InfoSparks and FastStats Now Include BOTH IRES and REcolorado Listings

Knowing the market is an important part of serving your clients and complete market data is key, which is why we’re so excited to announce another benefit of our Data Exchange and Integration partnership with REcolorado.   InfoSparks and FastStats now include both IRES and REcolorado listings. 

Easily accessible from “Reports” on IRESis.com, simply click on “InfoSparks Market” to get started.  Explore market statistics tools to analyze activity, create reports, and share data with your sphere. The reports generated from these tools now include both IRES and REcolorado listings, providing a more complete picture of what is happening in the region. 

Tips

  • InfoSparks is an interactive tool you can use to share live, static, and embedded charts on your blogs, websites and social media pages. If you already share these reports, note that you need to re-create and re-share the reports and charts to include listings from both MLS sources. 
  • FastStats offers printable market reports for specific areas. Effective for 2021, these reports include both IRES and REcolorado listings. To ensure you are using the most up-to-date reports, be sure to download the newest set of January and February 2021 reports.
  • Note: Listings from IRES and REcolorado are de-duplicated by InfoSparks and FastStats, which means if the same listing is entered into both IRESis and REcolorado Matrix system, it will only be counted once in the market statistics reports. 

Want to Learn More?  We Have a Class for That!  

To learn more and get a refresher on how to share charts and images, take advantage of these Training Resources:  

Here is some additional information and Pro Tips!

  • Sharing market stats is another way to show you’re the market expert. Include market stats reports in listing presentations, share charts on your social media channels, or embed them on your blog or website.
  • InfoSparks and FastStats reports generated from your IRES access will include approximately 10 years of IRES data and 3 years of historical data from REcolorado.
  • Updated FastStats reports are available monthly on approximately the 10th business day.
  • Including InfoSparks and FastStats reports in listing presentations or having them handy as you are viewing homes with your buyers will show you have the expert intel to help your clients make informed decisions on pricing.

The FlōPlan System – TRAINING AND SUPPORT

The 1-week countdown is on!

The launch of the FlōPlan System is just around the corner and we want to give you the confidence you’ll need to get started right away. We’ve mentioned that creating floor plans with the FlōPlan System is super easy and we mean it. But even the simplest of things take a little training, practice and getting used-to. As you’re ramping up, know that The FlōPlan Team has your back! 

First, There are many tools and resources at your fingertips in the learning center on FloPlan.io so you can become a scanning pro! Plus, the FlōPlan Team will be hosting webinars and sharing tips and tricks. Finally, if you run into a snag, their support team is at your service. With 40+ years in the business of serving real estate professionals and a world class support staff , we’re confident you’ll get exactly what you need when you need it to be confident and successful. Learn more about the team at FBS from this video

It’s a great time to call your sellers!

It’s a great time to reach out to your Sellers (or ask your Listing Agent) to let them know you’ll be stopping by to do a scan and create a floor plan of their listing soon. It may be fun to have them walk along with you (or your Listing Agent) as you do the scan!

For launch day updates and feature releases, we recommend adding announcements@floplan.io and customersuccess@floplan.io to your address book!

Coming soon: registration links for our launch party! 


IRES Matters | Episode 8

Carts in IRESis: A Conversation with Chris Hardy

In episode 8 of IRES Matters, we have our most system-specific episode yet. Chris Hardy, Elevations Real Estate part Owner and member of the IRES Board of Managers, shares his experience and expertise on one of our exciting system features – carts! Find out why you have been missing out if you haven’t started using this feature in your daily real estate practice, insights into applying data, and valuable tips on how to navigate the current real estate marketplace.

GET READY TO CHANGE THE GAME

Mobile devices and virtual tools are necessary in today’s real estate business environment. With the FlōPlan App and a floor plan on every one of our listings, we have the opportunity to change the game, improving all of our listings + the online client experience.

