IRES Matters | Episode 14

Lighter Side: Lauren Part II

Throughout the years Northern Colorado’s Real Estate community has been familiar with Lauren Hansen as a forward thinking leader with the ability to pilot ever-changing waters gracefully. While innovation & a deep commitment to customer service have been central to her personal brand as CEO, there is a third pillar that is less well-known. Humor. In this episode we look back at some of the strange, funny, and surprising stories from over the course of her career. Grab a cup of coffee and laugh with us!

Regional Government Affairs Update December 16, 2021 🌲

It is the holiday season and local elected officials are giving us a gift by avoiding weighty or controversial issues during the season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Enjoy it while it lasts, because things always become busy by mid-January.

And just because this update is short, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some interesting topics. Check out the metro district discussions in Erie and Loveland, for example.

Happy Holidays!
Barbara Koelzer
Regional Government Director

Boulder County

Occupancy Discussion Possible: The City Council may discuss occupancy revisions — but only if the issue is given priority at the annual retreat in January 2022. Recently, the staff told the Council that the City isn’t currently enforcing occupancy limits. (This year there have been 22 complaints, of which five were verified as actual violations of Boulder’s occupancy regulations.)

There is a divide between those councilors who would like to make the discussion more of a priority, and those who feel the defeat of the Bedrooms are For People ballot measure was the community’s final say on the issue. Inevitably, any discussion of occupancy has to take staffing into consideration. The City doesn’t have the staff to mount a more robust enforcement effort without more funding. In addition, it appears doubtful that there are enough supporters on Council make relaxing occupancy standards a priority at the expense of other topics.

Note: If a study can be found that shows a strong correlation between relaxing occupancy standards and housing affordability, this opinion could change. But so far, no such study has been found.

Trustees Look to Adopt Metro District Model Service Plan: The Erie Town Manager gave a biased metro district presentation to the Board of Trustees last month, leading to the conclusion that Malcolm Fleming is not a fan of metro districts. The Town Manager emphasized anecdotal homeowner comments and opinions, versus facts. BOLO Realtors® metro district study had been distributed to the Trustees and staff, but it wasn’t referenced during the discussion.

The Board of Trustees will hold a formal public hearing on a draft metro district model service plan policy in January, followed by adoption in early February. Gauging from the comments from most trustees, expect a draft policy that requires extraordinary public benefits.

Note: “Extraordinary public benefit” is a concept that has found favor in some other Northern Colorado cities such as Fort Collins. This requirement can be described as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why? By requiring metro districts to include costly public benefits, the metro district homes become more expensive, thus “proving” the argument made by critics that metro district homes are not affordable.

Fort Collins
Latest on the Hughes Property: On December 3 CSU’s governing body approved the sale of the former Hughes Stadium property to the City of Fort Collins for $12.5 million. In the meantime, CSU is working with Cottonwood Land and Farms to purchase land in the eastern part of the City for affordable housing that was originally planned for the stadium property.

The Fort Collins City Council discussed the sale and payment methods for the Hughes parcel last month, favoring a financing approach that is expected to include a $4 million cash payment, and tax-exempt bonds to pay for the rest. The City will hire a third-party consultant to oversee a public engagement process to discuss how the Hughes property should be utilized. The Staff says that engagement process will last through 2022 and potentially into 2023.

Potential land uses within the Public Open Lands land use designation include natural area and recreation. PATHS, the group that got the Hughes proposal on the 2021 ballot, is advocating for most of the land to be preserved as a natural area.

Council Wants Changes to Metro District Policy: The Loveland City Council spent hours discussing possible changes to its model service plan for metro districts on November 23. It is hoped that the revisions will create better standards for reviewing metro district proposals, and address residents’ concerns regarding lack of disclosure and the long-term implications of paying additional mill levies for homes in metro districts.

The mayor had a long list of complaints and concerns related to metro districts, as could be expected. She said developers should be required to formally sign an agreement guaranteeing that metro district homes would cost less than non-district homes. Councilors Dave Clark and John Fogle voiced strong opposition to that suggestion, calling it illegal price-fixing.

Councilor Richard Ball argued the Loveland-Berthoud Association of REALTORS® should be required to cooperate with the MLS, but didn’t clarify how or what kind of cooperation is currently lacking. Councilor Andrea Samson said one simple solution would be to require real estate agents to include metro district information on for-sale signs.

