On the Market: Bank of the West names McCollum as manager

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John McCollum, a longtime South Routt resident, has been promoted to Branch Manager for Bank of the West in Steamboat Springs. In his new role, McCollum is responsible for maintaining and developing the bank’s vision of a community bank.

McCollum has more than 16 years of banking experience and joined Bank of the West in 2010. A resident of Routt County, he is a 1995 graduate of Soroco High School.

Bank of the West is located at 555 Lincoln Ave. and is one of 90 Bank of the West locations in Colorado.

5 building permits issued for 1st 6 months of year

The largest single building permit issued in Steamboat Springs Aug. 1 to 5 is for a single-family home on Ridge Road with a permit valuation of $976,800.

The contractor is Zephyr Companies LLC.

The valuation of that single home is significant in relation to the six-month report just released by the Routt County Regional Building Department for spanning the first half of the year. The report shows a total of five permits issued in that period for a combined valuation of $1.158 million, the lowest in nine years.

The first six months of 2010 saw four permits for a combined valuation of $1.385 million. In contrast, the first half of 2009 looked relatively rosy with five permits issued with a valuation of $5.3 million.

The go-go years of 2006 and 2007 each saw 21 permits issued in the first half of the year with combined valuations each year of about $12.8 million. The biggest six months in the last nine years for single-family home construction were in 2004 when 28 home starts were permitted for $13.9 million.

July 2011 saw just one single-family home with a valuation of $92,000 permitted in the city limits.

Fixed mortgage rates continuing to tumble

Fixed mortgage rates fell near-record lows Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Freddie Mac said the average rate for the 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 4.32 percent this week from 4.39 percent. The 30-year loan hit a record low of 4.17 percent in mid-November.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinancing option, fell to a record low of 3.50 percent, from last week’s record rate of 3.54 percent.

Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. A weakening U.S. economy has led many investors to shift money from stocks to bonds, which are seen as safer bets. That has pushed Treasury yields to historic lows.

In theory, low mortgage rates should provide a boost to the troubled housing market. But rates have been below 5 percent for nearly two years and haven’t helped home sales that much.

Rates on a 30-year fixed loan were near 6.5 percent five years ago and higher than 8 percent in 2000.

Sales of previously occupied homes fell in June for a third straight month to a seasonally adjusted 4.77 million nationally. The pace is lagging behind the 4.91 million homes sold last year — the fewest since 1997.

New-home sales also declined in June and are trailing last year’s sales, which were the worst on records dating back nearly half a century.

Many people can’t take advantage of the low mortgage rates. Banks are insisting on higher credit scores and larger down payments from applicants. Others have too little equity invested in their homes to qualify for loans.

Historically low rates have helped fuel another boom in refinancing, though.

Applications jumped nearly 22 percent last week from the week before, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Refinancing made up more than 75 percent of all mortgage activity, the group said. That’s up from 70 percent the previous week and the highest level of refinancing this year.

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