Renters Aren’t Taking Advantage of Rent-With-Right-to-Purchase Program

Renters face many problems that they wouldn’t face as owners.  Not only do they face uncontrolled rent increases, they don’t even know that their lease will be renewed. There’s always the risk that their landlord might sell the home and the new owner will want it for themselves or another tenant.

Both problems are made worse if the tenant has no lease at all or has transitioned to a month-to-month lease — quite common after the initial lease term expires. 

And the selection of new places to rent is small. If a tenant has to find a new place to live, he or she will be hard pressed to find a home they like — even more so if they have a pet.

Wouldn’t it be great if a renter didn’t face those problems of uncontrolled rent increases and having to move?  For a couple years now, Golden Real Estate has worked with a buyer who gives tenants a 5-year rent schedule and can’t be kicked out as their lease is renewed each year through that 5-year period. I’d like to see more renters take advantage of it, even if they aren’t buyers.

Our buyer is Home Partners of America. They not only address those challenges, they expand the number of homes from which to choose.  (And having a pet is not a problem.) That’s because Home Partners will buy any townhome or home on the MLS for which the renter has been pre-qualified as the tenant. Get your invitation to apply from Golden Real Estate, and once accepted as a tenant, you log in to HomePartners.com, which has every home on the MLS which you are qualified to rent.  Instead of just displaying the sales price of the home, it displays your personal rental price. 

Your contract with Home Partners, which is now your landlord, includes the rental amount for years 2 through 5, but you’re under no obligation to renew. Your contract also includes a purchase price for each year in case you like the home and decide to purchase it at any time during the 5-year period.

Call any Golden Real Estate agent at 303-302-3636 if you or someone you know is interested.

Why Wouldn’t the Russians Want Trump Re-Elected? Look at His Accomplishments.

By JIM SMITH

This article represents the author’s personal analysis and opinion. It has not been shared with or endorsed by any of our broker associates.

No world leader has done more to advance the interests of Vladimir Putin and Russia than President Trump. I write this as a former student of the Russian language (in which I am still semi-fluent) and thus as a student of the Soviet Union and now Russia. I traveled to Moscow and Leningrad in 1978 as part of an MIT alumni trip, and again in 1986, 1987 and 1988 on “citizen diplomacy” trips under the auspices of the Center for Soviet-American Dialogue in Bellingham, Washington. My last trip was to Vladivostok, the Pacific port and terminus of the Trans-Siberian railroad, in 1995, on a tour of China, Korea, Russia and Japan.

First, let’s consider Putin’s interests. As a former KGB officer for the Soviet Union, Putin watched helplessly as the Soviet empire disintegrated under Gorbachev. When Boris Yeltsin resigned as Russian President and appointed Putin acting president on December 31, 1999, Putin made it his goal (after pardoning Yeltsin) to return his country to its former glory as a super-power and to bring as many of the former Soviet republics as possible, including Ukraine, back into Moscow’s orbit.

Key to strengthening Russia was the weakening of NATO and the European Union, and annexing strategically important Crimea. Although that annexation occurred before Trump took office, he helped Putin succeed in weakening NATO and the EU. As a candidate, Trump called NATO “obsolete” and, as president, he hesitated to endorse Article 5, which states that an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all members. The only time Article 5 has been invoked was in connection with the Sept. 11th attack on the United States. Trump’s reluctance to support it must have made Putin very happy. He was made even happier when Trump enthusiastically supported the Brexit campaign to leave the European Union, and encouraged other European countries to follow Britain’s example.

Withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and from the Paris Accord on climate change, combined with other international actions, have contributed to a reduction in America’s standing on the global stage, allowing for a bigger role by Russia.

Trump’s criticism of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its ongoing aggression against Ukraine can be described as half-hearted at best. The entire theory of Ukraine interfering in the 2016 U.S. election, as recounted under oath by Fiona Hill, was a Russian narrative adopted hook, line and sinker by President Trump. It is fair to say that Trump has been duped by the Kremlin in this and other ways. Why wouldn’t Putin want to keep him in the White House for another term?

