Sunday, August 25, 2019

Freddie Mac: Mortgage rates hit another 3-year low

This week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.55%
HousingWire newsletter

The average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to another three-year low this week, according to the latest Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
According to the company’s data, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.55% for the week ending August 22, 2019, down from last week’s rate of 3.6%. That's almost a percentage point lower than its 2018 average of 4.53%.
Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater said the drop in mortgage rates continues to stimulate the real estate market and the economy.
Home purchase demand is up 5% from a year ago and has noticeably strengthened since the early summer months, while refinances surged to their highest share in three and a half years,” Khater said. “Households that refinanced in the second quarter of 2019 will save an average of $1,700 a year, which is equivalent to about $140 each month.”
“The benefit of lower mortgage rates is not only shoring up home sales, but also providing support to homeowner balance sheets via higher monthly cash flow and steadily rising home equity,” Khater said.
The 15-year FRM averaged 3.03% this week, retreating from last week’s 3.07%. This time last year, the 15-year FRM came in at 3.98%.
The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.32%, falling from last week’s rate of 3.35%. This rate sits much lower than the same week in 2018 when it averaged 3.82%.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Parks and Wildlife gives $270K grant to Swan River Restoration Project

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Courtesy Summit County

As part of its Fishing is Fun grant program, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has awarded $755,000 to 11 projects across the state. The program aims to improve angling opportunities by funding projects that improve angling access, fishing habitat, or trail and boat access.
One of the beneficiaries is Summit County’s Swan River Restoration Project, the county’s effort to restore the Swan River after it was destroyed by dredge mining during the twilight of the Colorado gold rush in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
After the first phase of the project, which also received a Parks and Wildlife grant, a mile of stream channel has been restored, establishing year-round flows, creating 16 acres of new riparian habitat and improving habitat for fish like the mottled sculpin. 
The project has been awarded $270,000 from the Fishing is Fun program for a second phase covering another mile of stream channel. Another $2.4 million in funding will come from sponsors.
Some residents in the area continue to oppose the project due to concerns over truck traffic and noise generated by gravel crushing required to clear the sites for riparian development.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Here are the 25 costliest places to live in the U.S.

Beach towns make up most of the list

In some markets, you can get a lot for your money. In others, well, it's the opposite.
Here are the 25 housing markets where buyers have to pay the largest percentage of their income to afford a house, courtesy of U.S. News' Best Places to Live report for 2019. 

Here are the 25 most expensive places to live in the U.S.:
  1. San Juan, Puerto Rico
  2. Miami, Florida
  3. Los Angeles, California
  4. New York, New York
  5. San Diego, California
  6. Santa Barbara, California
  7. Salinas, California
  8. Honolulu, Hawaii
  9. Santa Rosa, California
  10. Daytona Beach, Florida
  11. Port St. Lucie, Florida
  12. Stockton, California
  13. Modesto, California
  14. Fresno, California
  15. San Francisco, California
  16. Orlando, Florida
  17. Sacramento, California
  18. Fort Myers, Florida
  19. New Haven, Connecticut
  20. McAllen, Texas
  21. San Jose, California
  22. Brownsville, Texas
When calculating these lists, median mortgage payments, property taxes and median rents are calculated when deciding how to rank the cities. Then, housing costs and local median annual household income are compared to determine the affordability.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Breckenridge gets electric buses, encourages visitors not to rent cars

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Summit Daily

The town of Breckenridge is working to increase public transportation, encourage visitors not to rent a car and improve sustainability. To address these goals, the town purchased two fully electric buses, which will be added to the current Breckenridge public transit routes, replacing two diesel buses. 
The buses were purchased using grant money given to the town of Breckenridge and Summit County in 2018 by the Federal Transport Authority.
One bus currently is being tested and used for mechanical and driver training, but both buses are scheduled to be added to routes by the second week of September. The buses will be charged at the recently constructed Bus Barn, which can fit up to six buses. 
The buses are part of the town’s plan to encourage visitors to not bring cars into Breckenridge when they visit. Town spokeswoman Haley Littleton explained that not having to deal with a car or parking in Breckenridge can reduce stress while on vacation.
The idea is feasible, she said, because shuttles — which are equipped to drive in the mountains — bring visitors to Breckenridge from Denver International Airport. Once visitors arrive in Breckenridge, gondolas, the free bus system and walking paths make everything in town accessible. 
As for residents, the electric buses enhance the Green Commutes program, which encourages employees to use sustainable methods of transportation for their commutes.
“The town has some multimodal goals for residents and visitors to help us achieve our goals for the climate action plan,” Breckenridge Sustainability Coordinator Jessie Burley said.
The major goals of the climate action plan are to reduce emissions by 25% by 2030 and 91% by 2050. While the new buses might seem like a small step toward that goal, they will prevent about 229,167 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The new buses also are larger than the existing buses, allowing them to transport more people in a single trip.
While more sustainable transportation options will help to achieve the goal, people have to use them in order to cut down on carbon emissions. A May survey showed that only 16% of Breckenridge residents use public transit. 
“The buses alone are not going to get people out of their cars,” Burley said. “It has to be a comprehensive option, but once we get the buses here, we can work on encouraging people to use public transport.”
The electric buses are part of the town of Breckenridge’s transit master plan project. Once the new buses are implemented, the next step is to evaluate the buses for efficiency and determine where best to use them on the routes. The transit master plan project is expected to be completed in the fall, and more diesel buses are eventually expected to be replaced by electric buses.
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

