Friday, October 31, 2014

New Wired Funds Scam Alert

This warning came in an email from the Division of Real Estate today:

The Colorado Division of Real Estate has received notice about a scam involving a buyer's funds to close a transaction and the buyer's broker receiving an email changing where the funds should be wired.  The email looks legitimate and will often have transaction specific information in the body of the email or as an attachment.  This includes the buyer's name(s), subject property address, and file numbers.  The "new" wiring instructions have the bank wire the buyer's money to a fraudulent account located outside of the country, never to be seen again. The scam reflects the increasing technical sophistication of computer hackers and all buyers and brokers are potential victims. The Division of Insurance has been made aware of this scam and the Division recommends verbal verification for any unexpected or expected change to the real estate transaction.  



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Did You Have a Bad Real Estate Experience? Here’s What You Can Do

[Published Oct. 30, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers. It has been adapted here by adding clickable links with appropriate re-wording.]

When people know you’re a real estate agent, they want to talk real estate, and occasionally the conversation turns to bad experiences they have had with the various professionals involved in real estate transactions.

I’m not an expert on where to complain about other professionals, but I thought you’d like to know where to turn when your bad experience was with a real estate agent.

Most real estate agents are Realtors — that is, members of the National Association of Realtors.  As Realtors, we are diligent about being perceived as honorable professionals abiding by our Realtor Code of Ethics (click to read it), and we count on buyers and sellers as well as fellow Realtors to report wrong-doing of any kind to the appropriate authorities. In this column, I will help you know where to go.

First, determine whether your agent has a managing broker to whom he/she reports.  If his/her business card says “broker associate” he has a “broker” above him who shares responsibility for his or her actions. In that case, the first place to go would be to his or her managing broker. Because brokers share responsibility for the misdeeds of their broker associates they really do want to know of any such misdeeds and can be counted on to take disciplinary action of their own against a broker associate who has done you wrong. 

If you are still in the transaction, the broker can also remove that broker associate from your transaction and assign another broker associate — or serve you him/herself.

If, however, the agent you’re complaining about is the broker, you still have one and possibly two paths open to you.  If your complaint involves a violation of licensing law, you should complain to the Division of Real Estate. Click here for a complaint form that you can fill out online [This link also allows you to complain about appraisers, loan officers, and HOAs.]

If your complaint is of an ethical nature, determine whether the agent is a Realtor (a member of a Realtor association) by clicking this link  [Note: Beware of different first names.  For example, I'm Jim A. Smith on the Realtor database, but James Arthur Smith on the state database.]  Alternatively, call the Denver Metro Assn. of Realtors (DMAR) at 303-756-0553 and ask them to help you.  If the agent is a Realtor, the same person you speak with at DMAR can tell you how to file an ethics complaint, or click here for instructions and a form that you can print out and mail in. 

If the agent is not a Realtor, he or she can’t be accused of violating the Realtor Code of Ethics, but you can still file a complaint with Metrolist, which has a procedure for handling complaints against non-Realtors who are members of the MLS.  Call 303-850-9576.

If your agent’s actions caused you a monetary loss, remember that he/she has, by law, errors & omissions insurance. Ask your agent or his/her managing broker to file a claim. [Your agent will pay a $1,000 deductible.]

If this column does not provide you with the information you need, call me at 303-525-1851 or email me at Jim@GoldenRealEstate.com.  I'm happy to help. 

Big Price Reduction on Conifer Home on 10-Acre Horse Property

[Published Oct. 30, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section]

28847 Richmond Hill Road, Conifer
Originally $679,000, Now Only $635,000
Video tour at www.ConiferHome.info

This home features a beautiful open floor plan with lots of natural light and vaulted ceilings, new carpet, an attached 3-car oversized heated garage, hardwood floors, new Jotul wood-burning fireplace with elk etched custom finishes, half-acre backyard fully fenced for dogs, plus a 30’x40’ barn with 4 removable stalls — a mechanic's dream! Main floor bedroom for guests. Great for entertaining with the open kitchen and walk out to back deck. All appliances included with front loading washer/dryer.  Zone-controlled dual furnace & water heaters, dual closets in master suite on its own private level with deck. The walkout basement has two bedrooms or mother-in-law area, an upstairs floating loft overlooking the family room, tons of storage, zoned agricultural, easy access to Highway 285, flat accessible driveway, close to fire station, only $169 per finished sq ft. This home has pride of ownership and been meticulously cared for. 
Call Carrie Lovingier, 303-907-1278.

