Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I am moving to a WordPress blog

Until recently, I posted all my "Real Estate Today" content to this blog on 

The URL, until now, has been forwarded to this blog, whose "real" URL is

As of today, I am forwarding to a WordPress blog whose "real" URL  is

This blog will stay live for archival purposes, but all future posts will be on the WordPress blog, and people who click on will go to that blog instead of here.  

Thanks for reading my posts!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

When It Comes to Real Estate Statistics, We Should Think “Median” not “Average”

Excuse me for getting a little nerdy here, but it’s important to know the difference between “median” and “average” when studying the real estate market, and here’s why.

Let’s say an area has five home sales: one at $300,000, a second at $325,000, a third at $330,000, a fourth at $400,000 and a fifth at $1.2 million.  The average sale price would be $511,000, a huge increase over the previous year when all the sales were under $400,000. The median sale price would be $330,000, because half the sales were under that price and half were over.

Now let’s look at “Days on Market.” Let’s say those five homes took 1, 2, 5, 7, and 150 days to go under contract. The average days on market would have been 33, while the median would have been only 5 days. Which is more useful?

These two hypothetical scenarios are precisely what we’re seeing in the real estate market. Luxury homes are selling much more quickly than they have in years past,  inflating the average sales price, whereas the median sales price by definition discards both the lowest and highest data points, providing a more accurate picture of what’s happening in the market.

At right is a chart comparing 2017 average days on market to median days on market.   Homes that take a long time to sell -- particularly in the current market -- are almost invariably overpriced.  The amount of time these homes languish on the market artificially increases the average days on market. The median days on market is a much better reflection of the market.

Despite this, statisticians and market analysts keep reporting changes in the average sales price or the average days on market instead of giving us the more meaningful median statistics.

It's Thanksgiving, and I'm Thankful for Many Things and Many People

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday – a non-denominational opportunity to reflect on the past year and our current situation.

I subscribe to the teaching that what we dwell on affects what we draw unto ourselves. For example, if we think we might fail at a task, we are more likely to fail, but if we think we’ll succeed, we’re more likely to succeed. Some people refer to this as the “law of attraction.”

That’s why I like Thanksgiving, because it causes me to dwell on what I’m thankful for – not my regrets, not my failures, not what went wrong, but what went right and the good people in my life.

Well, I have a lot to be thankful for!

First of all, I’m thankful to be married to Rita, who always thinks positively and now shares her positive energy with me and the broker associates at Golden Real Estate as our office manager.  Her positive orientation is evident in our house, where she has such phrases as “How Does It Get Any Better Than This?” and “What Else is Possible?” printed on our family room wall.  How did I get so lucky as to attract this woman into my life?  I’m forever grateful for that!

Rita and I have no children together, but we have three “adopted daughters” — three women who consider us “Mama Ri” and “Papa Jim.”  Thank you, Kristin in Kansas City, Ashley in Centennial, and Benedikte in Seattle, for honoring us with your love.

Secondly, I’m thankful for our great broker associates at Golden Real Estate.  In order of seniority, they are:

JimSwansonJim Swanson, who worked beside me at Coldwell Banker and RE/Max Alliance before joining Golden Real Estate when Rita and I founded it in 2007.  He’s our native Goldenite, living ½ mile from our office.

web_smallCarrie Lovingier lived in Golden when she joined us as Carrie Ackley soon after our founding. She married a high school sweetheart, Brady, and lives with him and his sons in Evergreen now – she’s our foothills anchor.

Cropped 2016 pictureKristi Brunel is from Wisconsin but met her soul mate, Kenny, on the ski slopes of Colorado, marrying into that legendary “old Golden” family. Kristi and I met through Leadership Golden, and I was honored that she wanted to begin her real estate career with us.  As an owner, along with Kenny and her father-in-law, of numerous rentals, she’s a resource to me and her clients as an expert in buying investment properties.