CDOT expects minimal traffic impacts during Colorado Classic bike race

Michael Yearout Photography

The third annual Colorado Classic is kicking off in Steamboat Springs this week, though traffic impacts are expected to be minimal, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The Colorado Classic, a four-stage women’s professional bike race, begins Thursday, Aug. 22, in Steamboat and takes racers through Avon and Golden before ending Sunday, Aug. 25, in Denver. The race shouldn’t impact traffic in Summit County, but there will be closures around the state beginning Thursday.
“Our traffic, maintenance and communication personnel and resources will be working collectively to make sure the Colorado Classic is as safe and successful as possible for riders,” CDOT executive director Shoshana Lew said in a news release. “Our Whole System – Whole Safety initiative is not only about day-to-day usage of CDOT assets but also extends to maintaining a safe environment when our highway system is part of a world-class event such as this.” 
On Thursday, both north- and southbound off-ramps from U.S. Highway 40 to Mount Werner Road will be closed from 11 to 11:30 a.m. and from 12:45 to 1:50 p.m. Colorado Highway 131 between County Road 14E and C.R. 14 will be closed from 11:30 a.m. to noon and between C.R.s 14 and 17 from 11:45 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
On Friday, both east and westbound U.S. Highway 6 between Beaver Creek and Post boulevards will be closed from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. On Satuday, the eastbound off-ramp from Colorado Highway 58 to McIntyre Street will be closed from 11 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. and the westbound off-ramp to McIntyre will be reduced to one lane.   
For real-time information about highway impacts, sign up for travel alerts via email or text at
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Monday, August 19, 2019


 The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development jointly  announced the following new residential construction statistics for July 2019: 

Building Permits

Privatelyowned housing units authorized by building permits in July were at a seasonally adjusted
annual rate of  1,336,000.  This is 8.4 percent (±1.1 percent) above the revised June rate of 1,232,000
and is 1.5 percent (±1.4  percent) above the July 2018 rate of 1,316,000.

 Single‐family authorizations in July were at a rate of 838,000; this is  1.8 percent (±1.4 percent) above the revised June figure of 823,000. 
Authorizations of units in buildings with five  units or more were at a rate of 453,000 in July.

 Housing Starts

 Privately‐owned housing starts in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,191,000.  This is 4.0 percent  (±8.0 percent)* below the revised June estimate of 1,241,000, but is 0.6 percent (±8.2 percent)*
above the July 2018  rate of 1,184,000. 

Single‐family housing starts in July were at a rate of 876,000; this is 1.3 percent (±11.8 percent)*  above the revised June figure of 865,000. The July rate for units in buildings with five units
or more was 303,000.  

Housing Completions 

Privately‐owned housing completions in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,250,000.  This is 7.2  percent (±11.4 percent)* above the revised June estimate of 1,166,000 and is 6.3 percent
 (±12.0 percent)* above  the July 2018 rate of 1,176,000. 

Single‐family housing completions in July were at a rate of 918,000; this is 4.3  percent (±10.8 percent)* above the revised June rate of 880,000. The July rate for units in buildings with five units or  more was 321,000.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Creation and growth of Summit County’s ski areas shaped the mountain sports community

