Affordable Housing Debate Kicks off at Colorado Capitol with Contrasting Bills

While one of Colorado’s legislative chambers on Tuesday got its first long look at a bill that would allow local governments to implement rent control, a committee in the other chamber overwhelmingly backed a bill to build more workforce housing through public-private partnerships — a dichotomy around the affordable housing debate that may last all session.

Leaders of the Democratic-majority House and Senate said they did not believe that their members would have to choose the regulatory or partnership paths exclusively, arguing that the diversity in approaches to the housing crisis will create an all-encompassing conversation. But some, including Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, also acknowledged that they did not know that the rent control bill will be able to survive the legislative process this year.

House Bill 1115, sponsored by Democratic Reps. Javier Mabrey of Denver and Elizabeth Velasco of Glenwood Springs, proposes repealing an existing state ban on cities and counties enacting laws that control rent on private residential property or private residential housing units. While simple in its wording, the bill could send shockwaves through the apartment and rental-housing sectors by limiting what landlords can charge tenants at a time when housing costs throughout Colorado have been skyrocketing but so have costs of building and maintaining housing.

Mabrey, an eviction defense attorney, said that as rent inflation has outpaced salary growth and made it hard for professionals like teachers or nurses to live in some parts of the Denver metro area, he wants to give local governments more tools to address cost-of-living issues. He argued that the policy is neither rent control nor rent stabilization in itself but rather an allowance for local governments to try new lines of attack, and he said he believes it could serve as a companion effort with the partner-focused Senate bill.

“I view this as an essential part of a broader package. When the governor talked in his State of the State Address about the need to build more, I see that as important too,” Mabrey said in an interview. “The rent stabilization could provide immediate relief, whereas the building bills could provide more relief in five to 10 years.”


Colorado state Sens. Dylan Roberts and Rachel Zenzinger present their bill on public-private partnerships in housing to a Senate committee on Tuesday.

The first effort aimed at boosting the inventory of available residences is Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Democratic Sens. Dylan Roberts of Avon and Rachel Zenzinger of Arvada, which passed the Senate Local Government and Housing Committee Tuesday on a bipartisan 6-1 vote.


That bill would enable the public-private partnership collaboration unit in the Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration to broker deals involving state property, working with developers and local governments to transfer, exchange or sell land that can be used for housing at about 55 sites statewide.


Karen Kellenberg, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Colorado, noted land costs have risen between 48% and 256% in areas her homebuilding nonprofit serves, and partnering with the state to reduce land costs could help to spur much more affordable housing, she said.

Several business groups also backed the bill because it allows the state and local governments to partner with the private sector to address a top need, saying that employers are having a hard time recruiting workers because there is no nearby attainable housing for them.

In many ways, SB 1 and HB 1115 could not be more different. One seeks to create partnerships between the government and private sector in which private-sector developers could still generate profits, while the other could allow local governments to cut into the revenue that companies can earn.

Cary Bruteig, founder of Apartment Insights, which puts out a quarterly report on the Front Range rental market, said HB 1115 would harm Denver’s rental market. It would remove the ability to raise rents to cover increased construction costs, and it would end the incentive to improve the condition of the apartments to obtain a higher rent.

“By imposing a rent limit, you remove the incentive to create new housing units … and you also remove the incentive for somebody to fix up their apartment,” Bruteig said. “So, you end up with really a lack of housing, run-down housing and incredibly full housing in markets with rent control.”


Drew Hamrick, general counsel and senior vice president of government affairs at the Apartment Association of Metro Denver, said there are several unintended consequences that could come from removing the state prohibition on rent control. People could choose to stay in rental units for longer to hold onto their current rates, which means housing opens less often for potential new residents, and towns and cities could see their rental prices skyrocket if a neighboring government caps their rents, he said.



Colorado House Majority Leader Monica Duran and Speaker Julie McCluskie discuss affordable-housing bills at a media briefing on Tuesday.

Top House and Senate leaders said they didn’t believe that the paths of public-private partnership and rent control were mutually exclusive so much as they were two different ways of attacking the same problem. While they questioned whether the rent-stabilization approach has enough support to make it through the Senate — the House sponsors have 20 co-sponsors, while Democratic Sen. Robert Rodriguez of Denver is the only Senate sponsor — they said it’s not an either/or decision.


Fenberg cast the two bills as seemingly affecting different markets — one focused on potential new built-to-own homes on underutilized public lands and the other on rental units in higher-cost cities. He said he hopes that any effort to roll back prohibitions on rent control could be tailored to not create a New York-style program of rent caps but to give more freedom to local governments to implement more subtle affordable housing policies that the law now bars.


