Do You Practice Sustainability? Home Renovation Can Be Done Sustainably, Too

Tonight is the fifth in Golden Real Estate’s Sustainability Series. Previous sessions were about home insulation (January), home heating technology (February), solar power (March), and electric cars (April).

This month, the topic is sustainable renovation. Our presenter is an expert in sustainable practices when it comes to home renovation.  His name is Steve Stevens, and he has been my mentor regarding sustainable practices for nearly two decades.

A retired scientist from Bell Labs, Steve has made a lifelong project, it seems, out of reducing the carbon footprint of his 1970s brick ranch in South Golden.

Retired and living on a fixed income, he has developed several habits/practices that are not only sustainable but also have saved him a boatload of money.

For example, he only buys cull lumber from Lowe’s, and he buys returned products (typically mis-ordered) such as windows  and doors, which are then sold for a fraction of their original price.

Steve also seeks out salvaged goods such as windows and doors. As with buying cull lumber and returned products, collecting salvaged products means zero new carbon footprint for doing your renovation. 

Steve, being a scientist by training and passion, always considers the embedded carbon footprint of products, whether it’s food or building materials. How much energy is used to transport the goods you purchase?  For example, are you buying slab granite mined and shipped from Asia, or an alternative material mined or created closer to home?

Steve will share his shopping and construction tips that save money and are also sustainable.

For example, he emphasizes insulation, which should always be your first measure when it comes to saving energy. But what products should you buy, and where should you start?

The session will be held tonight, May 16th, from 5 to 6 pm in the Golden Real Estate office at 17695 S. Golden Road, Golden. There are still seats available. Reserve yours by emailing me at Jim@Golden RealEstate.com

Each of our sessions is video recorded by our friend, Martin Voelker, from the Colorado Renewal Energy Society.  You can watch videos of the first four sessions at Sustain-abilitySeries.info.  This session will also be recorded and posted there.

Big Price Reduction on Listing at the Top of Golden Gate Canyon

A couple weeks ago we listed a home 12 miles from downtown Golden at 1296 Golden Gate Drive. It was listed at $650,000, but it was just reduced to only $595,000.

A special feature is its low property taxes. Because it’s just over the Gilpin County line, the 2018 property tax bill was only $718, yet it is served by Jeffco Public Schools. Call for a private showing today! Take a narrated video tour at www.FoothillsHome.info.

This Arvada Cottage Is ‘Cute as a Button’

You’ll feel like you’re in the country when you visit this home at 8050 W. 50th Ave., just 3 blocks west of the Arvada Costco store.  It was just listed at $475,000.

Built in 1949, the seller has owned it for 25 years. It is on well water, but connected to the public sewer system. The second floor, with its four dormer windows, has two bedrooms, in addition to the two bedrooms on the main floor. There is no basement. The main floor has original hardwood, except for the kitchen and bathroom.  Upstairs has all-new carpeting and has been freshly painted. The heated 2-car garage is in addition to a one-car garage in the backyard that a previous owner used to store his Model T. The seller uses if for storage. Take a narrated video tour at www.ArvadaHome.info, then call for a private showing.  Open Sat., May 18th, 3-5 p.m.

Lookout Mountain 2-Story Has Walk-Out Basement

This 2-story home with walkout basement at 494 Mount Vernon Circle is in the Paradise Hills neighborhood, less than one mile from I-70. It was just listed for $825,000.

It is perched high on a hillside with terrific views of Mt. Vernon Canyon and beyond. The interior was updated last month with refinished hardwood floors, new paint, and new Stainmaster carpet with a lifetime transferrable warranty. This home shows really well! The main floor features a large master suite with 5-piece bath and walk-in closet, a great room with gas fireplace, vaulted ceilings and large south-facing windows, and a study with connected 3/4 bathroom which could serve as a second main-floor bedroom. Upstairs you’ll find a large loft and two guest bedrooms sharing a full bath. The walkout basement has a bedroom, 3/4 bathroom, recreation room, and a large storage room which could be made into another office or workshop.  View a narrated video tour on the MLS or at www.ParadiseHillsHome.info, then call your agent or broker associate Chuck Brown at 303-885-7855 for a private showing.  Open on Saturday, May 18th, 11 to 3.

5-BR Littleton Ranch Has a Finished Basement

This 2,963-sq.-ft. brick ranch at 8006 S. Vance Court is in the Columbine Knolls South subdivision, north of Chatfield Ave. between Wadsworth & Pierce. It was just listed for $498,000.

It has four bedrooms and 2½ baths on the main floor, plus a 5th bedroom and 3/4 bath in the basement, along with a rec room and plenty of unfinished storage. It’s a super quiet location, as you’ll observe on the narrated video that you can view at www.ColumbineKnollsHome.info.  Some features that caught my attention include the three Solatubes and one skylight bringing natural light into the home’s interior spaces, including the kitchen, plus the beautiful family room with rock fireplace and vaulted ceiling. Watch that video tour, then call your agent or me for a private showing — or come to our open house this Saturday, May 18th, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Updated Golden Tri-Level Home Backs to Greenbelt

This 3-bedroom, 2½-bath home at 491 Somerset Drive is in the Lakota Hills subdivision, also known as Eagle Ridge. It was just listed for $638,000.

