Happy Thanksgiving! What We at Golden Real Estate Are Grateful for

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I’ve long known the value of practicing gratitude, and Thanksgiving reminds each of us to reflect on our blessings, both individually and as members of our larger communities.

And since these columns are published on Thursdays, it has become a tradition for me to pause on this particular Thursday  to write about my sincere gratitude as an individual, as a husband and step-father, as a Realtor, and as an American.

So, first of all, I’m grateful for having this platform to share with fellow real estate professionals and the general public what I know (and continue to learn) about real estate. Yes, I pay for it, but I have been rewarded greatly for the effort, both in terms of financial gain from the business it generates for me and my broker associates, and by the satisfaction it gives me from indulging in my first and favorite profession, journalism.

To be political for just a moment — and it’s sad to think this is political — I’m grateful for the mainstream media which has weathered four years of assault without forsaking journalistic standards. A free press is essential to our democracy, speaking truth to power unflinchingly.

Naturally, all of us at Golden Real Estate are grateful for those buyers and sellers who have entrusted us with their real estate needs. We know that the sale or purchase of a home is often our clients’ biggest single financial transaction, and we don’t take that responsibility lightly.

Real estate is an interesting profession. For most of us, it was not our first profession. In my case, I didn’t even think of becoming a real estate agent until my 50s. When I earned my license, I discovered several interesting facts about the profession, including that the median age of licensees was my age at the time, 54.

I also learned that it takes several years to become successful in real estate and that the average real estate agent has only two or three closings a year, not enough to make a good living. The majority of new agents give up in their first or second year, having wasted money they could ill afford to lose on software, signs, advertising, licensing and association fees, errors and omissions insurance and more.

I’m grateful when I have the opportunity to educate prospective agents about the difficulty of breaking into this profession and can save them the heartbreak of a lost year or two. But I’m also grateful when I am able to help our own broker associates succeed through the leads this column, our website, and our social media attract for us. As broker/owner, I also serve as a mentor and advisor to them, which I find quite satisfying.

I’m grateful for our MLS (Multiple Listing Service), REcolorado, which has made terrific strides toward being one of the best MLSs in the nation. I’m privileged to represent the Denver Metro Association of Realtors (DMAR) on the Rules & Regulations Committee, providing me with insights I’m then able to share in this space.

DMAR, too, has made great strides under its long-time executive director, Ann Turner. I’m grateful to her and the many Realtors who volunteer on DMAR committees, contributing to the high ethics and professionalism of our industry.

Not all real estate agents are members of the Realtor association, but they all benefit from the work that these associations do. We can all be grateful for the work of the National Association of Realtors, to which all the local Realtor associations belong. From its Washington, DC, office, it lobbies Congress to protect property rights and to fend off legislation that is harmful to our profession and in turn to all property owners.

NAR Agrees to More Transparency re: Buyer Agent Commissions

Last week, the Department of Justice simultaneously sued and settled with the National Association of Realtors regarding how brokers representing buyers are compensated and the public disclosure of that information.

As you may know — because I have written about it many times — the seller typically pays the commission of both the listing agent and the agent representing the buyer. The standard listing agreement includes the total commission and specifies how much of that commission will be shared with a buyer’s agent.

In that listing agreement, the total commission typically ranges from 5 to 6 percent, but the amount of that commission that is offered to buyers’ agents is traditionally 2.8% in our market. Our office policy at Golden Real Estate, like that of many brokerages, requires our agents to offer no less than 2.8%, because it has been demonstrated that offering less than 2.8% can result in fewer showings our listings.

Currently, that “co-op” commission is not displayed on consumer-facing MLS websites, but the settlement requires that it be displayed starting in January. Also, agents will be forbidden to tell buyers that their services are “free” or at “no cost to the buyer,” on the premise that the cost of that commission is reflected in the purchase price paid by the buyer.

Under the settlement, brokers who display MLS listings on their websites may not filter out listings which offer less than a specified co-op commission. We have never done that on our website, www.GoldenRealEstate.com

Lastly, the settlement requires that lockbox access be provided to licensed agents who are not members of the same MLS, an issue I have never encountered.

NAR President Apologizes for Past Racist Practices

On his first day as president of the National Association of Realtors, Charlie Oppler said NAR will continue to advocate for equality and inclusion in real estate, and he apologized for NAR policies in the 1900s that contributed to discrimination and racial inequality.