In just two weeks, you’ll have access to this innovative tool. All you’ll need to get started is your mobile phone. And while it may be tempting to wait, we encourage you to immediately scan your active listings and get those linked to your listings. Share that new floor plan with your seller and start giving online home buyers a new perspective on the home. If you work with a Listing Agent or have an Assistant, it’s a great time to connect and get a plan together! 

With the FlōPlan App, you have the power at your fingertips. Check out how easy it is as a real top producing Agent from North Dakota turns a scan into a floor plan!

There’s still more to come, so stay tuned as we continue to keep you informed! 


Now Live! IRES MLS + RealX

Innovative partnership allows real estate professionals to connect local property owners with companies looking to secure land  leases for solar, wind, timber, oil and gas, cell towers and more

Beginning today, IRES now provides members with access to the RealX exchange, which allows landowners to register their property and the rights they are willing to sell or lease. Professionals looking to place leases are then able to search the database and make offers directly to landowners faster and more efficiently than ever before possible.

RealX gives land brokers an opportunity to reconnect with past clients to determine if they would be interested in leasing their land for the placement of a variety of uses, from the placement of solar panels or wind turbines to traditional energy exploration or cell towers. In many cases, these leases can provide both public benefit as well as additional income for the landowner. As a result, RealX has experienced an average month-over-month user growth rate of more than 50% in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn More

Visit RealX.io to get started today!

More on the FlōPlan System: What’s in it for YOU?

In our first message, we announced the FlōPlan® System, the new floorplan scanning app + software we’ll be launching later this month and shared some information about why we chose this exciting product. Today, I’d like to share what that means to you in a bit more detail.  

It’s Easy

The FlōPlan App uses unique mobile phone innovation that makes scanning from your smartphone both simple and fast. On average, scans have a 99% success rate from scan to floor plan and take less than 10 minutes. When we say it’s simple, we mean it – all you need is your smartphone. Best of all, YOU don’t need to do the scan. The FlōPlan App enables you to easily assign the scan to someone else, like your Listing Agent, Assistant, Photographer, team member or even the homeowner. Once the scan is completed by your collaborator, the completed floor plan will be returned to you, the Agent.

It’s Fast

Once you complete and submit a scan, the real magic happens. Between machine-learning, artificial intelligence and the careful oversight of professionals, your scan is transformed into a high quality floor plan in about one business day. If there are any issues they’re easily corrected. 

It’s Affordable

We bet you were waiting for this moment! By licensing this at the MLS level, we buy down the cost for you. Each floor plan costs you only $12 per scanned and processed floor plan. That’s a third of the retail price! Best of all, you’re in control. Once we’re launched, you’ll have your own FlōPlan account. Simply login, enter a payment method and get scanning! 

One phone. One scan. One-touch to link to your listing. One day: delivered + live.

There’s more to come – stay tuned! 


Learn More About FloPlan:

Regional Government Affairs Update March 1, 2021 🐥

LOCAL
Boulder County
Boulder

Revisions to Mobile Home Sales Regulations: Boulder’s City Council passed an ordinance on Feb. 16 designed to solve concerns related to challenges faced by homeowners when selling mobile or manufactured homes. Owners of these homes reported park managers or owners interfered, discouraged, or delayed sales or purchases. The ordinance requires park managers to provide information on park rules and leases within three days and expands the timeline to provide notice of buyer approval or denial of entrance into the community to 10 business days, among other new requirements. 

The Council was pleased with the ordinance, which passed unanimously. “This project helps preserve affordable market-rate housing in Boulder,” said Adam Swetlik. Mayor Sam Weaver boasted that Boulder was a leader in the area of manufactured housing, saying, “We are helping lead the State forward, so this is a great step.” 

Longmont
City STEAMS Forward: In 2018 the City Council adopted a work plan that included a new vision for the St. Vrain River corridor from the Sugar Mill to the Fairgrounds. Staff was directed to proceed with a new planning initiative to create an “epicenter of science, technology, education, arts, and mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.)” to become a vibrant economic, residential, cultural, and entertainment district.