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Peak 8 Ski Area in 1961

Breckenridge Ski Resort co-founder Trygve Berge points out several locations from his perch at The Crown coffee shop above Breckenridge’s Main Street. Few structures resided in the footprints of these contemporary buildings when he first visited six decades ago.
He waxes nostalgic about how property was alarmingly cheap to purchase. He emphasizes how there was hardly anyone here. Historical records chronicle the Rocky Mountain mining town’s population dipping to 383 in 1960. Scouring his memory, Berge recalls that number being closer to 200 — maybe fewer.
“It was becoming Alma or some of these ghost towns,” Berge said about Breckenridge. “Mountain towns with very few people, very little going on. … (The ski area) changed it totally.” 
Now 87, the 1956 Olympic Norwegian Alpine skier still skis more than a half-century after he first arrived to scout the potential of a ski area. Berge was invited by Bill Rounds, of the Kansas-based Rounds and Porter Lumber Co., along with fellow Norwegian Olympic downhiller Sigurd Rockne. In 1960, the trio toasted to the town’s future near the current location of the upper terminal of the Colorado SuperChair on Peak 8.
Fast-forward 59 years to this past June: Berge hops off the Independence SuperChair at tree line on the resort’s Peak 7. It’s just a short ski north along the Tenmile Range from where he, Rockne and Rounds toasted in 1960. On this warm, sunny day, Berge sticks to trails below tree line, though many others ride the Imperial Express SuperChair to ski from just below the summit of Peak 8. 
Dreaming big
As impressive as Imperial is, Berge wanted more. He once dreamed of Breckenridge resort offering skiing all the way north to Peak 1 in Frisco with a monorail connecting the two towns. He even considered connecting Breckenridge across Tenmile Canyon to Copper Mountain on the other side.
Berge said his European-style vision was a hard sell for the local mining families, but soon enough, he was teaching their children how to ski. Berge and Rockne started Breckenridge’s ski school in 1961 with just 13 pairs of rental skis.
Day by day, the Peak 8 Ski Area — as it was known when it opened with 1,764 acres in 1961 — laid the snowy tracks for the town’s ski future. Two more ski areas, Keystone and Copper Mountain, opened in the early ’70s. The cluster of four ski areas, along with the completion of the Eisenhower Tunnel in 1973, suddenly made Summit County a popular ski destination easily accessed from Denver.
Over the next 40 years, Summit County grew to become a hub of winter sports and home to Olympic-caliber athletes.
Case in point: On a winter day, it’s not uncommon for the world’s best park and pipe snowboarders to be training at Breckenridge while some of the world’s best downhill skiers train over at Copper. Among them are Olympians Red Gerard and Chris Corning, who call Summit County home. Riding the lifts alongside them are young Summit locals.
“Red Gerard, Chris Corning — all of these people are not just pie in the sky,” said Rodey Robinson, director of development for the Team Summit sports club. “They are real people our athletes associate with on a daily basis. Having that, they are not just on a pedestal. They are people working hard. That opens eyes to what is possible. It’s not just a dream.”
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Breckenridge says ‘no’ to e-scooters

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Summit Daily

In major cities, including Denver, the streets have been littered with dockless electric scooters. So do they belong in Summit County? The governments of the towns of Breckenridge and Frsico don’t think so. 
On Tuesday, Breckenridge Town Council unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance banning electric scooter businesses. The ban applies to businesses like Bird, Lime and Lyft Scooters that rent scooters to residents. Council member Shannon Haynes said on first reading that the ordinance is necessary because of potential conflicts between e-scooters and other users on sidewalks and streets. There was no further discussion upon second reading.
The ban does not apply to residents who own their own electric scooters. Breckenridge already set restrictions on electric bike rentals in February. 
Frisco banned the use of electric scooters at a June town council meeting, when they also placed restrictions on electric bike rentals. 
Although the towns of Dillon and Silverthorne have not yet addressed electric scooters, they might follow suit with Frisco and Breckenridge, especially if the scooters turn up within town limits. 
“It’s something that we have not talked about yet, but I would assume that we will at some point,” Silverthorne town manager Ryan Hyland said.
A neighboring mountain town has taken a different approach. Aspen City Council approved a six-month delay in June for dockless mobility companies in order to give the town time to create a management plan. Vail has not yet taken a stance. 
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Frisco approves 25 cent single-use bag fee on first reading