Oppler spoke during the Diversity and Inclusion Summit, issuing a sobering message that sets the tone for his priorities as president of the 1.4-million member organization. “What Realtors did was an outrage to our morals and our ideals.” said Oppler. “It was a betrayal of our commitment to fairness and equality. I’m here today, as the president of the National Association of Realtors, to say we were wrong.”

“We can’t go back to fix the mistakes of the past,” Oppler continued. “But we can look at this problem squarely in the eye. And we can finally say, on behalf of our industry, that what Realtors did was shameful, and we are sorry.”

Oppler recognized the fact that “words aren’t enough,” emphasizing that the association and all Realtors should take “positive action to remedy decades’ worth of inequality.”

We at Golden Real Estate applaud Oppler for his strong statement on this subject.

Click here to read the full NAR press release.

Enjoy the ‘New Urbanism’ of Belmar in this 2-BR Condo!

This 2nd floor condo in Belmar Plaza, recently vacated by it elderly owners, is ready for you to see. You’ll love its central location, in easy walking distance to everything that makes Belmar great! Check out this video tour and then call your agent or Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 for a private showing!

Biden Presidency Will Bring Renewed Focus on Affordable Housing and Discrimination

As you’d expect from any Democratic administration, there will be an increased focus on middle class and low income communities’ needs in the Biden administration, and that includes housing policy.

Back in February, after losing the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, and prior to the South Carolina primary, Biden released a $640 billion housing plan, focused primarily on increasing home ownership among Americans. Among other things, it included a $15,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers that could be used as part of the down payment at time of purchase. 

“People vote based on their pocketbooks, and you don’t get a bigger pocketbook issue than housing,” realtor.com’s chief economist Danielle Hale said. “For many, [housing] is the largest monthly expense that they have. And if you own a home, it’s likely the most valuable thing that you own.”

According to Clare Trapasso’s article on realtor.com, Biden’s plan also includes down payment assistance for teachers and first responders plus changes in the appraisal process to address racial disparities. The down payment assistance, however, would be conditioned on purchasing in targeted low-income areas in need of investment.

It has long been understood that home ownership is central to building family wealth, supported statistically by the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances. The report covering the period 2013-2016 showed that during that period the median net worth of homeowners rose by 15% to $231,400, while the median net worth of renters fell by 5% to only $5,200.  In other words, as of 2016, homeowners’ median net worth was 44.5 times that of renters.

A new 3-year survey covering the period 2016 to 2019 was released in September.

As you’d expect, there’s a racial component to the homeownership divide. According to Svenja Gudell, chief economist of Zillow Group, nearly 75% of white households own their own home, while less than half of black and Hispanic households are homeowners.

Although redlining of low-income communities, which was promoted by the FHA from its inception in 1934, was outlawed by the 1968 Fair Housing Act, the damage had been done, and it will be hard for any administration to undo it. We are just beginning to understand the problem and how to solve it.

The Biden plan also includes increased funding of Section 8 vouchers for low-income renters. At present, there’s only enough Section 8 funding to meet 25% of the demand. The plan would also prohibit landlords from discriminating against prospective tenants using Section 8 vouchers, and would provide legal assistance to tenants facing eviction.

The most progressive element of Biden’s plan may be his proposal to provide a tax credit so that no renter pays more than 30% of his/her income toward rent, estimated to cost $5 billion/year.

The plan speaks about appraisal reform, aiming to create a national standard to assure that homes in minority communities are appraised for the same as homes in comparable white communities, but that defies the core principle of appraisal — that a home is worth what a willing arms-length buyer will pay for it.

According to the realtor.com article, the Biden plan promotes the creation of a public credit agency that would take into consideration a positive history of payment of rent and utility bills, providing a higher credit score that could help renters qualify for a home mortgage.

Not mentioned in the realtor.com article about Biden’s housing plan is the president-elect’s promise to undo the elements of Trump’s tax law which favored the wealthy. However, one provision actually harmed the wealthy who live in states with high property taxes, many of which, coincidentally, voted for Hilary Clinton.

That was the provision regarding SALT — State and Local Taxes, composed primarily of real estate taxes and income tax. It limited the deduction of those taxes to $10,000 per year. I suspect that this element of the tax code will be changed under the Biden administration.