On Feb. 16 the City Council received an update on this project from Tony Chacon, the City’s Redevelopment Manager and Glen Van NimWegen, the new Director of Planning. COVID caused some delays but staff is ready to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for STEAM in May. Chacon said because of its history and uses the area is likely subject to some form of environmental degradation, which will qualify it as a “brownfields redevelopment area.” While this means its redevelopment will be expensive, it also means the City qualifies for brownfields grants from State and Federal agencies. 

During limited comments following the presentation, Councilmember Joan Peck said she is excited about STEAM, while Mayor Pro Tem Aren Rodriguez and Councilmember Polly Christensen voiced reservations. Rodriguez said he felt the City would be better served to focus on the Highway 287 (Main Street) redevelopment program rather than the Sugar Mill site. Christensen said she agreed with Rodriguez and advised the staff to start with the commercial sub-plans for the project versus the residential component to create “an automatic rental pool.”

Note: In conjunction with this project the City hired the services of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), which will present its findings on the Sugar Mill site to the City Council later this spring. The ULI offers advice and experience on the topics of “compact development, transportation, urban design and workforce housing.”

Larimer County
Fort Collins

Council Revises Stadium Ballot Language per Court Order: The Larimer County District Court ordered the City to include a contested portion of a citizen-initiated ballot measure that directs Fort Collins to purchase the former Hughes Stadium site and zone it as open lands. The City had argued some of the provisions in the ballot initiative, especially the section ordering the City to “acquire the property,” were administrative and not subject to a citizen initiative.

In a February 15 Coloradoan article, City Attorney Carrie Daggett revealed that the City is evaluating whether to appeal the District Court’s order. Nonetheless, on Feb. 16 the City Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution to revise the initiative as directed by the District Court and add it to the April 6 election. 

Judge Juan Villaseñor ordered the City to submit the following language to the voters:

“Shall the City enact an ordinance requiring the City Council of the City of Fort Collins to immediately rezone upon passage of the ordinance a 164.56-acre parcel of real property formerly home to the Hughes Stadium from the Transition District to the Public Open Lands District, and requiring the City to acquire the property at fair market value to use said property for parks, recreation, and open lands, natural areas, and wildlife rescue and restoration, and further prohibiting the City from de-annexing, ceasing acquisition efforts or subsequently rezoning the property without voter approval of a separate initiative referred to the voters by City Council, and granting legal standing to any registered elector in the City to seek injunctive and/or declaratory relief in the courts related to City noncompliance with said ordinance.”

The only members of the Council willing to voice an opinion on the issue were the two who are term-limited: Mayor Wade Troxell and Councilmember Ross Cunniff. The Mayor noted he supports the motion to let the voters decide but cautioned, “Hughes owned by a state entity …. Not the jurisdiction of the City of Fort Collins… We have to be fully transparent, the desires (of the activists) won’t happen regarding the purchase. When you have an unwilling seller… it won’t clear as a sale.” Cunniff, who lives in the neighborhood adjacent to the stadium said he supported the ballot measure.

This is a complex issue. Can citizens force their government to purchase the property? What if the owner (CSU) is unwilling to sell? These questions will become relevant if Fort Collins voters approve the ballot measure on April 6. 

Loveland
No Consensus on Occupancy Standards: The City Council and Planning Commission (PC) held a joint meeting on Feb. 23 but the PC was unable to convince the Council to adopt its recommendation concerning a more relaxed occupancy standard. 

Occupancy standards became an issue for City planning staff several years ago when they began to receive questions about the legality of various “group home” options in Loveland. The City’s new development code – the Unified Development Code (UDC) – defines four unrelated individuals living together as a “rooming house,” which is not allowed in a single-family zone, so almost any group home scenario wouldn’t be allowed in a single-family zone if more than three people were to reside there. 