Forget about collusion — it wasn’t necessary for Trump to collude in 2016, and it’s not necessary for him to collude now. Putin saw in Trump the perfect man to become President when he was the Republican nominee, and is happy to join the chant, “Four More Years!”

What, you might ask, about Russia helping the Sanders’ campaign?  I suspect that is also in support of Trump, since Sanders would be easier for Trump to defeat as a “socialist.”

The lingering question is why Trump wants to advance Putin’s interests. 

This article is also posted on my personal blog at www.JimSmithBlog.com, where you can like, share or comment on it.

Guest Article from Money.com: The Best Home Security Systems for 2020

With technology continuously evolving and improving, home security systems today offer a wide range of protection and coverage options. Modern systems have features ranging from in-home motion and heat sensors to video doorbells and more, as well as apps and smart home integration that lets you monitor your home remotely.

Home security systems can range from basic with just door sensors, to comprehensive with fire and smoke sensors, glass sensors, and much more.

Many home security systems now feature smart home integration, allowing you to control lights, door locks, and more from your smartphone.

Some systems require professional installation, while others offer user-friendly do-it-yourself (DIY) installation. Before using a professional, make sure to know all the costs associated with the installation.

Your homeowner’s insurance may offer you a discount for having a home security system. Contact your insurance provider to see if you qualify.

In choosing the best home security systems of 2020, we evaluated each system using the following factors:

Security systems can range from basic to highly complex. We selected companies that offer a wide variety of security options, including everything from door sensors to video cameras and more.

We also made sure to include a selection of both professionally-monitored and installed options, as well as systems that embrace a DIY approach. Some of these DIY systems require no tools and install in under an hour, while some offer optional professional installation help.

While most security companies require contracts, we found some no-contract options for you, too. Most of the companies included that do require contracts offer at least a 30-day trial before commitment.

With 24/7 monitoring, a security company may summon help for you when you can’t. The companies included in this ranking all offer monitoring and emergency response.

We considered the company’s Better Business Bureau rating, user reviews and satisfaction ratings, and the company’s reputation for providing responsive customer support.

Best Home Security Systems

ADT – If you’re looking for versatile package options that cover home, commercial, and even small business

SimpliSafe – With easy setup and a no-contract option, SimpliSafe is a user-friendly home security system

Frontpoint – Easy to set up and no need for professional installation, Frontpoint is a versatile choice for many homeowners.

Protect America – With everything from water monitoring to glass sensors, Protect America’s wide range of options means you can customize your security system to your specific needs.

Vivint – Home security doesn’t just cover homes, anymore. With Vivint, your security system can extend to your vehicle, too.

Ring – Looking for a comprehensive security system that you can monitor on your own with no contracts and extra fees? Ring delivers exactly that, and 24/7 monitoring is available if you choose.

Google Nest – Need a system that integrates with your entire smart-home system? Google’s Nest does this, while also adding on variable options to help outfit your house.

This is abbreviated from the full money.com article which you can read at https://money.com/best-home-security-system/

Reflections on the State of Journalism & Saving Local Newspapers

Regular readers may recall that my first career was that of a professional journalist, trained on the city desk of the Washington Post. Committed as I am to sound journalism, I am concerned with both the loss of newspapers around the country and the unrelenting assault on the media by the President.

Free and healthy newspapers are essential to a democratic society, which is why the free press is embedded in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  They’re our watchdogs.

We can all be proud of how the media have kept us informed and, frankly, kept their cool in the hostile “enemy of the people” environment fostered by the current occupant of the White House, who labels any coverage that doesn’t flatter him “fake news” without providing a specific response to the subject at hand. Most upsetting is the portrayal of straight news reporting as biased.

