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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Just Listed: Westminster Townhome in Park-Like Setting

[Published Aug. 1, 2013, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

990 W. 133rd Circle #E
Westminster CO 80234
Quail Crossing is a subdivision of attached homes located within a mile of the 136th Ave. exit of I-25. This 3-bed-room half-duplex is a real bargain at just $119 per square foot. Built in 1981, these homes are in a park-like setting, with lots of grassy areas — which you don’t have to mow or irrigate! And you only need to cross 134th Avenue to enjoy a public park, which has a playground and bike path.  If interested, you might want to act quickly.  The units which sold in the last year went under contract in an average of 13 days — two-thirds of them in five days or less!  (Listed yesterday -- MLS #1215853) 

New MLS for Denver Is About to Be Rolled Out

[Published Aug. 1, 2013, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

Metrolist, Denver’s MLS, has until now created and maintained its own software platform for local agents to use in marketing and finding homes for sale. Meanwhile, MLS’s elsewhere have taken the smarter route of licensing software from a company specializing in that service.  (We Realtors do the same for our websites — it would be crazy and costly to build a custom site.)

Long overdue, Metrolist will complete the transition shortly to a more functional site hosted by CoreLogic.

There’s So Much More to Buying Or Selling a Home Than Getting Under Contract

[Published Aug. 1, 2013, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

We all know by now that it’s easier to sell a home now than it was, say, two years ago, and some sellers think they don’t need to hire a real estate professional to market their home.

What this overlooks, however, is that marketing and getting the home under contract is only the beginning of the work that we do.

In my own practice, I have noticed that our job has gotten much more difficult this year, despite the shorter time it takes to get a home under contract.  Negotiating inspection and appraisal issues and coordinating the purchase of a replacement home so that the seller has a place to move have become more complicated, in part because of the hotter market.

I don’t envy the seller who thinks he can take on the tasks that we agents are used to performing every day. And for what?  Statistics show that nearly all sellers end up offering a “co-op” commission of 2.8% to the buyer’s agent. This buys the seller the unenviable position of being the only party in the transaction without professional representation! 

The seller thinks that he is saving 3.2% by only paying 2.8% to the buyer’s agent, but this assumes a standard listing commission of 6%.  The average listing commission now, according to NAR, is closer to 5%, and it is common for agents (including at my company) to reduce that fee by 1% if they sell the home without having to pay a buyer’s agent and by another 1% if the seller uses them to purchase their replacement home.  

Some agents have even listed homes for “free” (2.8% to pay the buyer’s broker) in return for being able to earn 2.8% on the purchase of a higher-priced replacement home.

If sellers really understood (1) the negotiability of listing commissions and (2) the value of professional representation beyond merely getting under contract, the whole  for-sale-by-owner concept would lose favor completely

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Featured Listing: Wheelchair Accessible Mountain Ridge Home

[Published July 25, 2013, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]
It’s hard to find a wheel-chair accessible home, but here’s one at 1538 Meadowlark Lane in Golden’s premiere subdivision, the Village at Mountain Ridge!  The ramps can be removed, of course, if you don’t have a need for them. The main floor has two master suites plus a third bedroom. The basement has a huge family room (28’ x 29’) plus a third master suite and a kitchenette. The laundry is on the main floor. The home is “coming soon” as extensive improvements are made, including a new roof, new carpeting and new paint. Look for showings to begin next week, or call me now for a sneak peek!  You’ll find more info on its website (above).


Come Visit Us This Weekend at Buffalo Bill Days

A highlight of every summer is Golden’s 3-day party known as Buffalo Bill Days. It features more activities than I can name here — from simulated shoot-outs on Washington Avenue to mutton-busting for the kids — but the two things our real estate brokerage participates in is the “Best of the West” parade on Saturday morning, and having a booth all weekend in Parfet Park. I’ll be there with my parrot, Flower, who is always a big hit. Come say “Howdy!”

New to Colorado? Most Real Estate Transactions Here Are Lawyer-Free

[Published July 25, 2013, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

We Coloradans have come to take it for granted that you don’t have to hire a lawyer to buy or sell real estate. Our contracts all have a clause advising the client to consult a lawyer (and a tax advisor), but ever since a court decision called Conway Bogue made it legal for real estate licensees to complete (and explain) state approved contracts or forms, clients usually make an informed decision not to expend money on consulting a lawyer. I’ve never seen a lawyer attend any of my closings (except when my clients were themselves lawyers).

