Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Gas-Powered Automobile Is Obsolete, But the Public Doesn’t Realize It Quite Yet

[Published May 29, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section]

Now that I’ve put 36,000 miles on my Chevy Volt and 7,000 miles on my Tesla Model S, it is clear to me that within a few years the public will prefer electric cars over gas cars because of their power and efficiency. 

My Tesla weighs 2½ tons, yet its battery pack and 350-HP electric motor propel the car from zero to 60 mph in 4 seconds with a range of 265 miles on a single charge.  I can drive it coast-to-coast, recharging it for free during meal stops at Tesla’s supercharging stations located every 50 to 100 miles along the interstates.  (These already exist in Lone Tree, Silverthorne, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction and Cheyenne next to restaurants and shopping malls.)

Come to Golden Real Estate’s parking lot during the June 7th Super Cruise where we will have over 20 different electric and plug-in cars, bikes and motorcycles on display. Their owners, including me, will be there to answer your questions. And look for my blog posts on this topic.

Remodeling? Let Habitat for Humanity Do the Demolition

[Published May 29, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]


Here’s a money-saving idea that will also help others.  Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver has “deconstruction” teams that will come to your home and remove those old countertops, cabinets, sinks and appliances for you and give you a tax receipt too! Call Corey Biechele at 303-960-4811.

Senior Tax Exemption Penalizes Downsizing

[Published May 29, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section]

Since 2001, seniors who have owned and lived in their Colorado home for at least 10 years have enjoyed for a discount on their property taxes — when the state budget allows for it.  For the current tax year, the exemption applies to 50% of the home’s actual value up to $200,000. To qualify, a senior must be 65 or over for the entire tax year and must have lived in (and owned) the property as his/her primary residence for 10 years prior to that tax year. A surviving spouse of a senior who previously qualified also qualifies for this “homestead exemption.”

What I have never liked about this exemption is that it penalizes a senior who makes a reasoned decision to sell their long-time family home and downsize.  That senior’s property tax burden could increase if he/she sold a too-big home for a right-size home with a lower valuation. How fair is that? 

Years ago, I spoke with legislators about amending this provision of our constitution to encourage rather than penalize downsizing and was told that such a change would not pass. (It would have to be a constitutional amendment.)

It should be noted that under this law, the local jurisdictions still receive the full property tax for qualifying properties, because the state pays the exempted amount.  That’s why the General Assembly can vote to suspend the exemption in a year when the budget can’t support its cost.

Just Listed: Dory Lakes Ranch on 1.12 Acres

[Published May 29, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

 
1347 Highpoint Circle, Black Hawk
$215,000
 
    If mountain living is more your style, you’ll appreciate this Dory Lakes ranch with oversized heated 2-car garage on a 1.12-acre lot. There is also a large utility shed. The adjoining 1.42-acre lot is also for sale for just $55,000. You’ll appreciate Gilpin County’s low property taxes thanks to that county’s casinos. This cozy mountain retreat has many updates, including a new roof, newer windows and newer deck. The home is close to the rec center, school, ball fields, state parks and fishing. 
 For a private showing, call broker associate Carrie Lovingier, 303-907-1278.
 

Just Listed: Patio Home in Arvada's Whisper Creek

[Published May 29, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]


13862 W. 87th Drive, Arvada
$595,000
Looking for a maintenance-free ranch-style patio home near open space? This home, backing to a greenbelt with a bike/pedestrian path leading to park and open space, may be what you're looking for! Enjoy the high and vaulted ceilings throughout this near-new home in Whisper Creek. The kitchen will appeal to you with its hardwood floor, counter-depth French-door refrigerator, upgraded lighting, 42-inch cabinetry with knobs & pulls, and large eating area. With a HERS rating of 65, this home is highly efficient, too.
Take a narrated video tour at WhisperCreekHome.info. 
 


