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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

When I Became a Realtor 15 Years Ago, I Didn’t Know What I Didn’t Know

As a new Realtor in 2002, I thought experience wasn't all that important. I had taken the required courses and passed the state licensing exam on my first attempt, and I benefited from the terrific “Fast Start” training at Coldwell Banker.  How complicated could it be, I figured, to help a client buy or sell their home?

Obviously, I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and, of course, that will always be the case.  But it’s clear to me that I do know a lot more now than I knew in 2002!

I still learn from every transaction, and that’s the key.  The more transactions that an agent does, the more he or she learns. That’s why we have office meetings every Monday, so that we can keep learning and share what we learn with our fellow agents.
Golden Real Estate agents participated in 104 closings over the last 24 months.  With nine active agents during that time period, that comes to an average of 11.5 closings per agent, which translates into experience you don’t get from all agents. 
I advise buyers and sellers to consider how many transactions an agent has completed rather than how many years they’ve been in business. That information is available at
When you decide to hire a broker you can’t know what that broker doesn’t know – and that could be a lot.  Still, you’ve made a wise decision because it’s a virtual lock that they know more than you do and can more effectively navigate the often tricky waters of real estate transactions than your neighbor who insisted on trying “for sale by owner.”

All brokers are required to take 36 hours of continuing education (CE) classes every three years, and I have taken more than required. However, I think of this newspaper column as my “personal continuing education classroom.” That’s because nearly every column I write requires me to research a particular aspect of real estate. Regardless of the topic, I need to learn more before I can write about it. My practice is to send a draft of each column to one or more known experts on that topic, as well as to my broker associates, for feedback before going to press.
As a result, I can’t recall embarrassing myself by publishing a column that was factually incorrect.
Continuing education is important, and you’ll find many agents who have certifications indicating they’ve completed additional training on one or more real estate specialties. Some popular certifications I look for in other agents when referring business to them include: ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative), CRS (Certified Residential Specialist), GRI (Graduate Realtor Institute) and SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist).  These certifications point to extra training which sets them apart from agents without those certifications. Having these certifications is particularly useful when the agent does not have a high number of transactions under his or her belt.
EcoBroker is another certification that most of the agents at Golden Real Estate have (and that the newer ones are pursuing), indicating special training in energy efficiency, sustainability and solar power, which we feel is so important nowadays, both to save money for the homeowner and to combat the effects of climate change.
Because a home purchase is typically the biggest one most of us ever make, it’s critical that you arm yourself with as much useful information as you can. When you sell your home, you want to make sure that you reap all the gains you deserve.
Toward that end, Golden Real Estate is holding another of its popular workshops, next Tuesday, September 5, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in our South Golden Road office.  I’ll be the primary speaker and I’ll answer your questions pertaining to both buying and selling real estate. The fee is $10, and includes hors d’oeuvres and other refreshments. It also entitles you to a one-hour personal consultation at a later date with myself and/or another Golden Real Estate agent you might meet at the workshop.  It’s important that you register in advance. You may do that by calling me at 303-525-1851 or by sending an email to me at My promise to you is that you will leave empowered to get the best deal for yourself, whether buying or selling.

Bring Your Electric Vehicle to Our Event on Sunday, Sept. 10

Every September, the Golden Real Estate parking lot is one of the sites for National Drive Electric Week.  Our event is being held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, September 10th, and we already have 9 sign-ups bringing different brands and models of electric vehicles. If you have an EV, you can sign up to participate at, and take this opportunity to share your knowledge and experience with members of the general public. Call 303-525-1851 for more info.

Wheat Ridge Ranch Just Listed by David Dlugasch

4505 Teller Street, Wheat Ridge
More pictures & video tour at

This is a one of a kind well maintained and updated custom built home. It has slab granite counter tops, hardwood, tile, and new carpeted flooring. The bathroom has two sinks with slab granite counter top. The windows, hot water heater, forced air furnace and A/C are all newer. It has a brand new roof. The 2-car garage has a half bath and an attached large work area that can be used as a craft, hobby, wood shop, or anything you like. The 1/3-acre lot has its own irrigation well. Don't miss this home on a quiet tree-lined street. Take the narrated video tour (with drone footage) at the website above, then call David at 303-908-4835 for a showing.

