Study shows use of real estate agents highest in 18 years

Study shows the use of real estate agents highest in 18 years

Despite the proliferation of apps and websites designed to help people buy and homes on their own, most people continue to choose traditional, in-person brokers. In fact, a new study shows that use of real estate agents is at its highest level since the study began in 2001.

A recent Harris Insights & Analytics’ housing consumer study polled 1,000 people who had either bought or sold a home in the last six months of 2018, according to  Of those, 90% said that they used a real estate agent to buy or sell their homes. The figure represents a 5% increase from the last study, which was conducted in 2014 and a 9% increase from the first study in 2001.

“And despite the fears that Millennials are replacing real estate agents with technology, the study found that this was not the case…” notes Housingwire. Among those ages 18 to 24, 91% reported using a real estate agent.

Gen Xers—those between 35 and 44 years old—were found to use brokers at an even higher rate of 94%

Interestingly, the study reports that more education corresponds to greater usage of agents. Of those with a college education, 94% used a broker to buy or sell their homes, vs. 83% of those with only a high school diploma. Meanwhile, income was also a predictor; 98% of survey participants earning between $75,000 and $100,000 used a broker, vs. 79% of those who made $50,000 or less a year.

If you are in the market for a home and are interested in learning more about my process please feel free to visit I would love to meet you over coffee to discuss your wants and needs!

-Joseph Newman, The Colorado Broker

Photo by José Alejandro Cuffia on Unsplash

The Colorado Broker – Computers vs Humans Home Appraisals

Computers can do home appraisals. But humans are better

In our computer-oriented world, decisions driven by data and algorithms have become commonplace. This raises the question: Is there still a need for human input to get the right outcome?

It’s a question many are asking regarding home appraisals.

“With these [technological] advances, will computers inevitably replace appraisers when it comes to valuing homes?” asks John S. Brenan, director of appraisal issues for the Appraisal Foundation. He explored the idea in a recent Realtor Magazine article.

Computer models, called automated valuation models (AVMs), are used by websites like Zillow, tax assessors, lenders and others. Most experts agree that AVMs have their place in today’s world. For example, they are useful in situations where the appraisal isn’t critical.

Brenan offers the situation where a person owns a $2 million home free and clear and wants to take out a $50,000 line of credit. “I’d be irate” he notes, “…if I had to pay a large fee” for an appraisal. In this case, an AVM would work nicely and save the homeowner as much as $700 in appraisal fees.

Computer algorithms also work well when evaluating average homes with no special variations. But few homes are “cookie cutter.”  AVM’s don’t consider whether the home is located on a busy street corner, if it has been updated or is in major disrepair, and so on.

As Brenan writes: “[C]omputers don’t buy houses; people do. An AVM does a great job of analyzing tangible features, such as a property’s age, number of bedrooms and baths, square footage and lot size. However, a property’s overall appeal is something that has been, at least to date, extremely difficult to quantify.”

Brenan notes that while AVMs can help appraisers in their valuations, the human element is still critical in most situations. “[U]nless and until AVMs can better emulate the human factor, an ethical and competent appraiser remains indispensable.”

I have been in the industry for a long time and have established relationships with reputable appraisers in Denver throughout the years. Contact The Colorado Broker, Joseph Newman,  if you would like contact information for our trusted appraisers in the area.

ReMax of Cherry Creek

IRS Now Allows Tax-Free Payment of Moving Expenses

Good news for employees with moving expenses!

Last year’s tax reform law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Act), eliminated the rules allowing individuals to exclude from taxable income amounts an employer pays for some job-related moving expenses, except for certain active-duty members of the armed forces. Additionally, job-related moving expenses paid for by the individual and reimbursed by an employer are taxable. This change applies for tax years 2018 through 2025. (The Act terminates by its terms after 2025, assuming there is no extension.)

The IRS has now indicated an employer can directly pay or reimburse an employee’s qualified moving expenses in 2018 if the expenses were incurred prior to Jan. 1, 2018. In other words, in determining whether employer-paid moving expenses are nontaxable, the IRS will look to the date the expenses are incurred, not when the amounts are paid or reimbursed by the employer.

What were the rules prior to 2018?

Prior to the change made by the Act, an employer could pay or reimburse tax-free an employee’s qualified moving expenses. No dollar limits applied to the amount of moving expenses that could be reimbursed tax-free (subject to the amounts being reasonable), no nondiscrimination rules applied under the tax code and the moving expense program was not subject to ERISA.