“I don’t think most of these policies conflict,” Fenberg said. “I think it is a matter of priority and what we want to do.”

House Speaker Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, added that she believes solutions to the housing affordability crisis will need to touch on multiple areas, including the construction of more homes, tenant/landlord relationships and homeowners’ association oversight. And the diversity of viewpoints that come from a record-large 46-person Democratic caucus in the 65-member House is needed to find a place of consensus — a sentiment shared by House Majority Leader Monica Duran, a Wheat Ridge Democrat who is a cosponsor of HB 1115.


“It may not end up exactly the way it was presented, but that comes from a collaboration of bringing everyone to the table,” said Duran of the rent-control bill. “And the fact that a single person or a family cannot afford rent is outrageous.”

By   –  Senior Reporter, Denver Business Journal

Which Down Payment Strategy is Right for You?

You’ve most likely heard the rule: Save for a 20-percent down payment before you buy a home. The logic behind saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders.


But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low as three percent—rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available.


The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20-percent down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search.


The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down 20 percent or three percent, the increase in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.


Of course, your home payment options aren’t binary. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional 20 percent and an investment-focused, small down payment. Your trusted real estate professional can provide some answers as you explore your financing options.


Multifamily Developer Inks New Office Lease as it Doubles down on Denver

A growing multifamily developer has selected the Denver Tech Center as the location for its second headquarters. 


The Garrett Companies, an Indianapolis, Indiana-based firm that develops, builds and manages multifamily apartments, recently leased the eighth floor of 5075 S. Syracuse St. in the Denver Tech Center for a total of 22,000 square feet. 


Aaron Kitch, acquisitions manager at The Garrett Companies, said the firm had been eyeing a Denver expansion and regional headquarters for a long time, but the pandemic delayed plans to grow here.


Some employees moved out to Colorado during the pandemic and worked remotely, and the company signed a two-year lease for about 5,000 square feet in Lone Tree. But the company quickly outgrew it, Kitch said. 


“With our industry, every time you get a new project, there’s construction staff that needs to be hired. There’s management staff that needs to be hired. And we had a big growth on projects over the last couple of years that just caused a need of hiring,” Kitch said. 


With The Garrett Companies continuing to hire new employees for its ever-growing list of developments in Colorado, the firm needed more space. Kitch said the firm looked downtown and even south of Lone Tree before landing on the building in the Tech Center. 


“The Tech Center just seemed to be more centrally located for everybody,” he said. 


The company is lightly remodeling the new office, including adding a coffee area and updating the lobby area and bathrooms, Kitch said. 


Kitch said The Garrett Companies has about 12 multifamily projects finishing construction in 2023 in the Denver area as well as in Colorado Springs. Denver continues to be a primary market for the company due to its rent growth and other performance metrics.


The company lists 22 apartment projects in various stages of development on its website in Castle Rock, Denver, Parker, Thornton, Colorado Springs, Longmont, Aurora, Centennial, Broomfield and Westminster. 


“Denver is just such a great market that we continue to want to expand and build here,” Kitch said. 


Across the rest of the country, The Garrett Companies has built more than 50 multifamily communities in 17 states, and has built more than 12,000 apartments since 2014. 


The type of multifamily product that The Garrett Companies builds lends itself more to suburban locations rather than downtown. Kitch said the company prefers to build surface parking instead of structured parking, and wood framing instead of steel framing.


Ryan Link and Harrison Archer with CBRE represented The Garrett Companies in its new lease at 5075 S. Syracuse St. 


“Opportunistic tenants are reaping the benefits of actively looking for space now – whether looking for short- or long-term deals,” Link said in a statement provided to the Denver Business Journal. “There is a healthy supply of product and many landlords or sublandlords are eager to get deals done and move space. Holistically speaking, it remains a very tenant friendly market.”


Greenwood Village-based Kore Investments purchased the 12-story office building at 5075 S. Syracuse St. for $115.2 million in 2018, according to previous DBJ reporting. 

By   –  Reporter , Denver Business Journal

Crime, Homelessness, Housing, permitting dominate DBJ Mayoral Forum


The impact of the issues on businesses, the workforce and the city’s overall future were the focus of the discussion.

Five of Denver’s leading mayoral candidates on Thursday began offering more detailed proposals on their plans to address public safety, homelessness and affordable housing at a forum hosted by the Denver Business Journal.


The five participants in the Business Meets City Hall forum — selected from a crowded field of 27 mayoral candidates with the help of local experts — were former Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Kelly Brough, Colorado State Senator Chris Hansen, Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod, former Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston and Councilwoman At-Large Debbie Ortega.

