Homebuyers more willing to consider buying foreclosed properties

According to a recent survey reported on in RISMedia, the stigma of foreclosed homes may be starting to wan.

The online survey, conducted on behalf of real estate-search site Trulia.com and RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosure properties, in early November showed that 88 percent of homeowners looking to trade up are at least somewhat likely to consider buying a foreclosed property. With the $6,500 tax credit available to this market for a short time, sales of foreclosed properties are expected to increase in the coming months.

Overall, 43 percent of adults are somewhat likely to consider a foreclosed property, and 92 percent of real estate investors are at least somewhat likely to do the same.

Of renters looking to buy, 57 percent are willing to consider purchasing a foreclosed home, with more renters between age 18 and 44 likely to consider doing so compared with those 55 and older.

One reason homebuyers are considering purchasing foreclosed homes is the discounted prices: they expect to save 30 percent or more – as much as 50 percent in the Northeast part of the nation.

"Even during the darkest economic times, dreams don’t die. Foreclosures are providing never before seen opportunities for new segments of homebuyers and allowing renters to become first-time buyers, allowing investors to grab great deals and allowing families to trade up to larger homes," RISMedia reported Trulia co-founder and CEO Pete Flint as saying. "Until unemployment levels off and starts to get better, we expect foreclosures to continue to play a big role in the 2010 housing market."

Although they expect to save on the purchase price of a foreclosed home, 95 percent of those who might buy one also expect to invest money in renovations. And 55 percent are willing to spend 20 percent or more of the purchase price on those improvements, according to RISMedia. As more consumers purchase distressed properties, excess housing inventory levels will decrease and additional money will be poured into other industries, helping to stimulate the economy as a whole.

"The most active and qualified buyers in today’s market are highly interested in foreclosures, which is not surprising given the discount that often comes with a foreclosure purchase," said Rick Sharga, senior vice president of RealtyTrac, reported RISMedia. "It is somewhat surprising that consumers cite hidden costs as the biggest negative aspect to buying a foreclosed home because most bank-owned foreclosure sales include the same title protections and other safeguards that are in place for non-foreclosure sales. As myths such as this are put to rest and consumers take more time to educate themselves on the process for purchasing foreclosures, they will be able to take advantage of the great bargains that currently exist in the real estate market."

City's regulations make homes attractive to those who value nature, outdoor activities

The New York Times recently lauded Boulder’s urban growth restrictions, guaranteeing local homebuyers will have views for years to come as well as easy access to hiking and biking trails and open space.

The publication says the city’s restrictions prevent housing developments from "creeping up the hillsides" and buildings higher than four stories from being built. The city has thousands of acres of open space, conservation easements and nature reserves, with approximately 25 percent of its sales and use taxes going toward protecting more open space. All of this means views and opportunities to enjoy the outdoors are protected, according to the newspaper.

The New York Times quotes real estate agents who, it says, report an influx of second-home owners and retirees who value the natural environment and are willing to pay to live near it.

Re/Max of Boulder’s John McElveen was quoted as saying, "It’s not just the lifestyle here — people want the lower taxes, too. We see a lot of Californians and buyers from the Northeast."

The publication also recognized amenities such as the Pearl Street Mall and the University of Colorado, within walking distance of downtown, as well as a mild climate with about 300 sunny days a year historically.

Strong sales in November encouraging

Boulder home sales in November may not have been as strong as they were in October, but they were stronger than the previous two Novembers, and that has Ken Hotard looking forward to the New Year.

The senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor Association called November’s sales-volume figures "encouraging" compared with past Novembers. Last month, 252 single-family homes sold compared with 149 in November 2008 and 246 in November 2007. The attached-housing market also had a positive November this year, with 84 homes selling versus 50 a year ago and 46 in November 2007.

"That’s the second consecutive month that we've seen gains, and these gains are even stronger than we saw last month," he says.

Hotard attributed the impressive figures to historically low interest rates and the extended and expanded tax credit bringing first-time as well move-up buyers into the market. "Those are all really positive signs," he says.

Sluggish job growth will continue to affect the market, though the government is working on another stimulus program that would provide $100 billion to small businesses and state governments to spur hiring. "So hopefully it will move job growth in the right direction and, with the other factors, we'll see strong growth in sales volume in 2010 consistent with what we’re seeing this quarter," Hotard says.

Home sales were down compared with October, but he says that’s a natural seasonal adjustment.

