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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Many Insurance Companies Have Raised Their Deductible for Hail Damage

Perhaps you were surprised, as I was, following the May 8th hail storm, to discover that your deductible for hail damage was higher than in the past. The last time I had a claim, the same insurance deductible ($1,000) was applied to all losses, but now I’m finding that a different deductible applies to hail claims.  My insurer is Liberty Mutual, and the deductible for hail is calculated at 0.5% of the replacement value of my home, capped at $2,500. Other insurers have even higher deductibles for hail.

For example, Belmar Commons, a community of 45 townhomes, has a master policy with a 2% deductible for hail losses, and the HOA had to impose a special “loss assessment” of over $5,600 per unit to cover their quarter-million-dollar insurance deductible. (Note: If you live in a condo or townhome community with a master insurance policy and purchase a “condo” policy, consider paying for a rider that covers such loss assessments — with its own deductible, of course!)
I’m told that “split deductibles” have been introduced over the past several years, with some companies applying different fixed deductibles for wind/hail losses vs. other losses, and others applying deductibles of up to 5% of the home’s valuation on such claims. If you’ve been with the same company for over 10 years, you probably have a policy without a higher deductible for hail, but if you change insurers thinking you’ll save on insurance, you may end up losing more than you save if you suffer a wind or hail loss in the future.
Many Coloradans saw an increase in their insurance premiums following the 2013 floods and the more recent wildfires, and we’ll quite likely see more increases because of this hail storm and other severe weather events, both past and projected.
It’s the nature of the insurance industry that the risk and cost of weather-related losses is spread out among all policy holders. So, just because you were not affected directly by the May 8th hail storm does not mean that you won’t pay a price for it and for other weather-related losses when your policy renews.

This should be a wake-up call for homeowners regarding the impact of climate change, and that impact goes beyond increases in insurance premiums. Earlier this month the Union of Concerned Scientists released a study concluding that within 20 years almost 200 coastal American cities may become unlivable due to chronic flooding caused by rising sea levels. Chronic flooding is defined as 26 or more flooding events per year — or one every two weeks.  When that becomes the norm, people start thinking about moving to higher, safer ground.

Climate change is also responsible for the increase in severe weather events such as tornadoes. I watch national news programs each night and am struck by how places like New England are now experiencing tornadoes and other weather events which I don’t recall happening when I lived there.
Yes, the premiums on homeowner’s insurance will increase, but consider for a moment the possible impact of more people moving to Colorado from cities which experience more flooding or other severe weather. People looking to move out of areas impacted by flooding, tornadoes or other weather-related catastrophes will be looking at the map for states with less flooding and severe weather. Fortunately, Colorado is blessed — for now — with fewer severe weather events than many other areas of the country.

I’ve always wondered why insurance companies “gave” us a new roof after a hail storm, even if the roof was already quite old.  This is different, say, from car insurance, where an insurer will “total” a car when the cost to repair the car exceeds a certain percentage of the book value of the car. 

Insurers are already “depreciating” the value of wood shake roofs, meaning that they assign a certain “life span” to a wood shake roof — say, 15 years. If that roof is totaled, they will allow only its depreciated value instead of applying a deductible to the total cost of replacing it. If the roof is 15 years old, you might get very little — even though you've been paying a premium for having a roof that is considered a fire hazard.
Liberty Mutual paid an additional $7,000 to remove and reinstall the solar panels on my roof, even though I don’t pay a higher premium for those panels.  I hesitate to say it, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see insurance companies begin charging more for homes with solar panels to cover that cost.

We’ll be diving deeper into this subject on the “Golden Real Estate” show this Saturday at 3pm on AM 630 KHOW.  All our shows are streamed on Facebook Live, where they are also archived. Find them at

We’ll have insurance experts as guests and will also take your phone calls.

If Living ‘Off the Grid’ Is Your Dream, This Is Your Dream Home!