The three issues that took the spotlight in the forum top the priorities of almost every one of the hopefuls vying for the city’s top elected post to succeed term-limited Mayor Michael Hancock. The impact of these issues on businesses, the workforce and the city’s overall future were the focus of the discussion.


Below are some of the ideas pitched by forum participants.

Public safety

Speaking on the issue of public safety, most of the candidates agreed that the next mayor must enable the hiring of significant amounts of new police officers.


Johnston specifically said he wants to bring 200 more onto the payroll, while other candidates said the key is to step up recruiting that has left recent cadet classes short of hoped-for numbers. Johnston said that he would seek to make incoming cadet classes 50% female to make the city’s security force look more like its population, and Herod said she specifically hopes to beef up the number of investigators in the city police department.


But several candidates said too that a key to lowering the rising levels of crime downtown would be to bring more people back to the city center and make it livelier, as the number of workers occupying downtown offices remains at 56% of pre-pandemic levels. Brough, the former president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, said she would push to offer tax incentives for companies seeking to convert office space to residential space, while Herod said that she would spend her first 100 days bringing in businesses that have left the city and see what the city can do to bring them back.


“The businesses shouldn’t be doing this alone. Downtown Denver Partnership shouldn’t be doing this alone,” Herod, a Democratic state representative said.


In speaking on homelessness, Brough was the only one of the five candidates who came out in support of enforcing the city’s long-standing urban-camping ban, saying she would look again to ban tents popping up on streets and move their inhabitants either to shelters or, if shelters are full, to supervised camping sites where social workers can reach them and offer help. She added that she would move the city’s homelessness services division next to Denver Human Services, so the divisions could work together to see which residents are in danger of becoming unhoused and then get services to them to prevent that from happening in the first place.

Both Hansen, a state senator, and Ortega, an at-large city councilwoman, said the city must take advantage of the 250 beds that soon will open for mental health and substance abuse treatment at the former Ridge View Youth Services Center, and Ortega said she would like to use the state facility as well to reskill occupants and prepare them for jobs.

Johnston, a former state senator, called for the creation of 1,400 new permanent supportive housing units, including micro-communities of 40 to 60 tiny homes spread throughout the city, while Herod stood apart from the group by saying the pieces for getting folks off the streets already are in place through initiatives like the STAR program that sends social workers out to deal with them.


“We’ve already been doing this work, but it’s time to double down,” she said.


When it came to attainable housing — a subject high on business leaders’ priority list as some struggle to recruit workers because of the high cost of living in Denver — Johnston offered arguably the most ambitious plan, saying Denver can build 25,000 new units and make them permanently deed-restricted to remain affordable. The city also can help people build equity to buy homes by offering it money back for that purpose when they pay rent, and it can launch a fund to help potential homeowners get access to down payments.

Both Ortega and Herod suggested that Denver should use public land, particularly land it owns to put up affordable units, with Ortega saying it can partner with modular-home companies that can build more cheaply and quickly. Herod said she would seek to draw down more federal housing vouchers and let the voucher recipients keep a certain percentage of the money themselves if they create a city-approved economic sustainability plan and put it toward savings to buy a house or launch a small business.


Hansen said that he would seek to link housing-development approvals more closely to transit lines — including a rapid bus transit line he called for building out along Colfax Avenue — to allow more people to be able to live in Denver without a car. And Brough said she would seek to move beyond just the current allowance of accessory dwelling units in certain neighborhoods and create neighborhood-specific plans that allow for diversification of the types of allowable housing there to create a wider price range of housing options citywide.


One other area on which candidates agreed is the need to streamline and speed up permitting of both commercial and residential properties, which Herod noted now can take 18 months or more. The issue is key because it’s one that many candidates feel the next mayor more on their own without approval from the City Council, whether by directing hiring toward appropriate departments or changing the tenor of city officials to prospective building projects.


Ortega, for example, said she would start by requiring permitting officials to be present at city buildings and be able to interact with the public rather than working remotely. Brough and Herod said they immediately would add employees to the permitting department, and Hansen said he would work to clear the backlog of permits immediately, even if that required hiring more contractors to get through them, as a way to generate economic activity.


But Herod went further and said she would look to set a maximum length of time for the permitting process — say, six months or so — and then would require the city to pay a portion of the costs that developers accrue because of the delays. And Johnston said he would set a hard 90-day deadline for all permitting activities, barring the practices of different departments adding new conditions once a permit seeker has addressed all concerns previously laid out to them.


“We have vacancy savings from the fact that some positions are unstaffed right now,” Herod said. “Why haven’t we redirected that money where it’s needed most?”

By   –  Senior Reporter, Denver Business Journal

How you can Finance your Home Renovation

Outdated kitchen. Overrun backyard. Unusable basement space. If you have a home renovation project on the mind, the first thing you have to consider is how you are going to finance it. Here are the most common options to make your dreams become a reality.

