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Nearly two years in the making, Brighton Boulevard makeover expected to supercharge RiNo growth

Source: Joe Rubino of the Denver Post
Photo credit: Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

In the late 1940’s, Harold Hill opened his farm machinery business at 3100 Brighton Boulevard. At this time, the street was a dusty two-lane strip with warehouses and a foundry. The business is now Do-It-Ur-Self Plumbing & Heating Supply, owned by Harold’s grandson, Rick Hill. Over that time, Rick has seen the neighborhood transform from an industrial park to a vibrant hub of business, culture, and art. 

On Brighton between 30th and 38th streets more than $55.8 million in commercial construction has been permitted. Hill calls Brighton: “one huge craps table.” While the city boasts the public infrastructure investment as kickstarting the surge of private investment, local developers Mickey and Kyle Zeppelin mention it was actually the private investment and the formation of the RiNo Arts District that attracted visitors to the district. Eventually, backing from the City of Denver followed. Overall, this largely collaborative effort between the City and local business owners has created a corridor that is easily accessible while holding true to it’s uniquely industrial roots.

A brief timeline:

Late 1940’s: Harold Hill opened farm machinery business at 3100 Brighton Boulevard

2000: Zeppelin Development company buys the former cab company hub just off Brighton and begins to lobby the city for Brighton Boulevard improvements. The Taxi Community has been growing constantly since

2003: The City of Denver creates its River North Plan, a vision for the RiNo Art District

2013: The Source market hall, the first business of its kind, opens at 3550 Brighton Blvd. in the aforementioned foundry 

2016: Brighton Boulevard is still a two lane street with no curbs, drainage, limited sidewalks

October 2016: Brighton Boulevard construction begins

Spring 2018: Phase 1 of construction, between 29th and 40th Street to be completed. The cost of the redevelopment is $41 million. The RiNo Art District neighborhood advocacy organization estimates at least $85 million in private projects have gone up in the surrounding area

The three years of road construction have come with several challenges. The largest of which being reduced accessibility due to construction, which has driven traffic away from RiNo. Rebel Restaurant, a block from Brighton and 38th Street has announced it will close. Comida, a beloved tenant of The Source and Love Your Hood, has seen its business fall by $800,000 from October 2016-2017.

Josh Peebles, President of RiNo branch of Collegiate Peaks Bank, believes the public improvements will open the door to larger entities bringing their business to the neighborhood. Collegiate Peaks has financed more than $100 million in RiNo projects.

With the combination of local government and business support, Hill’s “craps table” has become one of the most promising of Denver’s many growing neighborhoods.

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U.S. New Home Construction Expected to Fall 300,000 Units Short of Demand This Year, More Pressure for Home-starved Markets Like Denver

Source: Joe Rubino of the Denver Post

U.S. new home construction expected to fall 300,000 units short of demand this year, more pressure for home-starved markets like Denver

The National Association of Home Builders forecast new construction at 909,000 homes in the U.S. — a whopping 300,000 homes short of their projected demand, based on data gathered from Redfin. In Denver, median home prices have been hovering around $500K, with homes still flying off the market soon after being listed. Labeling Denver as a “seller’s market” in today’s environment is quite the understatement.

The biggest factors behind the housing shortage:
Lumbar costs

The cost of lumbar has risen 62% since the start of last year. Why? Tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber have driven the costs of new construction up by roughly $9,000.

Local Regulations

Another factor behind the supply/demand gap are local regulations, such as the banning of slot-homes in Denver. These types of structures previously allowed developers to maximize the number of units on a lot by turning them sideways. 

Migration

People, especially Millennials, love Denver. And they’re coming here in droves. Although there are signs that Denver’s popularity is waning, is it enough to ease the demand and close the gap in the housing shortage?

In the meantime, developers are focusing on attached developments, namely town homes. Last August in Denver, around 30% of new residential construction on the market were attached homes. With a changing demographic, economic, and regulatory environment in Denver, it appears that town homes and new urbanism will increasingly become the norm.

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The Hottest Denver Neighborhoods for Millennials

Source: Niche

Niche scoured through heaps of data to rank the best places for Millennials in Denver (and across the country). They looked for neighborhoods with a high percentage of young adults, college grads, access to coffee shops, bars, and restaurants, cost of living, and more.

Here are their rankings of the 10 hottest Denver neighborhoods for Millennials, a ballpark of what it’s going to cost you to live there, and the ease of getting around:

As people migrate back to city centers, it’s no surprise that all top 10 neighborhoods for Millennials on Niche’s list have an urban feel with high walk scores. The bigger question is: are these neighborhoods still affordable for the majority of Millennials or will many of them be priced out of the market?

Check out Niche’s site for a complete list of rankings and the details on their methodology.

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Rental rates based on March 2018 numbers detailed in our first quarter rental market breakdown. Medial home prices based on 2017 prices complied in our semi-annual neighborhood stats.

Getting down payment help now. Sharing home’s gain (or loss) later.

Source: Tara Siegel Bernard of the New York Times

Getting down payment help now. Sharing home’s gain (or loss) later.

Throughout the US there are countless people who would love to buy a home, but continue to pay that rent check to their landlord every month instead. Why is this?

For the average aspiring homeowner, the largest obstacle to overcome is the down payment. Several companies, including San Francisco-based Unison, have found an opportunity in this challenge: shared equity.

Shared equity allows homeowners to split their down payment with an investor in exchange for a piece of the appreciation when the home sells.

