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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

East Denver Condo Just Listed by Jim Swanson

8225 Fairmount Drive #5-103, Denver

You’ll like this south-facing condominium with 2 bedrooms and 2 full baths. This unit is located on the quiet southwest corner of the Woodside Village complex with outdoor pool. Close to Alameda Avenue with its downtown bus route, the location adjoins the old Lowry Air Force base. AIl appliances are included — refrigerator  stove/oven, microwave, dishwasher, and washer & dryer. There is a cozy rock-faced wood-burning fireplace in the large living space with wood floors and outer patio area. The unit has been refurbished, and is near the Highline Canal bike/pedestrian trail. It is also convenient to the Lowry Center and library. There is one assigned parking space plus plenty of additional parking spaces. You’ll find more pictures plus additional information at the website above, then call Jim Swanson for a private showing at 303-929-2727.

A Couple Important Facts About Flood Insurance

The flooding in Texas and Florida finds many of us wondering how we’re covered in case we experience a similar disaster.

Here’s some of what you need to know:

1) Your homeowner’s insurance covers you for water damage only when the water enters the home before hitting the ground. If the water hits the ground first, it’s considered flooding, and you have to buy flood insurance to be covered for it.

2) Flood insurance does not cover a flooded basement except for items in the basement (such as furnace and water heater) that serve the above-grade floors.

This Year’s Opportunity to Visit Solar & Sustainable Homes Is October 7th

Golden Real Estate is pleased to be a co-sponsor of a tour of solar and sustainable homes, held each fall.  I’m honored to serve on the tour’s steering committee, which works year-round to select homes for participation in this event on the first Saturday of October.

What used to be called the “Golden Solar Tour” is now the Metro Denver Green Homes Tour (look for their ad). It features five clusters of solar and sustainable homes in Arvada/Westminster, Littleton, Denver, Lakewood and Genesee/Evergreen. Tickets are $10. Register at (pre-registration closes at 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6th).   You may also register and pick up your guidebook in person the day of the tour at the Jefferson Unitarian Church (JUC) at 14350 W. 32nd Avenue, about a mile west of I-70 and Youngfield Street, or at 9988 Hoyt Place in Westminster, or 6281 S. Cedar Street in Littleton.
This metro Denver tour is part of a national event sponsored annually by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES). ( Last year, over 30,000 people toured solar and sustainable homes in tours like ours in over 60 cities.
At Golden Real Estate, we care a lot about sustainability (we power both our office and automobiles from the sun), but each year this tour teaches me about sustainable options of which I was previously unaware. If the topic of sustainability interests you — whether for its economic or save-the-planet benefits — I encourage you to sign up for this tour.

Tour hours are 9am to 4pm on Saturday, Oct. 7th. You can start anytime, but all the houses close to visitors at 4pm, after which you’re invited to return to JUC for the reception (offering free food and beverages) and a Green Expo featuring various vendors and non-profit organizations whose on-site representatives can help deepen your understanding of what you may have learned during your tour of the homes.

One stop that you will not want to miss is in the Arvada/Westminster cluster. It’s the GEOS Community of net-zero homes, a 300-unit development that was under construction when it was featured in last year’s tour. It’s on the tour again this year so you can see the finished product. The homes are heated geothermally, without any forced air furnaces, and each home has enough solar panels to power both the home and one electric car. (Every carport has a 240V charging station.) There is a 12-minute YouTube interview I did last year with builder Norbert Klebl, describing the homes’ sustainable features. (Find that video by Googling “GEOS Community Arvada.”) In the interview, Norbert explains the elements of net-zero home construction built into the homes — walls, insulation, windows, conditioning energy recovery ventilators (CERVs), ground-source heat pumps, and more. You might need to watch it more than once to absorb it all!

Other special homes on this year’s tour include a straw bale home in Genesee and a “smart home” with no furnace (thanks to extensive passive solar features) in Westminster. There’s a 1985 passive solar remodel in Arvada and another passive house in south Denver. You’ll find homes with both thermal and photovoltaic systems in Lakewood, and you’ll like the xeriscape gardens you’ll see in Littleton.

Again, this is a self-guided tour. Pick up your guidebook during sign-in, decide which homes you want to see and go to them in any order you wish. Volunteers will be at each location to help explain the solar and/or sustainable features of that house and answer your questions.
An impressive number of new products and technological breakthroughs are introduced regularly in the field of sustainable home-building. Even If you’ve been on this tour before, don’t hesitate to come again this year.  I promise that you’ll learn something new!
Be prepared to learn much you didn’t know about how to make your existing home more economical and sustainable through smart retrofits, not just how to build a sustainable home from scratch. Enjoy the experience, and let me know how it was for you!

Boulder Has a Great Tour, Too!