Untitled design (16)


Paying in cash is the most straightforward financing option, just save until you have enough money to cover the expenses. This will help eliminate spending outside your budget; however, it can also extend your timeline.

Mortgage Refinance

If you’ve been making payments on your home for a few years and your interest rate is higher than current market rates, you may be eligible for a mortgage refinance, reducing your payments and freeing up some money.

Untitled design (18)

Cash-Out Refinance

You can tap into your home equity and borrow up to 80 percent of your home’s value to pay off your current mortgage plus take out more cash to cover the renovations. This option is encouraged only when you’re making improvements that will increase the value of your home, as it can add a lot of interest and fees.

Untitled design (19)

Home Equity

Getting a home equity line of credit allows you to borrow money against the value of your home. You receive usually up to 80 percent of your home’s value, minus the amount of your loan.

Untitled design (20)

Retirement Funds

Homeowners can consider pulling money from a 401K or IRA account, even though they aren’t specifically meant to cover a home renovation. This option might incur additional penalties or tax payments, but may be worth it when making improvements that will benefit them financially in the long run.


Million Dollar Morning Routine

Create a morning schedule

Physically write down the things you’d like to complete in the morning and set a time for each. Then stick with it. Once you force yourself out of bed early one or two weeks consistently, you’ll find it gets easier and easier to do.

Let the light in

Whether natural or artificial, light tells your brain its time to get up and get going. If your room lacks large windows where you can open the blinds up, consider investing in a timed lamp or alarm clock with a light.

Prep and eat breakfast

Although there are many of us who chose the skip breakfast, it is key to perking up your energy in the morning. Try prepping protein-focused meals the night before or grab a yogurt or fruit and try to consume it right after you wake.

Get your body moving

Whether it’s a short walk around your neighborhood or a rigorous 5:30 am spin class, getting your blood pumping will help wake up your body and has a ton of other benefits, like stress and anxiety reduction.

Feed your mind

Stimulate your brain and do something you enjoy first thing in the morning. Try reading a favorite book, catching up on the news, doing daily meditation, or setting intentions.

“Your day is pretty much formed by how you spend your first hour .”

Ever wish you could become one of those rare morning people? The ones that wake with a start, feeling refreshed and energized. The ones that get in that morning workout or wrap up some work before many of us even hit the snooze button for the first time. Here are five tips to help you achieve that early bird status!

To learn more about how to start your day successfully, we recommend the book “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod.

2022 Year End Market Report

2022 marked a fast shift in the real estate market. For several years prior, interest rates as low as 2‐3% attracted more buyers, and “cheap debt” spiked demand and pushed Denver real estate prices to new heights. Denver fast became a relatively expensive US market with the average home price nearly hitting $820,000 by Q2 of 2022. Buying homes was very competitive and it wasn’t uncommon for a listing to have several offers within the first few days of hitting the market.


Worries about inflation and the waning power of the US dollar have become a huge concern, in addition to rising prices due to supply chain issues through COVID and the Russian war against Ukraine. As a reactionary solution, the Federal Reserve began to raise interest rates sharply to cool the economy. They anticipate that rates will remain high until The Committee hits its inflation goal of 2 percent. Even at the cost of a recession.


With rising mortgage rates hitting 7%, along with the natural seasonality of the market, we did see inventory levels rise in spring and summer with a peak of 8,496 homes in September which spurred predictions of a shifting market favoring buyers. However, inventory dropped to just 4,454 homes by Q4. With rates being much higher, many homeowners with mortgages below 4% decided to remain in their homes or convert their houses to rental properties. This increased rental inventory for both long-term leases and short‐term vacation rentals in the Denver Metro area.

As a result, we saw the average detached home sale prices in December drop down to $702,000. We also saw a slowdown in rent increases to an average of $2,600/month for a 2-bedroom in Denver. However, although prices went down month to month in 2022, with the low inventory levels, Year over Year appreciation was still 11%!


Lastly, I want to note the opportunity that awaits us in 2023. It’s predicted that mortgage rates will stabilize as inflation begins to slow down. Since inventory will remain low, experts do not foresee a huge crash or drop in prices so appreciation may remain flat. However, as more motivated sellers hit the market, this will be a great opportunity for home buyers and investors to purchase favorably this year and refinance later once mortgage rates drop. n addition, there has not been a better time in years for sellers to take their time in selling their house while having great negotiation power in purchasing a replacement home. Massive wealth is created in shifting markets, so we never want to waste an opportunity such as this. Be sure to reach out to me directly so we can come up with a long-term game plan for your real estate portfolio.