Longmont, where legacy resides


History in the making.

History in the making.

Discover Longmont, one of the pearls in a string along the Front Range.
Townsfolk have long appreciated its history, having named one of its city parks for President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt used his executive power to establish the first
national parks. Congress also got into the act, but Roosevelt is the reason we have this abundance of maintained parks and forests. The ancient ruins at Mesa Verde are but one of the great treasures our 26th president chose to preserve for future generations.
And there is Rocky Mountain National Park, a wonderful playground for families.

I started a campaign to bring attention to the legacy that is Longmont, Colorado. The
marketing piece above calls attention to our good fortune to live so close to so much

Dad was an outdoorsman. He returned from the war, bought a Jeep from Army surplus and disappeared into the wilderness. Of course, he eventually returned after about a year and married Mom. My childhood had frequent ventures into the forests. Six of us sisters were packed along with Dad’s gear and we set off for lakes, streams and forests. Camping with my siblings is one the great memories of my childhood. Even before I married, my Dad went out to visit my future husband in Farmington, New Mexico.
We toured Mesa Verde. When Dad brought Mom back we also ventured over to Chaco Canyon. We spent numerous outings finding hidden away places in the foothills and low mountains. We also traveled up to Walden, Grandby and Trail Ridge Road. Now that my parents are gone, the family still has to make a visit twice a year or more to Rocky Mountain National Park and the tiny shops at Estes.

No wonder, Roosevelt was smitten. Roosevelt started it. Others have followed, and oh
the work they have done. This is God’s country, we all say. But it takes an army of
people to support preservation of wildlife and these great mountains. Please support
these efforts and when you visit, take care to leave these areas so future visitors
can enjoy them, too.

Today, I share some information of the legacy we enjoy here in Longmont.

Longmont is minutes away from these great parks and forests.
Check out Rocky Mountain National Park
(highly recommended for families)

YMCA of the Rockies
(highly recommended for families)


Roosevelt National Forest:

I’m proud to say that Boulder County is involved in honoring a tradition of
keeping lands preserved. Boulder County has committed itself to identifying and
preserving the rich history of the county. County staff and the Historic Preservation
Advisory Board assist property owners in researching their property history. There is a
Historic Landmark Rehabilitation Grant Program that provides funding for rehabilitation
of locally designated landmarks. Here are more sites. Local, county, state and federal
government all maintain these treasures.

Check out the Betasso Preserve


Check out the Flagstaff Summit Trailhead

Check out Walden Ponds
(Easy afternoon outing)

The Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to
preservation of the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

In Longmont, check out:
Cycling, Trails Map
Nature areas

Map of Longmont parks


Historic Longmont
The wilds don’t get all of the attention, though. Indeed there is more to this place called
Longmont and many work on keeping historic structures preserved.  The city of Longmont currently has more than 122 designated historic structures.
Longmont has two nationally registered historic districts. These districts recognize
that areas of the city have special character and interest. These districts exemplify
outstanding elements of the city’s heritage.

More information:




– compiled by Suz Real Estate | PML

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Longmont – a Legacy




Few argue that Longmont is a great small city – more than 85,000 and growing.
The local newspaper and various media are full of activities and there are many amenities – like golf, skateboard parks, ice rinks and health clubs.

Longmont is our kind of town.

Suz Real Estate / PML



The case for flipping now

Bringing back an era when porch swings and parties at the house were fun.

Bringing back an era when porch swings and parties at the house were fun.

You can say that conditions have improved significantly and maybe dramatically for restoration. There is at least one group that never stops restoring properties. Some people believe that historic structures are better built. This hardcore group enjoys the styles that are reminiscent of days gone by.

There were others that left us shaking our heads as they ventured into the flipping game, having purchased good candidates from foreclosure auction and REO listings. But few are saying they regret having bought an older house and fixing it for sale or rent.

The key to restoration, which I have noted in blogs, is the expertise that the property owner brings to the game. It helps to have a real estate expert guide the fixers in determining how much restoration is too much and too little – in other words, what the neighborhood market supports. But key is the expertise of the construction crew. You can borrow this expertise, if you are connected and have good relations with people who have been in the industry. Sweat equity can translate to profits, too.