The sad fact is that the general public lacks journalistic literacy. Specifically, readers (and non-readers) conflate news articles with columns and editorials. Because the New York Times and the Washington Post, for example, criticize the President editorially, readers too readily attribute that bias to the news pages, which is simply wrong.

A core principle of news reporting is “no unattributed facts or opinions.” Of course, a reporter uses his or her discretion as to which facts and opinions are included, but if, for example, an impeachment witness states facts or opinions derogatory of the President, reporting the testimony is straight news, and a good reporter will seek a response from the President.  But labeling such an article “fake news” or “a lie” is not a denial, it is a refusal to refute the testimony. 

I know that some Trump supporters will say “hogwash” to me asserting that straight news articles are unbiased, but that only proves the point I have made above. America’s newspapers would do us all a favor if they eliminated columns and editorials and printed only straight news articles and letters to the editor. Attacks on the media by the President are made more believable because of the inability of too many readers to distinguish news articles from columns and editorials.

TV networks also contribute to this conflating of news and opinion. Fox News, CNN and MSNBC all have daytime news programs, but they devote evening hours to personal opinion. You don’t see that on the three broadcast networks.

Financial health is another serious problem. While the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Washington Post are all thriving, too many local newspapers are downsizing and going out of business. We need some billionaires committed to journalistic standards to rescue them from owners interested only in profit.

The Licensing, Regulation and Ethics Requirements for Mortgage Loan Officers

By JIM SMITH, Realtor

In a recent column, I described the legal and ethical obligations that come with working in real estate, particularly as a Realtor. The mortgage lending industry has a similar obligation to protect consumers from unethical and fraudulent practices. Both industries are regulated by the Colorado Division of Real Estate, but the mortgage industry is subject to additional regulation on the federal level.

I spoke with one of my preferred mortgage brokers, Jaxzann Riggsowner of The Mortgage Network, to learn more about the subject. Here’s what I learned.

There are four main sources of mortgage financing for home buyers — credit unions, banks, mortgage companies and mortgage brokers. While there are many differences between each, the most significant is the additional training and regulation that mortgage  brokers must go through. Whereas “loan officers” or “loan originators” working at a bank or credit union are not required to be licensed, all mortgage brokers must be licensed at both a national and state level.

Registration and licensing (which are different) is completed through the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS), created in January 2008 in response to the housing market crisis occurring at the time. The Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing (SAFE) Act, enacted in June 2008, further mandated licensing by prohibiting individuals from originating loans without obtaining and maintaining their status as a licensed mortgage loan originator (MLO) through the NMLS, unless employed by a depository bank or institution such as Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America, to name just a few. All individuals originating mortgage loans must register with NMLS and obtain a unique identifier (NMLS number, which allows monitoring of performance), but not all “loan officers” must be licensed. While mortgage brokers must be licensed, loan originators working for banks are not required to complete the additional licensing and testing that mortgage brokers must go through. 

Before applying for a license, potential mortgage brokers must complete twenty hours of pre-licensing education, which consists of training on Federal laws and regulations, ethics, and general mortgage origination basics. Many states, including Colorado, require additional state-specific training.

After a prospective MLO has completed his or her pre-licensing education and passed the SAFE test with a score of 75% or higher, they are required to submit their credit report and their fingerprints for a criminal background check.  Only then can applicants apply for a license.  Once the individual has obtained their federal license, he or she is required to take additional classes to obtain their Colorado license, and there are annual continuing education requirements on both the state and federal level.

Another great benefit to working with mortgage brokers is that they must legally disclose all fees upfront, including how much they will be compensated for their services. By contrast, banks are not held to this same standard. Banks are not required to disclose how their loan officers are compensated.

The most important “take away” from this discussion is that it benefits the consumer to shop for a mortgage. In addition to the loan costs, ask your potential lender about their education, experience and licensing status. When working with buyers, I always recommend working with a mortgage broker for the reasons mentioned above. I recommend calling Jaxzann at 303-990-2992.