Leo_Face_Shot_with_Glasses_-_04-17-2016_1668_1_25Leo Swoyer came to us as a new Realtor after a long career as a licensed appraiser specializing in mountain properties. His expertise in valuing properties and his knowledge of mountain properties has benefited us on many occasions.

photoChuck Brown was an independent broker with Metro Brokers in Denver, but he lives on Lookout Mountain, so he was attracted to joining Golden Real Estate as a broker associate. He is our Denver specialist and continues to list many Denver homes and serve Denver buyers as well as here in Jeffco.

David's head shots 003David Dlugasch was broker/owner of his own real estate company in Crested Butte, but chose to join Golden Real Estate when he moved to Arvada to be closer to his daughter’s family in the Village of Five Parks. He says that reading my newspaper columns was a factor is deciding to join us. Thanks for the compliment, David!

Susan DixonI met Susan Dixon at the Colorado Environment Film Festival. Her commitment to sustainability drew her to leave her previous brokerage and join Golden Real Estate. She lives in Arvada.

Andrew LeskoAndrew Lesko transferred to Golden Real Estate so he could specialize in Golden area condos and townhomes. We were so impressed by his research on this topic and his creation of that it was a no-brainer to welcome him into our fold!

NormKowitzNorm Kowitz serves with Kristi Brunel on the board of directors of the Christian Action Guild, and I met him when he represented a buyer for one of my listings. He, too, was attracted by this newspaper column and before long he became a great copy editor for me. Thanks, Norm, for joining us!

These broker associates provide a depth and breadth of expertise, but they all share a commitment to our values of integrity, service and sustainability, and I couldn’t be prouder to be associated with them.

Next, I am thankful for you, our readers, who turn to us every week for advice, which we are happy to provide, whether or not you hire us for the sale and/or purchase of real estate.  Thank you for your confidence in us.

Realtor pinNext, I’m thankful for the National Association of Realtors and our local association, the Denver Metro Association of Realtors. Not all licensed agents choose to join NAR and DMAR, but they all benefit from these organizations’ work to protect home ownership and our industry. I’m proud to say that Golden Real Estate is a Realtor brokerage, and all our agents are Realtors.

I’m also thankful for our local MLS and its CEO, Kirby Slunaker, who has shepherded the organization to a level of service and effectiveness which I couldn’t have imagined just five years ago. Our MLS has a great website, and now we are about to merge with the northern Colorado MLS, called IRES, to create an even stronger and better MLS. I’m proud to serve on the Rules & Regulations Committee of REcolorado.

Regular readers know of my commitment not just to sustainability but also to the adoption of electric vehicles.  I am so thankful that EVs are going mainstream and that multiple countries (France, China, Norway and the UK, among others) are speeding the end of internal combustion-powered automobiles. I predicted this revolution a couple years ago, but this year’s developments in that regard surprised even me.

Rotary Club of Golden Logo
We should all be thankful for the various service organizations which contribute so much to society— Rotary, Lions, Sertoma, Optimists, Kiwanis, and others. Rotary, for example, is singularly responsible for the eradication of polio. The Lions Clubs, inspired in 1925 by Helen Keller, have worked on projects to prevent blindness, restore eyesight and improve eye care for millions of people worldwide. The Optimists are all about serving youth. Here in Golden, they have a “bicycle recycle” program that has provided free or inexpensive bicycles to those who couldn’t afford them. Sertoma (short for “Service to Mankind”) is devoted to serving those at risk of hearing loss.

Service clubs in America are in decline, although I’m pleased to report that both the Golden Rotary Club and Golden Lions Club are experiencing a surge in membership this year. (Rita and I are Rotarians, and I’m a Lion.) If voluntarism is in your heart, I urge you to check into one of these clubs in your community, all of which welcome you as their guest at one of their meetings.

