open timber framing against warm, exposed brick highlight the living areas of this beautiful home. On warm summer evenings, the new owner will want to open the garage door and invite dinner guests to enjoy the outdoors.  Historic on the outside, new on the inside, and in one word:  beautiful.    

Click HERE for the eye candy and listing details. 

Deal notes: A rarity for the high-end, this property was sold prior to listing. The market didn't even get a chance to see it. Pocket listings and private deals rarely happen because smart sellers know they risk leaving money on the table. 

If your listing agent pushes you to accept a private offer without letting Mr. Market offer an opinion, you better have a deep understanding of valuation, market conditions, and sales strategy. You should also be confident you are getting significantly more than the market will bear.  You may want to have a conversation about conflicts of interest. Or better yet, find a better Realtor
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Want to get blog updates via email?  Click HERE.       
Ready to buy or sell?  Schedule an appointment or call 303.746.6896. 
You can also like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

As always, your referrals are deeply appreciated.  

--
The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate. 

Monday, January 09, 2017

The TOP Boulder Real Estate Sales of 2016 (Deal #7)

by Osman Parvez
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Drive north on Broadway, just past Newlands, and the street will begin to climb. Look to either side, and you'll see a half-dozen or so spectacular homes with glass windows framing the view. Have you ever wondered what it looks like from up there? 

1225 Meadow Place is the #7 top real estate deal of 2016.

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note:  This article is part of a series highlighting the top real estate transactions of 2016. Here are #8, #9, and #10
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1225 Meadow Place


5 luxurious bedrooms (each with ensuite bath), a library with dramatic, dark stained bookcases and a roaring fire, an office with an imposing double-headed falcon crest to intimidate your guests, and a grotto-esque wine cellar - all spread out over a modest 8,000 finished square feet. 

The finish choices are starting to show a bit of age, but this mansion and the accompanying views are still eye-popping.  

Click HERE for the eye candy and listing details. 

Deal notes:  Listed at $4.0MM in March, it sat on the market 7 months before receiving an acceptable offer.  It sold for $3.85MM in November, a 3.6% discount to asking.  

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Want to get blog updates via email?  Click HERE.       
Ready to buy or sell?  Schedule an appointment or call 303.746.6896. 
You can also like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

As always, your referrals are deeply appreciated.  

--
The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate. 

Sunday, January 08, 2017

The TOP Boulder Real Estate Sales of 2016 (Deal #8)

by Osman Parvez
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Most buyers love the modern trophy home in the back. Now focus your eyes on the historic house in front. It's become a mudroom and represents an end-run around Boulder's historic preservation codes, a text-book example of the limits of our excessive rule-based regulatory environment. Sources tell me that staff actually drive new employees past it to discuss how the rules don't work.   

A home this unusual takes a very unique buyer. After many months on market, 517 5th Street finally sold.  It's the #8 top real estate deal of 2016.

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Note: This post is part of a series highlighting the top sales of 2016.  The first post is HERE.
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517 5th Street




Designed by architect Harvey Hine, the home features 5 bedrooms and 6 baths spread across ~7,000 finished SQFT. 

Click HERE for the eye candy and listing details. 

Deal notes:  The property previously sold in '06, at the peak of the last real estate cycle, for $725,000 - a value based on the potential of its large lot and upper Chautauqua location.  New construction was completed in '08 and it was listed for sale in early '15 - overpriced at $4MM. The seller chased the market for the first summer but didn't receive an offer. They cut the price $260K at the end of the '15 selling season, to no avail.  Too late, they missed the summer selling season. When the listing was renewed in February '16, they slashed the price another $195K. It finally received an acceptable offer in May and the deal closed in late June of last year at 13.9% below the original asking price.

Take home lessons:  


1. Market professionally and price it right to maximize value and minimize time on market. '15 was a very strong market. It could have sold that first year.

2. Historic + Modern = Bad Combination. A mixed architectural style is something that appeals to a select audience. Even if you are designing your dream home, one day you may want to move on and that's when you'll find out whether your vision meets the desires of the market. When designing a house, play it safe and aim for the fairway. Choose an architect who will confidently push back on your design ideas. When shopping, choose a house that city won't block you from scraping.  

