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Real Estate

Information about buying, selling and investing in residential real estate.

Property Value, Assessment, Taxes and Mill Levy – What does it all mean?

If you live in Colorado, you should be receiving your new property assessment and tax rate notification by May 1, 2017.  Below you will find definitions and information that I have summarized from the Arapahoe County Assessors website for your review.  It is extremely likely that your tax rate will have increased significantly as property values continue to increase at an extraordinary rate.

If you disagree with the property valuation you can make an appeal with your county assessor.  The deadline is likely June 1, 2017 to file an appeal.  You cannot appeal the mill levy as that is determined by the individual taxing authorities. 

If you disagree with the property value the assessor has determined, and are considering making an appeal, feel free to contact me and I will gladly provide you with comparable property sales for documentation to use in your appeal.

Property Value – In Colorado the county Assessor, for the county in which your property is located, is required to reappraise (determine the market value) all real property (land and improvements) every 2 years in the odd numbered years. 

Property Assessment    Every 2 years the assessor determines the actual (market) value for all real and personal property. Then a percentage (assessment rate) is multiplied by the actual value to determine the assessed value. In Colorado the residential assessment rate is currently 7.96%. 

Mill Levy – Is the tax rate applied to real property.  The mill levy is set by individual taxing authorities in your area, these might include schools, county, fire, water, sanitation, library, recreation districts and metropolitan districts.  Mill levies within a county can vary widely.

Property Taxes – The final property taxes for your home and/or land are calculated using this information.    The actual value is multiplied by the assessment rate which is then multiplied by the mill levy. The residential rate in Colorado currently is 7.96%. The assessment rate for all other property, including vacant land, is 29%.

Example: A home which has a market value of $300,000 (actual value) x 7.96% (residential assessment rate) x .081265 (mill levy) = $ 1,940.61 (annual tax dollars). Please note this is only an example. Your value and mill levy maybe different. (300,000 x .0796 = 23,880 then 23,880 x .081265 = 1,940.60)

Home Buying & Selling Classes

If you’re thinking about buying and/or selling a home in the near future, now is the time to sign up for one of my upcoming classes at Arapahoe Community College.  Both of these classes are designed to give you the information you need to be prepared to buy or sell a home, here in Colorado.

My expertise is helping my clients make great decisions with great information when buying, selling or investing in real estate.

My extensive skills, experience and knowledge are unmatched in the real estate industry. I have experience in building, inspecting, fixing, investing and of course buying and selling.  I have the information you need to move forward in the home buying and selling process and I’m happy to share it with you.

Home Buyer Basics

Judy Browne
Learn about the home buying process from start to finish. Start with a review of the current Colorado real estate market and cover a variety of topics, such as: describing your new home, choosing a real estate broker, what to look for when viewing homes, negotiating with sellers, understanding the home inspection process, understanding real estate contracts and forms, and knowing what to expect throughout the process.  Leave the class with the information you need to be an informed home buyer!

Sat, Apr 8, 10 a.m.-noon                                 Littleton Campus
INDS 1001S01-82438                                               $25

Thu, May 4, 6-8 p.m.                                         Littleton Campus
INDS 1001S02-82439                                             $25

What You Need to Know to Sell Your Home

Judy Browne
Learn the step by step process to follow when selling your home.  Review pricing strategies, what it costs to sell a home, recommendations for getting your home ready to sell, how to work with buyers and negotiating techniques. We will also review Colorado Real Estate Contracts and forms.  Each student will be offered a free comparative market analysis of their home at the conclusion of the class.

Sat, Apr 22, 10 a.m.-noon                              Littleton Campus
INDS 1002S01-82440                                             $25

Thu, May 18, 6-8 p.m.                                      Littleton Campus
INDS 1002S02-82441                                             $25

Property Taxes – What you need to know

If you live in Colorado and haven’t already received your tax bill in the mail you should see it shortly.  Here are some things you should know about property taxes and how they are paid.

  1. In Colorado property taxes are paid “in arrears” meaning the property taxes due in 2017 are for 2016.
  2. If you recently purchased a home, the sellers gave you a credit at closing for the taxes for the portion of 2016 that they owned the home. You, as the new owner are then responsible for paying the tax bill when it comes due. Contact me if you have a question about this.
  3. If you have a mortgage on your home it is highly likely that you don’t need to do anything with this bill except file it away. Typically homeowners, with a mortgage, pay a portion of the taxes and insurance each month right along with the mortgage payment.  The mortgage company puts that money into an escrow account and then pays your tax bill and your insurance bill when it is due. 
  4. Did you know? Senior Tax Exemptions are available. If you’re over 65, have lived in your home for 10 years or more as your principle residence you may be eligible for a 50% reduction in your payment.  The state picks up the other half.  Look at the information included with your tax bill for more information about submitting an application for the exemption.  This is also available to a surviving spouse.  Some links:
    Arapahoe County Senior Tax Exemption.
    Jefferson County Senior Tax Exemption
    Douglas County Senior Tax Exemption
    Adams County Senior Tax Exemption
    Broomfield County Senior Tax Exemption
    Denver County Senior Tax Exemption
  5. If you have any questions about the value of your taxes you should direct them to your county assessor’s office. Look at your tax notice for contact information.

