Saturday, August 31, 2019

Summit County commissioners split on minimum wage advisory question

#Summit County #Colorado

 The Summit Board of County Commissioners will have a special meeting Tuesday, Sept. 3, to discuss putting an advisory question on the 2019 election ballot. The question would poll Summit County residents on whether they approve of a local minimum wage starting at $12 an hour in 2020 and increasing to $15 an hour in three years.
The advisory question is nonbinding and meant only to gauge county voter opinion on implementing a minimum wage. However, the results of the vote could be used as leverage by future campaigns for or against minimum wage legislation or initiatives.
Several business and political leaders in the community have spoken openly about their opposition to implementing a minimum wage, citing how it will hurt employers and possibly shut down small businesses. 
Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula went so far as to oppose the advisory question itself during the first hearing Tuesday, Aug. 27, saying voters would not be properly informed on the issue and that he feared setting a precedent for minimum wage legislation that could put small businesses at risk.
“With polling questions, people won’t read everything,” Mamula said to the commissioners. “If we go down this road, we should do as we do for everything else. With affordable housing, we worked hand in hand to come to a consensus, and it passed with flying colors. I hope we could do something similar with this issue, rather than a polling measure.” 
The last time Summit voters were asked an advisory question was 2014, when Breckenridge voters handily rejected permitting retail marijuana on Main Street by 925 votes to 400.
The proposed advisory question on minimum wage has created a rare fracture among the county commissioners.
Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier indicated she was on the fence and now leaning against putting the question on the ballot, saying she believes minimum wage workers needed relief with the incredibly high cost of living in Summit but that she did not believe there had been a meaningful, scientific process to find out what minimum wage the county should have. She said the question could backfire and bury any future discussion on minimum wage.
“We saw this as a great opportunity to do what the law requires, which is outreach to a long list of people, including businesses, governments and workers,” Stiegelmeier said. “It seems like it should be a benign thing, but it is not being seen that way. The towns have expressed grave concerns that they want to be more involved. Once the ballot question is out there, they may feel like it’s binding.”
Commissioner Thomas Davidson has been the main county proponent of setting a local minimum wage and advocated for the legislation that allowed local governments to set it. He said he understands the concerns the towns, business community and fellow commissioners have about a lack of discussion on the subject.
However, given the nonbinding nature of the question, Davidson did not feel a protracted process was necessary, adding that he felt the local governments and businesses had not kick-started the discussion on minimum wage and so the county was looking to take the lead.  
“There is always healthy give and take and compromise, and compromise is almost always reached before we move forward on something,” Davidson said. “But I had a sense nobody even wanted to talk about this and felt that one way we could do outreach and advance this issue is to ask the advice of the voters of Summit County, who I feel are really smart people.”
Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence stated her opposition to the advisory question, saying the towns had not been consulted on the question and the county had not done enough work on outreach to gather information and inform voters.
Lawrence said that, while she trusts voters, she does not believe they would be aware of the nuances of the state local minimum wage law nor the potential fallout of passing such a law without cooperation and agreement with the individual towns.
For example, how would it work if someone worked in Breckenridge and lives in another part of the county with a different minimum wage? How would the local minimum wage work with tipped workers? She called those scenarios “HR nightmares.”
Despite her opposition to the advisory question, Lawrence said she was a single working mom who worked two jobs before becoming commissioner and she understands the struggles working people have in Summit. She said she was not against higher wages for workers.
She added she was optimistic the county, towns, employers and workers would be able to come to a resolution on minimum wage by the end of the year.
“I do believe we have enough time between now and December to get this hashed out,” Lawrence said. “It will open up a great conversation in our community.”
Davidson conceded that there might be a better way to do outreach on minimum wage, including legislative efforts borne out of a series of town hall forums and evening meetings.
But even if the question is not on the ballot, Davidson vowed to keep working on the issue. He expects Summit’s towns and businesses will make an honest, diligent effort to engage on the minimum wage issue, and not delay and dismiss in the hope it never becomes a reality.
The special meeting will take place at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3, at the Old County Courthouse, 208 Lincoln Ave. in Breckenridge. Members of the public are encouraged to attend.
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Self-employed buyers don’t have to miss out on homeownership