3. In the $3MM+ market, protected views and direct access to open space are worth paying a premium. They offer downside risk protection and typically appreciate much faster when the market is rising. This house has neither. Intelligent real estate decisions are based on a deep understanding of the market. Talk to your real estate adviser for more information.

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Want to get blog updates via email?  Click HERE.       
Ready to buy or sell?  Schedule an appointment or call 303.746.6896. 
You can also like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

As always, your referrals are deeply appreciated.  

--
The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate. 

Saturday, January 07, 2017

The TOP Boulder Real Estate Sales of 2016 (Deal #9)

by Osman Parvez
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Originally a 1920's historic Boulder home, the property exchanged hands several times during the past few years before a developer acquired it in 2014. Despite the pre-war historic status, it was completely scraped and rebuilt as a modern house with 2.5x the original square footage.  

441 Arapahoe is the #9 top real estate deal of 2016. 

441 Arapahoe Ave



6 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms on two levels on about 5,000 beautifully finished square feet.  The value comes the contemporary turn-key design, large south facing lot, proximity to downtown, backing to Boulder Creek, and likely protected views of the Foothills. 

Click HERE for the eye candy and details.

Deal notes:  Boulder designer Lovedy Barbatelli sold the house in May 2011 for $920K. That owner later sold it to a developer in June 2014 for $1.12MM. The build-out cost easily exceeded the $1MM threshold, but the developer's vision (and later, profit) were certainly there.  It listed in April for $3.25MM, went under contract twice but the deals fell apart. The third time was the charm, it closed at the asking price in June.  

How they got the project past historic review remains a mystery.  Insider comments welcome. 
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Want to get blog updates via email?  Click HERE.       
Ready to buy or sell?  Schedule an appointment or call 303.746.6896. 
You can also like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

As always, your referrals are deeply appreciated.  

--
The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate. 

Friday, January 06, 2017

The TOP Boulder Real Estate Sales of 2016

by Osman Parvez

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Ready for some real estate eye candy? 

There were nearly 5,000 sales in Boulder County last year.  By all accounts, it was a strong year - especially for the very high-end of the market.  

Join me on a journey.  Let's take a peek through the looking glass.

Boulder sales by the numbers: 

  • 440 were over $1MM  
  • 78 exceeded $2MM 
  • Just 19 sales were in the lofty $3MM+ category

Here are the top 10 high-end sales of the year, the most luxurious residential real estate that traded hands in Boulder during 2016 - plus the usual snarky commentary, analysis, and deal notes. Let's go.
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Author's note: This is part of a 10 post series which will be published on schedule during the next few weeks.  Check back for more.
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First, a little Q & A: 

Client: Osman, what makes for a smart buy at the high-end in today's market?


Osman:  Real estate assets with built-in downside risk protection.  


In Boulder, property with direct access to open space (preferably private) and protected 180 degree views appreciate faster during upswings and drop less in value during downturns. It's the equivalent of waterfront property (without the risk of climate change). You will invest more for the acquisition but you will also reap the reward years down the line.  


Remember: Real estate is cyclical and we're at least 7 years into a rising market.  As appreciation rates slow and the risk of a downturn increases, capital preservation matters. 

The #10 top real estate sale of 2016 was 1910 Stony Hill Road.    

1910 Stony Hill Road
Details
The seller acquired the home in the spring of '10 for $1.8MM (5% below last asking). During their ownership tenure, they invested in a new PV system, basement re-finish, roof, and a complete kitchen remodel (including a wall removal). From an investment perspective, little of the follow-on capital mattered. The real value of the property was almost entirely the gigantic lot in one of the most exclusive locations in town. Over the seller's ownership period, the investment saw an 11.9% unlevered IRR (assuming $200K of additional investment in year 2). 

The property features direct, semi-private access to open space and arguably the best views in all of Boulder. With nearly 8,000 square feet (5,000 finished) on an extra large 15,350 SQFT lot - the bones of this house are a solid foundation for a trophy remodel by the next owner. The only significant downside is the lack of walkability to dining and other retail for which locations in Mapleton Hill and on the Alpine/Balsalm/Panorama Peninsula have an edge. It's an A+ location. 

Click HERE for listing details and eye candy.