Lockton comment: Any amounts not paid or reimbursed by the employer could be deducted when the employee filed his federal tax return. IRS Publication 521 provides the details on the parameters of tax-qualified moving expenses incurred before Jan. 1, 2018.

Qualified expenses were those incurred for moving household goods and personal effects to a new residence, including related travel expenses but not meals. For moves outside the US (foreign moves), qualified expenses include moving personal effects in and out of storage.

For employment-related moves, the employee’s new workplace had to be at least 50 miles farther from their former home than the old job location was from the former home. If there was no previous workplace, the new job location must have been at least 50 miles from their old home.

Example: Joe moved to new home less than 50 miles from his former home because he changed employers. Joe’s old job location was 3 miles from his former home. Joe’s new job location is 60 miles from that home. Because his new job location is 57 miles farther from his former home than the distance from his former home to his previous job location, Joe meets this distance test and could have been reimbursed tax-free for his moving expenses, assuming he meets other requirements spelled out in IRS Publication 521.

New tax law changes the rules

The Act disallowed the tax-favored treatment of moving expenses beginning in 2018. However, the law was not clear whether the change applied based on when the moving expenses were incurred by the employee or paid (or reimbursed) by an employer. Based on the new IRS guidance, both of the following would be tax-free to the employee:

  • An employer directly pays a third-party moving service after Dec. 31, 2017, for moving services provided to an individual prior to Jan. 1, 2018.
  • An employer reimburses an individual after Dec. 31, 2017, for expenses incurred in connection with a move by the individual prior to Jan. 1, 2018.

If an employer treated the payments or reimbursements noted above as taxable to the employee and withheld taxes, it can use the IRS-sanctioned adjustment process or refund claims process to correct the overpayment. The employer will want to make any such corrections prior to the issuance of the employee’s W-2 in early 2019.

If you happen to be moving to the Denver area and are in need of a real estate agent, feel free to contact me directly The Colorado Broker

Denver housing market shows signs of cooling trend

Denver housing market shows signs of a cooling trend

After months of overheating, the Denver housing market is finally dialing down the temperature. Active inventory is up, while prices are dropping slightly.

According to the Denver Metro Association of Realtors’ (DMAR) August market report, residential inventory rose 2.78% in July over June and 3.96% over July of last year. While the Denver Post reports that inventory is still less than half of the historical average, it’s the largest supply of homes on the market in July in three years.

Despite the availability of more homes, though, the number of sales dropped substantially (15.65%) from June, as well as from July of 2017 (8.54%). Meanwhile, average prices decreased somewhat, dropping 1.93% to $479,802 from June to July. The median price dropped .60%, to $417,500.

Although the housing market traditionally slows this time of year, DMAR Market Trends Committee Chairman Steve Danyliw believes the numbers may represent a larger trend.

“It’s not time to panic, but this market is showing signs of cooling, and Realtors need to manage seller’s expectations as market conditions change,” notes Danyliw in the monthly report. “…With inventory at a three-year high, the climate is perfect for slowing activity and price reductions as fewer and fewer homes are considered affordable.”

Indeed, unaffordability may be one of the causes of the slowdown. Interest rates on a 30-year mortgage were 3.9% a year ago, notes a recent Denver Post article. “They now run closer to 4.6% and are rising, knocking more buyers out of the running.”

Additionally, Zillow’s senior economist Aaron Terrazas, cited in the DMAR report, notes that rent growth in the metro area has mostly stabilized, reducing the urgency for renters to escape rising rents by buying a home. This has further lowered demand.

In all, the report is a boon to buyers and perhaps a wake-up call to sellers, who are used to sitting in the catbird seat when it comes to realizing exceedingly high appreciation on their homes.

“Can a cooling market be considered positive?” asks Danyliw. “To most sellers, no, but honestly, they have experienced unprecedented equity growth over the past several years. It’s time to share the love and keep home buying an option in the Denver metro area. “

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Knowing how your sewer works and who to call for help when it fails can save you money and stress.

Do you know when a belly can cause problems? Do you understand when to get a scope versus when to get a clean-out? Do you even realize that we’re talking about sewers not colonoscopies?

If the answer is no to all of the above, it’s time to bone up on your sewer savviness. Admittedly, it’s not a sexy topic. But knowing how your sewer works and who to call for help when it fails can save you money and stress.