Staff worked with the PC to come up with an occupancy standard for single-family zones that “better fit the Loveland community,” said City planner Kerri Burchett. She reminded the joint meeting participants that the current definition allows an unlimited number of “family” members to live in a house. After some discussion, the PC decided to propose a U+3 (four unrelated people) standard and agreed that it would also be amenable to U+4 (five unrelated people).

However, the Council expressed little support for the recommendation. Councilmember Andrea Samson said, “I don’t like this.” Other councilors, like Don Overcash, expressed concern that it is discriminatory to limit the number of unrelated people living in a home since a family can include an unlimited number of people. City Attorney Moses Garcia’s comment that the lack of an occupancy standard in the UCD could create issues if the City was taken to court didn’t seem to persuade the Council, either. Only two councilors (Kathi Wright and Dave Clark) supported the PC recommendation. 

Long-Range Planner Bob Paulsen tried to soothe frustrated Councilmembers, saying “There’s no tougher issue in planning than this (occupancy standards).”After a long discussion, the City Manager said staff would draft up several options to bring back in front of the Council at a future date.

The Council did agree with the recommendation to add more flexibility to the City’s accessory dwelling unit regulations. The proposal will keep the recommended building footprint of 10 percent of the total lot area, but allow a maximum square footage of 900 SF in all residential zones. The ADU will have to be smaller in building footprint than the principal dwelling and can’t exceed the height of the principal dwelling unless the ADU is accessed from an alley. Staff will now draft an ordinance including these ADU revisions for formal Council review.

Weld County
Greeley

Council Looks at Small Format Housing Options: Continuing its discussion of land use code changes to implement Greeley’s Housing Strategic Plan, planning staff walked the Council through options for “small format housing” on Feb. 23. The goal of the plan is to encourage more affordable housing in the City. 

Most of the home concepts are related to design ideas such as “tall and skinny”, “laneway” or alley homes, accessory dwelling units, mobile home lot sizes, or tiny homes. Staff wanted the Council’s input on the designs and which zones would be appropriate for these options. 

Consultants working for the City had made some recommendations such as enabling a courtyard housing pattern (good for deeper lots) and allowing smaller, compact lots. These recommendations didn’t generate much comment from the Council but some of the design concepts led to more feedback.

Mayor Gates said he “could live with all the changes” recommended by staff.

Councilmember Tommy Butler said he loved the ideas. Some of the other councilors had reservations. Kristin Zasada said she struggles with the ADU concept because there is a problem ADU in her neighborhood. She was adamant that she is “not ok” with them in the R-L zone. Dale Hall agreed with her but Brett Payton said he wanted to see options for them. 

Staff will continue working with the Housing Advisory Committee on the small format housing recommendations and will come back to Council with a whole package of code changes in September.

City Seeks Feedback on Occupancy Standards: One of the options Greeley could explore to increase housing affordability is to relax its occupancy limits in most single-family neighborhoods. Currently, no more than two unrelated adults can share a home, regardless of the home’s number of bedrooms. This topic has generated controversy in many Colorado communities so the staff was instructed to gather as much citizen feedback on the issue as possible. 

There are two ways to give your thoughts. A virtual Open House has been scheduled for March 1 at 6:00 pm. Register in advance for the Open House here: https://tinyurl.com/3axwbkbr

In addition, take the City’s survey. It is available here:  https://tinyurl.com/yfw5u5hz

COLORADO ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
Legislative Update: The 2021 legislative session resumed on February 16 and CAR lobbyists and staff were busy reviewing hundreds of bills. CAR’s Legislative Policy Committee (LPC) met and discussed the 30 real estate-related bills introduced so far on Feb. 19. 

The LPC directed CAR’s lobbying team to do its best to amend bills of most concern, for example, House Bill 1117 “Local Government Authority to Promote Affordable Housing Units.” This bill appears to be an attempt to weaken Colorado’s statutory prohibition on rent control, by emphasizing the legislature’s authority to permit local rent control ordinances as long as such ordinances provide a choice of options to the developer when requiring the construction of affordable housing units. 

