The Double Comma Club

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What Consumers Need to Know About Appraisals

Joey Pizzi of JP Appraisal Services Gives Consumers Tips regarding appraisals

Nicole's guest, Joey Pizzi of JP Appraisal Services wants consumers to know a few things about the appraisal process to help them before the appraiser arrives, and for buyers to understand the current market filled with over-asking-price offers.

  1. It's different than a home inspection.
    This is what is done during an appraisal: measure, take photos, documentation, assess the condition, look for any needed maintenance
  2. How hard is it to appraise a home?
    Need to really be familiar with the market. This includes all of these offers coming up to $100,000 over asking prices. Your appraisers need to know how to read the market and look out for anomalies.
  3. Things a seller can do before the appraiser arrives.
    PAINT: railings, cabinets, holes in the walls.
    Cleanliness shouldn't affect the appraisal, but it can be distracting. Declutter, clean up - show that the house is cared for.

How to Raise Your Credit Score

How to raise your credit score

There are a lot of things that go into qualifying for a loan. One that remains the same no matter the product, you need to have a good credit score. If you're looking to purchase a home you need to make sure you're set up to get the best financing you can by having the best credit you can. This week I am beyond excited to share one of my hidden secrets, David Emge of Credit Advisor. He's our go-to at The Rueth Team to help our buyers get their credit score where it needs to be to qualify for the home they want. Not only that but David makes sure his clients know how to continue to keep their score up to help them build long-term wealth. And who doesn't want that?


If you would like to reach out to David his email is [email protected] and his website is​ T

Exploring 80113, 801212, 80103, 80119, 80222 Neighborhoods

Jenny Usaj Explores 80113, 80121, 80103, 80019, 80220

Nicole's guest is Jenny Usaj of Usaj Realty. She explores several zip codes in neighbhoods that have seen a wonderful uptick in prices, as well as ongoing opportunity for investment. Jenny also gives agents advice about how to help their clients drill their buyers down to real needs, rather than distractions when they research online. She wraps up with talking about condos, and future income property and her favorite neighborhoods.

Top 4 Things to Know Before an Inspection, How to Exit Forbearance

Top 4 Things to Know Before an Inspection, How to Exit Forbearance

Listen to this 15-minute recap from January's tips: Why an inspector is a must, Top 4 Things to Know Before an Inspection, and Exiting Forbearance.

We've been talking a lot lately about buying your first investment. But what if you're a first-time homebuyer? One of the things that you're going to do right out of the gate when you get under contract is called a home inspector. And if you don't know one, you're probably going to get one from your real estate agent. But what does a home inspector do and why do you need one and why it might be different for inspecting a primary home versus an investment property with a different intention? I brought along Andrew Sams, who I absolutely adore, very well-respected, well-known here in the Denver Metro and up in Evergreen. And he wanted to talk a little bit about what you as a buyer could expect or should expect when you meet with an inspector. He does own Alpine Building Performance, in case you want to look him up. Andrew, what should a buyer be asking you, or what can they expect?


What is a home inspection? What a home inspection is not? And then just that things are going to come up. This is for home buyers and agents. So if you've got a listing, prepare your sellers, that there will be things that come up on the inspection. Prepare your buyers, that there will be things that come up on the inspection and also let them know that you're there to provide solutions for them, I think that's really key. That you're going to be there to help walk them through whatever comes up but setting those correct expectations.

Secondly, Andrew talks about getting ahead of the ball. Sometimes surprises come up, which no one wants a surprise on either side of the transaction, but a lot of times we know of potential issues that will come up and it may be tempting on the listing side to hope those aren't always discovered in the inspection, but there's a lot of things such as a disclosed past issue with water leakage or moisture or structural issues. 

His third point would be documentation. If you're a seller, provide all the documentation that you have on your home, that helps even if the buyer's not looking through it in detail. Have the full story of your home or property.

His final point is making sure that the home is ready for the home inspection.


Nicole Ruth: (10:07)
Possibly, you have your current home in forbearance and now you want to take advantage of these low-interest rates or move into that next home, but you're not quite sure what your options are. We haven't talked about forbearance in a while. It was all the rage back in April when the CARES Act allowed for it without any guidelines or rules around its execution. It was really clunky at first. People didn't know how to respond, lenders didn't know how to respond and the guidelines with FHA and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac weren't established yet.

So everybody said, "Wait, don't get into it yet." And then eventually over time, they got the rules established and they actually ended up making sense. Now that you might be coming out of it, what does that look like? But if you didn't know, and if you do need to take advantage of forbearances, those deadlines have been extended by both FHFA and FHA. So definitely talk to a lender about that. They've been extended to March 31st for conventional and February 28th for FHA.

Today’s Real Estate Market – I know. I wonder. I’m boggled!