HousingWire Newsletter

The key is working with an independent mortgage broker who can match them with the right loan

The gig economy, comprised of self-employed and freelance workers, has been growing over the last few years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 9.6 million self-employed workers in the U.S. in 2016, a number projected to increase to 10.3 million by 2026.
As participation in the gig economy grows, so will the number of self-employed people looking to buy a home. It’s a great opportunity for real estate professionals to expand their business – but it’s not as straightforward as it may seem.
In a 2018 report titled “The Continued Impact of the Housing Crisis on Self-Employed Households,” the Urban Institute used data from the American Community Survey to highlight some of the issues self-employed borrowers face when applying for a mortgage. Among its findings, the Urban Institute reported that self-employed borrowers “can be more difficult to underwrite in part because they, unlike salaried workers, experience greater income volatility and lack pay stubs or W-2 wage statements that make it easy for lenders to verify and document income.” The irony of this reality is that many people taking on gig economy work are doing so in order to reduce their debt or save for a down payment — the very things they need to buy a home.
While research shows that a lack of standard income documentation can make it difficult for self-employed homebuyers to fit into traditional mortgage programs, there are plenty of loan products designed for this group – if you know where to look. Working with an independent mortgage broker can alleviate common pain points and make it more likely for a self-employed buyer to be approved for a loan. Because mortgage options for individuals who are self-employed can be limited by documentation requirements, a mortgage broker can help determine what alternate documentation, such as bank statements, can be used to verify their income. Often, they can even gather and manage that paperwork on behalf of the borrower, helping to simplify what can be a complex process.
In addition, unlike big banks and online retail lenders, independent mortgage brokers are not limited to a small set of mortgage options. They can work with many different lenders to find the best program to fit a self-employed homebuyer’s needs. They can offer wholesale rates that those direct-to-consumer lenders cannot. They can even work with a portfolio lender, which will have more flexibility on underwriting.
Mortgage brokers also have the flexibility to work around the nontraditional schedules often kept by freelance and self-employed workers, as they are accessible far beyond traditional banking or office hours. They can make appointments convenient to the buyer’s location and schedule, whether the buyer is working from a home office or on the road, or in the early morning through late at night.
Self-employment shouldn’t keep anyone from qualifying to buy their dream home, and, with the right partner, real estate professionals can make that dream happen.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Breckenridge Brewery reaches agreement to stay in its original location through May 2021 — then they’re out, landlord says

