DREW, Denver Real Estate Watch, closes.
I am shutting down my blog, Denver Real Estate Watch.
With only one sponsor it does not make financial sense to continue to publish DREW, given the huge commitment of time and effort it requires.
It has been a privilege and an honor to report on the Denver-area real estate market for the past 6.5 years with DREW.
During that time, I published 2,948 posts on DREW.
I would like to thank the 806,703 unique visitors who have read posts on DREW during the past six years.
Those users resulted into 1.34 million sessions (visits) and 2.17 million page views, according to Google Analytics.
I would like to especially thank Lane Hornung for being a sponsor of DREW.
Lane is the CEO and founder of 8z Real Estate.
He has built not only one of the fastest growing real estate companies in the Denver area, but one of the fastest-growing companies based in Boulder. 8z made the Top Workplaces selected by the Denver Post in 2015 and 2016.
Lane not only understands all of the nuances of selling homes in hot and cold markets — he was a top real estate broker before his bootstrap launch of 8z in 2009 — he is smart, tech savvy and humble. A Colorado native, he is a former Marine helicopter pilot, holds an engineering degree from Stanford and a MBA in finance from the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Loyalty and ethics are built into his DNA.
When he first became a sponsor of DREW, I had to explain to people who Lane was.
When I say “Lane,” everyone in real estate knows who I am talking about.
Only a few others in real estate, such as Dee (Chirafisi) and Edie (Marks) have that kind of first-name recognition.
I also would like to thank a former sponsor Peter Lansing, founder and president of Universal Lending Corp.
When I was the Real Estate Editor of the Rocky Mountain News and the handwriting was on the wall months before the Rocky folded in February 2009, Peter and I talked about what my next career move would be when the oldest ongoing business in Colorado was no more.
(I like to say the Rocky survived the Civil War and the Great Depression, but couldn’t survive Craig’s List.)
Peter noted in the decades that I had covered real estate at the Rocky, quoting him as an expert on the housing market and mortgage rates, had given him credibility.
I had no problem using him as a source when I was at the Rocky. Peter called it as he saw it, whether the market was red-hot or ice-cold.
Like Lane, Peter also is highly ethical and an expert in his field.
Indeed, Universal Lending, at the direction of Peter, refused to make toxic, subprime mortgages that played a key role in the Great Recession, the first national housing downturn since the Great Depression.
Universal Lending would have made a ton of money by making those loans, but he turned down many offers, because he didn’t see how they would be anything but bad news for consumers.
After the Rocky closed, he and I met for lunch.
Peter said there were a lot of people posting articles about real estate online, but most of them had vested interests and lacked credibility.
He wanted me to continue to do what I had done at the Rocky, with ULC as the sponsor.
I asked him if I could speak to other lenders.
“I insist on it,” he replied. “I don’t want this to be the marketing arm for Peter Lansing or Universal Lending.”
Thus, Inside Real Estate News, which later I renamed as Denver Real Estate Watch, or DREW, was born.
Before IREN was launched, I facilitated a meeting between Peter and John E. Freyer, Jr., the president of Land Title Guarantee Co., and LTGC joined Universal Lending as one of my original sponsors.
In addition to Lane and Peter, I would like to thank many people who generously provided their time and insights that contributed to the success of DREW over the years.
At the top of the list is independent broker Gary Bauer.
I’ve known Gary since he joined Perry & Butler as an executive in 1994.
Gary provides the same authoritative, sober-look at real estate data and trends as Dennis Hipp and Charlie Carter did when they owned Perry & Butler.
Gary’s analysis always is accompanied with the “half-glass full” perspective, rather than the dire, sky-is-falling prognosis.
While many journalists treasure cynicism above all else, I believe for professionals in the cyclical real estate industry, it is important to look for the positive, rather than dwell on the downside.
I wish more people, like me, had the chance to know Dennis Hipp and Charlie Carter, who sold Perry & Butler in 2001.
They, like, Gary, were class acts.
Of course, I couldn’t have written DREW without the help of knowledgeable real estate brokers.
