2 Men Stole Our Snowblower — We Caught It on Video

2 men in a light-colored 2014 or 2015 Nissan Frontier 4×4 Crew Cab who obviously knew where they were going, stole our Sears 2-stage snowblower on tracks (not wheels) from behind our office at about 8:45 p.m. on August 10th. Do you recognize them? If so, contact Trevor Novak with the Golden Police Department, 303-384-8041 or tnovak@cityofgolden.net.

Feedback From Showings Can Be Helpful, But There Are Good & Bad Ways to Ask for It

Real_Estate_Today_bylineWhen you put your home on the market and open it for showings, you probably look for useful feedback from those who have seen it. As a showing agent myself, I consider it a matter of professional courtesy to provide that feedback when asked.

Like most Denver broker-ages, Golden Real Estate employs Centralized Showing Service (CSS) to set showings for our listings and to automatically request feedback from showing agents immediately following each showing appointment.

CSS offers listing agents a choice of two styles of feedback requests. One asks a series of questions, survey-style. The other — which I’m happy to see most agents utilize — is to have an open text field for showing agents to provide feedback in their own words.

When I show a listing, my buyers and I typically come away with specific pros and cons which I’m happy to share with the listing agent, who can then pass them on to the seller.  Imagine the frustration when I get a feedback request that denies me that opportunity, asking instead a series of questions with multiple choice answers, none of which fit what I wanted to convey.  Sometimes, but not always, the last question will provide a text box to answer another unrelated question, such as “If you’re buyer is not interested in this home, please explain why,” and I’ll utilize that text box to give my positive and negative feedback that I wanted to give in the first place, about which the listing agent didn’t ask.

The most puzzling survey question – contained in almost all survey-style feedback requests — concerns the price. Is the home underpriced, overpriced or priced right?  I always ignore that question, especially if my buyer is contemplating an offer. The job of a good buyer’s agent is to get the best deal for his or her client which, of course, includes negotiating a price they’re comfortable with. Therefore, it would be irresponsible of me to answer that question, except perhaps to lay the groundwork for a low-ball offer. And what if an agent is previewing the home prior to listing a similar home in that subdivision? In that case, the agent could state that the home is underpriced, hoping the seller will  raise their price, making the new listing more attractive to buyers than their own.

Nine times out of 10, the home I show is not a contender for my buyer, so I wouldn’t mind giving an opinion about the price, but what’s my opinion really worth?  Unless it’s a subdivision I “farm,” I would have to do a comparative market analysis to give an informed opinion about each listing I show. Why would any showing agent do the research on listing price before their buyer tells him they’d like to submit an offer? In short, there’s almost no circumstance in which it would be useful to ask a showing agent his opinion of a listing’s price.

The follow-on question is often, “What do you think the final selling price of this home will be?”  Again, not a smart or useful question to ask or to answer.

CSS gives the listing agent the option of releasing feedback immediately to his seller. That means that the feedback response is sent simultaneously to both the listing agent and the seller.  I keep this in mind when composing my feedback response, because totally honest feedback could prove stressful to some sellers. Despite this risk, I always choose that option for my listings, believing that my sellers can handle honest feedback. As I read the feedback myself, however, I keep in mind that my seller is reading it, too, and that they might have a reaction to what was written.  Since the feedback emails sent to listing agents include the email address of the showing agent, I will often respond to feedback as appropriate.

If your home is listed, you will be able to see whether your listing agent is using the survey approach or allowing for open-ended feedback responses. If you’d like to change the questions being asked or switch to the open text field, you now know that you have that option.

As broker/owner of Golden Real Estate, I encourage our nine broker associates to use the non-survey approach. They tend to agree that the more useful type of feedback request is an open text area so the showing agent has an opportunity to say what’s on their mind as they leave a listing, unconstrained by survey questions.

If the goal is to receive detailed and honest feedback regarding your home, then make sure your listing agent lets the showing agents tell you!


Arvada Mansion on Hill Has Great Mountain Views

Aerial view of front      Located on a hill at the end of a short cul-de-sac, this 5-bedroom, 4½-bath home at 6526 Brentwood Court offers a panoramic view of the Continental Divide. Its numerous features are detailed in the narrated video tour at www.ArvadaHome.info. They include a 1,163-square-foot 3-car garage, offering both natural and artificial lighting, workshop space, and a gas heater. The home’s main floor is bathed in sunlight, and includes a gourmet kitchen to please the most discriminating chef. The kitchen and great room both open to a wrap-around composite deck with steps down to a 5-person hot tub. Bedrooms are on all levels — a master suite on the main floor, 3 bedrooms on the top floor, and a 5th bedroom in the walk-out basement. The basement also features a large bar with sink, microwave and kegerator, plus a classy wine cellar. One gas forced air furnace with A/C serves the top floor, and a second one serves the lower two floors. Again, you need to view the narrated video tour to fully appreciate this home!  Open house is Saturday, August 11th, 11 am to 2 pm.


Last Chance to Order Rotary Peaches

Peaches     Each year the Rotary Club of Golden sells peaches from Nolan Orchards on the Western Slope to fund its many worthy projects at home and around the world. With the Aug. 18th delivery date fast approaching, time is running out to order your Palisade peaches online at www.GoldenRotaryPeaches.org. The cost is $38 per 20-pound box, which contains 38 to 40 peaches. If you’re in business, boxes of these peaches make a great client gift! I’d be happy to pick up your box(es) for you if the August 18 pick-up date at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds doesn’t work for you. I will hold them for you at my office on South Golden Road — just ask.  Thanks for supporting Rotary!