Other indicators of favorable market conditions:
TIGHT MARKET from all directions. The bottom of the market generally pushes at the top. However, the Greater Denver Metropolitan Area has pressures coming from many directions. Renters are being pushed into buying. Renters can face a long haul in a market where the highest vacancy rate is in the low single digits. This fact coupled with loosening lending can lead to more pressure as renters make the move into home purchasing.

– Realtors are very familiar with this phenomenon. There are plenty of anecdotal as well as statistical evidence to show homes in the 200s are BEING SOLD on the day they go on the market.

PRESSURE at the low end and high end of the market. The high end can pull at lower levels of the market. This is a phenomenon that was witnessed at the height of the last real estate surge. Property owners buy smaller homes on large lots and scrape them to make room for much more expensive properties. The low end already speaks for itself. Though, the foreclosure pipe is emptying out as the economy and hiring improves.

The best advice for the flipper wannabe is DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

– by Suz Real Estate

Boulder – still the media darling

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Boulder often finds itself in media – especially articles like this one. A city for outdoor enthusiasts, athletes and cyclists, Boulder is hip. A world-class university keeps it in the press, too. Nobel Prize winners work there. Esoteric research of all kinds is going on there. Got any small inventions in mind? A few years ago the engineering department added a wing for nanotechnology development and offered electron microscopes for public use. Then there are those governmental agencies. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Center for Atmospheric Research are two.

Last month there was a story in the local newspaper about Boulder County collaborating with the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife along with the cities of Boulder and Longmont on a year-long effort to come up with a multi-agency master plan for the trails on public lands in the county’s foothills and mountains.

While the national press likes to focus on the good health, great real estate market and the strong entrepreneurial spirit of Boulder, those of us who live in Boulder County talk about cycling up the canyons and hiking up trails. There are horse ranches and equine enthusiasts, too.

The area is so gorgeous, sometimes county officials even express their concern that they may be attracting too many to those trails. It’s all good, though, area merchants will declare. There are restaurants to suit every taste – and not all of them are in Boulder. Louisville and Longmont get their fair share of visitors.

Thanks members of the press. We love the attention.


ANALYSIS: The housing apocalypse that never came

By Raymond Alvarez
Contributing Writer 

A strange thing happened on the way to the real estate apocalypse. It didn’t happen.


The supposed Mayan prediction for the end of the world didn’t explode. It just passed without nary a notice.

Pundit and journalist alike had everyone looking the wrong way. But, who can blame them? How can you ignore the plethora of foreclosure signs on the way into the office? It turns out they weren’t looking hard enough for more signs.

Almost every where you look these days, there is an outbreak of healthy indicators. Among them are rising prices in real estate and an inflow of new investor capital. Those investors have been active, indeed. Since 2005, there have been 4 million properties converted to rentals.

Not so fast, say the doomsayers. What about the QRM Rule? I’ll get to that.

The financial world allows for accumulation of vast wealth. First rule of the market: An individual can run the table again and again. But one day, it ends. Just ask billionaire John Paulson who was heavily staked in a bet that the trillions riding on real estate was headed for a crash. Paulson’s hedge fund made billions in fees when the bubble burst. However, not even Paulson is immune from the second rule of market that all things come to an end. Second rule of the market: the bigger the fund, the more unlikely it is for the fund to keep winning. In recent days, Paulson’s hedge fund has been taking haircuts on gold.

The devastating drop in prices for real estate hot spots hasn’t held. Those prices are coming back.

The wreckage and ruin of the real estate bubble were real enough. Just ask the 5 million who lost homes. An estimated $7 trillion left the economy in 2008.

Even the “megaquake” that sent prices in Las Vegas to the basement and leveled them in California are coming back. It would be the banks themselves that signaled a shift. Under pressure from Congress, regulators leaned heavily on the banks to reform the abuses in the industry and assist those who were struggling. At the same time, the attorneys general for 49 states pressed the case for those who lost homes through foreclosure. The states would accept a cash settlement. The $58 billion was a paltry amount in terms of damage done. But it sparked change.


Raymond Alvarez

Hazards were real, too, even for healthier local economies and real estate markets that managed to avoid overheating. Take a state like Colorado. The Front Range cities clung to higher real estate values not unlike the last climber tethered to others who have gone over the edge. The state held firm but felt the strong tug of the rest of the nation as the economy plunged. Venture capital vanished. Lending went away. The prospect for new business seemed dismal. And not the least of concerns: Jobs went away.

All of that is already changing.