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Summit Daily

Breckenridge Brewery is staying put, at least for now.
Breckenridge Brewery & Pub has reached an agreement with the property owner, Breckenridge Brewery Real Estate, which will keep the brewpub at its South Main Street location through its 30th anniversary, according to a statement from the brewery.
“We have been lucky to call the South Main brewpub our home since 1990, and throughout the nearly three decades we’ve been in business, the support shown by neighbors, who quickly became friends, has been nothing short of amazing,” said Jimmy Walker, head brewer at the Breckenridge Brewery, in a statement to the Summit Daily. “Over the past few months, as we faced losing our home, we felt that support stronger than ever as you visited the pub, spread the word and shared memories of our brewpub.” 
According to Richard Squire, an original founder of the brewery and managing general partner with Breckenridge Brewery Real Estate, the new lease agreement will allow the brewery to stay at the location for the next 21 months, with a deadline at the end of May 2021.
While an agreement has been made, Squire said residents shouldn’t expect the brewery to stick around longer than the current lease. After it expires, Squire still plans to open a new brewery at the location. 
“We came to what I would call a compromise with them,” Squire said. “And on May 30, 2021, they’re out of there. We’re taking the place over on that date, and once again, we intend to reinvigorate, redo, respiritualize and give it a new reason for being.”
The conflict between the brewery and the property owners began to pick up in May while the two parties were negotiating a new lease agreement. Breckenridge Brewery — which was sold to Anheuser-Busch in 2015 — felt that a new agreement was in place based on email correspondence between brewery officials and Steven Squire, Richard’s brother and another partner at Breckenridge Brewery Real Estate.
The property owners disagreed, and both parties filed lawsuits to determine whether there was a binding and enforceable lease agreement, along with seeking damages. The case was set to be adjudicated on Sept. 30, though the new agreement will keep the case from going to trial.
But after months of bickering, bad blood remains. Richard Squire said he has no intention of renegotiating or renewing Breckenridge Brewery’s lease and plans to open a new brewpub immediately after the current lease ends.
“We are opening a brewery called The Brewery,” Squire said. “I’ve had that on ice for three years. It’ll be a bright, cheery and fun place for locals and tourists alike. It’s dark and dingy and old and tired now, and we’re going to change that. … We’re happy with the arrangement. It’s perfect for us. It gives us 21 months to get our stuff in order.”
Squire continued to say that employees at Breckenridge Brewery would be offered jobs at The Brewery, with the exception of Walker and the management team. 
In a phone call with the Summit Daily on Wednesday afternoon, Walker lauded his staff for sticking around as the brewery’s future remained in question, noting that not a single employee left during the legal battle. He also said, in an ideal scenario, the brewery would find a way to stay at its original location past the next 21 months but noted that they’d search for other Breckenridge locations if an agreement is impossible.
“I think we all regard this as hallowed ground,” Walker said about the brewery’s location. “And this would be our first choice to stay here. But from what I understand, from the higher-ups — I brew beer for a living, not negotiate lease agreements — is we always plan on having a pub in Breckenridge. If it’s not here, we’ll find a place somewhere, somehow. At least now we have some time to do that, and we have some time to change (Squire’s) mind.”
Even with a deadline in place, Walker said spirits were high at the brewery after they got the news.
“We’re pretty psyched,” Walker said. “We’ll all be celebrating with all the locals coming in and giving us high-fives. … I think the big thing is I’d just like to thank everyone who stood behind us, and the locals who carried us through these 29 years and were worried about our future. It’s going to be a fun happy hour today here at the pub.”
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Summit County commissioners vote to put Peak 7 tax district question on ballot to pay for road paving

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Summit Daily

Neighbors were pitted against each other during the Summit Board of County Commissioners’ regular meeting Tuesday. The commissioners were asked to add a question on November’s ballot that calls for a local improvement district to be created in the southern part of Breckenridge’s Peak 7 neighborhood. The district would be used to raise $6.6 million to pave the neighborhood’s gravel roads.
Dozens of residents lined up and gave 3 1/2 hours of public comment for and against creating the district. After it was all said and done, the commissioners voted unanimously to allow the question on the ballot. The commissioners cited the proper procedure followed by proponents of the district, who had tried and failed twice in years past to create a district that would pay for paved roads.
If residents of the proposed district vote in favor of the ballot question in November, each homeowner benefiting from the asphalt paving of American Way, Ski Hill Road and the rest of the neighborhood’s current gravel roads would be required to pony up $20,000 to raise the $6.6 million required. The payment would be due up front or through a 10-year financing agreement with 5% interest — potentially bringing the final cost to $26,000 or more. Until the paving money is paid, a lien would stick to the property. 
Proponents, many of whom were clad in orange in a visible show of unity, argued the benefits of the paving would outweigh the costs. They complained about how the neighborhood had become a “dust bowl” as increasing ski area traffic continually kicks up gravel. Some proponents said the gravel roads were bad for their cars, causing extra maintenance and cleaning costs.
The staunchest opponents to creating the district were homeowners who said they simply could not pay the $20,000 for paving on top of everything else that makes living in Breckenridge so expensive.
Dr. Lauren Richman, a veterinarian at Farmer’s Korner Veterinary Hospital and a Peak 7 homeowner, teared up as she told the commissioners she could not even afford to repair her roof, let alone pay $20,000 or more for an amenity she and other opponents did not want or ask for.
“This benefits the county, Breckenridge and the resorts,” Richman said. “But there is a complete lack of consideration for less wealthy people in the neighborhood.”
Calling the creation of the district “pure gentrification,” Richman said paving also would increase her home value assessment, which is already more than she could afford if she had to buy the home today. That means higher property taxes on top of the bill for the paving.
“Will you be posting the eviction notices for people who can’t pay?” Richman asked the commissioners as she ended her comment.
At least two other residents wept as they commented, explaining the financial difficulties they already experience without having to worry about a $20,000 bill. Other opponents questioned why the county could not pay for the paving, given how much they already pay in property taxes.
Additional concerns opponents raised included the increased traffic and driving speed the paved roads would inevitably invite, compounding a burgeoning traffic problem that is irritating residents in the area and increasing safety concerns.
Opponents also were unhappy with the way the petition for the district was approved, despite 15 residents recanting their approval of the district and reducing the proportion of signatories from 60% of residents — the county’s required threshold before investing in an expensive project study — to 55%.
However, the county’s attorneys explained that there was no statutory requirement for 60% district resident approval before the commissioners could vote on whether to put the question on the ballot.
Rather, the commissioners could not take up the question and the district could not be created if 50% or more of residents in the potential district made their views known against its creation.
After doing a final tally of petition signatures, comments and emails, the county announced that 55% of applicable homeowners, 189 out of 340, still approved the district, meaning there was nothing to stop the commissioners from considering it.
In the end, all three commissioners voted to allow the question on the ballot. Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier called the decision “heartwrenching” given the strong feelings against the project. However, she said she could not stand in the way of a democratic vote.
“I definitely believe the voters should decide,” Stiegelmeier said. “I don’t want to stop it from moving forward.”
Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence, who used to live in the Peak 7 neighborhood herself, said the area had obviously changed, and she would not stand in the way of a properly called vote either. However, she urged residents to join her on a tour of the neighborhood so she could listen to their concerns about increasing ski area traffic.
Commissioner Thomas Davidson concurred with his colleagues and said the county would converse with Vail Resorts and inquire about the ski area traffic, even though there is nothing to prevent drivers from using public rights of way for whatever reason they desire.
Davidson also addressed questions about why the county could not pay for the paving. He said that huge losses in county revenue after the recession, along with budgeting restrictions created by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and the Gallagher Amendment, meant the county just can’t afford it.
“Lots of people have asked, ‘Why doesn’t the county pay for road improvements?’” Davidson said. “The fact is that we simply do not have the funds to improve roads in every neighborhood in unincorporated Summit County.”
  Courtesy Summit Daily.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Breckenridge Ski Resort transforms Peak 8 base area