Note: More information on the bills of most interest to real estate will be provided later in the session. As mentioned, many bills CAR is watching are in an “amend” position. The hope is that these bills will see substantive revisions if CAR’s lobbying team and other political allies are successful. 

NATION
NAR Report Outlines Policies to Address Housing Affordability Problems: Nationwide housing inventory is lower than it’s been since the National Association of Realtors® began tracking this data in 1982.  To continue its work to address a problem that has long plagued American communities and has been worsened by COVID-19, NAR just released new research arguing that the nation’s affordability crisis will require policymakers to adopt localized solutions. The paper, State and Local Policy Strategies to Advance Housing Affordability, recommends lawmakers pursue solutions through three key avenues: financial policy measures; policies aimed at increasing the supply of housing and zoning; and permitting policy reform.

In a presentation, the report’s authors said Colorado one of the worst-hit states re affordability. They said the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metropolitan area is one of the least affordable markets among large-sized metro areas. Other large-size markets that are similarly unaffordable include San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (CA), Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade(CA), and Portland (OR). Among small metro markets, the only Colorado city to make the least affordable list was Boulder.

The authors admit there are no “silver bullets” to magically solve housing affordability. They describe a variety of policies such as downpayment assistance, accessory dwelling units, density bonuses, and inclusionary zoning, saying “governments and policymakers should look for a combination of policies that best fits the needs of their communities and local housing markets.” Read the report here:
https://realtorparty.realtor/homepage/latest-news/nar-report-housing-affordability

NAR’s Advocacy Agenda for the 117th Congress: What are NAR’s advocacy objectives for the next two years? The Association has four goals: Improve Access to Homeownership, Enable a Quick Economic Recovery After COVId-19, Ensure Fair Housing for All and Build Strong, Resilient Communities and Businesses. Click here for more information: https://tinyurl.com/27ukm45s

Introducing FlōPlan

As part of our ongoing commitment to provide you with the best technology and business tools, we’re excited to announce the FlōPlan® System, launching next month! 

What is The FlōPlan System?

The FlōPlan System is an easy-to-use floor plan app + software system by FBS (a leading provider of industry technology), that gives you the ability to create a floor plan for every one of your listings quickly, easily and affordably and link them to your listings. 

Why floor plans and the FlōPlan System?

We licensed the FlōPlan System for a few very important reasons. The most important? Floor plans are an essential piece of listing content, improving the listing – for everyone. By licensing the FlōPlan System, we have the power to improve our market and the customer experience together.

  1. Buyers want them: Annual NAR research tells us that Buyers want floor plans, ranking them just beneath photos and property information for value and importance. Floor plans take the guesswork out of the process giving buyers an instant visual of the layout so they can imagine living in it.  
  2. Floor plans sell homes: Floor plans help listings get sold. By providing Buyers with a complete visual of the layout at the right time (while they’re parsing through listings online), they can prioritize which properties they want to tour with better accuracy, minimizing the disappointments and maximizing efficiency. 
  3. Floor plans improve listing content: Floor plans are new media that improves and enriches the listing record and the MLS database.

We need Y-O-U!

We’re looking for early adopters/beta testers to try out the product, provide feedback, and become “brand ambassadors” for this new IRES offering. If you’re interested in this, please visit the IRESis start screen for additional information and the link to sign up for early access.


Regional Government Affairs Update February 15, 2021 🏡

LOCAL
Boulder County
Polis Continues Push For Rail: According to the Denver Business Journal, Governor Polis’ support for Line-B, the long-awaited rail line to Boulder and Longmont, has put new life into the plan. Some RTD Board members have criticized the Governor, saying he is using his influence to move the focus from providing service to lower-income, transit-dependent Denver communities to advocate for rail to Polis’ hometown. 