Sewer Lines Only, a Denver-based company, offers definitions of these terms:

Main line: The main line connects your service line to the city sewage treatment center. It is the city’s responsibility to maintain. “It is typically 10 inches in diameter and runs under your street or alley,” notes Sewer Lines Only.

Tap: This is what connects your personal service line to the main city line.

Clay line or clay tile: If you have a Denver home built before 1975, it’s likely to have sewer lines made of clay pipes. These often are infiltrated by tree roots and “have multiple joints that can become separated or misaligned, causing leaks.” New replacement lines are made of plastic.

Off-set: This is a problem that typically occurs in a clay line. Because clay lines feature joints every 2-5 feet, the joints can move. When they get out of line with each other, this is an “off-set,” which sometimes collects debris.

Belly: This is a low spot in the line where water and sewage may collect. Depending on the severity, it may be problematic.

Clean-out: This is a spot that offers access to your sewer line. It’s usually found in your yard near the house. Clean-outs “are used to easily access your sewer line in order to inspect or clean it out.”

Sewer scope: This is when a company uses a camera to record what is happening inside the line. The camera is usually fed into the sewer pipe through a vent stack on the roof, a toilet or a clean-out and helps to find blockages and pinpoint spots that need repair.

Pipe bursting: This is when the existing line is replaced by “pulling a new line through the existing line.” This method will not resolve a belly and is allowable only in uniquely difficult excavations.

To keep your sewer line free of trouble, it helps to flood it with water once a month and before you leave for vacation. Turn on all the taps, fill bathtubs with water and then drain them, run the dishwasher, flush all toilets. The rush of water will help push debris through the pipes.

And when problems arise, be careful to hire professionals you trust. It’s best to avoid using a company that offers to both inspect your pipes and repair them, as that company is incentivized to find problems that may not exist. Call us for referrals before spending thousands of unnecessary dollars.

Photo Copyright: Nuwat Chanthachanthuek /


When it comes to home counter tops, two materials are taking the country by storm

Deciding Between Granite & Quartz? Consider these Pros & Cons

When it comes to home countertops, two materials are taking the country by storm: granite and quartz.

In fact, “two out of five homeowners choose one of these two surfaces, often for durability and easy cleaning,” according to a 2017 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study.

While they may have equality in public opinion, each material has distinct advantages and disadvantages. When deciding, it’s important to understand their differences.

Here are some facts to consider, as provided by Houzz:

Advantages of granite

Longevity: Granite, notes Houzz, “is time-tested and has universal appeal.” While some colors may seem dated as time goes on, “you generally can’t go wrong with granite as a long-term investment. It almost always helps sell homes.”

It comes in wide slabs: Granite can be found in slabs more than 70 inches wide, while quartz is more commonly 56 inches wide. Wider slabs generally mean fewer seams, and if only one slab is needed, this can cut costs.

It’s cheaper: While “exotic” granite can be expensive, more common types cost from $35 to $55 per square foot installed – “significantly less than most quartz options,” notes Houzz.

It’s natural: Since granite isn’t man-made like quartz, it has the unique patterns and textures only nature can provide. “As durable as quartz is and as innovative as manufacturing processes are becoming, it won’t ever be 100% natural, and that’s a deal breaker for a lot of homeowners,” notes Houzz.

It can be used outdoors: While quartz may fade and discolor with long-term exposure to sun, granite should stay true to its original color, even in sunlight and weather extremes.

Advantages of quartz

It’s not porous: Spills of liquid, such as wine, can stain granite, if unattended too long. By contrast, quartz won’t stain from coffee, citrus juice, cooking oil, etc. It’s also “about as scratch- and stain-resistant as countertops get,” reports Houzz.

It needs less maintenance: Because granite is porous, homeowners need to seal it every two to five years. They must also be careful while cleaning, as some soaps may stain the stone. By contrast, quartz can handle most detergents and doesn’t require sealing.

It offers a clean look: For those desiring a streamlined look, quartz is the best option. Slabs of the same color won’t vary as granite does, and it doesn’t have the swirls and speckles of granite, which can look “busy.”

It’s less brittle: While installing large slabs of granite, there’s always the danger of breakage, particularly if lots of angles are required. By contrast, quartz is manmade with resins and polymers that form strong bonds. Thus, it is less likely to break.

Photo Copyright: dbvirago / 123RF Stock Photo

From: Re/Max of Cherry Creek Blog

Deciding between granite and quartz? Consider these pros and cons