How shared equity benefits homeowners:

  • Increase buying power
  • Retain some of your savings and buy a home
  • Avoid costly private mortgage insurance and high interest rates

The average loan to value (the percentage borrowed to purchase a home) for a first-time homeowner is 92.6%. Homebuyers who borrow more than 80% of a home’s value upfront are seen as risky by lenders. Traditionally, they overcome this with unfavorable interest rates and mortgage insurance. Shared equity allows for buyers to afford a large enough downpayment to avoid these costs.

The downside? By sharing equity with a firm like Unison, a home buyer saves upfront but ends up giving up a cut of their proceeds from sale if their home has increased in value.

Regardless of whether you are the type to give up some of your equity to allow an outside investor to alleviate some of the capital-intensiveness of home buying, shared equity is catching on. Unison invested alongside 450 homebuyers last year, and they project to invest with roughly 2,500-3,000 more people in 2018.

Check out the full article to dig deeper into the mechanics of shared equity.

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Denver council outlaws slot homes after years of neighborhood outcry

Source: Jon Murray of the Denver Post

Denver Slot Home Crack Down Comes Too Late

Denver City Council unanimously approved zoning code changes preventing future development of sideways facing slot homes. The change has been a long time coming  for some Denver residents but it will only affect future building permit approvals. There are several projects still in the pipeline that will be grandfathered in before the new zoning takes place. The change would require new developments to orient the building toward the street connecting it to the neighborhood better. Berkley, Jefferson Park, and West Colfax have the highest concentration of slot homes in Denver. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, in this article there are great before and after satellite views showing how the neighborhood has changed.

 

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Is Denver’s Popularity Fading? More People Looking to Move out Than in

Source: Aldo Svaldi of the Denver Post

Is Denver's Popularity Waning? More Moving Out Than In

Denver’s popularity is in question for the first time in many years. After waves of people moved to the metro area in the last decade, the spark is starting to sizzle. Why? For many, it’s becoming too expensive and too crowded. Denver lead the way as the country rebounded from the Great Recession. Young workers flocked to Denver for job opportunities and recreation heaven. As the unemployment rate in the rest of the country has dropped, Denver’s luster is starting to fade. Median home prices are becoming out of reach, leaving natives and newcomers with thoughts of ditching Denver for greener pastures.

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Real Estate Investors Will Benefit From New Tax Law

Source: Jeff Johnson and Andrew Monette of Pinnacle Real Estate Advisors

Real Estate Investors Will Benefit From New Tax Law

Do you invest in real estate? If so, we have great news for you! The largest tax system overhaul in 30 years will benefit most real estate investors. Let’s shed some light on a few of the less apparent changes in the new tax code:

There will be no new restrictions on 1031 exchanges.

Unfamiliar with IRC Section 1031? It allows real estate investors to postpone paying taxes on gains, so long as those profits are reinvested into bundles containing property similar to the one they profited on. Keeping this section in place favors real estate investments over other opportunities.

Several changes were made to the way equipment and other improvements are depreciated.

For residential owners, nonaffixed appliances and furniture can be fully expensed in the first year. The same is now true for property that falls under MACRS with a life of 20 years or less, computer software, water utility property, and other qualified improvements. The last depreciation change the article mentions is the increased cap for immediate expensing of tangible personal property from $500,000 to $1,000,000.

A pass-through tax deduction, or bonus depreciation has been created.

This allows for sole proprietors and investors using pass-through entities to enjoy a 20% deduction on taxable income. A pass-through entity is one that allows investors to set up an entity to relieve liability of themselves, while “passing” their revenue through that entity to themselves before paying taxes at their personal rate.

As a result of the new tax code, the authors of this article predict a shift in investment from equities to real property both in the Denver market and Across the United States.

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Expect Construction Costs in Denver to Continue to Rise

Source: Travis Hodge and Craig Kalman of JLL Multifamily Capital Markets

Expect construction costs in Denver to continue to rise

Every aspect of the cost of living is rising in Denver, including the costs of labor and material to build. Within the next year, we have almost $5.5 billion in projects that are set to start, including the DIA project and I-70 expansion. Because of the scarcity of subcontractors, framers, and builders, the cost of labor alone has doubled. There is good news for developers and investors though: most projects are still under today’s replacement cost. And surprisingly, a labor shortage is what could keep the market in equilibrium.

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Widespread Violations Discovered in Denver Affordable Homes Program

Source: Jon Murray and Aldo Svaldi of the Denver Post

Widespread Violations Discovered in Denver Affordable Homes Program

When Denver launched it’s affordable housing program in the early 2000’s, the city took on the responsibility of keeping up with everything involved in the transaction and making sure program rules were being implemented. In other words, Denver officials took on a big role that required a team to manage. But the Great Recession happened and between 2009-2012, budget cuts resulted in over 30 Denver officials being let go. This left the affordable housing program with one staff member. With inadequate staffing to run Denver’s affordable housing initiatives, there has been a lack of oversight from the city. The result? Some homeowners of affordable housing may be forced to sell.

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Is Denver’s Housing Market Failing? New Report Says It’s Very Close.

Source: Aldo Svaldi of The Denver Post

Is Denver's Housing Market Failing?

$80,000. That’s the estimated amount that potential buyers need to make if they want to buy the median priced home in Denver. And that price in Denver is now at $425k ($395K for attached homes and $455K for detached), which corresponds to a 20% down payment of $79-91K. For now, Denver’s median family income is right above $80k. Can incomes keep pace with soaring real estate prices?

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