At the end of a study session on February 9, RTD General Manager/CEO Debra Johnson said she’ll offer a proposal within 60 days on how to proceed with an environmental assessment and study on how to provide peak-hour rail service to Boulder County. Past directors and boards have stated that the rail line could not be completed until 2042, if at all, so any move to accelerate that would represent a major step forward.

Polis had previously created a special commission to look at RTD operations and has called for the B-Line to be completed by 2025. At the study session, Polis spoke about the need to restore the voters’ trust since they have paid roughly $250 million in taxes since backing the FasTracks initiative in 2004 but have gotten nothing for it. “As a progressive who feels we need to deliver on the initiatives we pursue, it creates a gap in public trust that doesn’t just involve transit. It’s a matter of how we restore that public trust,” he said.

Note: In giving the Longmont Council a status report on the study session later that evening, Councilmember Joan Peck said no one has a current estimate on the cost for the B-line. “I still have hope we will get this done,” she said.

Longmont
Council Approves Water Purchase: On February 9 the City Council approved an agreement with the Longs Peak Water District to acquire capacity in a raw water delivery pipeline. The pipeline is owned and operated by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s Southern Water Supply Water Activity Enterprise (NCWCD). The agreement covers the sale and transfer of one cubic foot per second (CFS) of capacity in the SWSP II project that Longs Peak water will not need for build-out of their service area. 
 
The City currently owns 24.3 CFS of capacity in the Southern Water Supply Project. The additional water, when added to the City’s existing capacity, will provide Longmont with sufficient capacity to meet the winter water demands of the City at buildout of the Longmont Planning Area. Winter capacity is critical, as several of the City’s raw water delivery systems are not available throughout the year. 
 
Larimer County
Take the Housing Survey: In early January the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) saw a big change, with two experienced commissioners (Tom Donnelly and Steve Johnson) going off the Board and two new commissioners  (Kristin Stephens and Jody Shadduck-McNally) joining John Kefalas. One of the first steps was to familiarize the commissioners with the existing strategic plan.
 
Heather O’Hare, the County’s Director of Human Services led a discussion of Strategic Goal Number 2 at a study session: “Everyone in Larimer County has access to economic opportunities and a vibrant quality of life. We work together to remove barriers.” https://www.larimer.org/strategicplan/goal-2
 
One of the objectives under Goal Number 2 pertains to housing: “By 2023, Larimer County will reduce the housing overburdened ratio by at least 5% for both owned and rented units. Strategies may include partnerships with municipalities and other agencies to develop and revise applicable requirements and policies; and/or champion projects that provide access to affordable housing.” Staff told the new commissioners two upcoming study sessions will focus on housing. 
 
To kick off the county’s work on this issue, residents are asked to fill out a housing survey, which may be accessed here: www.larimer.housingimpactlab.com. Note: This survey is available until Feb. 28.

Fort Collins
City Council Approves New Mortgage Down Payment Option: Without discussion, the City Council approved a resolution that will allow Fort Collins residents to participate in a down payment assistance program administered by the City and County of Denver known as the Metro Mortgage Assistance Plus Program (MMAPP). Without cost to the City, the program expands the range of assistance available to households earning up to $150,000.

Fort Collins has offered its own program for years but rising prices have created difficulties for residents, including those with incomes above the City’s 80 percent AMI income limit. MMAPP isn’t limited to first-time buyers, either. There is no maximum purchase price and serves residents with a minimum credit score of 640.

The program has been so successful that it now includes over 35 Colorado cities and eight counties, including Larimer. 

Council Discusses Montava Water Request: The 4,000 home Montava project planned for northeast Fort Collins hinges on finding a solution to water. Developer Max Moss has filed an application in Colorado Water Court to allow him to use an underground aquifer to provide drinking water to the proposed community. He expects that it will at least 18 months to 2 years to get a decision, and thus the project will likely be put on hold until mid-2022.
 