Another ASES tour that I make a point of attending each year is the one sponsored by the Colorado Green Building Guild. Fortunately, they schedule their tour on a different day, so you can attend both. Their date is Saturday, Sept. 30th. Sign up for their tour online at or in person after 9:30am at 6400 Arapahoe Road in Boulder.  Their tour runs from 10am to 3:30pm and is followed by a celebratory after-party. The cost is $15. Seriously, you don’t want to miss their event, even if you’re planning to attend the metro Denver tour the following Saturday, Oct. 7th.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

When Buying or Selling a Pre-1978 Home, Lead-Based Paint Is a Big Deal

You might think that nearly 40 years after lead-based paint was outlawed that it would no longer be an issue, but you’d be wrong.

Over the past decade I have witnessed an increased rather than decreased attention to this issue.  Just read Section 10.10 of the current state-mandated Contract to Buy and Sell Real Estate (emphasis added):

“Unless exempt, if the improvements on the Property include one or more residential dwellings for which a building permit was issued prior to January 1, 1978, this Contract is void unless (1) a completed Lead-Based Paint Disclosure (Sales) form is signed by Seller, the required real estate licensees and Buyer, and (2) Seller receives the completed and fully executed form prior to the time when this Contract is signed by all parties.”

It’s not uncommon for this requirement to be fudged by the parties and their agents, but doing so can create serious problems.

In order for this rule to be followed, it is critical that the listing agent make available to prospective buyers a lead-based paint disclosure, signed by the seller, prior to them submitting their offer. This can be done by making it a “supplement” to the MLS listing. The buyer’s agent must then have their buyer sign that form — and sign it themselves — and submit it with their offer.

Notice that the deadline for all parties signing is not upon submission of the contract, but upon the contract being accepted (signed) by the seller. Therefore, the listing agent should take care to see that all parties have signed the Lead-Based Paint Disclosure before allowing the seller to go under contract with a buyer.
Not only can the violation of this rule subject the buyer, seller and both agents to a fine of $16,000, it also creates an opportunity for a seller to get out of a buyer’s contract, which is otherwise very difficult for sellers to do.
Imagine, for example, a scenario in which a seller who is already under contract to sell his home receives a much better back-up offer. If it can be shown that the current contract was fully executed before the Lead-Based Paint Disclosure was signed by both parties and their agents, it is conceivable that the listing agent could cite Sec. 10.10 of the contract and declare the contract void for that reason alone, allowing the seller to accept the better offer.
The buyer would have no recourse, because, for starters, he would be admitting that the disclosure had not been signed on time, resulting in that $16,000 fine.


Check Your Sprinkler Zones After Your Lawn Is Aerated

   I’m glad I did!  I was careful to put little flags in the lawn to mark the location of each sprinkler head, but, as luck would have it, one of my lines was punctured by the aeration machine, something I wouldn’t have discovered if I hadn’t run each zone for a couple minutes and watched for water bubbling up through the grass where it shouldn’t.  I recommend that you do the same. If you find a leak, I have a sprinkler guy who can repair it, so call me.

This Talk About Self-Driving Cars Makes No Sense to Me

I use the “autopilot” feature on my Tesla every day, and, as I do, I ask myself, “Could this car drive itself?” I don’t think so. I predict that over time, the automotive industry will abandon talk of totally self-driving cars and use what they’ve learned to make driving safer — with drivers always behind the wheel.

Every day I encounter situations that no software, however much improved, could handle. For example:

* Avoiding a cat or other small animal that darts across the street.
* Recognizing rough pavement and choosing the best path through or around it.
* Executing an alternate merge when two lanes reduce to a single lane by effectively anticipating other drivers’ actions.
* Making the right decision — ditch vs. median — when a wrong-way driver suddenly comes toward you.
* Moving left or slowing down, as required by law, when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle.
* Avoiding debris or potholes, especially debris that has just fallen off a vehicle you are following.
These are only a few of countless unforeseeable situations that we as drivers encounter every time we get behind the wheel.
Proponents of self-driving cars point out that 90% or more of accidents are the result of human error and say that computers could do better. Computers aren’t distracted like we are — no phones, no snacking, no radio adjustments, no texting, no looking at passengers or scenery. But the answer is not to replace us as drivers but to keep improving the assistance we are already getting, such as adaptive cruise control and emergency braking, but we should never take our hands off the wheel.
Not to be overlooked is whether or not passengers will feel safe and secure in a driverless automobile. Planes fly themselves, but pilots stay at the controls.

Just Listed: Remarkable Lakewood Home on ½ Acre

7470 Pike View Court, Lakewood 
Narrated Video Tour at

You won’t find a better brick ranch, inside or out, than this 3-bed/2-bath home just east of Wadsworth Boulevard, between 24th and 26th Avenues. Inside you’ll appreciate the gleaming hardwood floors and beautiful porcelain tile floors, the included appliances (especially the super high-end Samsung washer & dryer with steam cycles and pedestals), the amazing sunroom, the five-zone mini-split heating and cooling system, and the Anderson windows. Outside, the landscaping will draw equal or greater admiration, including the 3-tier water feature, flagstone patio and multiple other gathering areas. Best of all, the $14,000 worth of high-end chairs, tables, umbrellas and more is included in the purchase price of this home! Watch the narrated video tour to appreciate it all! Thanks to the May hail storm, the roof and extra-wide gutters are brand new, too. The half-acre lot is irrigated by ditch water costing only $70 per year. You really don’t want to miss this fine home!  Open House: Saturday, Sept. 23rd, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Seller’s Market Shows Continued Strength — How Long Will It Last?

