Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Denver’s MLS Moving to Include Listings of New Homes & Rentals

[Published Sept. 25, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section. An abbreviated version also appeared in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers.]

I have been very pleased with the evolution of Metrolist’s consumer and professional MLS portal since Kirby Slunaker became its CEO a few years ago. The shift from in-house website design and support to a widely adopted product from CoreLogic was long overdue and has resulted in some great improvements for Metrolist users.
CoreLogic is, I am told, the nation’s largest provider of MLS platforms, with only a couple major competitors. Metrolist went through a year-long process of investigating vendor solutions, with lots of member input, and settled on the CoreLogic product called Matrix.
Now, not only do the members of Metrolist have a great new tool for better serving their clients, but the home buying & selling public has a great consumer website with many of the same improvements. The URL is www.recolorado.com.
There are countless functionalities of Matrix which I appreciate, but two which stand out for me are its map searching capability and the way I, as a member, can set up an email search for clients that gives them their own portal on Matrix for creating and saving up to five additional searches. These clients can tag or discard listings after viewing them and write their own notes about what they like and dislike about each listing, which I can then read. Nothing like this was available on Metrolist’s in-house platform on which they wasted untold capital before wisely abandoning it.
The map search function has allowed me to do something I could never do before — a search of listings within the City of Golden, instead of listings with “Golden” addresses. And, since my clients and I get notification of new or changed listings within 15 minutes under Matrix, we’re able to take action quickly. It also allows me to update active listings for a website, www.Golden.com, which is an invaluable resource for Golden residents.  (Note: I could do this for other locales which have similar websites and would like to include current real estate listings. And I can do it for any homebuyer. Just ask me!)
Now, Metrolist is, with characteristic diligence and communication, designing a way to include new home communities and new construction in its service. Currently, it is hard for both professionals and buyers to use Matrix to find and study the new communities and new homes being built by dozens of home builders in the metro area. The goal is to have buyers find these homes — and find Realtors to represent them — on Matrix, complete with floor plans, design center options, and more. Metrolist hosted a webinar last week to brief members on the design work and requesting feedback.
After this task, Metrolist will be finding a way to include rental properties on Matrix.  Go, Kirby, go!
 
 

Genesee Luxury Awaits You in This Spectacular Home!

[Published Sept. 25, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

 
25813 Gateway Drive, Golden
$614,000
Video Tour at www.GeneseeHome.info
Less than 1/4 mile from the Genesee exit of I-70 is this outstanding home.  It’s the best of all worlds — away from traffic noise, yet convenient to I-70, with continental divide views, great indoor/outdoor living, beautifully updated kitchen and bathrooms, 5 bedrooms, 4 baths, and 4,185 square feet of living space. The backyard water feature attracts elk, deer, birds and other wildlife and can be enjoyed from outside the kitchen as well as from the spacious deck outside the upstairs master suite. Take the video tour at the above website, then call for a showing!
 

This Kind of Opulence Is More Often Found in Aspen and Vail

[Published Sept. 25, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

 
1552 Jesse Lane, Golden
$1,600,000
Video Tour at www.GoldenMansion.info
This home is located at the northern most corner of Golden on the road leading to the lower trailhead of White Ranch Open Space Park.  It backs to Dakota Ridge which separates it from Highway 93 and is across from more open space. It was personally designed by a globe-trotting Golden couple who also have homes in Wisconsin and Florida.  They had it built just two years ago, never expecting to sell it, but now it can be yours! Inside and out, the features are outstanding, and can only be appreciated by viewing the still photos and taking the guided video tour on the above website. 
No open houses. Call me or your own agent to tour it.
 

Golden Real Estate's Mascot, Flower, Has Died

[Published Sept. 25, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]
We have had a death in the family. My personal pet and company mascot, a yellow-nape Amazon parrot we named “Flower,” died prematurely at home in a tragic accident. Known to hundreds of local children from over a decade of appearances at public events, her picture adorns our moving truck, my yard signs and many advertisements for Golden Real Estate. Only 14 years old, she had been expected to outlive us all, and we miss her deeply.

Donations in her memory can be made to the Gabriel Foundation, a Denver bird rescue organization.  Their website is www.TheGabrielFoundation.org.

