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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Testimonial from a Recent Client (Dick and Nan Bryant)

     Nan and I were really impressed with the knowledge and assistance that Jim and Kim provided to us. They did not overlook any details and the sale and the closing was so wonderful.. Everything happened like clockwork. We are in our early 80's and the trauma of downsizing was a concern. They were wonderful and we will recommend them to our friends, some younger than us, should we learn that they will be moving or downsizing.              

Selling a Home on the 1st or 2nd Day (or Without Listing at All) Is Just Not Smart

It’s no surprise that the number of listings “for sale by owner” is at a record low in our current real estate market. To some readers, that may sound counterintuitive — why pay a listing commission when it’s so easy to sell a home? But this is precisely when you need professional representation the most.

When it’s “this easy” to sell a home, you still need to price a home just right and then be prepared to handle tons of showings and plenty of offers. Sorry to tell you, but you’re not so well equipped to handle these tasks!

Let’s consider them one at a time. Pricing your home “just right” is not so easy.  Maybe you give credence to Zillow’s “Zestimate” of your home’s value, but no Realtor does. Zestimates deserve even less credence than the valuations of county assessors. Like you, Zillow doesn’t have access to the more accurate valuation tools we use.
If your agent is a member of a Realtor association, he or she has access to RPR, which stands for Realtor Property Resource. This valuation tool is only available to listing agents who are Realtors.  Except for really unique properties with hardly any comparable sales to cite, I’ve found RPR to be very accurate. Send me an email request and I’ll send you a free RPR report on your home. (Don’t be shy about requesting it — it’s quick and free for me to create and send it to you.)
The second valuation tool, which any member of our MLS can access — not just Realtors — is called Realist. When I’m preparing for a listing appointment, I pull a valuation on both RPR and Realist, and often they are close to each other — and far from the Zestimate!  I’d be happy to email you both reports, so you can compare them to Zillow’s valuation of your own house.
The third document I create in preparation for a listing appointment is a spreadsheet of comparable sales near the subject property, using an MLS program called Virtual Office. 

Above is an example of that spreadsheet which I created for an actual listing. I’ve obscured the addresses of the comps, but you can see they’re all townhouses. They’re in the same complex as the 2-bedroom, 2-bath townhouse with 1,172 square feet, plus an unfinished basement, that I listed. Except for having a finished basement, the comp I highlighted is identical to my listing. As you can see, it was listed for $230,000 and sold in 5 days for $241,700. The RPR report for my listing came in at $237,000 and the Realist report came in at $233,000.
What would you have listed it for? I listed it for $235,000.  Despite a lot of wear & tear from being a rental (especially the worn carpets), and despite a furnace and A/C that really needed replacing, we closed on it this week for more than the listing price — something we wouldn’t have accomplished by listing it for more.
Now let me address the “tons of showings” and “plenty of offers.”  When listing without an agent, the seller is really challenged on both counts.  One of the most important services you receive from a listing agent is the handling of showings, hopefully by a showing service like Showing Time or Centralized Showing Service.  (I prefer CSS.)
You can’t hire these services yourself, so how are you going to handle all those showing requests — although you won’t get as many by not listing your home on the MLS?  Worse than the showing requests is the flood of solicitations you will get from agents whose primary source of business is prospecting “by owner” listings. There’s only one known cure for this annoyance, since the no-call list doesn’t apply when you advertise your home for sale, and that is to list your home with one of them (or us). Only then will the calls stop!
Back to the value of a showing service. They screen each caller to make sure they are licensed. After calling you to approve the showing (unless you’ve said that’s not necessary), they give the lockbox code and showing instructions to the showing agent, along with your own detailed instructions such as “remove shoes or use booties” or “dog in garage—don’t enter.” Later, the showing service sends multiple email requests for feedback to each agent and forwards responses to your agent and/or you immediately. You need that feedback!
Okay, you’ve listed your home “by owner,” and you have several agents submitting offers. You’re the only party to your transaction without professional representation! How do you negotiate those multiple offers to your advantage? Trust me, having an agent experienced in that process is worth money in your pocket and gray hairs off your head!
Few agents know what the 10 agents at Golden Real Estate know, which is how to “work” multiple offers to your advantage. If an agent sells listings in 1 or 2 days, he or she does not use our approach and probably won’t get you the best deal. When you see 0 days on market, it means there was little or no possibility of working with competing offers. That does not serve you.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Testimonial from a Recent Client:-- Brenda Bronson

Jim, I always recommend your company to buy and sell homes. You and your brokers do a terrific job. My son Nathan made out so well selling both his townhomes through you and buying his Lakewood townhome and, more recently, his single family home, just a few blocks from us, through your company. So glad we know you! You and your broker associate Chuck Brown add value and integrity to real estate! 

Just Listed: Two Great Ranch-Style Homes in Golden

I can barely touch upon the many features of the first home at 1453  Jesse Lane (at right), which was just listed by Chuck Brown. Built in 2012, it has many of the upgrades demanded by today’s picky buyers—porcelain tile floors, 10-foot ceilings, gourmet kitchen with slab granite counters and cherry cabinets, plantation shutters, and more. The finished basement has 2 of the home’s 5 bedrooms, a family room with wet bar and plenty of storage. This home’s in great condition too, being lived in only six months each year. What will really help to sell this home, however, is its location — an easy walk or bike ride to White Ranch and North Table Mountain open space parks, or to Clear Creek and downtown  Golden. Listed at $910,000.  For a more detailed description and guided video tour, visit this home’s website at, or call Chuck at 303-885-7855. Open this Saturday, April 22nd, 1 to 3 p.m.