The charts below show the continued strength of Jefferson County’s and Denver's residential real estate market. The number of sold listings keeps rising despite a decline in active listings. The median sold price has doubled in just 5 years from about $200,000 to $400,000, and the average home now sells for about 100% of its listing price. 

The decline in active listings is not due to a lack of new listings. The problem — if you want to call it that — is that new listings go under contract so quickly. Median days on market has been under 10 most of this year. As I’m writing this on Monday, there are 1,228 active Jeffco listings, but another 1,299 listings are under contract.  In Denver, there are 1,837 active Denver listings, but another 1,605 listings are under contract. Call me for statistics on your section of Jefferson County or Denver.

Jefferson County statistics:

Denver statistics:

What Should and Shouldn’t You Fix When Preparing to Sell Your Home?

When I’m interviewed by prospective clients about listing and selling their home, one of the most common questions they ask me is whether they should make a certain improvement or repair or replace a particular fixture or appliance.

This week I’d like to share with you my response to such questions.

Periodically, the National Association of Realtors does a “cost vs. value” analysis which determines the return on investment (“ROI”) for different renovations or improvements that a homeowner might make. Consistently, the ROI is under 100%.

If you’re not going to increase what you get for your home by at least what you spend on an improvement, why do it? 

Homeowners will often make expensive improvements when they want to sell their home. My advice is to make only those improvements that you would enjoy yourself, and make them sooner, rather than later so you have an opportunity to enjoy them. Of course, you’ll want to make these improvements with an eye toward whether a future buyer might like them, but make them to enjoy yourself since, when the time comes to sell, almost no improvement you have made will return more dollars than you spent on it.
My advice to homeowners who are ready to sell is to concentrate on eliminating negatives instead of making improvements. Look for the things in your house which are bound to create a negative impression on a buyer.  I call them “eyesores.”

For example, replace worn carpet, especially older shag carpets. If the carpet is okay but rippled, have the carpet stretched. Refinish hardwood floors that show obvious wear. Repair and repaint damaged walls.

Replace your kitchen counters only if they would draw a negative comment in a visitor’s eye, but not just because they aren’t updated. Formica countertops of a neutral color that are in good condition may be outdated, but they rarely diminish a buyer’s interest in your home.
Does your bathroom have those 1970’s (or earlier) fixtures with matching pastel colors? Replacing them will probably not give you a return on your investment.
Of course, these are generalizations, and you really should have a set of “fresh eyes” to give 
you advice on your floors, walls, kitchen and bathrooms. We have 10 broker associates at Golden Real Estate and often I will bring one of them with me on the first meeting with a prospective client. Two of my broker associates are staging consultants and one even has a degree in interior design, so they can provide valuable insight.
What if one of the issues is something that is not obvious but will become an inspection issue, such as an extremely old furnace or aluminum wiring that hasn’t been mitigated?
These hidden defects need to be disclosed but it’s not typically necessary to address them in advance. Instead, save them for possible use as negotiating points when responding to inspection demands.
Let’s say that your buyer submits an inspection objection asking you to replace the 20-year-old furnace (which is working okay but beyond its useful lifespan) and to “pig-tail” your aluminum wiring. If you haven’t mitigated the aluminum wiring before listing, you can respond to the buyer’s demands by saying, “I’ll fix the aluminum wiring, but I won’t replace the furnace,” and the buyer will probably be happy.  But if you had mitigated the aluminum wiring before listing, you can’t play that card and may have to replace your furnace to keep the buyer from terminating.
Keep in mind that an old furnace and aluminum wiring are not visible to buyers the way a worn hardwood floor or rippled carpet are, and replacing the furnace or mitigating the aluminum wiring before putting your home on the market will not bring you more offers, and not doing so won’t reduce the number of offers you receive.
Sellers also ask me if they should buy a transferable home warranty before listing because of their older appliances. Again, I urge sellers to save that move as an effective response to an inspection objection requesting replacement of those appliances.
If you’re wondering what you should or shouldn’t do before selling, invite us to meet with you in your home.  Call me at 303-525-1851.

Find Consumer-Oriented Real Estate Videos on Our Website

One of the many resources you’ll find at are several professional videos created to educate buyers and sellers about real estate. Find them under the “Buyers” tab on our site.

The titles of the videos are:
· Selecting Your Real Estate Agent
· Pricing Your Home to Sell
· Preparing Your Home to Sell
· 8 Steps to Buying a Home
· Financing Options

These videos are provided under license from noted real estate trainer David Knox  Let me know if you find them useful.