Do You Think a Big Down Payment Is Needed to Buy a Home? Think CHFA.

One of the most enduring misconceptions among home buyers is that a large down payment — typically 20% — is required in order to buy a home.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

FHA loans only require a 3.5% down payment, although they come with a mortgage insurance requirement which lasts for the life of the loan. Because of that, you’ll need to refinance with a conventional loan once you exceed 20% equity in your new home.

Conventional (non-FHA) loans don’t necessarily require a 20% down payment either. To compete with FHA loans, there are lenders who require as little as 3% down payment, often without mortgage insurance. If they do require mortgage insurance, it can be eliminated once your equity rises to 22%, although that requires a new appraisal, which can cost $400 or more.

Best of all, however, the Colorado Housing & Finance Authority (CHFA, pronounced “Chaffa) can get you into a home with as little as $1,000 out of pocket cost. CHFA loans have income limits, but they are reasonable, up to $120,100 in the metro area. Their website is super helpful and easy to navigate at www.chfainfo.com.

At that website you’ll learn the complete process involved in getting approved for a CHFA loan. One of the first steps is to take a free buyer education class that covers every aspect of the home buying process as well as ownership responsibilities after closing.

CHFA loans are only obtained through mortgage lenders, not from CHFA directly, and Golden Real Estate can connect you with a CHFA-approved lender. 

If you’re a veteran with an honorable discharge, you are eligible for 100% financing, but there’s a funding fee.  That fee, however, is waived if you have a service related disability. Even if it isn’t waived, the fee can be included in the mortgage so that you can literally close on a VA loan with zero money out of pocket. Earnest money submitted is refunded to you at closing! We can also connect you with a VA-approved lender.

The 14th Colorado Environmental Film Festival Is Feb. 20-23

With our area’s historic reputation for environmental responsibility, it’s not surprising that Golden is the birthplace and home of the nation’s leading film festival focused on environmental issues. And it won’t surprise you that Golden Real Estate has been a sponsor of CEFF for most of the festival’s life.

I love how this festival is structured, combining local, national and international films — including by children — in both short and feature-length formats. The festival’s opening reception and award ceremony (with film screening) on Thursday, February 20th, is free to attend, as is the reception and Eco Expo on Saturday, Feb. 22nd, where you can enjoy free food and beverages as you visit 20 or so exhibitors of environmentally friendly products from home hydroponic towers to solar panels, to companies which can make your home more energy efficient. We’re sharing Golden Real Estate’s booth with Good Business Colorado, whose membership includes over 210 like-minded businesses committed to sustainability.

You can peruse the 60 films being screened at www.CEFF.net. The films are bundled into four screening sessions on Friday and Saturday — 10 a.m. (10:30 on Saturday), 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. — plus the 7:30 p.m. free session on Thursday and two afternoon sessions on Sunday that will feature the films which won awards. The website lists and describes the films included in each session. You can purchase tickets on the website. Prices range from $9 for a single session ($4 for children under 12) up to $20 or $25 for a day pass and $65 for an all-access pass.

There are two theaters for each session, and each session includes 2 to 5 films, depending on length. The Friday morning session (CEFF 4 Kids) is limited to students, including those who are home-schooled, by advance reservation.

The films explore the undeniable and inescapable interconnection of Earth’s ecology, societies and economies. Audiences will be entertained and will leave inspired, surprised, motivated and transformed through events that will involve audience members and filmmakers in thought-provoking dialogues and forums about the films.

Still photography is a big part of each year’s festival, too, with environmentally themed photographs adorning the walls of the American Mountaineering Center, where the festival takes place. On Friday at 5 p.m. there is a photography reception, with a keynote address at 6:30 by photographer Cheryl Opperman on “The art of communication through photographs.”

The Eco Expo opens at noon on Friday and Saturday only.  Look for us at our booth!