Sunday, May 25, 2014

If You Have a Hard-to-Sell Home, Now Is the Time to Put it on the Market

[Published May 29, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

In “normal” times, some homes are harder to sell than others.  However, these are not normal times.  Homes which would normally be hard to sell can sell quickly now. My message to sellers is simple: “Make hay while the sun shines!”

Last week I featured a home next to I-70.  [See blog post below.] In the past I would have expected such a home to sit on the market for a long time, as buyers went for other homes with little or no traffic noise.  But this is not the past.

Nowadays, there is such a shortage of listings and such an abundance of buyers that buyers are being much less picky. That house next to I-70 was priced above what it will probably appraise for, and yet it attracted multiple offers before I could even hold Saturday’s open house. All those offers were over full price, too.  [It is now under contract.]

Homes have other negatives besides highway noise.  Perhaps the house is closed to a power line, or the adjoining properties are unattractive or the driveway is steep and north facing.  There are lots of reasons why buyers might have looked elsewhere in the past, but those considerations are out the window, because the typical buyer has lost out on offers to buy other homes and is willing to accept conditions which might have turned him or her off in earlier times.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Just Listed: Brick Ranch in Applewood with RV Parking and Workshop

[Published May 22, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]


2142 Beech Court, Golden
$300,000
This meticulously maintained and super-clean home sits on a large lot with cedar privacy fence, 10’x16’ workshop, oversized 1-car garage plus generous off-street parking big enough for an RV. You’ll appreciate the hardwood floors and updated kitchen with Corian countertops.  Vinyl windows with a lifetime transferable warranty were installed in 2005-2008, including for the basement windows. With its fully finished basement, this home has five bedrooms, three bathrooms and 2,612 finished square feet. Take the narrated video tour at www.Applewood-Home.info, then come to our open house, this Saturday, 1-4 pm.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Here Are Some Ways Real Estate Agents Can Save Money — at Clients’ Expense

[Published May 22, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section. An abbreviated version also appeared in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers.]

Like all business persons, we Realtors need to be smart about our spending, but the money-saving practices of some listing agents can impact the quality of service received by their sellers.

1) Don’t join a Realtor association. Joining the National Association of Realtors is optional — sort of.  If an agent joins a firm which is a member of the local Realtor association (in our case, the Denver Metro Association of Realtors or DMAR), he too has to join the association. Only members of a Realtor association can call themselves a “Realtor,” which is a trademark. This costs about $500 per year.  Many agents save money by joining non-Realtor brokerages such as Your Castle Services or Brokers Guild Classic.

Not being a Realtor saves the agent money and doesn’t really cost the client in any major way, now that non-Realtors can have their listings appear on both the MLS and on Realtor.com.  But I feel it is important for agents to support their trade association, which fights in Washington (and locally) for property rights, the mortgage interest deduction and countless other issues which benefit our clients.  And an agent who saves money on dues may be scrimping in other ways which do have an impact on the service to their clients.  Such as…

2) Don’t use Centralized Showing Service.  This service is a god-send to agents but also to their clients.  It costs $35 for each listing, but there is no better way to serve the showing needs of our clients. They are open 7 days a week, including most holidays, answering phones and setting appointments from 8 am to 9 pm (6pm on Sundays). Showings can also be set 24/7 on their website. They have great feedback systems, too, and can work with the special needs of any and all sellers, such as no showings during “nap time.”  I love it, and find it can be frustrating when an agent saves this expense by listing their private number for showings and I can’t be sure I’ll get a timely response to my showing request.

3) Don’t give out your cell number or include it on the MLS.  In this business you hurt your seller if you can’t be reached at all reasonable hours by them or by interested buyers. I feel strongly that all agents should have smartphones with unlimited calling, texting and data so they are as reachable as possible.

4) Take off evenings and weekends.  Okay, maybe I’m a workaholic, but if I’m going to make a healthy commission on my listings, I think I owe it to my seller to be reachable after 5 pm and on weekends. I understand that agents with families want to have “balance” in their lives, but I think you can live a balanced life and still answer your cell phone when it rings with a call from your client or a prospective buyer.