Any unsold peaches will be offered for sale at the Golden Fine Arts Festival which is held the same weekend as our peach delivery. See www.GoldenFineArtsFestival.org.


Sell Your Home for $5,000, Regardless of Price? There’s a Reason to Be Suspicious

Real_Estate_Today_bylineA successful real estate firm that got its start in Denver is spreading its business model nationwide.  I’m not giving its name, only because the company is prone to suing those who speak negatively about them.

How successful are they in the Denver market? Currently they have 147 active listings, 90 listings under contract, and 741 sold listings in the past 12 months. Their roster currently includes 23 licensed agents, only 8 of whom have been with the company over 12 months.

This non-Realtor firm’s approach is to assail Realtors for “overcharging” sellers, claiming that they will sell any home, regardless of price for $5,000.  Half that amount goes to them — with $500 paid upfront, whether or not it sells — and $2,500 as their suggested commission for buyers’ agents. What they don’t disclose is that the vast majority of their clients end up paying much more than $2,500 to buyers’ agents.

Agents for this firm work on salary, get 4 weeks paid vacation, health insurance and can turn off their phones after work. It sounds like a nice place to work, but is it a model that provides the best service for real estate clients?

This firm promotes how much it saves sellers by citing 6% as the typical commission — in fact, the average commission is in the mid 5’s —  comparing that to their $5,000 flat fee.  On their website they boast about the millions of dollars their model would save sellers by multiplying all transactions in a given market by $5,000 versus 6%.

That’s a great way to get a listing appointment, but that listing appointment typically ends with sellers agreeing to offer a much higher co-op commission. Sounds like “bait and switch,” doesn’t it?

The proof is in REcolorado, Denver’s MLS. Of this company’s 147 current active listings, only 14 are offering $2,500 co-op commission. More than three times as many (44) are offering the typical 2.8% commission, and another 33 offer at least 2%.

Moreover, all 14 of those listings offering $2,500 commissions to buyer agents (and most of the listings offering higher amounts) have the following statement under “Broker Remarks” — remarks not seen by the public but visible to every buyer’s agent: “Commission listed is not a fixed rate and is NEGOTIABLE. Buyer and buyer agents can request additional commission if needed by putting the following into Additional Provisions: ‘Buyer directs Seller to pay Buyer Agent’s Brokerage an additional $XXXX on top of the MLS advertised XXXX for a total of $XXXX’.”

Given that explicit instruction, it’s reasonable to assume that a majority of those listings offering only $2,500 to the buyer’s agent will end up paying a good deal more.  Unfortunately, the MLS doesn’t require the disclosure of the buyer agent’s commission actually paid at closing.

This brokerage claims to offer full service, but three-quarters of its listings have the following statement under Broker Remarks: “Seller has requested no Sunday deadlines and that all deadlines be 5 pm. All offers must be received by 8 am for same day response.”  Personally, I’m offended by this blatant misrepresentation. The seller did not request no Sunday deadlines, although that “request” might be in the listing agreement signed by the seller.  (Remember, their salaried agents are told they can turn off their phones when they go home.) Also, I couldn’t find a single listing that advertised an open house.  Full service?  Not to me.

I should note that my own recent experience selling one of this brokerage’s listings was quite positive. For one thing, it paid me a 3.1% commission.

Also, I must say that I was impressed by this company’s use of technology and that they communicated and responded more effectively than their Broker Remarks indicated they would.

Notwithstanding this recent experience, I don’t appreciate the way this company misleads the public in their advertising and on their website. They do save sellers on the listing commission, charging a flat $2,500 instead of 2% or more. That’s a pretty low amount for listing a home, but then again, they don’t spend much in the way of time or money on their listings — I didn’t see magazine-quality photos or video tours, for example — and their goal is clearly to make up for their low listing commission with a high number of listings.

Do sellers benefit from their business model?  That’s debatable given the lack of time and resources that sellers receive from a full-time, experienced agent who can price their home right to draw competing offers and then bid those offers up to net the highest price for their home. For example, they priced a home in my own subdivision for $100,000 less than my valuation software suggested. (As a non-Realtor firm, they don’t have access to the same sophisticated valuation model, called RPR, that I use.)  Then they went under contract in one day.  This is not a good idea, because if an offer comes in on the first day it’s pretty likely that other offers will soon follow.  I’m confident that my neighbor left a lot more money on the table than he “saved” by listing with this “flat-rate” brokerage.  (FYI, this seller offered $12,500 co-op, and may have paid more.)

This brokerage will continue to be successful with their business model, and I will continue to show and sell their homes — getting a pretty good deal for my buyers because of their low listing prices, while earning the kind of commission which any hard-working buyer’s agent should expect to earn.


Two Price Reductions of Note

We have two Arvada listings which have just reduced their listing prices. One is a 7-bedroom home at 7587 Union Court, now listed at $890,000. (See the narrated video tour at www.ArvadaHome.info). The other is a 3-bedroom ranch at 20062 W. 95th Place, now listed at $548,900. (See the narrated video tour online at www.CandelasRanch.info.)