This is quite different from other states. In New York, it is common for every party in every transaction to have their own lawyer.

What we can’t do is to interpret and explain to buyers those contracts which sellers — notably new home builders — have their own lawyers prepare. If you buy a new home, you can expect your agent to advise you to have a lawyer review the contract for you, because we would be practicing law if we did that.

Our license does not allow us to write addenda or additional provisions to insert in the state approved forms, so many brokerages pay a flat fee to a prominent Colorado law firm for their library of lawyer-composed clauses and forms.  (Money well spent!)

That doesn’t mean that we can’t write simple additional provisions for contracts such as “Seller shall have roof replaced” or that we can’t insert the list of demands to put in an inspection objection notice.  In that case, however, it’s a good practice to have the client dictate what he or she wants included so that the agent can say he merely inserted them in the form and did not compose them himself.

I’ve been told that “a lot of attorneys” don’t accept that real estate licensees should have the authority granted under Conway Bogue, but it is certainly an established fact that lawyers have little role in the typical Colorado real estate transaction.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Trulia & Zillow Are Great, But Not for Finding Homes Actually for Sale

[Published July 18, 2013, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

It happens every day. A buyer will call me about a home they found on or These websites are becoming more popular with buyers because of the additional information they provide, such as sales history, comparable sales, school info, etc.

The problem is that the house these buyers found is often either under contract or sold long ago.

This happens so often that I thought it would be useful to publish here the advice which I give to such buyers.

These websites have great information, but they are not connected to the MLS and often don’t have current information.  If you want to find only homes that are actually for sale, you need to search websites that are updated daily or hourly by the MLS.

Here in the Denver Metro area, the consumer portal of our MLS is  If a listing is “active” on that website, it is actually for sale. 

Nationally, is updated by every MLS as often as every 15 minutes. If it’s on, it’s actually for sale.

Lastly, you will find a consumer version of the MLS on every real estate company website, such as our own website,  These websites receive updates from the MLS every 30 minutes or so.

Only after you have identified a home for sale on these MLS-connected websites should you go to Trulia and Zillow to get the extra information which they provide.  Consulting them last is the only way to avoid the frustration of falling in love with a house only to find that someone else bought it last week or last month.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Metropolitan Tax Districts Add Hidden Cost to the Price of Many Homes

[Published July 11, 2013, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

Everyone loves new homes — indeed, I love new homes! Everything’s new and better, it seems.  And the prices of new homes often compare favorably to the price of existing homes. 

But there’s often a hidden cost — higher property taxes.

County Assessor Jim Everson explained the history and use of “Metropolitan Tax Districts” to me, and here’s what I learned from him.

Back in the 1970’s there was a surge of anti-growth sentiment, typified by the Poundstone Amendment, which prevented any further annexation by Denver. Until then, developers would get cities like Denver to annex land for new developments and build the infrastructure — water, sewer, streets, etc. — knowing that future property taxes would cover that investment.

Once annexation ended, developers started creating tax districts which would issue 20- to 30-year bonds (which the developer would often purchase) to pay for this infrastructure work.

These bonds would be paid off by an increased mill levy for the life of the bonds. There are already 86 such tax districts in Jefferson County and more are being created every year. Thirty-five have levies over 30 mills. The highest five have levies of 75, 70, 62, 60 and 55.78 mills.  When you realize that the total mill levy in the City of Golden is under 88 mills (and Denver is under 70 mills), such mill levies are a huge additional and hidden cost of purchasing a home in such a tax district.

There’s an irony in the explosion of such tax districts. They resulted from the anti-growth sentiment of the 1970’s, but nothing has done more to stimulate development in all those unincorporated areas.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Buyer Activity & Competing Offers Continue to Decline, But Still Quite High

[Published July 4, 2013, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

In 2011 Golden Real Estate developed a new index for measuring buyer activity. What we’ve done now for 20 straight months is to compute the percentage of unsold MLS listings by area and price range that are under contract’.

The chart below shows how the percentage of inventory under contract peaked this spring and is on the decline — but still very high, and still much higher than the same month last year. The three lines at bottom right of this chart show that, unlike in the past, buyers are no longer snapping up new listings faster than they can be put on the MLS — the main reason that the inventory of active listings kept declining month after month.

The following chart, limited to Jeffco and Denver, shows how those percentages varied by price range: