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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Coming Soon: Split-Level Home on Large Lot Close to Downtown Golden

[Published Aug. 28, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

619 Garden Street, Golden
 Here is a 4-bedroom home on a spacious corner lot just three blocks from Clear Creek and downtown Golden!  It is being painted and cleaned up and should be ready for showings early next week. I’ll probably hold it open next weekend — unless it sells first, which is entirely possible in the still-hot Golden market.  This tri-level home with basement has 1,973 square feet of living space, a 2-car garage, RV parking and large fenced yard. The roof was replaced in 2012, and bathrooms were updated in 2010.  It is across from the Tucker Gulch Trail which links to the citywide network of bike & pedestrian trails. Call Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 for showing info.

Price Reduced: Large Townhouse Backing to Evergreen Golf Course

[Published Aug. 28, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

2292 Augusta Drive, Evergreen
This townhome in Evergreen is being sold by the owner’s estate. It is the middle unit of a triplex backing to the Hiwan Golf Course’s 2nd tee. Although it has only two bedrooms — a main-floor master suite and a 2nd floor guest suite — it has 3½ bathrooms (one with jetted tub) and over 3,000 finished square feet of living space.  It has some nice features, including a Sub-Zero refrigerator and an oversized 2-car garage that has an epoxy floor and is heated, but it clearly needs updating in other respects, hence its below-market pricing. The extra spacious wood deck and patio overlooking the golf course combine with great indoor spaces to make this a great home for entertaining. Take the narrated video tour at its website to fully appreciate this home’s potential, then call your agent or Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 for a private showing.
Open this Saturday 1-4 p.m. 

The Top 5 Reasons Homes Don’t Sell, Even in Today’s Seller’s Market

[Published Aug. 28, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section. An abbreviated version also appeared in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers.]

In my Aug. 14 column I wrote that your choice of listing agent could be a reason your home isn’t selling.  Selecting the best and most experienced listing agent is important, but it’s what you and your listing agent do or don’t do that can make the difference. And there are some reasons homes don’t sell that you can’t control.

This is not the definitive list, but it is drawn from over a decade of representing several hundred buyers and sellers. Other real estate pros may come up with a different list, but this is mine — for today.  A year from now I might make a different list, because market conditions will change — they always change! — and I will have had other experiences.  Make sense? Then let’s start:

#1 — Price. Every home has a price at which it will sell. The danger in a seller’s market is that the seller sees the rising market and lists at a target price that he could well obtain if he listed the home at a lower price that draws multiple offers.  I experienced this situation recently.  A seller lowered his condo’s price by $10,000 after three weeks of few showings and no offers. Within just a few days we had multiple offers and sold it for $3,000 above its new listing price.  (This was still a record for that size condo in that complex.)

#2 — Commission offered to buyers’ agents.  With buyers doing their own online searching and dictating which homes they want to see, you’d think a seller could get away with hiring a company that suggests a flat $3,000 co-op commission instead of the traditional 2.8% which most companies offer and which buyer agents expect.  However, in response to that practice, agents are now writing buyer agency agreements which state that the buyer will pay any difference between such a co-op commission and the standard 2.8% co-op. The result is no contract or one which dictates a higher commission to the buyer’s agent.

Several years ago I experimented with offering 2.5% instead of 2.8%, and even that small reduction in co-op commission made a noticeable difference in traffic and offers. After several months I realized my folly and returned to offering 2.8%.

#3 — Neighborhood conditions.  This is one reason which does become less of an obstacle in a seller’s market.  Buyers who would never buy a home with highway noise in the past are buying now, but when there are more homes without highway noise to choose from, such a home will sell last.  Other factors you can’t control include noisy neighbors (or their dogs) and, in neighborhoods with no covenants, neighbors who neglect their home’s appearance or who park their RV’s or junk cars in their driveways or yards.  Conversely, many buyers don’t want a home with an HOA, especially ones with excessive fees or property taxes. (Newer subdivisions are often created using new tax districts to finance infrastructure costs. That can increase property taxes by 50% or more for the next 30 years.)

#4 — Inferior marketing.  We at Golden Real Estate pride ourselves on superior marketing, including HDR photos and narrated video tours of every listing.  We’re always on the lookout for new ways to add value for our sellers, whether it’s a free moving truck, solar lighting on our yard signs, or better internet marketing ideas.

#5 — Availability of listing agent.  That company famous for offering only $3,000 to buyers’ agents is closed on Sundays and says in the remarks seen by buyers’ agents “No Sunday deadlines.”  No agent name or phone number appears on their listings.  (Make sure your agent discloses his/her cell number on MLS and sign.)

[End of column as published in the Denver Post's YourHub section]

#6 -- Home is hard to show.  I wish every agent and brokerage would use Centralized Showing Service, but they don't.  Some brokerages still set the showings for their agents, which is okay, but they're not open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. like Centralized Showing.  (After those hours, agents can set showings on CSS's website.)  Worst of all is when the agent saves money by posting his or her own phone number -- or the seller's phone number -- for setting showings.  Imagine getting voicemail or a busy signal when you're trying to set a showing for 1 p.m. and it's noon and you have no idea when the call will be returned or the agent will answer his or her phone!  Ugh!

#7 -- Home reeks of cigarette smoke.  Enough said. Buyers turn around and leave as soon as they open the door.

#8 -- Tenant.  My latest failed listing was because a tenant's lease doesn't expire for 7 more months and he/she will not vacate early.  An owner-occupant can't get a loan when he can't live there within 60 days.  In such a case you have to get an investor loan which typically has a higher interest rate and higher down payment requirement.  If the tenant is month-to-month, it's easier, but if the tenant doesn't want to see the house sell, he or she can do all sorts of things to scare off buyers.

#9 -- Location, location, location.  I've found that remoteness makes a home hard to sell. With today's high gas prices, it can get really expensive to live far up a canyon or out in the plains. 

What are your reasons?  If you would like to add to this list, use the comment section below to offer additional reasons that some homes don't sell.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

‘Love It or Leave It’ — Should You Remodel Your Home or Buy a New One?

[Published Aug. 21, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section. An abbreviated version also appeared in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers.]

This is a question I have faced myself, and I encounter it quite often among my clients.  Do you renovate or remodel your home, or should you buy a new one?

Above all, this is a personal question, so don’t look to me for hard and fast answers.  What I can do, however, is give you a Realtor’s perspective on the value implications of your choices.

By now, you probably are aware that you are unlikely to recover 100% of your investment in improvements when you sell a home.

If you do decide to sell your home instead of improve it, I suggest that you not make any improvements just to sell your home, especially in our seller’s market.  The only money you should invest to dress up your home for sale is to remove eyesores — negatives that catch a visitor’s attention.

For example, don’t replace perfectly fine Formica countertops with slab granite.  Let the buyer do that.  But if the Formica is damaged, yes, consider replacing it.  Don’t install new hardwood flooring.  But if the wall-to-wall carpeting is irreparably stained or damaged, do consider replacing it (with carpet).

I’ll give you an example of what you can “get away with” in today’s market.  Back in the spring, I met a homeowner who had moved out of his 150-year-old home in downtown Golden and had begun a gut-rehab of it.  His aim was to replace the bathrooms and kitchen and create a master suite that would help him sell the home.  I suggested he stop work and sell on the market as is — with no working plumbing!  He said he had received a tempting offer to buy it as-is, but we listed it for $25,000 more and got six offers in less than a week and sold it as-is for $51,000 more than that original as-is offer.

I look at renovation this way: why wait to sell the house to make improvements that you yourself would like?  Make those improvements now and enjoy them!  Then, when you sell your home a few years from now, it won’t matter that you don’t get back what you spent on those improvements, because you made them for your own enjoyment.

Of course, it could be the case that you can’t improve your home in ways that you need or want.  If that’s the case, be a lookyloo. If you find homes that suit you better, then call me or one of my broker associates about finding a way to sell your current home for top dollar — without improving it — and buy one that makes you happier.

Just Listed: Bear Valley Tri-Level Home on Cul-de-Sac

[Published Aug. 21, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

9570 W. Eureka Place, Lakewood
Walk to Bear Creek Park from this affordable tri-level home at 9570 W. Eureka Place in Lakewood. The home backs to a bike/pedestrian trail that leads to the park a few blocks away, next to Bear Creek High School. Despite its closeness to US 285 and Kipling Street, the home is on a quiet cul-de-sac. It has four bedrooms — three on the upper level and one on the lower level.  The home is in great shape, too, with a newer electrical service, new hot water heater, and new plush carpeting throughout. You’ll love the backyard with its covered patio, hanging loveseat, mature trees and lots of flowers.  Open this Sunday, 1-4 pm. Come see it!

Just Listed: Elegant Belcaro Brick Ranch

[Published Aug. 21, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

625 S. Harrison Street, Denver
More Pictures at
This original brick ranch home was built in 1957 with excellent craftsmanship.  Elegantly updated, it’s in Denver’s prestigious Stokes/Belcaro neighborhood. This 4-bedroom 4-bath house features 2,500 square feet of main-floor living, a finished 1,200-sq.-ft. basement and three fireplaces. The large and private backyard is perfect for entertaining or just relaxing and features a covered patio area and a hot tub. The main-floor kitchen and bathrooms have all been recently remodeled in a soft contemporary style. The basement features one large bedroom, one bathroom with a steam shower, a fireplace, and a recreation/theatre room with a video projector and an automated drop down screen. This is a fantastic central Denver location and is within walking distance of the Cherry Creek shopping district, Whole Foods, the Belcaro Shopping Center and Home Depot.
Listed by Broker Associate Chuck Brown. Call him at 303-885-7855.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Trelora is featured on Channel 4 News at 10 pm today - I am interviewed

Channel 4 News is doing a segment on Trelora, the non-Realtor company which charges $1,700 to list a home ($500 paid in advance) and suggests a co-op commission of $3,000 for buyers' agents. They interviewed me as a Realtor who might have an opinion about their business model. I also gave them the name of a seller who terminated her listing agreement with Trelora in order to list with me. Looking forward to what she told the reporter!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

“Why Isn’t My Home Selling?” Consider Your Selection of Listing Agent

[Published Aug. 14, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section. An abbreviated version also appeared in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers.]

Every now and then I get a call from a disappointed seller who thought his or her home would sell quickly in our “seller’s market” but for some reason it isn’t selling.  How can that be?

This happened twice last week, and one of them was almost a parody of a common mistake sellers make: hiring a relative who is in real estate.

This is not to say that being a relative is a bad thing. Your relative may indeed have your best interest at heart, is your relative among the 10% of agents doing upwards of 90% of the transactions, or is he or she among the half of all agents who haven’t closed a single transaction in the past 12 months?  If the latter, then making blood relationship your sole criterion for selection might not work in your favor.

That seller mentioned above had selected a relative who hasn’t had a successful transaction in the past three years.  She had only two prior listings, and both expired without selling. As a buyer’s agent, she has never had a closing either. Clearly, if this particular agent had not been a relative, this seller might not have considered her, or at least would have asked more qualifying questions before signing a listing agreement.

Was this agent a Realtor?  He assumed she was, but she is in fact a non-Realtor, and for good reason.  With no income, she probably can’t afford the $500/year Realtor association dues.

This is not to say that only members of a Realtor association can be successful, but it’s likely that an agent and can't afford Realtor dues will scrimp on marketing, too.

In this business, one’s level of expertise is directly related to how many transactions you do and not how many years you are licensed.  You can be licensed for 30 years, but if you only do two transactions per year (which is the average of all licensees), you are not going to be as effective in marketing your listings or negotiating contracts as someone who does 20 or 30 transactions per year.

That’s the problem with hiring relatives — you dispense with those qualifying questions, despite the fact that you are talking about the biggest transaction you will undertake in a given year (or decade).

If you feel bad about not using the relative, ask him or her to help you find the best agent, and that agent will pay your relative a referral fee.

Advantages of Listing With a Golden Real Estate Agent:

¨ Your listing is featured in my newspaper ad and in this blog.

¨ You and the buyer get free use of our moving truck — not just for moving, but also for decluttering, moving excess furniture to storage, etc. We also provide both parties with free moving boxes, wrapping paper and bubble wrap.

¨ Your home will be featured in a YouTube video that is linked to the MLS,, Trulia and Zillow, as well as our own website.

¨ We will take HDR photos, not just point-and-shoot photos of every room

¨ We will provide a free staging consultation to help your home show its best

¨ We will utilize a custom URL (web address) for your home so it’s easy to find online.

¨ We will give your home its own web page and enhance your home’s listing on, Trulia, Zillow and other websites.

¨ We will hold multiple open houses, as you wish, and as weather and manpower permits.

Just Listed: Ranch-Style Home Near Golden High School

[Published Aug. 14, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

2901 S. Golden Road, Golden
This original brick ranch home was built in 1954 with excellent craftsmanship.  Once you see it you'll agree — they don't make ’em like this anymore!  The home is just a few blocks from the new Vitamin Cottage being built at 24th Street and East Street.  Golden High School is nearly as close.  The home faces southwest with views of the Front Range and Lookout Mountain.  Last sold in 1973, this is truly a “diamond in the rough” with 1,088 square feet on the main floor and another 1,088 square feet of unfinished space in the basement.  There are two bedrooms and one bathroom, a galley kitchen with eat-in area, plus a formal living room and formal dining room.  Wait until you see the backyard, it's like a private park with mature trees and terraced landscaping.  A 12’ x 40’ covered porch on the backside of the home is great for gatherings.  There is an oversized (12’x29’) carport.  Take a narrated video tour on the above website.
Listed by Mark Spencer

