Friday, August 20, 2010

Did you know? You don't need a landline for Qwest DSL service

I suspect that quite a few Coloradans keep their landline with Qwest because that landline carries their DSL service. Recently I found out that this is not necessary. I canceled my landline and still have DSL service from Qwest. Saved about $40 per month. Since I didn't want to lose my home phone number, I ported that number to one of the secondary phone lines at my company, where it forwards to my cell phone. I could have also ported it to a cell phone. They assigned a new phone number to my landline, then canceled the phone service, leaving only DSL service. It went very smoothly. People still call my old home phone number and they still reach me!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Generating solar power on a rainy day

I just checked my inverters and today (cloudy and rainy all day) my home system generated 13 kWH by 5 p.m. -- probably 15 kWH by sunset later.  A lot of people don't realize that PV works even without direct sunlight.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

My listing in Applewood, then one in Arvada, were hijacked for a rental scam

It has become common for Nigerian scammers to post rental offers on homes they don't own.  It seems that they find homes for sale online, then advertise them for rent at half the market value (e.g., $600 per month).  When you reply to their posting, you get this story about how they took a sudden job as a missionary in West Africa or some such lie, and they can't show you the house.  You're asked to fill out a rental application and send them two month's rent (by Western Union or Moneygram) and they'll then send you the keys.  The rental application provides enough information for identity theft on top of losing your money. This scam has been attempted on enough of my listings (four in the last year or so, two in the last two weeks) that I created a small sign that says "NOT FOR RENT" to hang from my yard sign as soon as I get the first call from a would-be renter who was smart enough to call me. I also ask the would-be renter to find the posting again and flag it as a scam.  I don't know if anyone actually fell victim to this scam, but would like to hear from anyone who has! Note: When you click on any posting on craigstlist, the following warning appears in a yellow box above the posting: "Beware any arrangement involving Western Union, Moneygram, wire transfer, or a landlord/owner who is out of the country or cannot meet you in person."  Too bad most people don't notice that warning...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Beware of robo-calls claiming to be from Coors Credit Union

Both my wife and I, within a couple hours of each other, received robo-calls to our Golden landlines from 207-289-2055 claiming to be from Coors Credit Union saying that due to several fraudulent attempts to access our account, our ATM cards had been deactivated.  We were told to press "1" to be connected to the "security department" at which point we were prompted to enter our 16-digit ATM card number and probably our PIN to "reactivate" our account.  This is a phishing scam, and neither Rita nor I fell for it, but if you have an ATM card, beware that you don't fall for it!  It's a sophisticated operation that matches phone numbers to local banking institutions.  I wonder whether they only launch these calls on weekends when they know victims can't contact their bank right away.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Great Opportunity for an Equine Veterinarian

Rita and I just returned from a weekend memorial service for my brother, Pete Smith, a well-known equine veterinarian who created what is arguably the best equipped rural equine facility in the country.  Now, the Milliron Clinic in Athens, Ohio, is in need of a new equine veterinarian to take over.  The facility and staff can't be matched anywhere.  To help the family find that new vet (who could start as a staff vet) I produced two videos while we were there.  One video is a 13-minute guided tour of the facility.  The other is a longer video of interviews with clients who are waiting for you to show up and saying how terrific the facility and staff are.  (Both are in Windows MovieMaker format.) Please share this with any equine vet you know who might be interested in this great career opportunity!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Will We See a Slump Now that the Tax Credit Deadline Has Passed? I Don't Think So.

Metrolist data for the first weekend in May provides an encouraging answer to the question that has been on all Realtors’ and sellers’ minds for months — would the housing market stall after the federal tax credit deadline of April 30th passed?


Keeping in mind that some contracts from Saturday and Sunday may not have been reported by Monday night (when I did my data gathering) here are the encouraging data: During the first weekend in May, 19 single-family Jeffco homes went under contract, including two million-dollar homes. The previous weekend, 40 went under contract, with the highest priced home listed at $775,000.