 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Looking for a Home Site With This Kind of View?

[Published Sept. 18, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section]

 
22801 Indian Head Road, Golden
$395,000

This lot is 2 miles west of Highway 93 at the very end of Indian Head Road, behind a hogback but high enough to see over the hogback, with 180-degree view from Golden to the right, Boulder to the left, and to Denver, DIA and the plains beyond. There was a house here which burned down years ago, and there's a gravel driveway with switchback from the property line up to the home site. Well, septic and electrical service are still in place at the site of the former home. The virtual tour link is a narrated video tour of the property. Indian Head Road is across from Leyden Road on Highway 93 and has a gate requiring a 4-digit access code to enter.
 

You'll Love the Views from This Golden Home!

[Published Sept. 18, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

 
409 Mesa View Way, Golden
$630,000
 
The Village at Mountain Ridge is a coveted subdivision with 296 homes within the City of Golden and backing to the Mt. Galbraith Open Space Park west of Highway 93.  This home is located near the top of the subdivision on a cul-de-sac. It’s on the downhill side of the street, about 75 feet higher than the homes below it on White Ash Drive. The home has a great home theater in the walk-out basement, complete with 8’ wide screen, projector, room-darkening draperies and stadium seating — all included! There are hardwood floors on the entire main floor, plus a solar photovoltaic (PV) system that meets all the electrical needs of the home.  The monthly lease cost of this system is $71 per month, far less than what you’d pay Xcel Energy for the same amount of electrical service. From this home you can walk to both a city-managed park (White Ash Mine Park) and to the highly-rated Mitchell Elementary School.  Listed by Kristi Brunel.
 

This Is National Drive Electric Week, With Several Front Range Events

[Published Sept. 18, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

 
Golden Real Estate has a reputation for being a brokerage which puts good corporate citizenship ahead of profit. Our real estate signs display two values statements by which we live. They are “Promoting and Modeling Environmental Responsibility” and “Hometown Service Delivered with Integrity.”

As an expression of those values statements, Golden Real Estate promotes solar power, weatherization, recycling of Styrofoam, and the driving of electric vehicles.  Every day you’ll see at least one or more electric vehicles (EV’s) in our parking lot.  We have a  240-volt EV charging station with two more being installed soon. Charging is free to all electric vehicle owners -- no purchase necessary!

Hosting one of five Front Range events during National Drive Electric Week is another expression of our commitment to leaving the planet a better place than we found it.  Our event will be held this Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in our company parking lot at 17695 S. Golden Road.

Other Drive Electric Week events are being held in Ft. Collins, Longmont, Boulder, Littleton and Colorado Springs.  You can find out which electric cars will be at each location by visiting www.DriveElectricWeek.org.  At press time, 15 different EV’s are scheduled to be at our location.  The Littleton location is at Aspen Grove Shopping Center, where 27 EV’s are expected. Free ride-and-drives will be offered at both these locations,  Altogether, there are 148 events in 35 states this week.

There will also be vendor tents and hand-outs, and I’ll set up a big-screen TV to play a loop of educational videos including my favorite — a video showing how robots are used to assemble Tesla cars in the company’s Fremont, California, factory.

There is no better way to learn which EV is right for you than to speak with current EV owners and take a ride in their cars. There will be door prizes and refreshments.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Jeffco5 Petition Drive Failed, But Voters Can Achieve Same Goal in November

[Published Sept. 11, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

Readers will recall my promotion of the Jeffco5 petition drive in the spring, which failed to get enough signatures to put the measure on November’s ballot.

The proposed ballot measure would have allowed voters to increase the number of county commissioners from three to five and to have them elected by district instead of countywide, as at present.  Jefferson County is the only large county in the state which has not chosen to increase the number of county commissioners to five as permitted by the state constitution.  By having each commissioner represent one-third of the county but be elected by the entire county results in each commissioner paying less attention to his or her one-third of the county —and also makes it harder to defeat incumbents.