I don’t have room to mention all of the organizations or people for whom I am thankful, but let me mention one more — our local chambers of commerce. Golden Real Estate is pleased to be a member of the West Chamber serving Jefferson County and the Golden Chamber of Commerce, on whose board of directors I serve. These organizations play an important role is promoting a healthy business environment in the communities they serve. Legislators benefit from their advice and feedback regarding bills affecting business. All businesses should consider joining their local chamber and participate in their events.

8WWLogo copyLastly, on a personal note, Rita and I are eternally thankful to have connected with Body in Balance Wellness Center, where our health and fitness benefited from their “8 Weeks to Wellness” program — a real life changer!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

If You’re Into Horses, You’ll Like This Book — About My Brother

My brother, Pete Smith, was a highly respected and greatly loved veterinarian who built his own big-animal practice and clinic in Athens County, Ohio, but he earned his DVM degree in Fort Collins, at CSU in 1961.

I thought I knew Pete well, but my respect and admiration for him grew tremendously from reading this biography by Gina McKnight.

When it was announced that this book was being written, I thought it was a nice memorial to my brother, but after reading the stories of his service to clients, I realized this book would be of interest to a much wider audience — in particular anyone who loves horses and values the work of a remarkable veterinarian.
Pete’s love of horses was matched by his love of logging and sawmills. In addition to building his own clinic on his Milliron farm, he also built a lumber mill, and used the sawmill to process logs that he cut on his expansive land holdings north of Athens, Ohio. It was while he was logging by himself that he misjudged how to cut a big tree and was critically injured by it. After a month or two in intensive care, his heart gave out.

Pete had had so many near-death experiences that family members like myself didn’t take the news of his accident as seriously as we should have, but we traveled from Colorado, Sweden and Maine to attend his standing room-only memorial service. That, too, is documented in this well researched and well written book that you can buy (in paperback, $15) at It’s a worthy tribute to my brother, but also a great read for horse lovers.

Why Do We Refer to 110-Volt and 220-Volt Electricity, When It’s Actually 120 and 240?

I’m not an electrician, although I’ve done my share of DIY home wiring over the years. Ever since I started driving electric cars, which utilize  240-Volt charging stations, I’ve been curious why REcolorado (Denver’s MLS) refers to 110-Volt and 220-Volt service instead of 120-Volt and 240-Volt service. And they’re not alone in doing so.

Recently I asked someone at Xcel Energy to explain this dichotomy. What I was told was that 120 volts became the standard as a result of the Rural Electrification Act in 1930.  As for how you get  240-volt service, it’s created when two 120-volt lines of opposite phase are combined.

Nevertheless, most Americans continue to refer to electricity as being 110 or 220 volts, even though those voltages no longer exist and haven’t for nearly a century in the United States.

Using a voltmeter, I verified that my own home’s outlets are running 120 volts and 240 volts.

What Due Diligence Should You Do When Buying a Home?

Here’s some advice I give to buyers I work with:

1) Do the home inspection immediately, so that you have time to do secondary inspections. These could relate to electrical, mold or plumbing issues identified by your inspector. Ask about our trusted inspectors.

2) Order a sewer scope, even for a newer home. It’s $100 well spent, because it could identify issues that cost thousands to fix.

3) If buying a home with an HOA, read the minutes of the board meetings, looking for controversies or recurring issues. We have agents with special expertise in studying HOA financials for our buyers.

4) Look for neighbors — they can tell you a lot!

Broomfield Condo Just Listed by David Dlugasch

1158 Opal St. #102, Broomfield
Narrated video tour at

This lovely first floor, end-unit condo features two large bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and a great location that faces open space with walking trails. It has new carpet, new laminate wood floors, and two decks. The master suite has a large walk-in closet. In addition to this unit’s 1-car detached garage with opener, there is plenty of other open parking. Enjoy the clubhouse with fitness room and outdoor pool. The Miramonte Ranch complex is within walking distance of shopping and bike trails and benefits from top-rated schools. Take a narrated video tour at the website above, then call David Dlugasch at 303-908-4835 for a private showing.