Councilor John Fogle said he is a big fan of disclosure and wants all advertising – whether in the MLS or on a sales brochure to be standardized. He explained that the information should include the metro district information and relevant property taxes in the same large, bold font. He added that information should be listed in the same place on all advertising media.

In general, the Council voiced support for the list of recommendations proposed by staff. They were complimentary of LBAR for working with the City to come up with a more complete list of disclosure requirements. They understand that new homes are often not sold by real estate agents. There was consensus that that sales agents should be held to the same standards as agents, one of LBAR’s longstanding contentions.

The staff is finalizing the list of revisions. This item is currently scheduled for first reading in front of the City Council on January 18.

Mallo Wins Council Seat: Jon Mallo officially won the Ward IV City Council seat vacated by Dave Clark after a recount in early December. Mallo garnered 3,336 votes compared to challenger Kaitlyn Wyrick’s 3,335. He was sworn in on December 7. He was endorsed by the Loveland Berthoud Association of REALTORS®.

2022 Legislative Session: It seems like the Colorado General Assembly just adjourned. Nevertheless, we are less than a month away from the 2022 session, which begins on January 12. 2022 is an election year so conventional wisdom would say the session will be long on hyperbole and short on content. While we don’t know for sure what the session will bring, we do expect to see efforts by legislators to continue chipping away the rights of property owners (rental and short-term rental properties in particular) and a continued focus on environmentally-friendly building requirements.

NAR on VA Loans: NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith testified before the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. President Smith shared REALTORS®’ concerns about issues preventing greater utilization of VA financing including difficulties obtaining appraisals, limits on fees for services, consumer education, and recent increases to the funding fees as well as limitations on renovation financing.

Representatives from the VA, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Veterans United Home Loans also testified. The VA pointed to “myths” in the market about problems with lenders and inspections while all four other witnesses testified to those problems. The VA raised its allowable appraisal fees and turnaround times in mid-March.

Written testimony was submitted for President Smith and NAR will send a follow up letter to the committee in response to committee members’ questions.

Wishing Lauren Hansen Well, Ahead of Retirement


At IRES, we are simultaneously delighted and saddened to announce that our visionary leader and role model, Lauren Hansen, will be retiring at the end of January. While we are ecstatic about what the future holds for our organization — Lauren’s vision, hard work and determination have set us up for continued success — it’s never easy saying goodbye to a role model, a friend and a true industry pioneer.

Over the past four-plus decades, Lauren has worn numerous hats, demonstrating her unique ability to innovate and inspire in the face of a constantly changing real estate industry, an ever-evolving economic climate and rapid technological advancement. Serving as the only CEO in IRES’ history, she spearheaded the development of the IRES MLS data base and has been on the cutting edge of real estate in Colorado ever since. Whether adding new features to the platform or helping others advance their own knowledge, expertise and skills, Lauren’s accomplishments and overall impact on the industry will be felt for decades to come.

Lauren’s exit marks the end of an era for IRES, and she will be greatly missed. We want to wish her the best as she embarks on her next journey in life, and we hope you’ll help us do that. We invite everyone who has worked with Lauren to share in this celebration by offering thanks and extending well wishes, funny stories and remembrances as she prepares for her next chapter in life.

Please leave your comment below!

2021 Year in Review

Since 1996, IRES MLS has provided MLS services to real estate professionals like you through changing market conditions, technology advancements, and more.  Together, we work hard to build our industry as well as our communities. Your success is our success as we celebrate another year of accomplishment in the unique circumstances the current times have provided.  

Please join us in reflecting on the advancements IRES MLS has made this year to better serve you. Thank you for being an IRES MLS subscriber!

Data Share Expansion

Data Availability

The year started off with the expansion of the REcolorado data exchange agreement to IDX feeds for our brokers to seamlessly include on their websites.


Soon to follow, REALTORS® of Central Colorado (ROCC) joined in the data exchange along with REcolorado and IRES MLS.


We later added REcolorado data to InfoSparks and FastStats effective January 2021.

Expanded Public Portals

September brought in the addition of REcolorado listings on® and IRES listings on

More Services Included With IRES MLS Benefits

IRES hit a few “first” milestones this year as it was among the first organizations to offer services from the following third party programs. These new relationships add real value for both on market and off market listings. Off Market? How’s that? Read on!


RealX is the first and largest online property rights exchange. It 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.  What a great way to continue to add more worth to the relationships you have with your clients after the sale! IRES MLS was the first MLS organization to partner with RealX.