The case for a “housing construction tsunami.” Hold on you might say. Tsunamis are associated with devastation. You’re quite right. The term commonly is used with dire warnings of another downturn in housing. But, this time devastation is coming for the notion that housing is doomed. Why the term “tsunami”? Tsunamis in nature are caused by earthquakes under large bodies of water. With 25 percent of mortgages still underwater, this group could finally overcome inertia as prices rise. This analysis states the case for why a building boom is overdue. Get ready. The ground is about to move.

Boom predictions are not all that rare. They have been drowned by the vigorous handwringing and din of noise from doomsayers. Barclays has a boom coming in 2015. Others have been right on the money, though new building is uneven across the nation. And don’t discount the power of the Echo Boomers, Barron’s says. The Gen Y that will drive the economy become a force of 88 million consumers.

In 2011, Steve Forbes interviewed Brian Wesbury, chief economist at First Trust Advisors. What Wesbury said in part was that the U.S. economy needs to produce 1.5 million houses yearly just to keep up with population growth. At the time, he noted there was a mere seven months’ inventory. That number has shrunk to four months.

In 2012, the Carlyle Group backed its recovery forecast noting fixed residential investment – new housing construction and renovation – was responsible for 10 percent of economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Foreclosures threatened to collapse the market. It’s not happening.


A strange thing happened on the way to the real estate apocalypse. It’s not happening.

Viewed from the perspective of six years later, today’s real estate picture stands in stark contrast to the devastation of 2007. For 14 months running, Denver area real estate agents have been starved for more listings. Buyers have returned en force to find tumble weeds blowing where there should be houses going up. In one of the more telling developments of a shifting ground, Denver area agents were asking other agents to stage more open houses so they would have something, anything to show clients. At the low end of the market, houses are snatched up the same day they go up for sale. As strong buying resumes this spring, observers are looking for a historic surge of buying for the Denver area.

The naysayers are calling it a temporary adjustment.

Historically low mortgage rates, affordable prices and slowly falling unemployment numbers might suggest the market is prime for a resurgence. A “shadow inventory” seems to have gone missing and many even expect those who lost homes in the crash to return. Those who lost homes to foreclosure more than five years ago, technically qualify for loans, that is if they have jobs. So, why haven’t there been more homes sold? Confidence among builders sagged until recently. No one was building because they lacked financial backing or the strength of conviction. The skeptics apparently have held sway. Housing has not been able to get out of its own way. More buyers might enter the market, if they only could find financing.

The impact was real, but the wave that was supposed to take down real estate never arrived. Why?

The impact was real, but the wave that was supposed to take down real estate never arrived. Why?

Paulson is among the bullish, and has been for some time. The business press noted he has been buying up tracks of housing in Arizona, Nevada and Colorado at least since 2008. His wagers have been set down in sunbelt states hit hard by foreclosures. He apparently is betting that in the minimum, millions of new retirees will again be seeking a warmer climate.

Would-be buyers – the millions of renters and newcomers still on the sidelines – are a signature or two away from bursting the dam of pent-up demand. Surveys of renters run as high as 81 percent for those who want to own a home in the next 10 years. It’s not so far-fetched. In Colorado, it will be possible for many of them under the Colorado Housing Finance Authority, which inherits $202 million from the bank settlement reached with the attorneys general. That might not sound like much. But remember how leverage works. That number is a multiplier. These funds will be used to bolster other financing as well as rescue homeowners in danger of losing their homes.

New money is coming into the market, but not from the traditional crop of young adults intent on putting down roots. Real estate thawed early in Florida where a winter outbreak of buying saw more than a few foreign investors resort to buying sight unseen. China and Canada are in a frenzied competition to move money away from their own frothy looking markets. Investment is percolating up from Brazil, too.

What could hamper a dramatic recovery are capital shortfalls as well as labor and materials shortages for builders. A house can’t be built if there is no lumber available. And there is concern that the QRM Rule to take effect this year will slow buying, even sending real estate back into the doldrums. Some would argue the cure for runaway markets is too harsh. The “hair of the dog drinking” by lenders – if it exists at all – will end this year. The QRM, which addresses the predatory lending practices that helped sink the economy, is an unnecessary strain in an economy that is only slowly responding to mammoth infusions of capital, critics maintain. Shady “loan originators” would like nothing better to go back to the days when anyone with a pulse could sign on for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Wall Street quietly resumed the practice of selling securities backed by mortgages. To move the massive amounts of money again, there has to be a vital ingredient: confidence. That all important measure that signals a strengthening economy will be supported by yet another layer of regulation. Admittedly, such regulation resembles window dressing in the real world. For Washington’s benefit, I’ll add a footnote. Regulation must be real. Nothing short of a paradigm shift will suffice. Regulation must be enforced. In other words, Washington needs to take its political face off long enough to attend to the job it is assigned.