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Michael Yearout Photography

Breckenridge Ski Resort’s Peak 8 base area is getting a makeover.
The area will be getting escalators between the street and plaza levels for guests who prefer not to walk up stairs in their ski boots. The skier services headquarters also is being redone, and new locations will be added for ticket and season pass sales, the Breckenridge Ski & Snowboard School, and retail and rental stores. 
New amenities including an outdoor ice skating rink, coffee shop and additional restrooms are being added along with a transit stop.
Work is expected to be complete by the start of the 2019-20 season.
Beyond that, a four-star hotel also has been proposed for the base area.
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Smart home upgrades that raise home value

Doorbells, alarm systems, garage doors and more

Are you smarter than a smart home?

Maybe "dumb as a doorknob" is about to be a joke of the past. From doorbells, locks and blinds, the home just got smarter.
According to U.S. & World Report News, there are plenty of reasons to invest in smart home upgrades to use now, or increase the value of the home when it is up for sale.
Subbing permanent features with technology is the biggest key factor in making a big profit off of a smart home. listed smart technology, energy-efficient appliances, USB outlets and garage outlets as items that attract the Millennial buyer, the biggest buying generation. 
"Appliances such as smart thermostats, smart doorbells, and more that can be controlled from an app are all the rage," said Kerron Stokes, a real estate agent with Re/Max Leadersin Colorado said to "Connectivity is king when putting a house on the market these days."
Since the introduction of the smart doorbell, smart devices have been coming out of the woodwork and into the home. 
Home Depot even has a “smart home” section on their website. Voice assistants like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa can connect to devices in a home and be controlled via voice.
A 2017 survey from T3 Sixty and Coldwell Banker said that 91.3% of brokers and agents said they would benefit from the incorporation of smart home technology into marketing of a home. Meanwhile, 82% said they believed smart home technology streamlined a sale. 
Here are some smart home upgrades that can attract buyers:
Automated blinds and curtains
Smart lighting
Climate control with smart thermostats
Built-in speakers with app control
Smart locks
Smart garage door opener
Smart appliances
Smart home security system
Courtesy HousingWire newsletter.

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.