Take Outdoor Pictures of Your Home Now In Case You Sell in Winter

By JIM SMITH, Realtor®

I just signed a listing agreement with a seller who doesn’t want his home on the market for a few months, but his front and backyard are so much more beautiful now than they will be in the winter, so we’re shooting the exterior pictures this week.

It’s impossible to know what the future holds for you, so even if you have no plans to put your home on the market, take that smartphone out of your pocket and shoot some exterior pictures with flowers in bloom and trees leafed out, just in case you need to sell your home at a less beautiful time of year.
I have so appreciated it when I list a home in the winter and a seller provides me with photos of the beautiful flowers and trees at prettier times of the year. 
The terrible flooding in Texas suggests another reason to pull out that camera.  Homeowners (and renters) were able to escape their flooded homes with little more than the clothes on their backs and their pets — and probably their smartphones. At least their destroyed possessions will be there for the insurance adjuster to see, but what if it were a fire and there were only ashes when they returned?
Take this opportunity to shoot pictures or a video of each room in your house, recording all your possessions that could be lost in a fire or other catastrophe. If your cell phone pictures are backed up in “the cloud,” it won’t even matter if your cell phone is lost. Go ahead, shoot those pix and videos today.

Consider This Before Renting a Home With a Marijuana Grow Operation

I took a continuing education class last week about Mold, Meth & Marijuana, and I learned something important to share with landlords faced with renting to a tenant who will be growing marijuana. 

According to the instructor, should the Trump administration decide to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws, and should there be a raid on your property with a grow operation, your home could be confiscated unless you successfully claim no knowledge of the operation. It’s called the “innocent owner defense.”  If you have an additional provision in your lease allowing the operation, your opportunity to utilize that defense goes up in… smoke!

Invite Me to Speak to Your Group!

Do you belong to an organization which welcomes outside speakers?  I enjoy speaking to service clubs, senior centers, church groups, and other organizations, at no expense, on the following topics:

> Any aspect of residential real estate
> How seniors can avoid real estate scams
> Electric vehicles and how they work, and why they’re making gas-powered cars obsolete
> Sustainability: It Covers More Than You Think

When I deliver my talk about electric vehicles, I bring my Tesla and offer rides in it after my presentation.
If you’d like me to address your group on any of the above topics, give me a call at 303-525-1851 or send an email to
You can see a 35-minute video of my electric car presentation at and you can see the slides from my sustainability presentation at

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Readers Say I Could Write a Book on Real Estate. Perhaps I Already Have!

I have been writing this weekly column for over a decade. The last 5 years are archived at Below are some of the topics I wrote about going back to October 2014, in case you’d like to look for any. They're all there with links to download each one.  I have highlighted in bold the more popular ones.