In the meantime, the City has been wrestling with Moss’s innovative water plan, which is different from the traditional approach. He told the City ELCO’s water is too expensive for his project, which as City Councilmember Ken Summers said, is “the single largest development … that will ever happen in Northern Colorado.”

On February 9 the City Council has asked to consider three concepts related to the Montava project:

  • Water Adequacy – A need to develop a new process and policy to address the adequacy of any water supply proposals that are different than the standard, existing water providers. 
  • Additional Water Providers -Potential addition of new water provider(s) in the Fort Collins Growth Management Area (GMA). Could authorize Montava to be a water provider and operate a treatment and distribution system.
  • Water Augmentation Agreements – enter into a perpetual augmentation water agreement with the developer to support groundwater pumping. 

Councilmember Ross Cunniff started off the discussion, saying “I am sorry staff had to go to so much work. I am even more convinced it is a bad idea after hearing this presentation. Fort Collins water is cheaper so it is attractive to ‘this type of scheme.’” 

Susan Gutowsky and Julie Pignataro agreed with Cunniff, with Gutowsky saying, “I can’t believe the developer didn’t ask where he’d get the water a long time ago. I don’t understand why now it’s an emergency and we’re going to ask Fort Collins to use its utilities… I am hesitant to support it.”

After some clarifying information, in which staff explained the developer would pay for a consultant to help develop a non-standard water adequacy determination process and policy the tone of the Council discussion changed.

Emily Gorgol, Melanie Potyondy, Ken Summers, and Mayor Troxell had questions but supported the need for a consultant to help the City staff. Then Ross Cunniff and Susan Gutowsky dropped their objections. Theresa Conner, the City’s Interim Utilities Executive Director agreed to put together more information on the project’s augmentation plan and said staff would work jointly with the developer and ELCO to put together a non-standard water plan.

Weld County
Greeley

Council Split on Changes to Occupancy Limits: Planner Caleb Jackson briefed the City Council on a concept that arose from the City’s Strategic Housing Plan, loosening the City’s occupancy limits in low-density zones. Currently, the City allows any number of family members to occupy a home however, no more than two unrelated adults can share a single-family dwelling (U+1).

Jackson cited rising housing costs, stagnating, wages, changing demographics, and low housing supply as some of the reasons why other cities in Colorado are relaxing occupancy standards. He said the Housing Task Force, Planning Commission, and Code Advisory Committee had general consensus to increase allowance in an incremental way. A public survey showed 62 percent of respondents supported a change. 

Community Developer Director Brad Mueller noted any decision would require multiple conversations, saying, “This is not a one and done discussion.” Several options to relax occupancy standards were presented to the Council: Increase to U+2 3 or 4, tie occupancy to the number of bedrooms or tie it to house size.

Councilmember Ed Clark said the City can’t enforce how many people live in a dwelling “that is a frustrating piece. I am not in favor of going higher than U+1… I am a no.”

Councilmember Dale Hall said he was concerned about the disparity between related and unrelated residents living in a home. He noted, “There could have a bunch of people in a family that are causing noise and parking problem but there is no solution. Unrelated people get the backlash.” Hall said he likes occupancy tied to bedrooms as an option.  Councilmember Tommy Butler agreed with Hall on the ‘bedroom option’ and added, “U+1 is a joke.” 

Kristin Zasada voiced strong disagreement. She said, “my mission is to protect RL zoning.” She added, “I will never be convinced that we should change just because neighboring communities are doing it.” Brett Payton said enforcement is complaint-based. “The way it is currently written isn’t doing anyone any good. I am in favor of some change.” 

Michael Fitzsimmons admitted to struggling with the issue. He said he wanted to know why other cities have increased their zoning. He agreed that the City needed more enforcement tools, especially if the City were to relax occupancy standards a little saying, “if we are doing these changes they need some bite.” 

Mayor Gates was the last Councilmember to speak. He said we might be “spending time on something we can’t or won’t enforce. Part of me says we should leave it alone.” 