Litmus Test  
A few years ago, I sold a neighboring property on Stony Hill and attended contractor meetings on behalf of my clients. Every single person who walked into that house exclaimed "wow" when they saw the view. For homes valued north of $3MM, that's the reaction that should be expected. For capital preservation as well as your own appreciation, most of the rooms in the home, and especially the living and entertaining areas, should be designed to emphasize the view. 

Deal Notes 
Pocket listings, like this one, carry a significant risk of overpaying. From the seller's perspective, the only reason to accept the private offer is if you are highly confident that you're getting far above market value. 

Back in my Wall Street days, bankers used to call investors who didn't know what they were buying and who happily over-payed "Dumb Money" (in contrast to "Smart Money").  If I were representing the buyer, I'd have insisted we carefully review my analysis of the comps and visit the available alternatives before pulling the trigger. Homes that have a past history of slow sales and multiple discounts, like this one, warrant caution.  If your agent pushes the private sale on you without a discussion of risk, find a better Realtor.
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Want to get blog updates via email?  Click HERE.       
Ready to buy or sell?  Schedule an appointment or call 303.746.6896. 
You can also like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

As always, your referrals are deeply appreciated.  

--
The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate.   

image:  Shane Hauser

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Impact of Boulder's New Co-Op Law

by Osman Parvez
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At 1am this morning, a bleary-eyed Boulder City Council approved the new co-operative housing ordinance by a vote of 7-2.  It was one of the most contentious real estate related issues to face Boulder in recent years, probably the most since Compatible Development was passed nearly 8 years ago.  


Boulder needs more housing supply. The way forward is to selectively allow for higher density while maintaining the character of our existing neighborhoods and quality of life.  No easy trick. 

The new measure contains a litany of rules to establish a co-op, as well as some new fees (of course).  It will have interesting impacts, some unintentional. Let's take a look. 

Summary of the New Co-op Ordinance:
who gets top bunk?

  • 12 residents max in low-density districts, 15 in other districts.
  • At least 250 SQFT/person required in low-density districts. 200 SQFT/person in others.
  • No lot size requirement.
  • SQFT exemption for permanently affordable coops possible on the basis of Planning Board recommendation.
  • 3 types of co-ops allowed: Not-for-profit permanent affordable, private equity, and rental.
  • Maximum of 10 licenses issued per year but expandable to 14 under certain conditions.
  • 4 year license renewal cycle, 2 year licensee recertification and inspection cycle.
  • Must be at least 500 feet apart at the property line.
  • No co-ops will be allowed in dwellings with less than 2000 SQFT of habitable space (intended to limit multi-family properties becoming co-operatives, unintended effects below).
  • Max 3 on street cars allowed.
  • Smart Regs and rental licenses still apply.
  • The city manager can arbitrarily deny licenses if a cooperative is "not legitimate" or multiple complaints are received about parking, weeds, or trash.   
  • Coop license fee: $645 (oy!)

Impact of New Co-Op Ordinance: 

  • With at most 14 new licenses per year, the impact on market rent will be virtually nil. Very little new housing supply will be created.  Have no fear, Boulder will remain #1 in bathroom to resident ratio.    
  • Boulderites who have chosen to live a low impact, minimal, more sustainable way of life by living together now have a legitimate option. 
  • Some neighbors will be unhappy about the new cooperative next door. Most will welcome their neighbors. 
  • Licensed coops will be under incredible scrutiny. 
  • Most long standing over occupied properties will likely remain unlicensed because the burden to establish and maintain a legal coop will be deemed too high against the low risk of getting caught. Flying under the radar will remain more popular.
  • Private equity co-ops will be the least utilized form of ownership as making the deal work between multiple owners can be complicated. Landlord owned rental co-ops will likely be the first created, followed by non-profit coops created by established agency players.
  • The 2000 SQFT of habitable space rule will limit coops to neighborhoods with larger houses. Martin Acres and Baseline, where the small ranch style homes dominate, will see few if any co-ops. Other neighborhoods will see more. 
  • Habitable cannot be newly created, so this ordinance will not spur any additional construction, although owners contemplating expansion now have yet another reason to do so as new square footage is seasoned. 
  • Demand will rise for 2000 SQFT+  delapidated Boulder houses with multiple bedrooms, legal or otherwise.       
Conclusion: The limited license approach is a smart way to test-drive the ordinance and manage the way to higher density. City Council will repeal if it's a failure.  
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The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate.  

image: Thomas Kohler