FloPlan is an easy-to-use floor plan app + software system 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. 

IRES MLS was the first MLS to license and deliver FlōPlan outside of the FBS client market. We licensed the FlōPlan System for a few very important reasons. The most important reason? Rich media like 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.

To date, we’ve added 816 floorplans through FlōPlan!

Homesnap Showings

Homesnap Showings is a new, modern showing management tool that’s included with your Homesnap Pro account, which is provided for you as an IRES subscriber benefit. Listing brokers will enjoy that Homesnap Showings is fast, easy-to-use, and provides them the ability to manage approvals from anywhere. Buyer’s brokers are able to utilize instant bookings and seamless client communication. And, you guessed it, IRES MLS was among the first to activate this feature for our subscribers.

Big Features Big Impact

These next features were long awaited by IRES subscribers. We had great joy in releasing them! The feedback received from our subscribers lets us know you were just as joyful receiving them!

View Draft Listing

Listing Draft Preview allows you to review listing information entered through the Add Listing Wizard, before activating the new MLS listing.  Reminder! This is only available after completing all the required fields on steps 1 through 8 in the Add Listing Wizard.

This layout is a similar display to the new Listing Details View displayed in Carts Manager and My Listings. Draft Listing Preview has all of the fields you’ll see when editing your draft.

Editing your draft is very easy from this display. Clicking on a field label will automatically take you to the field to edit in your draft. For example, clicking on Price takes you to the Price field where you will see it highlighted for quick identification, reference, and editing.

Share Draft

Building on the view draft experience, we next rolled out Share Draft as a collaboration tool for listing brokers and their clients. Sharing a draft allows you to share a listing preview link with your client, which will expire after 24 hours’ time. Your seller may open the link to review the information on their desktop, tablet or mobile device. You may work together to ensure the data is correct before going “live” with your listing.

View MySite Collections No Login

We rounded out 2021 with a new way to view MySite collections without a login! Additionally, we have created a collections page where you can view all the listings from a particular batch directly from the MySite inbox. When viewing the collection without logging in, the features for rating listings or adding notes are not available. It’s very easy to continue to login for full MySite features.

Best Practice Tip:  Brokers should bypass logging directly into their clients’ MySites whenever possible. Be sure to either click the link from the email to view the latest batch of listings or access the client MySite from within your Contacts Dashboard.

System Updates You May Have Missed

We know you’ve been busy. Let’s catch up on some smaller enhancements that may have passed you by! These are all documented in Great Tips (The Archive) under RESOURCES in

  • Main bed and bath labels display as “Primary”
  • Links to our data share partners roster pages appear in Lookup Users
  • Many new resources available in the Learning Center
  • Has HOA is now available in Listing Search
  • Rosters include balances for Managing Brokers
  • Get to Add a Listing quickly from My Listings
  • Find listing drafts in My Listings and Listing Edit
  • Modernization of different sections of the system (increasing workflow efficiency)
    • Listing Add/Edit
    • System Preferences
    • Non-MLS Search/Add/Edit
    • IRESis Showing Reports
  • Showings Contact Info (step 1) improvements for listing entry
  • 2022 Contracts Integration

We hope you’re as excited as we are about what 2021 brought to your IRES MLS experience. Remember, we LOVE to hear from our customers. Our best updates are born from your ideas! Be sure to share with us!

View MySite Collections Without The Login

This is one present you won’t be regifting this year!

You can now view MySite collections without the login!    

While we haven’t removed the requirement of passwords altogether, we have made it easier to view your client’s collections without the need to login to their MySite.  

View MySite Collection Illustration

Another neat feature is inside the MySite inbox. You can now view collections from there rather than one listing at a time. Look for “View” on the header for each inbox entry.

Best Practice Tip:  Brokers should bypass logging directly into their clients’ MySites whenever possible. Be sure to either click the link from the email to view the latest batch of listings or access the client MySite from within your Contacts Dashboard.

MySite Collection Workflow Illustration
MySite Collection Workflow Illustration

Stay tuned!  We’ve got more exciting MySite features coming in the future!

Estimated Value Section Available on Realist Public Records Property Reports

You asked, and we delivered!  Realist Public Records now has an Estimated Value section available on property reports.  This section will include RealAVM™, RealAVM™ Range, Confidence Score, and Forecast Standard Deviation.