The Trump tax law also doubled the standard deduction to $24,000, which eliminated for many the benefit of charitable donations. I, for one, thought this would spell doom for many non-profit organizations, although Giving USA re-ports that donations by individuals fell only 3.4% in 2018. That’s remarkable, given that the number of taxpayers who itemized deductions fell that year to 18 million, from 46.5 million the year before, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation (per accountingtoday.com).

Those of us who are into sustainability and fighting climate change can expect the new administration to incentivize energy efficiency improvements and building codes through tax credits and grants. When Trump took office, there was a lot of concern in Golden and Jeffco that the Department of Energy, whose secretary had advocated abolishing the department until he learned it was responsible for America’s nuclear arsenal, would defund the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, but funding was actually increased by Congress. We can expect that a Biden administration will provide even greater funding to NREL, energy efficiency, sustainability and the electrification of transportation.

Biden’s February housing plan does address this issue, with the goal of cutting the carbon footprint of buildings by 50% by 2035, and providing incentives to home owners who retrofit their homes to be more energy efficient and more solar powered.

We Help Buyers and Sellers With the High Cost of Moving

If you’ve ever paid a moving company to move your furniture and other belongings to a new home, you know it can be very expensive. We’re talking thousands of dollars, even for a local move.

I have always felt that our clients deserve something more than a fruit basket or bottle of champagne at closing, so I continue to look for ways we can add value to each buyer or seller relationship. 

I bought our first moving truck in 2003 and our second truck (a former Penske rental shown here) in 2017. Together those trucks have logged 200,000+ free miles for our clients, who would have spent $200,000 or more on mileage fees alone if they had rented a similar truck from U-Haul.

   When a client uses us for two transactions — to sell their current home and buy their replacement home within a 50-mile radius — I not only reduce the commission charged to sell their current home, but I hire the laborers to drive the truck and to load and unload it — using boxes we provide free!

Arvada Ranch-Syle Home Backs to Open Space

    This 4-bedroom, 3-bath ranch home at 19019 W. 88th Drive was a model home with over $240,000 in upgrades. The main level features an open floor plan with hardwood floors, a 14-ft ceiling, and floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning views of the Flatirons. The walk-out basement has a family room, custom full bath, and two bedrooms. In addition to the 2-car garage visible above, there’s a 1-car garage to its right. Take a video tour at www.LeydenRockHome.info. Open Saturday, Nov. 21st, 11-2.  Listed by Chuck Brown, 303-885-7855

Denver’s Realtor Association Reports That October Listings & Sales Broke 22 Records

     The Denver Metro Realtor Association (DMAR) has just released a report by its Market Trends Committee which noted that 22 different records were broken during October. Below is their summary, which is based on statistics from REcolorado, the Denver MLS. These statistics are for the entire MLS which lists property statewide but primarily the Denver metro area. Below is my own analysis limited to the Jeffco statistics from the same MLS.

ACTIVE LISTINGS

     (All Residential) 4,821 represents the lowest October on record. The previous low for October was 6,731 in 2016.

     (Detached) 2,643 represents the lowest October on record. The previous low for October was 4,720 in 2017.

CLOSE PRICE — MEDIAN

(All Residential) $475,000 represents the highest amount on record. The previous record was $460,000 recorded in July, August and September of this year.

(Detached) $519,900 represents the highest amount on record. The previous record was $510,000 in September of this year.

(Attached) $339,425 represents the highest amount on record. The previous record was $335,000 in September of this year.

CLOSE PRICE — AVERAGE 

(All Residential) $561,999 represents the highest amount on record. The previous record was $540,890 recorded in July 2020.

(Detached) $625,100 represents the highest amount on record. The previous record was $602,264 in August 2020.

(Attached) $393,733 represents the highest amount on record. The previous record was $384,902 in September 2020.

DAYS IN MLS — MEDIAN

(All Residential) 6 days represents the lowest October on record. The previous low for October was in 2015 of 10 days.

(Detached) 6 days represents the lowest October on record. The previous low for October was in 2015 of 11 days.

DAYS IN MLS — AVERAGE

(All Residential) 24 days represents the lowest October on record. The previous low for October was in 2015 of 25 days.

(Detached) 23 days represents the lowest October on record. The previous low for October was in 2015 of 27 days.

NEW LISTINGS

(Attached) 2,022 represents the highest October on record. The previous high for October was 1,657 in 2019.