Just Listed: Mountain Getaway Near the Casinos

[Published Aug. 14, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

28 Pinon Circle, Black Hawk
Don't miss the charming mountain home on nearly an acre of useable land in the Missouri Lakes subdivision. This 3-bed, 2-bath home has 1,800 finished square feet and a 1-car oversized garage. Its corner lot has great trees & privacy and is only 2 miles from Black Hawk's casinos. Enjoy views of the Continental Divide from the wrap around deck. It has a fenced yard, rock outcroppings, natural gas heat and a cozy freestanding gas fireplace. It has energy efficient windows, new paint, and very low taxes. Great location near National Forest, Rec Center, school, library, & Golden Gate State Park.
Listed by Carrie Lovingier.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Don’t Quit Your Job & Other Pre-Closing Advice

[Published August 7, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section]

Every now and then it happens despite our best efforts to warn against it — a buyer will do something that causes the lender to withdraw loan approval just before closing.

It happened again this week to the client of one of our broker associates. A lender called the buyer’s employer on the morning of closing to verify employment and was told, “Oh, she doesn’t work here any more.”  She had quit on Friday so she could start her own company. Nothing could be done to salvage the closing, and not only did this buyer not get the home she was going to move into the next day, but she lost her earnest money deposit too, because the loan objection deadline was a week ago.

Please, dear buyers, learn from her sad experience.  You should do nothing to affect your credit between loan application and closing!  Don’t buy new furniture for your home, don’t buy a car, don’t even pay off any debts. Your lender will pull a credit report a second time just before closing and, as described above, verify your continued employment.

Loan officers and Realtors warn their clients about this pitfall, but every now and then the warnings are not heeded.  Don’t let this tragedy happen to you!


Five New Listings from Golden Real Estate

857 S. Van Gordon St. #C-205, Lakewood
Video Tour at
Ponderosa Ridge is a subdivision of nine buildings, each with 12 condos.  The address for all 108 condos is 857 S. Van Gordon Court.  This unit is #205 in Building C, near the back of the property. It has 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  Unlike most of the units in this Green Mountain complex, it has washer and dryer hook-ups in the unit, and the stacked washer and dryer are included. So is the refrigerator. All you have to do is move in —and you get free use of our moving truck for that!  The $252/month HOA fee includes heat (hot water baseboard), water (including hot water), and use of the community swimming pool.  The only utility you pay for is electricity.  OPEN SATURDAY, 1-4 PM.
1937 Foothills Road, Golden
This home at 1937 Foothills Road is located in the geographic middle of Golden’s Beverly Heights, that favorite subdivision for a generation of professors from the Colorado School of Mines which is in walking distance across Highway 6. (A grade separated intersection is being built there next year to make pedestrian and bicycle crossing easier.) This home has been meticulously maintained by its owner and features 4 bedrooms, an updated kitchen with Corian counters, an oversized deck with retractable awning, two fireplaces, and a beautifully landscaped yard with fruit trees and garden. Take the video tour, then call for a private showing!  OPEN SATURDAY, 1-4 PM.
2968 Pierson Way, Lakewood
This home at 2968 Pierson Way is one of the nicest homes you’ll find in the coveted Applewood Knolls neighborhood of Lakewood. It has hardwood floors throughout, hot water heat, and a beautifully updated kitchen. The backyard was recently landscaped professionally, and is extra private with its 6’ cedar privacy fence on all sides. The sellers are leaving the high-end table and chairs on the oversized deck, as well as all the appliances, including the high efficiency washer & dryer.  All the windows (except in the unfinished basement) are low-E triple-pane vinyl windows, and the five-year-old vinyl siding has foam insulation. 
607 Texas Street, Golden
Video Tour in Production at

      This charming ranch-style home at 607 Texas Street was just listed by broker associate Suzi Nicholson. Located off Ford Street in north Golden, it is just a block from Norman D Memorial Park with its new playground and gazebo, and a short walk from downtown Golden. The seller (who has lived here for 40 years!) has maintained the home well, making some updates and recently creating a retreat in the beautifully landscaped backyard. The home has three bedrooms on the main floor and two more in the basement.  There is a wood-burning fireplace on the main floor and a brick accent wall in the basement.  Enjoy the view of North Table Mountain from this 1/4-acre property. 

2901 S. Golden Road, Golden
Video Tour in Production at
     This 2-bedroom, 1-bath home, listed by broker associate Mark Spencer, is a true “diamond in the rough,” located a few blocks from the new Vitamin Cottage.