1795 York Gulch Road, Idaho Springs
Narrated Video Tour at

Regular readers of my YourHub column know that Golden Real Estate and I are totally committed to sustainable living. So you can believe me when I say that this 7-acre, 3-bedroom, 2,072-sq.-ft. home is my favorite listing ever. If I were ready to retire or could telecommute, I’d move here myself.  It is a well engineered home, completely self-sufficient regarding electricity and water, with a passive solar design. Eighteen solar panels with battery storage provide uninterrupted electricity, with two backup generators that are hardly ever needed. County maintained roads lead right to this property, and a firehouse is less than a mile away. With its surprisingly good cell service and internet access, this would be a great home for a telecommuter. At 9,000 foot elevation — with a great view of the Continental Divide — it needs no A/C and is so well insulated that you could heat it using its two wood stoves, although it does, of course, have a forced air furnace and two wall heaters.  (It has been years since the buried 1,000-gallon propane tank was refilled, and it currently has 300 gallons in it.) The acreage is mostly south facing, so snow melts quickly, making this a fine year-round home, considering its elevation and long driveway with six switchbacks. If you like the idea of being in the mountains yet only 30 minutes from Denver and great skiing, you should watch the narrated video tour which I created at the website above, then call your own agent (or me at 303-525-1851) for a private showing!  This home is 3 miles from the Fall River Road exit of I-70 (Exit 238). Enjoy the proximity to hiking, skiing, biking & more.  An adjoining buildable 5-acre lot (listed for $95,000) is also available for $85,000 to the buyer of this property.

Come to Golden This Coming Weekend for Buffalo Bill Days

Golden Real Estate is once again a co-sponsor of this signature event in downtown Golden and, as always, our two moving trucks and Tesla will be an entry in the “Best of the West Parade” on Washington Avenue at 10 a.m.  We like “fueling up” for it at the annual pancake breakfast in the 10th Street fire station, which benefits Golden’s volunteer fire department. Come join the fun!

We Enjoy Speaking to Service Clubs and Other Groups About Real Estate

Do you belong to a group that welcomes outside speakers?  My broker associates and I are happy to give complimentary presentations on all aspects of real estate. For example, we have a presentation specifically geared to senior audiences, with advice on how to avoid being manipulated or cheated regarding real estate. We also have presentations on sustainable practices and electric cars.  Call me at 303-525-1851 if you’d like to schedule a presentation.

Preview my presentation on electric vehicles at

See the PowerPoint slides from my presentation on sustainability at

Why Aren’t Carbon Monoxide & Fire Detectors Required in Garages?

Most garages have gasoline and other flammable liquids stored in them and have cars which can kill you with their emissions, so I find it interesting that building codes don’t require smoke/fire or carbon monoxide detectors in the garage. The code requires self-closing fire doors and fire-rated drywall construction to slow the movement of fire from garage to house, but why not smoke and CO detectors?

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Here’s Some Advice When Downsizing and Prepping a Home for Market

     On Sunday I had the opportunity to visit a couple in their 80’s who are long-time friends of mine. They are moving into a senior apartment next January, and they sought my advice about fixing up their home and what to do about all their furniture and other possessions which won’t fit in their new home.
     Since this dilemma is shared by many others, I thought I’d share with you the advice I gave to this couple.
     Their first question was about what to fix or improve before putting their home on the market. I advised against fixing or repairing anything that isn’t an eyesore. An “eyesore” is anything that draws negative attention during a showing. This could include stained carpeting or a damaged countertop. Concentrate on these eyesores, and don’t make any other improvements unless they are incredibly cost effective — that is, cheap and easy to do. Do not install new countertops or cabinets just because the current ones are plain or out-dated.  Unless they’re damaged and might stand out to a buyer during a showing, leave them alone.
    They believed their basement slab might need mud-jacking and wanted to know if they should get that done. My recommendation was that they save such known items to serve as post-home-inspection bargaining chips. By leaving the slab unfixed, they have it as something they can agree to (or not) in lieu of doing other things on the buyer’s list of requested repairs.
    The next question was what to do about the furniture they can’t take with them.  Since this couple will be renting instead of buying and don’t need to sell before moving into their new apartment, I suggested that it might make sense for them to get settled in their new place before putting the home on the market. The furniture they don’t want (and there is lots of it) can be used for staging the home. There will be plenty of time to deal with the remaining furniture once they are securely under contract.
Also, I pointed out that some or all of the furniture might be purchased by the buyer, and they should not hold a garage or estate sale before I can work on making that happen. What I like to do in such a situation is to (1) price the house, as I usually do, to attract multiple bidders, then (2) print out a fair price list for the furnishings and leave it on the kitchen counter for buyers to see. More than once, the competitive nature of a multiple-offer scenario has prompted the winning bidder to purchase everything on the list – even though they might not actually have needed it This can only be accomplished when you get multiple buyers bidding against each other, which means you have to price the house just right and not at some “wished-for” price.
    Call me at 303-525-1851 for additional advice tailored to your specific situation.