It sits on top of a ridge overlooking Rooney Gulch and offering unobstructed views of Lookout Mountain.  It has been beautifully updated with slab granite countertops, new stainless steel appliances, new carpeting and paint throughout. The sellers purchased it earlier this year, but personal developments make it necessary for them to sell it.  Their loss is your gain. Take a narrated video tour, including drone footage, at www.SouthGoldenHome.com, then ask for a private showing. I’ll be holding it open this coming Sunday, May 19th, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Or call me at 303-525-1851 for a private showing.

Here’s What You Need to Know About Appealing the Assessor’s Valuation of Your Home

By the time this column appears in print, all Denver and Jefferson County homeowners will have received in the mail a letter from their County Assessor declaring the “Actual Value” of their real estate holdings. The same is happening in all Colorado counties. The letters give taxpayers until June 3rd to file an appeal of that valuation which, if successful, could lower the “Assessed Value” (explained below) against which taxes will be levied for 2019 and 2020.

Property taxes in Colorado are paid in arrears, which means that the property tax for 2019 isn’t payable until April 2020, and the property taxes for 2020 will be payable in 2021. The valuation you just received in the mail, however, is not a statement of your home’s current value.  Rather, it is a statement of your home’s market (or “Actual”) value as of June 30, 2018, based on its condition on January 1, 2019.

In other words, if your house was significantly improved between June 30, 2018 and January 1, 2019, the assigned value should be what your home in its new condition would have been able to sell for on June 30, 2018, based on what comparable homes did sell for prior to that date. (You may need to read these two paragraphs a few times!)

The good news is that even though your home’s value has continued to increase since last June and will likely continue to rise for the next year or two, you will only pay property taxes for the next two years based on what it might have sold for in June of last year.

Nevertheless, many of us (me included) are going to be shocked at how much the assessor claims our homes have increased in value.

Additional good news for homeowners is that, because of both TABOR and the Gallagher Amendment — too complicated for me to explain here — the percentage of “Actual Value” against which your local mill levy will be applied keeps going down—from 21% of actual value in 1982 to 7.15% today. That percentage creates the “Assessed Value.”

To keep it simple, here’s an example using round numbers. If the assessor said the market value of your home as of June 30, 2014 was $500,000, your “Assessed Value” was 7.96% of that, which equaled $39,800.  If your mill levy was 100, then your tax bill was $3,980 (100 x 39.8).  Let’s say your home’s “Actual Value” as of June 30, 2018 rose to $600,000, a 20% increase. Your new “Assessed Value” is 7.15% of that, or $42,900. Thus, your tax bill, at 100 mills, will be $4,290, a 7.8% increase in your property taxes despite a 20% increase in market value. That’s only $90 more than if your home was worth $200,000 in 1982 when the assessment rate was 21%!

And it gets even better. Unless the voters in a particular tax district voted to “de-Bruce” the mill levy, that tax district must lower its mill levy as much as necessary to keep its revenue from increasing beyond TABOR limits based on population growth plus any increase in the cost of living.

Nevertheless, since your property taxes are the sum of multiple mill levies from various districts, that hypothetical rate of 100 mills that I used above might actually be lower this year, further reducing your property tax bill.

Here are two key points you must keep in mind when appealing the valuation assigned to your home by the Denver assessor:

1) You can only appeal the assessor’s valuation by citing comparable sales during the 24 months prior to June 30, 2018. Unless your home was mischaracterized (wrong neighborhood, style, etc.), all eligible comps are listed under “Comparables” on the assessor’s web page for your home.

2) You must “age” every comp you cite in your appeal by about 1% per month, since the median increase in our residential property values was about 24% over that 24-month period.  Thus, if a comp sold in January 2018 for $500,000, you can’t cite it as a comp at that price, but must increase that price by 6% to obtain its value as of June 30, 2018.

To find your home on the Denver assessor’s website, visit http://www.denvergov.org/property and enter your address. When your property is displayed, then click on the address and you’ll be able to click on a “Comparables” tab where you’ll be able to see exactly how the value of your home (the “Subject” property) was determined against three or more comparable sales identified by address. If you feel that those comps are not truly comparable to your home, you can click on the “Neighborhood Sales” tab and choose three or more other comparable sales and cite those in your appeal. You have to file your appeal by June 3rd.  Over the years, I’ve found in-person appeals to be most successful.

To find your home on the Jefferson County assessor’s website, visit http://assessor.jeffco.us and click on “Prop-erty Records Search” in the lower middle of the screen, then click on “Address” on the left of the screen.  “Sales” is on the top center. This is all explained on a website that I created for Jefferson County appeals, www.HowtoAppealValuations.info.