CLOSED LISTINGS

(All Residential) 5,984 closed transactions represent the highest October on record. The previous high for October was 5,144 in 2019.

(Detached) 4,352 closed transactions represent the highest October on record. The previous high was 3,709 in 2019.

(Attached) 1,639 closed transactions represent the highest October on record. The previous high was 1,461 in 2017.

MONTHS OF INVENTORY

(All Residential) 0.81 months represents the lowest number on record. The previous record low was 0.91 months of inventory in September 2020.

(Detached) 0.61 months represents the lowest amount on record. The previous record was 0.72 months of inventory in September 2020.

PENDING

(All Residential) 6,141 pending transactions represent the highest October on record. The previous high for October was 6,062 in 2017.

(Detached) 4,337 pending transactions represent the highest October on record. The previous high was 4,330 in 2017.

(Attached) 1,804 pending transactions represent the highest October on record. The previous high was 1,732 in 2017.

SALES VOLUME

(All Residential) $3,363,002,016 sales volume represents the highest October on record. The previous high for October was $2,487,936,752 in 2019. July 2020 holds the all-time record of $3,965,805,480.

Of particular interest, in my opinion, is the difference between the median and average “Days in MLS.” While half the listings went under contract in 6 days or less, the average was 23 or 24 days. That  gap is a reflection of how many homes are overpriced and linger on the market a long time, raising the average DIM when they finally go under contract. A search of currently pending MLS listings shows that 983 of them were “Active” for 100 days or longer before finally going under contract. Compare that to 4,097 listings that went under contract in 1 to 6 days.

Number of Active Jeffco Listings on MLS Remains Low Despite Record Number of New Listings

The record low “inventory” continues in Jefferson County, as it does elsewhere in the metro area and much of the country. Most analysts will tell you that it’s because sellers are keeping their homes off the market for one reason or another, but that’s not the truth.

The truth is that there are a record number of new listings each month, but they sell so quickly that the number of active listings doesn’t have the opportunity to increase. Here are Jeffco’s October’s stats compared to prior years:

I like to look at weekly statistics. As of this past Sunday, there were 524 active listings in Jeffco of single family homes, condos and townhomes.  There were 189 new listings in the 7 days ending on Oct. 8th, but there were 195 closings, 132 of which had gone under contract in 7 days or less.  In real estate parlance, that computes to under 3 weeks of inventory — 524 ÷ 195.

As of Sunday, there were 1,088 Jeffco homes under contract, more than twice the number of active listings, and 55% of them went under contract in 7 days or less.

About those 189 new listings between Oct. 2 and Oct. 8, 137 of them were under contract by Oct. 8th.  That’s what I was saying — homes are coming on the market, but they sell right away.

Price Reduced on 3 Golden Real Estate Listings

    This 2-bedroom Belmar condo at 7220 W. Bonfils Lane #201 has hardwood floors throughout. The price was just reduced to $698,000. In addition to its two large bedrooms, it has a large study. It has two reserved parking spaces in the secured basement garage. The building opens to Belmar Plaza, which is very active year-round with concerts, outdoor dining and even ice skating in the winter. And of course, it’s in the heart of Belmar. Walk to Whole Foods, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Target, BestBuy, Nordstrom Rack, and numerous restaurants, including Ted’s Montana Grill. Find more details, interior pictures and a narrated video tour online at www.BelmarCondo.info, then call your agent or Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 to request a private showing. 

    The townhome at left is within walking distance of the Colorado School of Mines and Downtown Golden. The address is 707 20th Street. The price was just reduced to $725,000, fully furnished. The interior is loaded with upgraded newer stainless steel appliances in the kitchen along with granite countertops and an eat in kitchen. There are new hardwood floors throughout the main level. All the bathrooms are new with beautiful tile, granite and glass. All the bedrooms have their own baths. Take the narrated video tour at www.GoldenTownhome.com, then call David Dlugasch at 303-908-4835 for a showing. Open house this Saturday 11-2.

    This 5-bedroom ranch at 120 Field Street in Lakewood is now priced at $550,000. The updated kitchen has stainless steel appliances and both bathrooms have been updated. Thanks to its easy access to the 6th Ave. expressway, this home is only a few minutes from downtown Denver or the foothills. There is a light rail station less than a mile north on Garrison Street. Check out the narrated video tour at www.MeadowlarkHome.info, then call Ty Scrable at 720-281-6783 to see it.