#Frisco #Colorado
Summit Daily

Frisco is taking a stand on disposable bags.
The Frisco Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve on first reading an ordinance that would place a fee on all disposable bags handed out by grocery stores and retail shops in town. If passed on second reading later this month, town officials hope the ordinance serves as a helpful reminder for residents not to leave their reusable bags at home the next time they hit the store.
The move comes as a direct result of the town’s strategic plan, wherein the town laid out a number of sustainability goals, including raising the issue of waste reduction and slowing the usage of paper and plastic bags. 
“One of our priorities in helping to improve and sustain the environment was to bring forward a discussion about how to discourage the use of one-time bags and encourage the use of reusable bags,” said Nancy Kerry, Frisco’s town manager, who presented the ordinance to the council Tuesday night. “Banning bags in Colorado is prohibited strictly by law. The next best thing is price and the usage of price to change behavior.”
If passed, Frisco will join at least 10 other Colorado municipalities with fees, including Aspen, Fraser and Vail. The ordinance resembles a similar law that went into effect in Breckenridge in 2013, which charges customers 10 cents for most paper and plastic bags throughout town 
Frisco’s ordinance goes a little further, however, as council members felt that the proposed 10 cent fee might not be enough of a deterrent to make a difference. Instead, the town is hoping to implement a 25 cent fee, the highest in the state.
“In (communities) that don’t have a huge influx of visitors shopping, you might see higher rates of success than with people that maybe see it as a necessity and continue to pay it,” Councilwoman Jessica Burley said. “I think 10 cents is increasingly a moot point. It’s no longer the price point that hurts.”
The proposed fee would go into effect Jan. 1 to give retailers sufficient time to educate their customers and implement the process. Stores would be responsible for collecting and remitting the fees, though for the first year, stores would be allowed to keep 50% of any fees collected up to $1,000 a month. After the first year, stores could keep as much as $100 a month. Frisco would collect the rest.
Because the change would be a fee instead of a voter-approved tax, the scope of how the town could spend that money is relatively narrow — requiring the town to use the funds only for expenditures intended to mitigate the effects of disposable bags, including providing reusable bags, education efforts, installing new recycling and waste containers, funding community cleanup days and similar undertakings. The ordinance also requires the establishment of a “disposable bag fee public outreach plan” to help educate consumers about the fee.
There has been some pushback to efforts to establish fees in other Colorado towns. In 2012, the Colorado Union of Taxpayers sued Aspen claiming the city had essentially passed an illegal 20 cent tax on disposable bags. After years in court, the Colorado Supreme Court gave a decision on the case in May last year, ruling that Aspen’s fee was lawful and didn’t require a public vote.
Disposable bags are defined in the ordinance as “any bag, other than a reusable bag, that is provided to a customer by a retailer at the point of sale for the purpose of transporting goods.” There are some exemptions, including for participants in state or federal food assistance programs and for bags used inside stores for things like produce.
The ordinance will return to the council for second reading and public comment Aug. 27.
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Dillon continues amphitheater investments with plaza upgrade

#Dillon #Colorado
Summit Daily

More upgrades are coming to the Dillon Amphitheater as the town continues to reinvest in one of its biggest attractions.
Dillon Town Council members unanimously approved a resolution at their meeting earlier this month awarding a contract to Orozco Concrete to complete a permanent concrete plaza at the top of the amphitheater. The move is expected to create a better environment for concessions and storage at the site and to improve the experience for concertgoers.
“It will really be nice for our vendors,” Dillon marketing and communications director Kerstin Anderson said. “It’s tough to be at an outdoor venue like that and be setting up in the elements. So it provides a structured space for them. And from a concert visitors’ standpoint, it provides more viewing areas and opens up space and opportunities for other amenities. This will give us more space and flexibility as we’re programming different events.” 
The improvement comes on the back of a number of other investments the town has made at the venue recently. The amphitheater reopened in June 2018 after getting a near $10 million renovation, including a new stage, concessions building, restrooms, green rooms, an ADA accessible ramp and more.
Earlier this year, the town leased and eventually purchased a new sound system for the venue — equipped with almost four-dozen new speakers in addition to a sound-sculpting analysis meant to eliminate holes in the sound and create better acoustics. Anderson said despite the considerable price tags, the new investments have paid off in consistently high attendance numbers, increasing concessions sales and better notoriety for the venue. 
“Several years ago, council looked at revitalizing the core area,” Anderson said. “It’s hard to get traction in that area. There’s not an easy solution. So council looked and said, ‘What amenities can we invest in as a positive example that will elevate the spirit of the community?’ … They looked at the amphitheater and said the time is now. A lot of that had to do with how much the site was being utilized. We were having concerts with upwards of 3,000 people, and we hardly had any bathrooms or storage and restricted ADA access.
“We decided it was time to invest. We’re seeing a return on that. We’re seeing 3,000 people here on Friday and Saturday nights, and we’re getting recognized on a national level as a beautiful outside venue. … It also helps support consumer-facing businesses in the core area.”
But the town is far from finished. Last Tuesday, the town signed on Orozco Concrete to an $82,000 contract to complete the plaza. Orozco will be responsible for grading and replacing the current road base ground with permanent concrete. With shows lined up until mid-September, work likely will start after that and be completed by late September or early October.
Anderson noted that the town also is in the early stages of conversations to upgrade the seating bowl at the amphitheater. A new seating bowl was initially part of the town’s Amphitheater Master Plan but was axed due to funding concerns. During the 2017-18 renovation, gaps were left in the seating area at the top and bottom of the bowl so once it gets an upgrade, the seating can be realigned to fit in better with the rest of the venue and provide better lines of sight for visitors.
Anderson said the seating project is yet to be phased or funded and likely wouldn’t be started for at least three years.
The end of the concert season in Dillon is approaching, though there are still a number of shows left, including Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers, The B-52’s and Carolyn Wonderland. The amphitheater’s last show of the year will be Sept. 13 featuring Kizumba. That show will serve as a fundraiser for Dillon Valley Elementary.
“We just want to thank people for coming and discovering their happy place at the amphitheater this summer,” Anderson said.
Courtesy  Summit Daily