5) Keep listings off the MLS so that you make double the commission.  I’ve written about “pocket listings” before. If the motive for keeping a listing from other agents is to make more commission for yourself, you are putting your interest above your clients, which is illegal and unethical. Only by putting a listing on the MLS does it open up the possibility of competing offers.

6) Don’t use CTM eContracts.  What a blessing this service is!  Fortunately, most agents now subscribe to this service, even though it costs about $300 per year.  My only complaint is when agents allow clients to click on “font” signatures. It’s so easy to have them sign by mouse, finger or stylus so that you can know they actually signed it themselves.

At Golden Real Estate, We Like Going the Extra Mile

[Published May 22, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section]

In this week's column I wrote about the basics. But there’s more to earning our commissions than simply not being cheap.  At Golden Real Estate, we like to go beyond that, finding new ways to earn clients’ business, often at additional expense.

1) We provide a free moving truck and free moving boxes. We get used boxes from clients after they unpack and make them available free to future clients.  We also provide our truck free to the clients of other agents if they purchase one of our listings. (Our truck likes to go the extra mile, too!)

2) We don’t just take good photographs, we take HDR photographs so that every element of every photo (including windows) is properly exposed.  (See an earlier blog post with examples of HDR vs. non-HDR photos.)  We also shoot narrated video tours of every listing and post that video on YouTube.

3) We buy URLs for each listing so that buyers can get additional information by going to an easy-to-remember website.

4) Our “for sale” signs hang from attractive wooden sign posts with solar-powered lighting.

5) We provide free staging consultations so that every listing shows well to prospective buyers.

 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Whether Buying or Selling, Navigating This Market Requires Expertise

[Published May 15, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section. An abbreviated version also appeared in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers.]

If you’re thinking it’s a great time to take up real estate as a profession, think again. This is not an easy time to be new in this business.  Whether I’m listing a home or helping someone to buy a home, today’s market is calling on all of my skills and expertise, and I’m glad not to be a newbie in this profession!

Let’s look at the listing side first.  As I’ve written before, you can’t underprice a home now, but you can certainly overprice a home.  When you underprice a home (however you and the seller choose to determine that) competitive offers will bring the price up and you may sell the home for more than if you priced it “right” and got maybe one offer — or no offer at all.

The trick is to determine what price is overpriced, and which price is just right to attract multiple offers. That’s where experience comes into play.  I know that I wouldn’t have been as good at this business when I was starting out 11 years ago.  Now that I’m a managing broker, I enjoy coaching my broker associates on how to find that “sweet spot” when it comes to pricing a home for sale.

Once you’ve priced the home right, you then need to evaluate competing offers and play them against each other to your client’s best advantage.  It’s not just a matter of accepting the best price.  It could involve convincing the strongest buyer to waive appraisal even if they are taking out a mortgage.  You might be wondering, “How can you waive appraisal if the lender requires an appraisal?”  Waiving appraisal does not mean your lender doesn’t order an appraisal, it just means you waive the right to terminate the contract if the home does not appraise.  It commits you to bringing additional cash to the closing if that happens.  And it’s quite common nowadays for homes to sell for more money than can be justified by an appraiser.

Now let’s look at the buyer’s side. If a buyer submits an over-full-price offer which waives appraisal, that goes a long way toward being the winning bidder.

But there are other areas that can be utilized by an experienced agent to win the day for their buyer in a competitive situation.

I’ve written before about Golden Real Estate’s moving truck as a tool to use in winning a bid, by offering the truck (and even free labor) to the seller, as an incentive to select our buyer over another buyer.  In fact, in a recent closing, the seller told me that it was a deciding factor in choosing our buyer over another buyer.

Escalation clauses are always a good strategy in a competitive situation, but you need to know how to use them. Experience has taught me not to provide a maximum up to which the buyer will go.  If the seller comes back with an amount that’s too high, the buyer doesn’t need to accept it.