Plenty of people contributed to DREW
In no particular order, just a few brokers whose perspectives have proved valuable to DREW over the years, include: Peter Niederman, Chris Mygatt, Anthony Rael, Lydia Lin, Ryan Carter, Jeff Plous, Deviree Vallejo, John Skrabec, Chris Behrens, Joshua Hunt, Jenny Apel, Steve Blank, Tom Cryer, Steve Danyliw, Jason Miller, Leslie Resnick, Karen Levine, and of course, Dee and Edie.
I also would like to thank a number of politicians who always took my calls, including Gov. John Hickenlooper, Mayor Michael B. Hancock, and all of the members of the Denver City Council I reached out to, with a special shout-out to Rafael Espinoza and his predecessor, Susan Shepherd.
A number of non-brokers, some in real estate and others outside of the field, also were helpful, providing counsel and encouragement.
They include Paul Suter, Wendy Aiello, Hilarie Portell, Rob Reuteman, Bill Scanlon, Don Knox, S. Robert August, Steve Caulk, Tom Schilling, Lu Stasko, Erika Gonzalez, Sundari Elizabeth Kraft, Deborah Shipley, Gil Rudawsky, Tom Clark, Kimberly Drake Rebchook, Dr. Allen Rebchook, Andrea Burns, Basha Cohen, Joe Rassenfoss, Ellen Jaskol, Alana Watkins, Chris Walsh, Mike Romano, Rachel Brand, Dana Coffield, Kristi Arellano, (the late) Lynde McCormick, Deb Goeken, John Temple, Jon Talton, Shel Gonzales, Heather Draper, Marty Schechter, Saul Rosenthal, Michael Burke and, of course, Gunner.
I also want to thank Jill Mugge, owner of JMG Marketing Group, who designed DREW for me.
Dave Barnes calls it like he sees it
A special thanks goes to Dave Barnes. Dave posted 1,118 comments out of the 7,722 comments on DREW, far more than anyone else.
He never hesitated to point out a mistake by me, whether it was a typo or if I used the word “data” as a singular noun instead of plural noun.
Dave also was not shy of sharing his opinion on a multitude of issues. Indeed, he criticized me for being a newspaperman who strived to be balanced in his coverage.
You get more clicks, he told me, by taking controversial positions and stirring things up.
What am I going to do next, with DREW in my rearview mirror?
I will continue to work part-time for Jon Stern at the Colorado Real Estate Journal, where I cover multifamily, retail and finance. (Because I will continue to cover commercial real estate, I did not acknowledge professionals in that sector.)
I also expect to continue to write freelance articles on real estate and other business topics. It’s also not out of the realm of possibilities that I may resurrect DREW at some point, perhaps as more of a blog that advocates and spotlights smart and sustainable developments and developers.
Now, a bit about me
As I wind down this self-indulgent missive, I would like to say that I have been in a unique and privileged position to follow real estate, and thus the economy, not only at DREW, but at the Rocky Mountain News.
When I was first interviewed for a reporting job at the Rocky, I was expecting to cover the second Mayor Federico Peña administration, as in the past, in suburban Chicago and El Paso, I had primarily covered local politicians, neighborhood issues, crime and human interest stories. I had scant business experience.
In other words, no newspaper in the country would hire me today as a business reporter with that kind of background.
But when the commercial real estate reporter at the Rocky unexpectedly quit on a Friday in September 1983, I was asked if I would like to cover that beat when I started on Monday.
A dream come true, I said.
When I got off the phone, I asked myself: “What in the heck is commercial real estate?”
In addition to covering all aspects of real estate, at different times at the Rocky I also covered the airlines, banking, economic development, finance, cable TV and workplace issues. I also wrote dozens of stories on hi-tech and energy.
I couldn’t have asked for a more comprehensive career.
It has been a privilege to use lessons learned at the Rocky and apply them to DREW.
Indeed, for those with an institutional memory, one of the reasons I decided to shut DREW on a Tuesday, was because for years Tuesday was the traditional real estate news day at the Rocky.
I look forward to the next chapter of my life and keeping in touch with many of the sources and friends I have made over the years at the Rocky and DREW.
Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com. DenverRealEstateWatch.com is sponsored by 8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.