Just Listed: Solar-Powered Split-Level in Green Mountain

[Published Oct. 30, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

12549 W. Warren Ave., Lakewood
$374,000

This beautifully remodeled solar-powered home at 12549 W. Warren Avenue in the popular Green Mountain Village neighborhood features a spacious open floor plan.  The kitchen includes hardwood floors, slab granite countertops, high-end stainless steel appliances (Bosch, Advantium, etc.), new cabinets with heavy duty pull-out drawers, under-cabinet LED lighting and two islands!  Cuddle up by the wood burning fireplace in the family room or enjoy the large peaceful landscaped yard complete with sprinkler system, covered patio and storage shed. Take quick possession of this move-in ready home  close to C-470, Red Rocks, historic Morrison, St. Anthony's Hospital, open space, parks, trails and light rail! 
Listed by broker associate Kristi Brunel, showings start Nov. 7th at 5:00 PM.  A video tour is in production.  Call Kristi at 303-525-2520 for more information.

1,000 Attend Oliver Frascona "Celebration of Life" on Oct. 26th

[Published Oct. 30, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section]

Some of us from Golden Real Estate were among the 1,000 or so friends and admirers of noted real estate attorney Oliver Frascona who filled  the ballrooms at the Omni Interlocken Hotel in Broomfield last Sunday. We were treated to a 14-minute slideshow of photographs plus eulogies not only by Oliver’s colleagues and best friend, but also by his daughter, Monica. It was a suitable event honoring an amazing man.

For an excellent report on what was said by the speakers at Oliver's "Celebration of Life," click on this blog post from Inside Real Estate News.  You can view the 14-minute slideshow (in video format, with music) on the home page of http://www.Frascona.com.  


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

NAR Fights Losing Battle for Public Recognition of Its ‘Realtor’ Trademark

[Published Oct. 23, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section. An abbreviated version also appeared in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers. The last two paragraphs below were not in either version.]

I’d be curious to know what percentage of Americans realize that “Realtor” is a trademark and not a synonym for “real estate agent.”  I suspect the majority of Americans don’t know that, despite frequent advertising by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) urging the public to “use a Realtor.”

The fact is that membership in NAR is not required of real estate licensees, although the big franchises (RE/Max, Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker, et al.) require their agents to join their local Realtor association, which in turn makes them members of NAR.  (Golden Real Estate agents are all Realtors.)

I remember misusing the term “Realtor” when I first started writing this column 10 years ago.  I received an email from Ann Turner, then executive director of the Jefferson County Association of Realtors, advising me that the word “Realtor” should only be used when you can substitute for it the phrase “member of the National Association of Realtors.”

If you check all my columns since then at http://www.JimSmithColumns.com, you will find that I have never again misused the word “Realtor” in this column or elsewhere, but I frequently hear and see it misused by many agents — including Realtors — and the public. It is particularly upsetting to NAR (and to me) when a non-Realtor describes himself or herself as a “Realtor.”

It’s clearly a losing battle for NAR.  If you find yourself calling any tissue a “Kleenex,” you probably call any agent a “realtor.”  (I just noticed that my computer’s spellcheck automatically capitalized Kleenex, but did not capitalize realtor!  I rest my case!)

As much as I like to defend the Realtor trademark, I have never liked NAR’s approach toward promoting and defending it. As a journalist I object to the organization’s insistence that the word be written in all caps — REALTOR — and always have the trademark symbol — ® — attached to it.  I honor the Realtor trademark in this column by putting the trademark symbol only in my byline. To readers, all caps signifies an acronym, which Realtor is not. Can you think of any other trademark which insists on all capital letters for a brand that’s not an acronym? 

As a defender of the trademark myself, I find NAR’s campaign urging the public to “use a Realtor” ineffective because the message is interpreted by the public as meaning “use a real estate agent” vs. not using an agent. It doesn’t clearly address their point that not all agents are Realtors.

NAR’s primary argument for using a member is that “only Realtors subscribe to a Code of Ethics” — an empty statement to critics of our profession.  I’d choose a Realtor for several more important reasons.
 
Supporting NAR with my membership dollars (about $500 including the local and state associations) is a professional and moral obligation, much like joining my local chambers of commerce. It's about giving back to an organization which defends my profession and its clients from misguided state and federal legislation.  All real estate agents -- and their clients -- benefit from the activism of NAR and the state/local Realtor associations regarding property rights and professional regulations.  Agents who choose not to support NAR by becoming a dues-paying member are asking the rest of us to carry their weight financially.

Most real estate agents -- indeed, many NAR members -- do not earn enough to support themselves. They must rely on a second income or other family earners for their financial survival.  Thus, a key reason agents don't join their local Realtor association is that they simply can't afford the dues.  That begs the question: Why would you choose an agent who is not successful enough to afford Realtor dues?  Moreover, if a real estate agent scrimps -- by choice or necessity -- on his trade association dues, he is also likely to scrimp on what he spends to market your home.  That, in my opinion, is a much stronger reason than our Code of Ethics to hire a Realtor. 