RealAVM At-A-Glance

RealAVM estimates a residential property’s market value at a specific point in time. These model estimates are subject to error, so AVM providers also produce performance metrics called confidence and forecast standard deviation scores, which assess the accuracy and quantifies the AVM provider’s confidence in these estimates of value. Key Performance Metrics.

  • RealAVM Value – RealAVM employs multiple valuation methodologies recursively for each valuation. RealAVM utilizes property comparables, MLS listing information, home price indexes and various statistical methods in a neural-network environment to reach the final value for a property. There is a dedicated team that continuously tunes and maintains the model for maximum performance.

  • RealAVM Confidence Score – RealAVM’s confidence score is a measure of the extent to which sales data, property information and comparable sales support the property valuation analysis process. The confidence score range is 50-100. Clear and consistent quality and quantity of data drive higher confidence scores while lower confidence scores indicate diversity in the data, lower quantity of data, and/or limited similarity of the subject property to comparable sales.

The FSD tells you, with 68 percent statistical certainty, into which ring the actual value is likely to fall.
  • RealAVM FSD Score – The Forecast Standard Deviation (FSD) denotes confidence in an AVM estimate and uses a consistent scale and meaning to generate a standardized confidence metric. The FSD score is a statistic that measures the likely range or dispersion an AVM estimate will fall within, based on the consistency of the information available to the AVM at the time of estimation. If you think of an archery target with the AVM estimate as the bull’s eye, the FSD score tells you into which ring around the bull’s eye the actual value of a property is likely to fall, as shown in Figure 1. The lower FSD score the better. Using the target analogy, a low FSD score indicates that the AVM estimate is more accurate and the actual value lands closer to the bull’s eye.

Easy Access

The new section will be available by simply adding it in “Customize View.”  On any property report, click on the “Customize View” button in the upper right corner and checkmark the sections you would like to display, click “Apply” and you are done!  It’s that simple!

Image of Section for Estimated Value

IRES Taps Real Estate Industry Veteran Jeff Bosch as New Chief Executive Officer

A 20-plus-year industry veteran, Bosch brings a passion for real estate modernization and deep experience as a former agent, educator and managing broker to his new role.

LOVELAND, Colo., Dec. 14, 2021 — Information and Real Estate Services (IRES), a Loveland-based regional multiple listing service (MLS) that serves Boulder, Weld, Larimer, Broomfield, Logan and Morgan Counties, today announced it has hired Jeff Bosch as CEO, effective Jan. 1, 2022. 

Jeff Bosch

“I care passionately about providing unparalleled customer service and enabling subscribers to meet evolving consumer demands in the ever-evolving world of real estate through better access to data, improved data quality and state-of-the-art tools,” said Bosch. “I am honored to join the IRES team and look forward to collaborating closely with IRES’ talented staff to continue assisting subscribers and shaping the future of real estate in the Centennial State.”

Bosch has held numerous leadership roles throughout his two-plus decades in real estate, most recently serving as chief operating officer of MARIS, a St. Louis-based MLS. He also previously held titles as director of MLS services and director of broker engagement at MARIS and was a managing broker at Coldwell Banker Gundaker before joining MARIS. Additional recent industry involvement includes the following positions:

  • Council of Multiple Listing Services: Digital Access Concepts Workgroup, vice chair 
  • Real Estate Standards Organization: Broker Advisory Workgroup, vice chair 
  • St. Louis REALTORS®: Leadership Academy Advisory Board and Session Leader 
  • Missouri MLS Administrators: 2021 chair

“Jeff is the right person for this position on a myriad of levels, and we are thrilled he will be helping us manage through changes impacting the MLS landscape across Colorado’s scorching real estate market,” said Kevin Barrier, chair of IRES. “It feels tremendous to hand over the reins to someone as qualified as Jeff is, and with his exceptional track record of reinforcing MLS initiatives and changing industry culture, we believe he is the ideal CEO to lead IRES in its next chapter of growth and success.”

The extensive search and selection process was led by Barrier, with assistance from past IRES chairs and current managers Fran Hardman, Chris Hardy and Dan Kingdom. Bosch succeeds Lauren Hansen, who will stay with the organization through January to assist with the transition. Hansen has led IRES since its founding in 1996, and she helped guide the MLS through the transition from a national MLS provider to a customized system serving REALTORS® throughout Colorado.