Denver Metro Real Estate Market 2016 Annual Report

Denver Metro Real Estate Market Info

If you’re interested in the Denver Metro Real Estate Market below is a quick summary of what happened in 2016.  Below there are two full reports with much more detail.  Both the December 2016 statistics and the 2016 annual report.

Here is a quick summary of 2016:

2016 Total Days on Market = 27 (same as 2015)

2016 New Listings = 70,219 (-0.5% from 2015)

Top 5 Areas  (increase in new listings)

  1. Lochbuie          + 33.5%
  2. Bennett            + 31.7%
  3. Kiowa              + 27.7%
  4. Lafayette         + 26.5%
  5. Franktown       + 18.2%

2016 Sold Listings = 60,031 (+ 0.3% from 2015)

Top 5 Areas (increase in sold listings)

  1. Lochbuie         + 54.3%
  2. Edgewater       + 35.8%
  3. Pine                 + 34.4%
  4. Franktown       + 32.9%
  5. Bennett            + 19.1%

2016 Median Sold Price = $345,000 (+11% from 2015)

Top 5 Areas (Increase in Median Sold Price)

  1. Fraser               + 20.5%
  2. Wheat Ridge     + 19.6%
  3. Pine                  + 17.4%
  4. Lakewood         + 17.4%
  5. Bailey               + 16.4%

2016 Average Sold Price = $394,919 (+9.5% from 2015)

Top 5 Areas (Increase in Average Sold Price)

  1. Fraser               + 33.2%
  2. Wheat Ridge     + 21.3%
  3. Strasburg          + 18.3%
  4. Elizabeth           + 17.8%
  5. Black Hawk       + 17.1%

December 2016 Denver Metro RE Market

Complete 2016 Annual Report for Denver Metro RE Market

New Construction – The ‘real’ sales price

Buying New Construction – Final Sales Price

You see the signs everywhere “NEW HOMES STARTING IN THE LOW $XXX’s”.  In the Denver Metro area any sign that says “starting in the low $300’s” will likely get a lot of attention.  It’s tough to find a nice house, let alone a brand new house, under $350,000 anywhere along the front range of Colorado.  The price listed on the signs are the ‘base price’ of the home.  Unlike purchasing an existing home the ‘base price’ on the marketing materials is merely a starting point.  Before you start packing up your belongings to move, you’ll want to ask the sales person specific questions about any additional costs.

Below is a list of items to take into account when calculating the actual sales price of a new home.

  1. Interior Upgrades – Ask for a list of the interior and exterior features, included in the base price, before you start touring the model homes. Most model homes you tour have the premium upgrades.  When estimating your final sales price I recommend you use a value equal to 10% to 12% of the base price.  ($300,000 home, $30,000 – $36,000 in upgrades)
  2. Lot Premiums – Lot premiums are fees that are added to the cost of the land (lot) for special features such as size, views and location (adjacent to open space, cul-de-sac, corner lots, etc.) Every community will be different.
  3. Landscaping – Very often, with new construction, the builder will include minimal landscaping with the building of the home, usually just the front yard. Typically the homeowner must complete the remaining landscaping within a predetermined time frame.  It is important to understand this cost and the specified completion timeline.

Example of features included in the base price of a new home.

Example: I toured a model home with a base price $311,000. You can view a list of the floor plan and included features here.

The cost of the interior upgrades I wanted was about $30,000 (pretty close to 10%). (granite counter-tops, wood flooring throughout the main level, tile floors in the bathrooms, a gas range in the kitchen, an additional bedroom & bathroom and a covered patio).  It can add up very quickly. Every lot had a lot premium associated with it.  Lot Premiums ranged from $4000 to $10,000 depending on the lot and location.  The total of my additional costs was $34,000 or 11 %.

Base Price $311,000
Interior Upgrades $30,000
Lot Premium $4,000
Total Purchase Price $345,000

Please Note:  If you are just starting out on the home buying process and aren’t even sure if new construction is what you want to buy, please download my Home Buyer Questionnaire, to get you started.

Buying New Construction in Denver Metro Area

Buying  a New Home in Colorado

This past weekend I stopped in to see some model homes in a new home development.  While talking with the saleswoman I realized that many home buyers  might not know what questions to ask to be sure new construction is right for them.  Buying a new construction home can have different challenges compared to purchasing an existing home.