Although average and median prices are generally lower throughout Boulder County, some communities continue to show improvement and, overall, they prices are holding steady.

"It’s still a buyer’s market and there continues to be downward pressure on prices," Hotard says. "But there are limits to that, beyond which the market just isn’t going to respond. Prices are holding up well in the middle to low end. The high end has the greatest pressure and least availability to credit. Jumbos are still hard to find and difficult to qualify for. Folks are steering away from adjustable rate loans, and that’s mostly what’s out there."

Hotard says the dynamics of the Boulder market have not changed substantially except for the increased buyer participation and sales volume, and that’s good news.

"Does this point to a recovery? Not necessarily. But it is certainly encouraging," he says. "Buyers are returning to the market, albeit with some encouragement from our government."

But if there was ever a time to buy a home, it is now, when prices and interest rates are low and the government is offering incentives like never before. Hotard warns that these conditions won’t last for long.

"I think prices are going to start going up," he says. "We’re going to start seeing that recovery in the second half of 2010. I think folks should really consider that if they’re thinking about getting in the market at all. This current market offers a significant opportunity."

Wall Street Journal recognizes world-class cuisine served at Boulder's restaurants

Boulder is home to restaurants serving world-class cuisine, according to The Wall Street Journal critic Raymond Sokolov.

Noting that a "gourmet revolution has edged out the cultural revolution," Sokolov named several restaurants participating in a "high-end food fight" in Downtown Boulder. He attributes this to the fact that Boulder is home to "plenty of well-shod, well-fixed folks eager to feed themselves with discrimination."

From Flagstaff House's dish featuring a trio of lamb parts and its young-yet-talented wait staff to the local items served at Salt or the Kitchen's honorable use of wind power and cooking oil to fuel a staff member's car, Sokolov never had a shortage of positive things to say about Boulder's high-end restaurants.

Here's a list of the establishments whose cuisine Sokolov sampled and recommended:

Flagstaff House Restaurant
1138 Flagstaff Road

1047 Pearl St.

The Kitchen
1039 Pearl St.

Black Cat
1964 13th St.

1738 Pearl St.

Massage therapy is adventure for woman whose life is full of them

Robyn Faike figured out what she wanted to do when she grew up while summiting Mt. Everest, which she did at 4:02 a.m. May 24, 2008.

The day after returning from that adventure – one of many she's had in life – she enrolled in courses to pursue her next adventure, massage therapy. After receiving her certification from the Boulder College of Massage Therapy, Robyn opened her own practice, Evolve Therapeutics, 2027 Broadway Street, Suite A, in Boulder in June. She is also is certified through the The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, which means the massages she offers can help a body heal, not just relax.

"The therapy that Robyn provides is much, much more than a simple massage," says her patient, Richard Silverman. "She is a very intuitive therapist and is able to provide a form of therapy that is unavailable in today's world of medicine. Not only is she unusually caring and compassionate, but she has mastered many different styles and forms of bodywork that can provide not only relief from pain but, in many cases, the eradication of its cause."

Faike says it was realizing that injuries have a mental, emotional and spiritual as well as physical impact on people reaching their goals revealed her calling.

"Nobody was a massage therapist (on her Mt. Everest summit team), but it got me thinking, because people would have muscle strain and it pretty much inhibited them from progressing and doing the climb in a comfortable way," she says. "I realized how it’s important to connect mind, body and spirit. An injury would take over psyche, cause depression, and I saw how beneficial (massage therapy) could be.”

Mt. Everest wasn’t Robyn’s first peak to climb, either. She’s climbed the highest peaks in five different continents, four of which she did with her mom.

Before discovering her true calling, Robyn was an elementary school teacher, though she originally went to Indiana University to pursue opera singing. She completed her teaching certification and student teaching in New Zealand before moving to Boulder, where her brother and grandparents lived (she’s originally from Carson City, Nev.). She also worked for five years with the Boulder YMCA in its mountain biking camp, helping older teens train for races.

None of those experiences, though, gave her the satisfaction that working as a massage therapist and doing bodywork does, she says.

"Every day is so amazing for me," Robyn says. "I walk away each day with different stories. I connect with people on unique and special level. I feel completely fulfilled in my life.

"It's really complementary to all my life adventures," she adds. "I really believe that everybody has their own summit in life. Through massage therapy, it's so exciting to support people in whatever adventure they're on, no matter how big or how small. It all feels connected to me."

Evolve Therapeutics' hours are by appointment 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Call (303) 246-7178.