After asking for a show of hands for each option presented by staff, Mayor Gates said there was “weak consensus” for further consideration for relaxing occupancy based on bedroom size. Brad Mueller concluded the conversation, saying cost and housing are connected and that the occupancy standard issue would be back in front of Council as part of the bigger package of proposed housing-related code changes in September. 

Note: The City Council in Denver voted to relax Denver’soccupancy standards last week. 

STATE
Lawmakers say New Transportation Plan Has Support: Rep. Matt Gray and Senator Faith Winter have a plan to infuse funding into Colorado’s transportation infrastructure.  They’re lining up support before their proposal has even been drafted to make sure their proposal is approved by the General Assembly.

“We’re confident,” Gray said in an interview with Colorado Politics. “We think this is the best shot we’ve had in a long time because we have both the leadership of our chambers and the governor’s office in alignment with us.

The plan would boost transportation revenues through fee increases on individuals and businesses (for example, Uber, DoorDash, FedEx, and Amazon)  as well as contributions from lawmakers via the state’s general fund. Business interests and advocates appear to be on board too, but in interviews with Colorado Politics, they stressed the need for a significant general fund commitment.

House Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver, and Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, who Gray and Winter say are signed on as sponsors, will provide the political muscle. Gray says they’re looking to move quickly. “It’s not going to drop on the first day, but all four sponsors want to introduce it as soon as possible.”

NATION
Hick’s Committee Assignments: New Colorado Senator John Hickenlooper has been named to serve on four committees, including Senate committees on Energy and Natural Resources; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Commerce, Science, and Transportation; and Small Business and Entrepreneurship. For transportation advocates, this is welcome news. 

The federal transportation spending bill, also known as the FAST Act, expires soon. Having a Colorado Senator sit on the Senate Transportation Committee will be helpful moving forward as we lobby for infrastructure funding that would benefit our state.

Rental Relief: NAR reports that as part of December’s COVID-19 stimulus package, $25 billion in federal assistance funds are expected to be disbursed to states. There could be a rush for funds with an estimated 14 million Americans are behind on their rent. Further, rental arrears in the country may be near $70 billion, CNBC reports.

To qualify for rental assistance, at least one member of a household must have experienced income loss, significant expenses due to the pandemic, or are eligible for unemployment benefits. They will need to show they are or could be at risk of homelessness. The person’s current income level also can’t be higher than 80 percent of the area’s median income. 

Renters could be eligible for up to a total of 12 months of back rent and utility bills. They may also be eligible to get payments to cover future rental payments. The funds are paid directly to the landlord or utility company.

Landlords may also be able to apply on behalf of their tenants, as long as they get approval from the tenant. Some states are already offering existing rental assistance programs under monies previously provided through the CARES Act. They may add the new funds to their existing rental assistance programs or start a new program.

NAR joined its coalition partners to urge the Departments of Treasury and HUD to provide clear guidance to state and local governments when distributing federal rental assistance funds. In the letter, NAR urged them to ensure that the funds would be used to pay rental arrears, to ensure rental housing properties remain financially viable. 

NAR also urged flexibility for landlords to obtain resident consent, especially when delinquent tenants may be avoiding landlord communications. The letter requests that the existing Treasury FAQs be updated to reflect that. This letter is a follow-up to a call that NAR had with staff of the White House, Treasury, and HUD in late January. NAR continues to urge that successful programs will ensure property owners are made whole, and renters aren’t saddled with outstanding debt.

IRES Matters | Episode 7

FlōPlan: A Floor Plan for Every Listing?

In episode 7 of IRES Matters, we sit down with Michael Wurzer, CEO of FBS, RESO Vice-Chair, and founder of FlōPlan software. We discuss the partnership with IRES, where the idea for PloPlan came from, and the serendipity that led to this innovative solution coming into being. FlōPlan will soon be integrated with the IRESis system, providing ease of access to the benefits of this software for all IRES subscribers.