The petition drive was necessitated when the three commissioners voted 2-to-1 against placing the measure on the ballot.  One of those two votes against putting the measure on the ballot was Dan Rosier, who is running for re-election against a candidate who is pledged to join Commissioner Casey Tighe in voting to put the Jeffco5 measure on the ballot if elected.

Therefore, a vote for John Flerlage is essentially a vote for the Jeffco5 effort, which is why Golden Real Estate is supporting John for County Commissioner.

Whether you are liberal or conservative, you deserve to have a stronger voice in county affairs.  If your commissioner is elected only by your 100,000 neighbors instead of by all half million Jeffco voters, he or she will naturally spend more time listening to your concerns.
 
Join me in helping John Flerlage get elected so we can achieve this important improvement in county governance.

Just Listed: Green Mountain Estates Tri-Level Home

[Published Sept. 11, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]
 
13932 W. Virginia Drive, Lakewood
$330,000
This original brick tri-level with basement is in the Green Mountain Estates subdivision west of Union Blvd. in Lakewood.  The landscaping alone is a big selling point for this 2,236-sq.-ft. home with three upper-level bedrooms, two of which open onto the wide deck above the two-car garage.  The 11’x20’ country kitchen and large living room with brick fireplace hint at the spaciousness of this fine home.  Add to that a 23’ wide sun room with wood ceiling, skylights and hot-tub and you’re beginning to get a feeling for this great home. The location is great, too, a half-mile into a cul-de-sac neighborhood on the east slope of Green Mountain.  It’s quiet here! Come along with me on a narrated video tour at the website above, then come to our open house this Sunday, 1-4 p.m. Or call me for a private showing.
 

Find a ‘5-Star Professional’ in This Month’s 5280 Magazine

[Published Sept. 11, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section]

Every year readers of 5280 Magazine are treated to a paid advertising supplement from a Minnesota company called Five Star Professional.  The supplement — 109 pages this year — is surely a money-maker for the magazine, which has nothing to do with its content.

The business plan of Five Star Professional is to find hundreds of agents who have sold home(s) during the past year and who are licensed by the state, with no disciplinary actions recorded against them.  Once the “nominated” agents satisfy those criteria, they are offered upsells starting at $445 for a 1/14th page directory listing (on their 2012 order form) up to $4,695 for a full page ad. Read their full 2012 upsell price list at www.JimSmithColumns.com.

Each year I’m surprised by how many of my truly successful colleagues are not listed. In its defense, Five Star Professional will tell you “customer satisfaction” and not sales volume is their criterion. They claim to interview thousands of past clients, but the organization won’t tell even the nominated agent which client(s) nominated or spoke well of them.

Bottom line, consumers need to realize that it’s all paid advertising — as is my own column/ad, of course — and that nominees who don’t pay extra get only their name and company listed — no contact information is provided.  Agents who don’t buy the upsell are basically “overhead” for Five Star Professional’s advertising supplement.

What I object to most, as a former professional journalist, is that 5280 Magazine appears unconcerned with how most Five Star “winners” portray themselves as having been awarded that status by the magazine, when the magazine has absolutely no role in selecting them or creating the advertising supplement, and the agents who pay for those larger display ads write the ad copy themselves. 

You’ll note that the ad supplement isn’t even mentioned on the magazine’s cover (see photo above), in their table of contents or on their website.  Check it out yourself at www.5280.com/magazine
 
Compare this to 5280 Magazine's August issue featuring “Top Doctors” — an entirely in-house effort meeting high journalistic standards — and featured on their cover and on their website. The publisher is justly proud of that product.

Look for Us at the Innovation Faire Friday & Saturday

[Published Sept. 11, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

Golden Real Estate is proud to be a “host exhibitor” at this week’s Innovation Faire on the Warren Tech campus in Lakewood, Sept. 12-13, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As Jeffco’s leading brokerage promoting and modeling environmental responsibility, we will have a booth at the event where you can learn about our solar-powered office and get your questions answered regarding sustainable construction and more. I’ll also have my 2014 Tesla Model S next to our booth and will be giving rides and explaining that vehicle’s ground-breaking automotive innovations and performance. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What You Can and Should Expect from Inspecting the Home You Buy

[Published Sept. 4, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

Once you get the home you want under contract, you should have it professionally inspected for hidden defects.  Hopefully your agent has a list of several trusted inspectors for you to interview.