Please Note:  If you are just starting out on the home buying process, and aren’t even sure if new construction is what you want to buy, download my Home Buyer Questionnaire to get started.

Here are a few things to consider asking about when speaking with a salesperson at a new development.

Sales Price – Unlike purchasing an existing home, the base price provided for each ‘model’ is a starting point.  There are additional costs to be considered which will vary depending on the builder and the buyer’s choices.  These costs may include: lot premiums, interior upgrades, landscaping, exterior finishes and more. For a longer discussion on base price and sales price click here.

Build Schedule and Lot Releases – Large developments will typically be built in phases. If there is a high demand for homes the builder may choose to release lots in groups as construction progresses. You may need to wait to purchase a home on the lot you prefer.

Property Taxes – Property taxes in Colorado vary widely throughout the Metro Denver Area.  For new construction you can’t just rely on county records for property tax values.  Vacant land is taxed differently than a lot with a completed home.  Be sure you get a good estimate on what the property tax rate will be on your finished home from the salesperson.

Financing & Contracts – Builders may encourage you to use their finance partners through incentives which not necessarily a bad thing,  saving money is always good. Be cautious when using your own lender and be sure you are clearly communicating the important dates & deadlines or you could be in breach of your purchase contract.  Builders DO NOT use the same contracts as those used when purchasing a pre-existing home.

Home Owner’s Association (HOA) vs Metro District – Most, not all, new developments will have either a Home Owner’s Association or a Metro District. These are governing entities that will provide guidelines for the community in which you will be living.  There may or may not be a fee associated with belonging to the HOA or Metro District and the cost and amenities may vary widely between builders and communities.

Feel free to reach out to me for more information on purchasing a new or existing home.  I am happy to help in whatever way I can.

 If you are just starting out on the home buying process and aren’t even sure if new construction is what you want to buy, download my Home Buyer Questionnaire, to get started.

Dec 2016 Denver Metro Real Estate Market Stats

Below is a link to the full December 2016 Denver Metro Real Estate market information.

A quick summary of the information included:

  • Average and Median Sales prices are down slightly when compared to the previous month (NOV 2016)
  • Average and Median Sales prices are up significantly when compared to last year (DEC 2015)
  • Average Days on Market for Dec was 34 days.
  • Average and Median Sales Prices of Single Family Attached (Townhomes and Condos) have increased more than Single Family Detached homes over the last year.

Dec 2016 Denver Metro RE Snapshot

If  your live in Colorado and you’re interested specific information related to your home, neighborhood,  city or zip code.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to me.  I am happy to provide you the information.

Market Value vs Affordability in Residential Real Estate

I was listening to the news this morning and heard about an article, in the Denver Post, that stated that homes in the Denver Metro area were OVERVALUED by 20%.  That got my attention! The report then proceeded to give information about AFFORDABILITY.  Of course, since this kind of misinformation   directly affects my clients, who may have just purchased or are considering purchasing a home, it is important for me to clarify. (No wonder we don’t trust the media any longer)

Market value and affordability are two distinctly different things.  Real estate can be unaffordable without being overvalued.

Let’s start out with some basic definitions of the terms being used.

Market Value of a homeMarket value is simply the price at which something will sell within a reasonable period of time. In a normal or average real estate market, “reasonable”, in the current market, means one to three months.

Affordable HousingFamilies who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care. An estimated 12 million renter and homeowner households now pay more than 50 percent of their annual incomes for housing.

As you can see, understanding the different terms is critical to accurately evaluating the real estate market in Colorado and the Denver Metro Area.

Let’s look at the city of Denver over the last 3 years (see the graphs below).  The average sales price of a home (this includes all residential real estate) has risen 9.1% to $426,328.00  and the median sales price has risen 9.8% to $354,000.  These two graphs show the increase in MARKET VALUE.

The median income increase in Denver has risen 8.86% to $70,283 according to, The Department of Numbers website. ( I don’t have a nice graph to show you but here is the table from the website I linked to here). The fact that income increases are lagging behind home prices is an indication of AFFORDABILITY.

Addressing the issues of affordable housing or the potential of another housing bubble require completely different solutions. 

Affordability, in my opinion, is a much greater concern and can be addressed by reducing government regulations on builders and developers, providing tax credits to builders and developers, where needed, and convincing local governments to allow these types of developments in their cities (I am talking to you BOULDER).

The worry of another housing bubble is a completely different concern.  As mortgage interest rates rise the cost of housing will likely level out but as long as the Denver Metro area has a robust economy with high job growth, people will want to move here and likely will be willing to pay the high cost of housing. The need to get rid of the ridiculous Construction Litigation Laws on condominiums is a topic for another post.