Bi-Level Home in Lakewood’s Majestic Heights

917 Nelson Street, Lakewood
Take a Narrated Video Tour at

Majestic Heights is the subdivision located between Oak and Kipling Streets, between 6th Avenue and the light rail line along 13th Avenue. The Oak Street light rail station is a short walk from this fine home and an entrance to Sunset Park is only a block away! With 1,744 square feet of living space, it has four bedrooms (plus a study) and two baths, plus a spacious one-car garage. There are hardwood floors on the main level and a large wood deck overlooking the private backyard, thanks to mature trees.  I’ll be holding it open this Sunday July 23rd, from 11 to 1.  Meanwhile, visit the website above to learn more about this home’s many features and to view a narrated video tour, including drone footage. Or call me at 303-525-1851 to see it.



Just Listed: Rare 1-Story Belmar Townhome

616 S. Yarrow Street, Lakewood
Take a Narrated Video Tour at

This ranch-style townhouse is in the highly coveted community of Belmar Commons. This end unit features 2 bedrooms and 2 baths plus a separate hobby room off the patio. This is one of the largest townhouses in Belmar Commons and one of only four one-story units. Additional features include a 2-car garage and partial basement. You’ll love the location of this quiet community, which is within walking distance of Belmar Park, Belmar Library, Lakewood Heritage Center, and the Belmar shopping district. 

Visit for HDR quality interior and exterior photos, plus a narrated video tour with drone footage of this special community and the surrounding area. 

Call Andrew Lesko at 720-550-2064 or email him at to schedule a showing.  Open Sat. & Sun., July 22 & 23, 11am to 3pm.


Two Bungalows in Denver’s Barnum Neighborhood

These two bungalows —at  41 S. Osceola Street (right) and 315 Osceola Street (below) are located in that west Denver neighborhood named after PT Barnum, the famous circus promoter who in 1878 bought 760 acres here (for $11,000) — not as a winter home for his elephants, as legend has it. Barnum has always been a working class neighborhood, and is currently the hottest real estate market in Denver.  In the past 12 months there have been 64 sales of bungalows like these, with median time on market of 5 days, averaging 100.6% of listing price. Average price per square foot is $272.  The home above (41 S. Osceola, with 2 bedrooms & 1 bath) comes in at $300/sq. ft., but makes up for that by having great curb appeal and an oversized 2-car garage on the alley, plus a storage shed. 

The home at left (315 Osceola, with a master suite addition on the back for 200 sq. ft. additional living space) comes in at $244/sq. ft. and has an oversized 1-car garage accessed by a driveway. Both homes are occupied by good tenants, but the tenant for 41 S. Osceola is leaving when her lease expires in December, and the tenant for 315 Osceola is month-to-month starting in September and wants to stay.  Get more details on each listing at Call 303-525-1851 for a showing.

Golden Real Estate’s 10th Anniversary Party Was a Great Success!

Golden Real Estate, Inc. was founded on July 7, 2007, so we threw a party on July 14, 2017 to celebrate our 10th anniversary!  There were several elements to this party.  First, of course, was the food -- catered by Tequila's Family Mexican Restaurant, plus a "Happy Anniversary" sheet cake from King Soopers.  Broker associate Jim Swanson's rock band, Lakeside Doublewide, played three sets once the rain stopped, to the delight of our guests.  We had a mini-expo of sustainability companies, too -- Golden Solar (which installed our solar panels), GB3 Energy Solutions, which super-insulated our office building, and Alpine Building Performance, which does energy audits free for our buyer clients. We had four electric cars on display, including a 2017 Chevy Volt, Chevy Bolt, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model X.  The Model X entertained the crowd with its special sound & light show, orchestrated by owner Steve Stevens. Lastly, broker associate Kim Taylor piloted our drone over the event, which is now posted on our Facebook page. The Golden Chamber of Commerce was there with a ceremonial ribbon cutting in front of our sign.  All in all, it was a fun evening, and we thank everyone for coming and helping us start our second decade of providing "Hometown Service Delivered With Integrity."View drone video at