What’s a “Material Fact” That Needs to Be Disclosed by Sellers and Agents?
How Many Square Feet Is Your Home?It Depends on the Website
How to Avoid the Most Common Real Estate Mistakes
How Should You Respond to an Offer to Buy Your Home Without Listing It?
My Favorite Sustainable Practices and Home Improvements
Beware the Less Obvious Costs of Ownership When You Buy a Home
What Is Your Capital Gains Tax Liability When You Sell Your Home?
You’ve Heard About Geothermal Heating, But How Does It Work, Anyway?
Do You Have Tenant-Occupied Property? Here’s Advice for Selling It
Post-Closing Occupancy Agreements Can Work for Both Buyers and Sellers
How to Appeal the County Assessor’s Valuation of Your Home
Selling a Home on the 1st or 2nd Day (or Without Listing It) Just Isn’t Smart
First-Time Buyers & Veterans Buying a Home May Be Overlooking a Huge Tax Benefit
When the Fed Raises Interest Rate, Do Mortgage Rates Increase?
What You Need to Know About Buying a New Home from a Builder
How to Find the Right Mortgage Professional
How Do Credit Scores Affect Mortgage Interest Rates?
Dealing With Real Estate Can Be Overwhelming for Senior Citizens
Where Should Zillow Fit Into Your Home Search Process?
What’s the Difference Between a Condo and a Townhome?
The Trend Continues: Winter May Be the Easiest Time to Sell Your Home
Millennials Want to Buy, But They Think It’s Harder Than It Really Is
Some Measures You Can Take to Re-duce Your Winter Energy Bill
Should Sellers Wait for Spring to List Their Homes on the MLS?
HOAs Are Supposed to Serve Members, But Are Often Reviled
Is Your Neighborhood Literally Going to Pot?  Will It Only Get Worse?
For Homeowners Over 62, a Reverse Mortgage Could Make Sense
HOA Transfer Fees Can Be Excessive & They Benefit the Management Company, Not the HOA
Why Should Buyers Even Look for Homes When Inventory Is So Low?
Did You Know? The ‘Grace’ Period on Your Mortgage Payment Isn’t Free
Who Pays for What When You Buy or Sell Real Estate?  It’s All Negotiable
Metro Area Property Tax Rates Vary Much More Than You Might Realize
House Hunting? How Do You Find a Home That Fits Your Lifestyle?
‘High Performance’ Homes Go Far Beyond Energy Efficiency & Solar Power
What Are the Services You Can and Should Expect an Agent to Perform?
Thinking of Becoming a Realtor? You Might Think Twice Based on This Survey
Considering Solar? We Can Help You Sort Through the Financing Options
What Is a Buyer’s Recourse When the Seller Fails to Disclose a Known  Serious Defect?
Here Are Some of the Common Pricing Mistakes Made by Sellers and Their Listing Agents
What Is a “Variable Commission” and Why Should Sellers Demand It?
Whose Side Is Your “Agent” On?  What You Need to Know About Agency Laws in Colorado
Did Your Listing Agent Find Your Buyer?  He Might Have Been Acting in His Best Interest and Not Yours
Some Listing Agents Seem Confused About How to Handle Multiple Offers
Higher Property Values Mean Higher Property Taxes, But Doesn’t That Conflict With TABOR?
Why Sellers Should Want Multiple Offers and How to Get Them
Colorado’s Property Tax System Makes It Costly to Keep Vacant Land Vacant
Questions to Ask When Interviewing a  Realtor About Listing Your Home
Cheap Electricity From Renewables Is Revolutionizing the Utility Industry
Here’s Some Different Advice for Buyers and Sellers in the Current Market
Chart Demonstrates Our Seller’s Market — More Sales from Fewer Listings
As a Listing Agent, I Used to Think Buyer Agents Were Overpaid, But Not Anymore
Understanding the Resale Value of Roof-Top Solar Installations
Understanding Real Estate Property Taxes and Why They Vary So Much
Some Pros and Cons of Buying and Selling During the Holiday Season
Here’s Some of What I Learned at the Realtor Convention/Expo
Deciding When It’s Time to Downsize Is a Very Personal Decision
What Is the Value of Hiring a Realtor When You Can Sell Your Home Without One?
Is Your Denver Area Home Listed on the Right MLS?  Here’s What You Need to Know
It Can Be Quite Stressful to Buy a Home When You Have to Sell One First
Everyone Has a Friend or Relative in Real Estate, But Should You Use Him or Her?
In Our Internet-Connected Marketplace, What’s the Role of Realtors Now?
A Familiar Challenge: Mom & Dad Need to Go to Assisted Living
Social Media Can Supercharge the Marketing of Real Estate Listings
You’d Be Surprised How Many Agents Compete for Your Business
In Greening Your Home, Where Do You Get the Most Bang for Your Buck?
Realtor Association Says “Marginal Agents Threaten Industry”
What Is Marijuana’s Impact on the Real Estate Market
What Can You Do If You Don’t Have the Money for a Down Payment?
Here’s Your Guide to Appealing the Assessor’s Valuation of Your Home
What’s Your Home’s Value?  Assessor, Zillow & Others Differ Widely
A Seller’s Market Is the Worst Time to Try “For Sale by Owner”
How Should a Seller (and Listing Agent) Handle Multiple Competing Offers?
It Takes Courage (and a Good Realtor) to Sell One House & Buy Another
Fifty Shades of Green: Big & Small Ways for You to “Go Green”
Explaining the Inspection Objection and Resolution Process
Mortgage Lending Gets More Challenging All the Time; Here’s the Latest
The Senior Property Tax Exemption Explained
More Than Ever, Overpriced Homes Sell for Less Than Underpriced Ones
Realtor Association Moves to Increase Realtors’ Professionalism and Skills
Sellers Risk Losing Out If They Sell Without Putting Home on MLS
Buyers Often Pay More Than They Should (in fees) When Buying a Home
Did You Know? You Don’t Need a Roof to Benefit from Solar Power
Buying That First Home May Not Be as Impossible as You Might Believe
Negotiating Multiple Offers Can & Probably Should Resemble an Auction
How Much Does Landscaping Help to Sell a Home?
Pros & Cons of Listing Your Home for Sale During the Holiday Season
Have You Wondered Why Some Homes Don’t Sell, Even in a Seller’s Market?
The Press, With Limited Understanding of Real Estate, Is Easily Manipulated
Did You Have a Bad Real Estate Experience? Here Are Some Actions You Can Take
What Owners of Pre-1978 Homes Need to Know About Lead Based Paint