“For the past four decades, I have witnessed the incredible growth and evolution of real estate technology and services and had the pleasure of providing excellent customer service, empowering IRES subscribers to meet evolving consumer demands,” said Hansen. “Under Jeff’s leadership, I am confident IRES will continue to raise the bar in our quickly evolving industry by developing and integrating new solutions that answer the most pressing needs of our brokers and REALTORS® and their customers — homebuyers and sellers in Colorado.”

For more information about IRES, please visit

About IRES

Information and Real Estate Services, LLC (IRES) was formed in 1996 as the regional multiple listing service (MLS) for northern Colorado by five boards and associations of REALTORS® in Boulder, Fort Collins, Greeley, Longmont and Loveland/Berthoud. In addition to these five boards and associations, IRES is the MLS provider for the Estes Park Board of REALTORS® and Logan County Board of REALTORS®.® for consumers is owned and operated by IRES. Its office is centrally located in Loveland, Colo.


Introducing: Homesnap Showings

Homesnap Showings, the newest feature from Homesnap, is an agent-friendly, easy-to-use real estate showings tool — and now it’s fully integrated into

Homesnap Showings is a new, modern showing management tool that’s included with your Homesnap Pro account, which is provided for you as an IRES subscriber benefit.

Homesnap Showings: Listing Agents

Fast, easy-to-use setup

Each agent has a unique schedule, each seller has unique expectations, and each listing has unique requirements. With Homesnap Showings, you can easily customize your listing to meet those needs. Set up a listing’s rules in just a few clicks.

First, select the showing type that is right for you. Whether you need approvals from everyone, one person, or no approvals needed, you choose.

Then, add who you want to be an approver or notified of requests and select available times. Add access and special instructions (for agents-only or public viewing).

Go live in one click

Once you have customized your showing to your preferences, simply click the “Accepting Showings Requests” toggle to tell the world your listing is available! If you’ve accepted an offer and want to turn off showings, simply turn off showings in one click. If you have future showings scheduled, you can choose to keep or cancel them.

Manage approvals from anywhere

Being flexible has never been more important to agents. Whether in your car, at a showing, or at your desk, you can approve or decline showing requests directly from notifications. Simplify your daily workflow by setting your communication preferences and approve or deny requests directly from SMS, push notifications, email, or all three.

Manage your schedule

With Google calendar integrations, you have the power to see all of your requests in one place. When you have a pending request or a confirmed booking, it will automatically populate your calendar.

Less follow-up. More feedback.

Feedback is important in a real estate transaction. Homesnap Showings handles the follow-ups for you. Automatic reminders are sent following the showing. Once feedback comes through, you will be alerted instantly. You can view all your organized feedback on your listing report. You decide whether to share that feedback with your seller.

Streamlined reporting

Easily understand the outcome of your showing strategy, whether you have 1 or 100 listings. Keep tabs on your listing and showing trends over time. With easy-to-read reports, you can get a complete picture of your listing performance. Glean better insights to continuously evolve your listing strategy and set new best practices.

Homesnap Showings: Buyer’s Agents

Instant bookings

No need to make calls or wait to schedule a showing. Preset by the listing agent, all available times are presented for you to quickly select. If the property requires approval, the listing agent will be immediately notified upon your submission. Homesnap Showings will hold the calendar reservation even before approval to avoid double bookings.

Seamless agent communication

With Homesnap Messages, Showings keeps agents in-the-know. Once you submit your request, the listing agent will receive a notification — and as soon as they approve your request, you will be informed immediately!

Life can be messy. If you have an issue, need to reschedule, or just have a quick question, you can use Homesnap Messages to send the listing agent a note directly within the Homesnap app.

Customized itineraries

Plan the optimal day for a buyer. With itineraries, you customize the best experience for your client. Whether you plan a day to see 1 property or 10 properties, you have full control over your itinerary, even if one of the properties on your itinerary is managed with a different showing management tool. Your whole schedule, access details, and agent contact info will be in one place. Easily share the day you planned with your client and add non-showing related stops for a coffee or lunch to design a wonderful experience for your client.

Smart routing

Once you have built your itinerary and booked your showings, Homesnap Showings will automatically map out the best route to take. You can adjust and set the path you wish to take and share it with your client.

Easy feedback, better client collaboration

Within your itinerary dashboard, you can access easy-to-use feedback forms to let the listing agent know how your client felt about the property. Once your showing ends, you will receive automatic notifications that give you the option to work with your client and provide comments or interest level in the property. 

We hope you take advantage of this newest feature provided for you through your IRES MLS subscription!