While this represented about a 50% decline in contracts from a week ago, it was actually higher than the first weekend of May 2009. During that weekend a year ago, 16 single-family homes went under contract.

But that was just Jeffco, which did better than the metro area as a whole versus last year. In the entire MLS last year, 107 single family homes went under contract that weekend, compared to only 85 single family homes going under contract last weekend. That’s a 21% decline, but not bad at all, considering how many homes sold last month.

But that was just single-family homes. Condos and townhomes are another story. The drop in sales for that sector is quite dramatic, although I’d point out that one weekend’s sales in this smaller market segment is not a good measure of the market. We should probably wait until mid-May or later to draw any conclusions, but here is the raw data.

During the first weekend of May a year ago, 29 condos (4 of them in Jeffco) went under contract and have since closed. This year, only 14 condos went under contract during the same weekend, none of them in Jeffco.

The poorer performance of condos and townhomes compared to single-family homes is understandable, given the fact that they are a common purchase for first-time homebuyers and there was a serious run on those listings during April. We should probably be pleased that there are even 50% as many of them selling this May versus last May, given last month’s sales activity.

One factor favoring home sales going forward is that many buyers not eligible for tax credits figured that prices would drop in May for those homes which didn’t sell by April 30th. They are now jumping into the market, targeting homes with major price reductions — and there are many such listings.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Do We Have to Put Up with Train Horns at All Hours?

After hearing a piece about "Quiet Zones" on NPR this past Saturdary morning, I googled "quiet zones on trains" and found this page on the Federal Railroad Administration's website.  I wonder whether we can implement horn-free zones here in Jeffco under this ruling instead of being wakened at all hours by these loud horns.  Here's the web page text -- go to the page itself at http://www.fra.dot.gov/Pages/1318.shtml for links within FRA's website giving more details:

Final Rule on the Use of Locomotive Horns at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings


In response to a legislative mandate, FRA has issued a Final Rule on the Use of Locomotive Horns at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings. This final rule, which requires that locomotive horns be sounded as a warning to highway users at public highway-rail crossings, took effect on June 24, 2005. The final rule provides an opportunity, not available until now, for thousands of localities nationwide to mitigate the effects of train horn noise by establishing new "quiet zones." The rule also details actions communities with pre-existing "whistle bans" can take to preserve the quiet they have become accustomed to.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Qwest DSL does not require having telephone service

Recently I asked Qwest a simple question -- Must I have a landline in order to have DSL?  The answer was "no", and I bet a lot of people are keeping their Qwest phone line because they don't know that.  You can save quite a bit of money ($30 per month or so, depending on options) by having Qwest discontinue your home phone service. If you have a cell phone, why not?

Anyone who calls your home phone number after you make this change will get a "disconnected" message instead of a "new number" message, so be prepared for that.  I found a way around that problem by "porting" my home phone number to one of the secondary numbers at Golden Real Estate and having it forward from there to my cell phone. 

Another consideration for me in not having a landline was my fax machine.  As far as I know, you can't fax using a cell phone.  The way I got around that is to scan outgoing documents to my laptop, then email them.  For incoming faxes, I have an efax number.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My real estate column this week profiles Steve Stevens of Golden

I'm really proud of this week's "Real Estate Today" column (published today in the Denver Post's Jeffco editions) because it profiles Steve Stevens and what he has done to push his home way past "net zero." 

Read it at http://www.jimsmithcolumns.com/.  It will inspire you to ask what YOU could do to improve the energy efficiency of your own home (and car!).

I'd love to hear your reaction to it.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Change of cell phone number

Greetings.  If you've been using my iPhone number, 720-273-3046, to call me instead of using my advertised number of 303-525-1851, please don't use that 720 number anymore.  Effective on Monday, Jan. 4th, I am porting 303-525-1851 to my iPhone account.  The 720 number will disappear, and there will be no forwarding information on it.  Thanks!