Denver area overview:

Item No. 1: Rental vacancies in the Denver Metropolitan Area have all but vanished. Jefferson and Douglas county vacancies are below 2 percent. Rentals were already in acute shortage before the year started, and the situation has been growing worse.

Item No. 2: Foreclosures have been dropping by double-digit percentages for months. Colorado months ago fell out of the nation’s top 10 foreclosure states in December. Inventory is quickly snatched up. And the number of distressed mortgages has drawn below pre-recession levels.

Item No. 3: Braking too aggressively on new home construction continues to build pent-up demand. The housing shortage already could be termed acute. A few buyers intent on living in their purchase took advantage of homes sold through foreclosures and short sales. However, the typical buyer prefers to steer clear of the headaches associated with rehabilitating homes.

Additionally, the recession’s worrisome lack of hiring is an unfortunate turn for the millions of Echo Boomers (aka Gen Y). The vexing question to why so few jobs are being created might have its roots in suspect data. Just in recent days, a Harvard Study that was the basis for forecasting a flat economy was revised upward. News comes today that the economy great at an adjusted rate of 2.5 percent in the first quarter. Economists now expect 2 percent growth and higher to be the norm. The run up of the Dow should have been our first clue.

Raymond Alvarez is an illustrator, computer programmer and writer. A longtime fixture in Colorado journalism, Raymond wrote for the Denver Business Journal and Colorado Biz as well as trade publications and the Douglas County News Press. He and Susan Alvarez have three grown children.

Keeping a sidewalk in good repair

Keep those sunny day artists busy.

Keep those sunny day artists busy.

Oh, those unsightly lines. Have those wrinkles got you worried?

… the ones on the sidewalk.😉

The city of Longmont will repair cracks if they meet city criteria. Fill out the form at the city of Longmont web site and they will take a look and even schedule a repair.

For your driveway and walkup, you can repair concrete fairly inexpensively. Don’t replace the driveway if you can repair it using a patching product from the hardware store. Follow the instructions and make sure you have removed all loose material in the crack. A wire brush and chisel are good investments for this job.

Be sure to check your city or town’s policies regarding repairs. Most local governments consider the homeowner responsible for the proper upkeep of adjoining concrete.

Here are some links, if  you have sidewalks that need repairs:

City of Longmont


City of Boulder


City of Frederick]


Last year, plenty scoffed at the forecast. But with rents rising and homes now attracting multiple offers, many wonder if a crisis is looming.

CNNMoney.com carried a story in June 2010 asking if a housing shortage could be on the way. Others have joined in pondering the conditions that are now pointing to a serious shortfall in available units.

Here in Boulder County, Colorado, which has 30 construction projects on tap for the next two years, a crisis-level shortage is predicted. The county commissioners recently were advised that 3,000 units will be available by 2013 – far below the 15,000 that are needed. Meanwhile, rentals have evaporated. There may be no more than half a percent of available vacancies in some parts of Boulder County. Real estate agents lament that so few homes are available for sale.

What’s happening?

The story of how we got to this point is well-known. However, an impending crisis is hard to see through the lens of a devastating recession aftermath. Sellers vanished, perishing the thought of selling at such reduced prices. Many became landlords. Builders vanished, too. And now, there are reports coming that the surviving builders can’t hire enough crews.

“We need one and a half million houses per year just to keep up with population growth,” said Brian Wesbury, chief economist at First Trust Advisors, in a 2011 interview with Steve Forbes. “And then if you throw in, you know, fires and tear-downs and just worn-out properties, we need 1.6 million or more per year. Right now, we’re down to about six and a half, seven months’ inventory whether you look at new homes or existing homes.”

You can look at this crisis two ways. When all those young people start moving out of mom and dad’s basement, there will be another surge in demand. It’s a crisis if no one is building. However … with the financial industry emerging from its problems and money starting to flow into the economy, there is money to loan – money needed to develop and build new communities. A housing tsunami is next.