Golden Real Estate Has a Wide Selection of Land Listings

[Published Oct. 23, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]
Do you like the idea of building your own home on a secluded mountain lot rather than buying an existing home?
As I write this, Golden Real Estate has 8 vacant land listings. Three of our land listings are in the Dory Lakes subdivision located northeast of where Golden Gate Canyon Road meets the Peak to Peak Highway (State Highway 119). Dory Lakes has a voluntary $60 per year HOA dues, for which you get use of a baseball field, volleyball and basketball courts, playground and covered picnic area with BBQ and horseshoe pit. For an extra $50 per year, your family can fish in the privately stocked lake. The listing agent for two of those listings is Carrie Lovingier, 303-907-1278.
The third is listed by Mark Spencer, 303-842-4480.
Those are our smallest parcels, ranging from 1.1 to 1.42 acres. Our largest land listing is a 40-acre parcel, also listed by Mark Spencer, 20 minutes from downtown Golden, off Horseradish Gulch Road. Despite being closer to town, this property is so remote it doesn’t even have an address assigned to it.  It is accessed via easements from Mica Mountain Road on one side or Thea Gulch Road on the other. [Web page: http://listings.realbird.com/A3D6B7B4/352673.aspx Video: http://youtu.be/JuaKe8sPqGw ]  Call Mark to see it.
Also up Golden Gate Canyon Road and equally close to downtown Golden is yet another listing by Mark Spencer. It’s a 20-acre parcel at 4300 Daydream Road, with a well already drilled and electric service on-site. You’ll enjoy the city lights of downtown Denver from the home you build on this parcel! [Video: http://youtu.be/8ouwh1MVyvE ]
You'll enjoy a panoramic view of Denver and the plains from my listing at 22801 Indian Head Road, located behind and above a hogback five miles north of Golden. It’s a 20-acre parcel with well, septic and electricity already in place at the ideal building site. [Picture above; Video: http://youtu.be/W9a2-4fBHds] Call me at 303-525-1851 for a private showing.
If you’d like a scenic building site 10 minutes from Black Hawk and 20 minutes from Golden, check out 2154 Douglas Mountain Road, located just off Hwy 119 near where it meets US Highway 6.  It’s our lowest priced lot at just $64,500. It is listed by Kristi Brunel, 303-525-2520. [Video tour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNdxF7z0qL8 ]
Lastly, I have a 38-acre site in Debeque Canyon along a frontage road for I-70 near the twin tunnels 20 miles east of Grand Junction.  It has no improvements, but it has three buildable sites, and electrical service runs across the parcel, which, as you’d expect, adjoins the Colorado River. [MLS listing: http://www.recolorado.com/landlots-for-sale/Debeque-Canyon-De-Beque-CO-81630-117617395 ]

Buy or Sell a House, Win a Tesla?

[Published Oct. 23, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section]

This could happen to you if you have a closing as a Golden Real Estate client between Dec. 15, 2014 and June 15, 2015.  At closing we will give each client one of 3,000 $100 raffle tickets for a Tesla Model S P 85D.

 

Golden Real Estate Welcomes a New Agent, David Dlugasch

The newest member of the Golden Real Estate team is David Dlugasch.

David has 30 years’ experience in real estate investing and 13 years as broker/owner of Peak Real Estate in Gunnison and Crested Butte. David’s focus will be on Golden and Arvada with an emphasis on Candelas, Leyden Rock, Leyden Ranch, Whisper Creek, Five Parks and Spring Mesa. 

You can reach him on his cell phone at 970-209-5941.

 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What Owners of Pre-1978 Homes Need to Know About Lead Based Paint

[Published Oct. 16, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

At a recent office meeting, an expert on lead based paint educated my associates and me about lead based paint hazards and mitigation.

The use of lead-based paint was banned starting in 1978.  Since it is now almost 37 years later, it’s likely that your pre-1978 home’s lead based paint is covered by other paints, right?

Yes, but there is still the possibility of exposure to lead when you do any kind of renovation, and serious rules and severe penalties for violating them have been instituted relating to the renovation of pre-1978 homes.

For example, if you want to replace your windows, you’ll have to hire a company which is EPA certified for the task because the process entails disturbing the otherwise hidden original paint when you remove the framing around the windows.

The contractor for that or any other renovation must provide you with a pamphlet about lead based paint hazards, get a signed receipt from you, do testing for lead based paint and, if detected, must follow certain protocols for doing the work in a way that prevents lead based paint dust from becoming airborne. Failure to follow each of those steps can subject the contractor to a separate 5-figure fine, which can add up to a total fine of around $200,000!

Lead can also be found in many ceramic tiles and coatings on bathtubs, as well as in the adhesives and caulks beneath them.  Merely breaking apart a tub for removal can cause lead paint dust to become airborne.  If you use a torch to remove old paint and the bottom layer has lead in it, you will vaporize lead and breath it into your lungs.