The Rueth Team DMAR January 2021 - Denver Market Report

There are things I know, things I wonder about, and things that boggle my mind.  Here are a few… I knew demand was about to explode before 2020 began. Demographics told us that.  8.8 to 9.2 million first-time home buyers were coming and they wanted a piece of the American Dream. With the largest age cohort numbering over 23 million, Americans aged 25 to 29 are looking to start families and buy homes.  And once someone has a child they are twice as likely to purchase a home. 

I knew that a recession was coming, or at least I was pretty certain. America was on a Recession Watch at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020 tracking slowing manufacturing, shipping, business spending, and job creation as well as declining consumer confidence, talks of trade wars, and political unrest. The two and ten-year yields had also inverted pointing to a longer-term financial instability.

Housing inventory was low coming into 2020, down 10 percent year over year with active listings a paltry 5,025 homes for sale. Yet, buyers were not budging.  Forty-five percent of sellers at the start of 2020 had to reduce their price to get their home sold even though we only had 1.13 months of inventory.  Consumer spending similarly was the very thing that was keeping our economy afloat. Since spending is 70% of the GDP, consumers were determined to not allow the U.S. to go into a recession.

Then, spending stopped because jobs stopped. COVID-19 shut the economy down, and to no one’s surprise the recession began, but then it ended just a few months later. There was political and social unrest, and lives changed forever. The mortgage market was a mess and public enemy #1 Mark Calabria, the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, became a target.  But here’s what boggles my mind, consumers wanted to spend. But they couldn’t, not on hotels and airfare, nor concerts and restaurants but they could on homes, cars, and oh yea, on stocks. 

Housing remained resilient as we quickly defined “essential” and adapted to a work from home economy. Houses became bigger, more suburban, with 2 offices, and a place to work, play, workout, educate and relax. They became everything and everywhere to all of us. Coloradans who had jobs, saw weekly wages increase 8.7 percent. Counties like Denver saw the juxtaposition of 11 percent unemployment and 11 percent weekly wage increase in the same period.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve continued to support the markets, dropping the fed rate to zero, and injecting trillions through the purchase of mortgage-backed securities and treasuries. As long as they continue, we will continue to see mortgage rates low and equities high. 

So I wonder, will the economy sustain while we distribute enough vaccines to realize herd immunity?  Will the stimulus package keep small businesses afloat or add to the equity market gains?  The Fed predicts unemployment at 5 percent, spending to increase 3.7 percent, and GDP rising to 4.2 percent in 2021. This is good! So, will they be able to justify a zero fed rate and quantitative easing until 2023?  And if they can’t, will rates start to go up?  By how much? I also wonder once people go back to work, ballgames, concerts and travel; will they find things to buy other than houses?  Easing demand slightly and putting us back towards seasonal normals.

January’s DMAR Market Trends report is anything but normal. With 0.4 months of inventory, the visual of our trending closed homes to active inventory tells the story we are all feeling… there are not enough sellers to satisfy the spending hunger of the demographic swell. Year to date, we’ve sold 6.95 percent more homes than last year for a total volume of 15.44 percent more, yet 1.79 percent fewer homes came on the market. Active listings hit an all-time low of 2,541 homes for sale, which’s down 49.55 percent from last year. Consider that there are 1.2 million households in DMARs 11 county area (per the census bureau). 0.2 percent of available homes are for sale. At the last census, Colorado’s 2020 population growth was 2.63 percent year over year. Where are they all living?

What boggles my mind is how our average and median prices did not move this month. We are all hearing of 5, 10, 42 offers per home with appraisal gaps and inspection waivers. Realtor friends are stumped at how to even price a listing in today’s market. Per the report, single-family homes sold at 100.11 percent close to list. Yet, our prices stalled at 7.14 percent for our median close price growth and 7.94 percent for our average. Our market feels on fire, yet this is only 1 percent higher than the historical average.

There is no doubt in my mind this year will be another incredibly strong year for housing. Low rates, favorable demographics, rising wages, and the wealth effect created by a staggeringly out of control stock market will be the story of 2021. With interest rates hitting record lows 16 times in 2020, buyers and investors alike are taking advantage of increased purchasing power and are willing to pay what a seller asks to get their own piece of real estate!


Ivy Zelman’s Insights at the Fairway Economic and Housing Summit

Fairway Economic and Housing Summit - Ivy Zelman

This is only one session from the outstanding series of presentations during the Fairway Economic and Housing Summit on December 17. The full event featured presentations by the following. You can watch the replays on YouTube here:

Barry & Dan Habib
Dave Stevens 
Ivy Zelman
Chris Whalen
Rob Chrisman
Mike Fratantoni

Moderated by Nicole Rueth, Sarah Middleton, and Peter Beanland.