Some buyers think that they can get a better deal or a better chance of being selected by not having an agent on their side, but that only means that the listing agent makes more money, not necessarily that the seller nets more money on the transaction. You’re much better off having an experienced negotiator on your side.

Also, only an agent has access to sold statistics on the MLS to help assess the value of the property you are bidding on.  And your agent needs to be a member of the Realtor association — not all agents are — because only Realtors have access to the Realtor Property Resource or “RPR,” which has terrific tools for determining the value of any listing anywhere in the country.

Golden Real Estate Welcomes 2 New Agents

[Published May 15, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section]

Leo Swoyer has been a licensed real estate appraiser for 11 years but found he prefers to assist buyers and sellers in the purchase and sale of real estate.  We are happy to have a team member with appraisal experience.  Also, his wife Jing is a native of China and helps other agents communicate with Chinese buyers.

 



 


Chuck Brown (right) lives on Lookout Mountain and was formerly an independent with the Metro Brokers of Cherry Creek.  He has 16 years real estate experience and enjoys working with buyers and sellers all across the metro area.  Chuck says, "I'm excited to join an office with the high professional standards of Golden Real Estate."

  

Jeffco’s Largest Community Garage Sale Is This Saturday

[Published May 15, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

 
    Jim Smith is happy to sponsor a Mountain Ridge community garage sale every year. This year’s sale is on Saturday, May 17th, and you can see what’s being sold at each address by visiting the website I created for it at http://www.GoldenGarageSale.com. Maps will also be available at the subdivision’s entrance.
 
 
 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Seller’s Market Keeps Outdoing Itself — Just Look at These Charts

[Published May 8, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section. A truncated version also appeared in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers.]

Month after month the statistics of this real estate market have been jaw-dropping.  Sellers have responded to the call and put their homes on the market, but not as fast as buyers have been snapping them up. These charts showing five-year statistics through the end of April tell the story better than words can express!  (Source: Metrolist, LLC)

Number of Active Listings Are at an All-Time Low...
 
 
... Despite a Big Surge in New Listings!
 
 
Average Number of Days on Market is Down...

 
... But Look at the Median Days on Market!

 
The Number of Homes Sold Per Month Is the Highest It Has Been in 5 Years...

 
... Bringing the Supply of Active Listings Down to 1 Month!

 
The Average Ratio of Sold to Original Listing Price Approaches 100%....

 
... But the Average Ratio of Sold to Current Listing Price Is Already There!



3 Great Properties Just Listed by Golden Real Estate

[Published May 8, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

 
$495,000
 
This spacious townhome at 1024 Cottonwood Circle is across from Harmony Village and the Fossil Trace Golf Club, close to walking trails, Colorado School of Mines and downtown Golden. The main level has an open floor plan, with vaulted ceiling and cozy gas fireplace, perfect for entertaining.  On the main floor is the master suite, another bedroom/office, laundry room and access to the 2-car garage.  The walkout basement has 9' ceilings with a family room, storage area, 2 more bedrooms and a shared bathroom with separate vanities. Open Sat. May 10, 1-4 pm.  Narrated video tour at GoldenTownhome.com. Listed by Mark Spencer.


 
28847 Richmond Hill Road, Conifer
$679,000
This well-kept home sits on 10 acres of useable land, has a beautiful open floor plan, lots of windows, light and bright, vaulted ceilings, new carpet, 30x40 barn has 4 stalls and storage, 3-car oversized heated garage, hardwood floor, gorgeous wood-burning stove with custom finishes.  Just listed by Carrie Lovingier.  Open Sat. May 17th, 1-4 pm. Video tour at www.ConiferHome.info.

 
1270 Cody Street, Lakewood
$325,000
This home is owned by Lakewood United Methodist Church and is occupied by an associate pastor. The 1958 ranch-style home has a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired design and sits on a one-third acre lot. It is surprisingly big, with 5 bedrooms and 2,668 sq. ft.  Just listed by Jim Smith, it will be open this Saturday, 3-5 p.m. Narrated video tour is at www.LakewoodHome.info.