Resources and Videos

Keep Organized with the New Tasks Feature

Originally Published on the FloPlan blog 11.02.2021

When a floor plan is needed for a property, that decision is made well before an agent reaches the property. With FlōPlan Tasks, agents will be able to start the floor plan creation process sooner to better fit scanning into their workflow.

A new task button will be added [feature published 11.18.2021] to the FlōPlan app’s main navigation, allowing users to see tasks that are assigned to them and review tasks they have assigned to others. Agents can add new tasks and reassign tasks to themselves or an invited collaborator. This is great for agents that like to delegate and keep an eye on the completion of the pre-listing process.

What Has Changed?

A new “tasks” icon will be included in the main menu of the FlōPlan app where this new feature can be used.

Why Did We Make These Changes?

A new tool needs to fit into the listing workflow to be effective. FlōPlan tasks fit into the pre-listing checklist by creating assignments in an easy to use list. FlōPlan can help agents get the task complete by managing and assigning the floor plan to be scanned right from the FlōPlan mobile app. Agents can keep a better view on tasks and monitor their progress.

What else?

FlōPlan Tasks are located in a new menu item on the main navigation.

  • The tasks tab allows users to see tasks that are assigned to them and also review tasks that they have assigned to others.
  • Agents can add new tasks
    • For each new task, the agent will put in an address
  • Next, choose the assignee from the options
    • Add new collaborator as assignee
    • Choose an existing collaborator
    • Choose themselves as assignee
  • Agents can reassign tasks
    • Select the task
    • Choose new assignee from the options:
      • Choose an existing collaborator
      • Choose themselves as assignee
      • Add a new collaborator as assignee
  • Agents can delete tasks
    • Select the task
    • Confirm deletion
    • Assignee is notified if current user does not equal assignee.

We’ve also updated onboarding for new users who choose listings to assign to collaborators during onboarding. Listings chosen and assigned will be automatically created as tasks.

Regional Government Affairs Update Novemberr 19, 2021 🍂

Welcome to the latest government affairs update. New City Council members are “drinking through a fire hose” and learning about their new jobs. As such, few councils are tackling complicated policy issues right now. Expect a lull for the holiday season before elected leaders get to work on big issues after the first of the year.

Best Regards,

Barbara Koelzer
Regional Government Director

Boulder County

Referendum Approved for Ballot:
The Boulder City Council has approved the certification of a referendum that will require Boulder voters to decide whether they want to repeal the annexation agreement approved in a 6-1 vote in September. The Council hasn’t yet decided how it will proceed moving forward.

The referendum was deemed sufficient on November 1 by the City Clerk’s Office with more than 5,700 signatures. Signature gatherers with Save South Boulder and PLAN-Boulder County were required to obtain at least 3,336 signatures.
The Council could repeal the CU South annexation agreement, however, that is unlikely because the City Council majority supports the annexation agreement, meant to guide flood mitigation and development on the 308-acre property owned by the University of Colorado Boulder. Alternatively, the Council could submit the referendum to a vote of Boulder’s electorate, either in the next municipal election or in a special election before that time.

Sources say the City Council will decide how to proceed sometime in December. The Council cannot make the decision ahead of Dec. 1 because there is an opportunity for people to challenge the sufficiency of the referendum signatures up until then.

Brockett Elected Mayor: Aaron Brockett was appointed mayor in a 6-3 vote. Bob Yates also expressed interest in the role but received three votes. Rachel Friend was unanimously appointed mayor pro tem. This will be the last time the Council elects a mayor. In 2023, the mayor will be selected by the electorate through ranked-choice voting.

Larimer County
Fort Collins
Ohlson Criticizes Land Use Code Recommendations: The Fort Collins City Council discussed the guiding principles and work plan for revisions to the Land Use Code as part of the Housing Strategic Plan on November 9.

The guiding principles for the project include:

  1. Increase overall housing capacity (market-rate and subsidized) and calibrate market-feasible incentives for Affordable Housing.
  2. Enable more affordability especially near high frequency/capacity transit and priority growth areas.
  3. Allow for more diverse housing choices that fit in with the existing context and/or future priority place types.
  4. Make the code easier to use and understand.
  5. Improve the predictability of the development permit review process especially for housing.