As a homeowner, you are allowed to do your own work without precautions, but if you hire anyone — either a contractor or a handyman — to renovate as little as 6 sq. ft. of your pre-1978 home, that contractor or handyman has to follow EPA rules or be subject to those severe penalties.  Putting a dumpster in front of your pre-1978 home could well attract an official visit to see whether you have a contractor or handyman who has followed proper procedures.

The Realtor who sold you that pre-1978 home is not at risk so long as he signed the required lead based paint disclosure submitted at the time of the contract to buy your home.  And you’re not at risk yourself — financially.  However, your contractor or handyman can be severely at risk to the point of bankruptcy.  More importantly, lead poisoning from dust or vapor is a real hazard that arises with any disturbance of hidden lead based paint. If you’re around, the health of you and especially your children could be a risk.

The most common symptom of lead poisoning in children resembles ADHD. If your child has ADHD symptoms, you might consider getting the blood test for lead levels.

Doing lead based paint testing is not expensive.  The person who taught us about lead based paint charges as little as $100 to use a special tool that can detect lead in your home.  This gun-like device contains a radio isotope that can detect the minutest level of lead even if it is buried under multiple layers of paint. He is Michael McCarty and he can be reached at 303-883-6915.

My associates and I are now better prepared to advise clients who are buying homes built before 1978 and will certainly recommend hiring Michael to do lead testing.

Just Listed: 5-Bedroom Centennial Home on 1/3 Acre Lot

[Published Oct. 16, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

 
6557 S. Franklin Street, Centennial
$335,000
This 2-story, 5-bedroom home in the Broadway Estates section of Centennial features nearly 3,000 finished square feet, a 2-car attached garage, and a spacious fenced yard with mature trees and a covered patio. The local elementary school is just 2 blocks away. The home has extensive hardwood flooring on the main floor and in all four upstairs bedrooms.  The partial basement is finished with a 5th bedroom (non-conforming) and a second family room, plus lots of indoor storage. The home has hot water baseboard heat, even in the basement. Two storage sheds are included. Listed by Chuck Brown. Open this Saturday & Sunday, 2-5 pm.
 

Jeffco Voters Should Consider the School Board Chaos When Voting



[Published Oct. 16, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section]

No, the Jeffco School Board members are not on this year’s ballot which you received in the mail this week. However, the root cause of the school board’s chaos is shared by Jeffco’s Board of County Commissioners, one of whom is on this year’s ballot.

There are five members of the school board, each one theoretically representing one-fifth of the county but all elected by the entire county.  Three of those seats were up for election last year and there were three conservatives running as a bloc against three non-conservatives.  It was inevitable that either all three conservatives or all three non-conservatives would win, then constituting a majority of the 5-seat board. 

If each seat were elected by its theoretical constituents from one-fifth of the county, it is unlikely that all three conservatives or all three non-conservatives would have been elected, and the board would not be as dysfunctional as it is now.

The same dynamic is at work on the Board of County Commissioners. The incumbent on this year’s ballot, Dan Rosier, is opposed to changing to the election of commissioners by district.  It’s a good reason to vote for his opponent, John Flerlage, who supports that change.
 
 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Buyer Activity Keeps Supply of Jeffco Homes for Sale Under 2 Months

[Published Oct. 9, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section. An abbreviated version also appeared in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers.]

The charts below tell an interesting story about Jefferson County’s real estate market. It’s common knowledge that the inventory of homes is at historic lows and has been for the entire year, but it’s not for lack of new listings. As the charts show, the number of new listings being entered on the MLS is less than in previous years, but the number of sales is as high or higher than in previous years.

We call this a “sellers’ market” but this seller’s market is because of buyers’ activity, not because of sellers’ inactivity.

Inventory has been so low for so long that Metrolist (the MLS which supplied all the data below) should consider using fractions. Look at the bottom right chart. If you do your own math on the numbers below — dividing the number of active listings by the number of sales to calculate inventory — you can see that all of this year’s inventory figures were rounded up to “2” instead of rounded down to “2”, meaning that the inventory is actually under 2 months, but above 1.5 months. Where it shows “1” month, it’s actually just below 1.5 months.

The last chart shows the ratio of sold price to listing price. In a “normal” market, that ratio hovers between 95% and 98%, and it is really unusual to see it at or just below 100% as it has been for the past 18 months. Note: when the average ratio is 100%, it signifies that half of the listings sold for over full price.

I should point out that these statistics are for Jefferson County as a whole, which includes the foothills. The foothills market is not nearly as heated as the non-foothills market, which you should keep in mind when studying these statistics. For example, the inventory of foothills Jeffco listings has ranged from 4 to 6 months this year, compared to just over 1 month for the non-foothills areas of Jeffco.  In the foothills, the highest ratio of sold price to listing price has been 98.1%, not 100%.