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Real Estate Transactions Can and Should Be a Win for Both Buyer and Seller

As a member of my local Rotary Club, I recite Rotary’s “Four-Way Test” at the beginning of each weekly meeting. This test of the things we think, say or do was introduced in 1932 as a guiding principle for all Rotarians:

First, is it the TRUTH?

Second, is it FAIR to all concerned?

Third, will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?

Fourth, will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Isn’t that how all real estate transactions should unfold? We believe this at Golden Real Estate and we work diligently to make certain that every transaction results in a win/win, in which both parties are satisfied with the final outcome. You can also think of it in terms of ethics. When both parties and their agents have acted in accordance with the Four-Way Test, you can rest comfortably in the knowledge that ethics have been served.

Telling the truth is not just a nice concept for real estate professionals — it is a legal obligation. We stand to lose our real estate license if we fail to disclose a known material fact about our listing or if we deceive the other party in any way. If we are engaged by a seller who wishes to conceal a defect or other material fact that is known to us, we are obligated to decline that listing.
Even when a buyer of a listing is a “customer” instead of our client, we are legally bound to treat them fairly and honestly. It’s embodied in the Realtor Code of Ethics. Article 1 of the Code reads as follows: “When representing a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant, or other client as an agent, Realtors pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their client. This obligation to the client is primary, but it does not relieve Realtors of their obligation to treat all parties honestly. When serving a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant or other party in a non-agency capacity, Realtors remain obligated to treat all parties honestly.”

Regarding “fairness to all concerned,” we enter the domain of personal integrity rather than of legal requirement. This comes to the forefront when  multiple offers are received, giving a listing agent the opportunity to “double-end” a transaction — that is, to accept an offer from an unrepresented buyer versus one from a buyer who is represented by another agent.  The result of a double-ended transaction is a higher commission for the Seller’s agent, who now doesn’t have to split it with another (buyer’s) agent.

Our legal and ethical responsibility is always to put the client’s interests ahead of our own, which means we are to counsel the Seller to accept the offer that most benefits them, irrespective of how that decision might impact our commission. I think it’s only fair for agents to reduce their commission rate when they don’t have to share their commission. That way, sellers can share in the listing agent’s good fortune — the agent makes more total commission, and the seller nets more in the sale of their home. The result is what all would consider a win/win situation.

But fairness also enters the picture when we are negotiating multiple offers from multiple agents. I feel it’s only fair to let every agent know exactly where their offer stands so that no one is blindsided in our efforts to obtain the best offer for our sellers. That means letting each buyer’s agent know what our current highest offer is, so their buyer has the opportunity to increase their offer. This is standard operating procedure at Golden Real Estate, and I am frequently thanked by agents for managing multiple offers in this manner. (This practice also addresses the Rotarian tenet of “building goodwill and better friendships.”  Even losing bidders appreciate it.)

When a real estate transaction is conducted following the principles and practices I’ve outlined here, the end result is a sale which was beneficial to all parties. 

 The agents of Golden Real Estate may not all be Rotarians, but I can say with confidence that we all practice the Four-Way Test in the way we deal with the public and our colleagues. To me, it’s the only way to be.  Reach the agent of your choice at 303-302-3636.