Kelly Ohlson lambasted the staff and consultant’s recommendations. He said, “I am disappointed in what we’ve been presented tonight. The quality of the work product is the worst I’ve ever seen.” Cost does not equal the price, he argued. That is “a basic economic fact that staff and consultants should know. If cost goes down, developers will still charge as much as they can get.” He claimed high density infill won’t be affordable. He said the result will be to “cram in more and more development with less and less scrutiny. A nightmare scenario. I was open to zoning changes but now there could be less scrutiny. It’s surreal.”

Ohlson added that “so-called streamlining of development review isn’t good for existing homeowners. The City must move away from stakeholders that are corrupt. In this case that is the developers. They will want less oversight, lower fees and less regulations. Stakeholders can’t just be economic vested interests – that is corrupt.” In his opinion, the Planning Department should represent average citizens. That is their job.”

The other Councilors didn’t comment on Ohlson’s critique. Tricia Canonico said, “We are headed in the right direction.” But she added that she doesn’t want to see accessory dwelling units (ADUs) used as short-term rentals.

Shirley Peel wondered, “How does supply and demand play into this?” Once Council approves the guiding principles consultant Peter Park said they will look at existing principles and existing policies and gaps between aspirations and regulations – do they support them or not? What can people afford and what do the regulations require?

Susan Gutowsky asked what staff knows about “cash-rich investors who flip homes and make them unaffordable. What can the code do to slow that process down?” She said the investors are impacting affordability in Fort Collins.

Mayor Jeni Arndt said she wants to see flexibility in the code. Fees need to be built in, especially increases in them) to financial assumptions. She liked the guiding principles; they square with what she hears in the community. Making the code easier to use and understand is good, more transparent.

Ohlson added that it must be legal to say that ADUs can’t be short-term rentals. He said he assumes “all these changes will equally apply to HOAs? Otherwise, equity talk is hollow.” Staff said the Land Use Code applies to all development. Ohlson added that he wants “uncertainty” in the code.

The project team anticipates beginning the Land Use Code drafting process in early 2022. There will be another Council work session to review the draft code prior to its adoption.

Affordable Housing Public Forum: The City of Loveland held a public forum to get input on affordable housing November 18. About 85 people participated, including staff. Mayor Jacki Marsh said the number of participants showed how important the issue is to citizens.
The forum started with short presentations by Alison Hade (Community Partnership Office), Jeff Feneis (Loveland Housing Authority) and Aspen Homes. Hade said the median home price in Loveland is $430,000 (according to the latest IRES data it is closer to $445,000) but added that a family with an income of 80 percent AMI can’t afford a home in that price range.

After the presentations participants were divided into groups and answered a series of three questions: 1) What is your experience with affordable housing in Loveland? 2) What are the challenges to affordable housing? And 3) What should the City’s role be relative to affordable housing.

The questions didn’t elicit any new insights into the issue of affordability or any new answers. One observer said the purpose of the forum was simply to blunt criticism that the City doesn’t engage its citizens, a complaint made often by Councilor Andrea Samson. A summary of the forum will be sent to the City Council.

Weld County
Olson Appointed to Transportation Group:
Johnny Olson, Greeley’s newest City Council member, was appointed to represent the City of Greeley on the North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization (NFRMPO). This is great news for Greeley. As the former head of CDOT’s Region 4, Olson is a transportation expert, and he will fight for highway and road funding for Greeley and other cities in Northern Colorado.

Pilot Program for Struggling Homeowners: The Colorado Sun reported there is a new pilot program to help homeowners make past-due mortgage payments. The program offers homeowners up to three months of payments.

The Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, or EMAP, has been in development since $10 billion in the American Rescue Plan was set aside by Congress in March for housing aid. The U.S. and Colorado already have a program for struggling renters.
Colorado’s share of the new federal Homeowner Assistance Fund is $175.1 million and the state’s Department of Local Affairs is using 10% for EMAP, according to State Division of Housing officials. 

“We will be closely watching the demand for this program in partnership with our local nonprofit administrators,” said State Director of Housing Recovery Sarah Buss. “The demand will help shape how the remaining federal funds are programmed to best serve Colorado homeowners.”

Buss said that EMAP is just one of several programs that the state Division of Housing is working on to distribute the federal money. “The other HAF programs must ultimately be submitted to the U.S. Treasury for final review and approval, after which DOH will work to roll out the other programs, in early 2022,” Buss said.