Follow along with this presentation from Ivy Zelman. (PDF)

About Our Featured Presenter:

As CEO of Zelman & Associates, Ivy Zelman leads the preeminent boutique research and investment firm dedicated exclusively to the housing industry. Founded in October 2007, the firm is known as a thought leader across all facets of the housing spectrum. Ivy’s concept for Zelman & Associates remains strongly rooted in the ability to perform thematic research overlaid with proprietary surveys to produce unparalleled differentiated research. Ivy is frequently quoted in The Wall Street Journal and appears occasionally as a guest on CNBC. For the past 22 years, Institutional Investor has recognized Ivy for her industry-leading analysis. Most notably, Institutional Investor’s All-America Research Team rankings placed Ivy and her team with eleven 1st place rankings. Ivy reinforced her dominant reputation in the industry by calling the top of the real estate market in 2005... and the bottom of the housing market in January 2012. Ivy received a Bachelor of Science from George Mason University.


The Rueth Team of Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation
750 W Hampden Avenue, Suite 500
Englewood, CO 80110 303-214-6393

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December 2020 Real Estate Tips Round Up

Real Estate Tips from Nicole Rueth - December 2020

Three tips here: Good Buy or Goodbye, Making Money in Your Sleep, and Interest Rates Aren't Why It's Time To Buy - Building Equity Is.

When someone asks, “Is this property a good buy?” Or  “Should I be saying goodbye and invest elsewhere?”  It’s not as easy as giving a quick yes or no. Most of the time there's not a straightforward answer because each person is starting from a different place have different long term or short term goals. So what is a great property for one isn't necessarily the best for someone else.

The single most considered factor of any investment is Cash Flow.  I am often asked, “What is a good cash flow?”. My answer is always the same...Positive. How much cash-flow is needed is subjective. Maybe you’re living in the property and house hacking so you don’t have to pay rent, or it could be a multi-unit that is cash-flowing so well it will pay itself off in 15 years instead of 30. Maybe it’s earning just enough cash to cover the mortgage, insurance, taxes, and maintenance, and nothing more....but it’s a long hold investment strategy...and that works too.

With a positive highlight from this year being consistent low-interest rates, you may not realize how your home is working for you already. You may be making money in your sleep. And if you haven't purchased a home yet or refinanced the one you want to stay in, this is the time.  Align yourself with an experienced Realtor so they can help you realize your dream of owning real estate, or making more money in equity from the property you already own.

Listen to this valuable round up to shift your thinking and start building wealth.

Finding Your Niche Will Serve You and Your Clients Well


"Our industry really has a need for professionals that use their platforms to take a stand for things and to help be change-makers in our community. I think the general public oftentimes looks at real estate, certainly in a city like Denver, a growing city where the prices have gone high, and there's people that can't afford to live in certain neighborhoods anymore and all of that." Nicole's guest is Ryan Belinak from Live Urban Real Estate. 

His two big takeaway points for agents are these, Be kind to yourself, especially those who are new in the industry. Also, don't be afraid to adapt and put yourself out there. We have all learned new skills this past year and have had to listen to our own voices on playbacks more often than we thought possible.

Nicole says to and about Ryan:

This week I have Ryan Belinak with me, who is the Assistant Managing Broker for Live Urban real estate and also the head of recruiting. Ryan, you have been a pleasure to get to know. We've been able to work together a bit. And your energy, your positivity, your enthusiasm for the business, for serving your clients. It really is phenomenal.  I know that this new recruiting position that you've just taken on for Live Urban is going to not only suit you, but it's really going to capitalize on what makes you unique.

Listen to this 8 minute episode for more ideas and inspiration.

Let your home help you make money in your sleep.


With a positive highlight from this year being consistent low-interest rates, you may not realize how your home is working for you already. You may be making money in your sleep. And if you haven't purchased a home yet or refinanced the one you want to stay in, this is the time.  Align yourself with an experienced Realtor so they can help you realize your dream of owning real estate, or making more money in equity from the property you already own.


Supply Isn’t the Story, Demand Is.

Denver Market Area Report - The Rueth Team

DMAR’s December Market Trends Report was released this morning and provided numbers supporting what we already knew. Demand is strong! Inventory hit an all-time low of 3415 active listings at month-end. Compare this to the average active listings for November month-end of over 14,000 and a happier place of 6,000 units.  Sellers are exceeding the typical seasonal holiday slowdown of decreased supply. The added fears of job security, prospective buyers entering their homes, and finding a replacement home are adding to their resistance to sell. Potential Sellers are also starting to face what will become more widespread, something called rate lock where the appeal of staying in their current home with a lower rate and monthly payment will outweigh their desire to move. We will continue to see tenure increase from its current average of 10 years as well as homeowners holding onto their primary homes with low-interest rates and choose to convert them into rental properties.

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