Not far from the above listing and closer to downtown Golden and North Table Mountain park, is this 1960’s 3-bedroom, 2-bath brick ranch, also with a finished basement, at 308 Iowa Drive, listed by Jim Swanson. Its private backyard backs to the Foss Ranch. Listed at $495,000.  See a video tour at, or call Jim at 303-929-2727.  Open Saturday, April 22nd. 11am - 2 pm.

Published April 20, 2017, in the Denver Post's YourHub section and in four Jefferson County weekly newspapers.

What Makes for Success in Real Estate? Here’s What Golden Real Estate Does

Last week I mentioned how Golden Real Estate was honored for coming in third among metro brokerages of our size in the number of transactions completed in 2016.

In this week’s column, I’d like to share my personal strategy for success in real estate, which has evolved into a company-wide strategy serving all agents — and benefiting clients.

Decades ago I adopted what I thought was a quote by Confucius. My sister had it posted on her refrigerator. Thanks to Google, I discovered that it wasn’t a quote by Confucius, but it could have been. “Concentrate on giving, and the getting will take care of itself.”  That philosophy underlies this column and its success in attracting clients for me and our agents. The time most real estate agents spend prospecting, I spend coming up with topics on which I can educate myself and then share that knowledge with my readers.
That’s how journalism works. A reporter is given an assignment, learns all he can about it, and then reduces it to a concise article that summarizes what he learned. That’s what I do every week — learn more than I already know about a given topic, then share what I have learned.
I never run out of topics to write about which educate the public — and thereby myself — regarding some aspect of real estate. Sometimes, I’m able to clarify or contradict statistics or statements which I see in the press or on TV.  For example, is the market cooling down or heating up? Are we in another bubble? As a Realtor, I have access to raw data that allows me to address such topics in a way that general assignment reporters can’t.
Giving back is important. Golden Real Estate is a member of two chambers of commerce (Golden & the West Chamber) and one business association. Rita and I are active members the Rotary Club of Golden, and I’m also a member of the Golden Lions Club. Serving in this way is satisfying in itself, and demonstrates our values.  [We are also big supporters of Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver (through Jeffco Interfaith Partners, now called West Metro Interfaith Partners) and Family Promise of Greater Denver.  Two of our agents are big-time volunteers with Golden's Christian Action Guild.  Myself, I'm a long-time member of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society, Golden Solar Tour (now called the Metro Denver Green Home Tour), and the Denver Electric Vehicle Council.]
Another business principle that underlies my practice of real estate is authenticity. Misrepresenting one’s level of success, for example, is not only a violation of the Realtor Code of Ethics, it is not good salesmanship. I consider myself a lifelong learner and don’t “know it all.”
That principle expresses itself in me by being a news and public affairs sponge. I love listening to music as much as the next person, but my car radio is always tuned to the only all-news radio network we have — NPR.   I often hear local real estate stories, since it’s a popular topic these days, but being well informed on other national and world affairs is also important to me.
On the other hand, I have little patience for talk radio, whether conservative or liberal. I’ll listen to analysis and hard news, but I consider opinions a waste of my attention.
In terms of the day-to-day practice of real estate, I know I can’t do it all, so I surround myself with a support team. That team includes, among others, a transaction coordinator, a stager, a photographer, a drone pilot, several lenders, inspectors, and a handyman (who works only for our clients). That said, I don’t over-delegate. I like to get my hands dirty. I’ll put signs in the ground and do my own narrated video tours of each listing, including for my broker associates. Our office manager, Kim Taylor, helps with every aspect of listing and selling homes, but I’m happy to show listings, hold open houses, enter listings on the MLS, create websites for each listing, etc. I don’t just have a team, I’m part of the team.

Another factor in my personal success is surely my full-time accessibility. My cell phone (303-525-1851) is never turned off. I was in Puerta Vallarta all last week, which may come as a surprise to those clients and future clients who reached me on my cell phone and made appointments to meet with me this week. (I also submitted last week’s column from Mexico and will be submitting next week's column from a ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.)
Experience has taught me that “to make money, you need to spend money,” and I never forget that. One example of an expenditure that paid off was our moving truck. I bought our first one at a convention in 2004 and it has been so useful to clients and has built so much goodwill for us among non-profits and community organizations, that I bought a second one last year. In 2008 I also invested in a storage shed for the moving boxes and packing materials that we provide free to clients.
Another “investment” was the purchase of a 10’x20’ chain link enclosure for collecting polystyrene (“Styrofoam”) for recycling. We take at least one truckload per month to a reprocessing facility in Denver, keeping over 200 cubic yards of that material out of landfills every year. Our investment in 20kW of solar panels not only powers our electric cars and our office, it allows us to provide free EV charging to the general public. Both these expenditures send a statement about our values that resonates with our clients and prospective clients.
Back to real estate, we have been early adopters in sometimes expensive ways to improve the quality and exposure of our listings. Years before they were adopted by other brokerages, we invested in drones to take aerial photos and videos of our listings. We also were early adopters of HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology for still photographs of our listings. This produces magazine quality photographs in which every element of a picture, including the view out each window, is perfectly exposed.
By now, you may be thinking I’m a workaholic, but Rita and I do enjoy a personal life, going to the theatre, traveling often, and watching many entertainment programs at home. But when my phone rings (except in a theatre!), I answer it.  I feel my clients deserve that.
Some listing agents put under “broker remarks” (which their sellers don't see) that “Seller requests no Sunday deadlines.” What they’re really saying is that they don’t work on Sunday.  That's not us!

Published April 20, 2017, in the Denver Post's YourHub section and in four Jefferson County weekly newspapers.