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Verizon to complete new Frisco cell tower by end of 2019

#Frisco #Colorado
Summit Daily

Help is on the way for Frisco residents dealing with poor cellphone service in town. Verizon Wireless is working to construct a cell tower on Main Street, which the company says will improve network coverage and capacity in the area.
While cell service has been spotty in the past, officials said the issue started to get worse early last year, spurring town employees to take matters into their own hands.
“It started around April 2018,” said Vanessa Agee, Frisco’s marketing and communication director. “We noticed some really particular problems. We were unable to access anything involving data — anything from emails to social media, or just looking something up on a website. We had phone call issues, as well. Someone would call, you’d hear them for 20 seconds, and you’d no longer be able to hear them. 
“Staff noticed this, and we started asking other people if they were having issues, particularly with Verizon coverage in Frisco. What we heard was yes, there was definitely an issue, and it became worse and worse the further west you went on Main Street.”
Along with a number of other Frisco employees, Agee began making calls to Verizon last year, urging them to address the problem and citing public safety concerns and local businesses relying on better service. After being told there were no plans to build a new tower and that it likely would take three years until a new one came to town, Agee tried different methods to persuade Verizon to move faster. 
Frisco employees began filing complaints to the Federal Communications Commission, and Agee also reached out to media outlets in Denver to try and raise awareness of the issue beyond Summit County.
“I really saw it as the only way to deal with an issue that they seemed unwilling to acknowledge and unwilling to do anything about,” Agee said. “That said, I’m incredibly heartened … they applied for a permit to build a cell tower on Frisco’s Main Street.”
While the new tower was announced last year, it’s a relatively long process to get it up and running. The new tower is under construction at 417 Galena Street Alley, on the back of the Frisco Centre building that houses Omni Real Estate and The Flying Crane Boutique. Jeff Reynolds, vice president of project management and operations at EasTex Tower — which was hired to construct the tower for Verizon — said they expect their end of the project to be completed by mid-October. Of note, Reynolds said that after they’re done, Verizon still would have some work to do to make the tower operational, such as feeding fiber optic cables to the antenna.
While Verizon hasn’t set a date for the new site to officially get up and running, the company expects it to be functioning by the end of the year.
“We know how important wireless connectivity is to our customers,” Verizon spokeswoman Heidi Flato wrote in an email to the Summit Daily. “The new cell site will improve Verizon’s network coverage and capacity in downtown Frisco. The new site should be complete and on air before the end of the year.”
Once completed, the site should offer considerably better service for Frisco residents and visitors — helping to combat rising amounts of data being pushed through the network, which Verizon believes is the predominant issue. In an interview with the Summit Daily in November, Verizon spokesman Steve Van Dinter said the cause of the poor coverage was not only a likely increase in the number of devices connected to the tower but also the amount of data being used on the network by each device.
There are no signs that the trend will reverse anytime soon. According to a new report published in June by Ericsson, one of the world’s leading communication technology providers, both the number of smartphone subscriptions and average data usage per subscription are growing rapidly. The report shows that among global data usage, there was an 82% increase in mobile data traffic from the first quarter in 2018 to the first quarter this year — largely precipitated by more people viewing videos on mobile devices. The same report also anticipates a 30% annual increase through 2024.
“People rely on their cellphones,” Agee said. “We’ve grown accustomed to using them for everything. … When you’re living in a community that has the big town amenities we have, from shopping and grocery stores and a world-class marina, I think it’s pretty reasonable to expect we have good cell service. It’s not a government function to provide good service in town, but I do think we should play an important role in advocating for that. And that’s what we did.”
Courtesy Summit Daily.