When a new inspector asks me to add him to the list of those inspectors I recommend to clients, I ask for a sample report and ask several qualifying questions.

Hand written inspection reports and reports that utilize a simple checklist are not acceptable to me.  I want a narrative report, in which the inspector describes each discovered problem in his or her own words.

The inspector should have a digital camera and include photos of each problem next to his description of it.

I like the report to be composed onsite and emailed to my buyer (and me) as a PDF the same day as the inspection.

I want an inspector to have and use two important tools.  One is a carbon monoxide probe to use when inspecting forced air furnaces.  With it and a borescope (fiber optic light and camera), the inspector can determine whether the all-important heat exchanger deep inside the unit might be cracked and emitting carbon monoxide into the home. If cracked, it can’t be fixed.  The furnace needs to be replaced.

Another important tool is a device to detect moisture within walls. If you can see water stains on a wall or ceiling, this device can tell the inspector whether there is moisture beneath the surface. If no moisture is detected, you’ll still want to get an explanation of the stains.

A third device which I’ll start asking for is a black light for detecting pet urine within wall-to-wall carpeting.  Just last week a client closed on a home and hired a carpet cleaning company which, by using a black light, detected widespread pet urine in the basement carpeting. The seller had not disclosed that there was more than occasional pet presence in the house. If the inspector had used a black light during inspection, we could have made carpet replacement a key demand, but we didn’t. 

One inspector I recommend frequently does have a black light, but I have learned that inspecting for pet urine in carpets is beyond the scope of a normal inspection — which means you can’t assume he will test for it, you must request it.  I have a black light myself for this purpose.

Another item “beyond the scope” of a normal inspection is the sprinkler system.  During watering season, perhaps you could test it yourself. Failing that, you could include among your inspection demands, “Seller shall demonstrate to Buyer’s satisfaction that the sprinkler system is in working condition.”  If the unit is winterized and it’s warm enough, you could ask about de-winterizing, testing and re-winterizing the system.  Otherwise, you could rephrase the above sentence to read, “Seller represents that the sprinkler system is in working condition.”  That way you would have a basis for requesting repairs in the spring if it doesn’t work right.

Please use the comment feature of this blog to add your own thoughts about the inspection process.

Just Listed: 2-Bedroom, 3-Bath Table Mountain Heights Condo

[Published Sept. 4, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

 
18288 W. 58th Place #10, Golden
$175,000
Table Mountain Heights is a subdivision of 24 four-plexes located on the north slope of North Table Mountain.  This is a 2-story unit with two bedrooms and 2½ bathrooms.  All kitchen appliances and washer & dryer are included.  It has a 1-car attached garage plus a reserved parking space directly across from the entrance shown above. You’ll enjoy the gas fireplace and the enclosed private patio.   Open this Sunday, 1-4 pm.

Price Reduced on Charming Home Near Black Hawk

[Published Sept. 4, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

 
28 Pinon Circle, Black Hawk
$265,000
Don't miss this charming home in the desirable Missouri Lakes subdivision with its three stocked fishing lakes & easy access. This great corner lot has nice trees & privacy and is only 2 miles from Black Hawk's casinos & entertainment. A 3-bed/2-bath home, it has 1,800 finished square feet and a 1-car oversized attached garage. Enjoy the fenced yard, rock outcroppings, natural gas heat, cozy freestanding gas fireplace, and views of the Continental Divide from the wrap-around deck. Listed by Carrie Lovingier.

In Memoriam: Oliver Frascona

[Published Sept. 4, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section]

The real estate industry lost one of its most noted and colorful members this week when Oliver Frascona died in a plane crash near his airport home in Erie.  I considered Oliver a friend and attended several of his famous BBQ’s in his hangar, where he would play the keyboard for his own band.  He gave me and my clients valuable legal advice on more than one occasion and he frequently gave feedback on my column, which he received by email.  His CE classes were extremely popular for both his knowledge of the subject matter and his great humor.  As counsel to 24 Realtor associations, he was invaluable for his advice and for his staunch advocacy of the Realtor brand.  He will be missed.