Help for homeowners was paused after new the federal relief package that was approved in December provided funding only for renters. The state’s program for homeowners ran out of money, so Colorado had to end the mortgage relief program for homeowners

NAR Says Housing is Infrastructure: The U.S. House of Representatives passed President Joe Biden’s signature Build Back Better plan Friday by a vote of 220-213. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

The roughly $1.75 trillion bill spares real estate investment from the most-feared taxes and includes key NAR priorities like investments in affordable housing and down payment assistance.
The roughly $1.75 trillion bill spares real estate investment from the most-feared taxes and includes key NAR priorities like investments in affordable housing and down payment assistance.

“Our advocacy operation is bipartisan and focused on the issues. Our goal was to ensure this legislation includes robust funding for affordable and fair housing and protects real estate investment from misguided and harmful new taxes,” says Shannon McGahn, chief advocacy officer for NAR. ”We are pleased that House lawmakers expanded affordable housing provisions from what was in the original framework, but this bill is far from final. Expectations are the Senate could remove some provisions to lower the price tag. We will continue to work with Congress to ensure the final bill is good for the real estate economy and consumers.”

Lawmakers are using a budget process known as reconciliation, which allows legislation to bypass the Senate filibuster and pass with 51 votes. But the process also limits provisions in the bill to items that change spending or revenues, preventing some policy priorities from being included.

Tax Provisions Spare Real Estate Investments

The House-passed bill is partially offset with new taxes on high-income individuals and businesses and new money for increased IRS enforcement, but the tax increases most likely to harm real estate investment were excluded.

“Some of the earlier tax proposals floated would have devastated the real estate sector, which makes up nearly one-fifth of the entire economy,” McGahn says. “This revised bill has no 1031 like-kind exchange limits, no capital gains tax increases, no change in step-up in basis, no tax on unrealized capital gains, no increased estate tax, no carried-interest provisions, and no 199A deduction limits.

“We worked for more than a year to educate lawmakers on these issues and launched a targeted Call For Action on taxes. The tax provision of this framework is testament to the effectiveness of our education campaign in Washington,” McGahn continues.

The plan also includes an increase in the state and local tax deduction limit. The current $10,000 SALT deduction cap would be raised to $80,000 through 2030.

Historic Investment in Affordable Housing

The House-passed bill also includes a $150 billion investment in affordable housing, a key NAR priority and focus of its advocacy efforts for the past year.

In addition, House leaders added back several programs not included in the original framework announcement, including $12 billion to expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and $6 billion for a new initiative, the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act. NAR is a supporter of both programs.

Under the revised bill, public housing and rental assistance get funding boosts. The bill would also create more than 1 million new affordable rental and single-family homes and invest in down payment assistance. The White House says the down payment assistance under the plan would allow “hundreds of thousands of first-generation homebuyers to purchase their first home and build wealth.”
The bill includes funding for the following programs in the housing section:

  • $65 billion for formula- and needs-based public housing programs.
  • $25 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program to construct and rehabilitate affordable homes for low-income families, and $750 million for a new Housing Investment Fund to leverage private-sector investments to create and preserve affordable homes.
  • $24 billion for housing choice vouchers and support services, including for individuals at risk of homelessness and for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • $10 billion to offer down payment assistance to first-generation home buyers, and $5 billion for a home loan program to subsidize 20-year mortgages for first-generation home buyers.
  • $5 billion to address lead paint and other health hazards in housing for low-income families.
  • $3.05 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program.
  • $3 billion for a new Community Restoration and Revitalization Fund offering competitive grants to local partnerships led by nonprofits for accessible housing and neighborhood revitalization initiatives.
  • $2 billion for rural rental housing to support new construction, the removal of safety hazards, and energy efficiency improvements.
  • $2 billion for a new grant program to make energy efficiency upgrades to affordable housing.
  • $700 million for the Fair Housing Initiatives Program and $100 million for the Fair Housing Assistance Program.

NAR Plays Critical Role

As negotiations continued in recent weeks, media reports suggested that housing provisions might be cut from the bill altogether.

In response, NAR CEO Bob Goldberg joined other housing leaders and key members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol Oct. 20 for a press conference calling for the inclusion of affordable housing provisions in the final bill.

”As a nation, we have to find ways to close the supply shortfall,” Goldberg said at the press conference. “Doing so will be particularly meaningful for lower-income households, millennials, and households of color.”

“We continued to press both publicly and privately for these provisions,” McGahn says. “Affordable housing is the key to unlocking prosperity for millions of Americans currently excluded from the American dream. This investment is critical for closing the racial homeownership gap and addressing income disparity. It opens up homeownership for first-generation and first-time buyers.”