Wide Acres Ranch Just Listed by Ty Scrable

1220 Meadowsweet Road – Just listed for $689,000

You’re going to love this home. It sits on a 13,957-sq.-ft. lot, so bring your toys. Plenty of parking in the long driveway and the 3-car garage. Inside you will find two bedrooms and an office with hardwood floors. Near the updated kitchen is a large living room area with a stone fireplace and windows overlooking the backyard. Next is the master bedroom which includes its own full bath. The rear of the home includes a large mudroom with a half bath. Last but not least is the spacious shop which is open to the super-clean and heated garage and comes with many tools and 240Volt power. This location is less than 5 minutes to I-70 and 6th Avenue. Take a narrated video tour at www.WideAcresHome.net, then  call your agent or Ty Scrable at 720-281-6783 to set a showing.

Dining room and kitchen
Family Room
Kitchen with slab granite countertops and stainless steel appliances
Workshop with epoxy floor, bay windows and lots of included tools!

Division of Real Estate Warns Homeowners About ‘Equity Skimming’ Schemes

By now, we should all be wary of people offering to “help” us financially, usually via the internet or email, but also by phone.  As the saying goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Last week the Colorado Division of Real Estate (DRE) issued a warning about scammers cheating homeowners out of their home’s equity on the pretext of helping them pay HOA liens on their home.

Yes, an HOA can place a lien on your home for failing to pay your HOA assessments or fines, and an HOA lien takes priority even over the lien of your mortgage lender.

It is possible for an HOA to foreclose on your $600,000 home because of unpaid dues or fines, no matter how small. But if you can’t pay, what do you do? Those liens and subsequent foreclosure actions become public records, making you an easy-to-find target for a scammer wanting to “help” you.

Here’s a link to the full DRE warning. It describes several scamming scenarios. According to the DRE’s warning, those scenarios “can leave a homeowner losing their property, becoming a renter in their own home, having their credit rating severely damaged, and having the possibility that the lender may pursue a deficiency judgment against them if the property is foreclosed upon, as well as the HOA pursuing a personal judgment against them for unpaid HOA dues.”

Homeowners are urged to look for the following red flags:

>  Anyone wanting you to act fast with a quick-fix to your financial difficulties.

>  Promises to resolve your financial problems and to leave your cares behind.

>  Someone wanting you to transfer your ownership in the property to them.

>  Anyone asking you to sign a power of attorney for them to act on your behalf.

> Proposing that you’ll be a tenant in the home that you now own.

>  Someone telling you that there is no need to consult with an attorney, accountant, real estate broker, lender or anyone else.

Feel free to contact me if you find yourself in this or a similar situation. My intention is not to convince you to list your home with me. I just want to give you my own layman’s feedback on what others may have told you, and I can, if appropriate, refer you to a trusted real estate attorney. First, however, read that DRE warning, which has lots of useful information and links for reporting suspected scams or getting other advice.

And, as I like to say, remember that “Google is your friend.”  When contacted by someone you suspect could be a scammer, do a web search for the person and/or company and/or email address and/or phone number. Also, we have a special app called “Forewarn,” only available to licensed Realtors like myself, where I can instantly search by name or phone number. My broker associates and I use that app to check out people who want to do business with us, instantly learning their age, properties owned, bankruptcies or liens, criminal charges, and even cars they own.  I’m happy to do such a search for you, too.

Lastly, I’d like to put in a good word for my cell carrier, T-Mobile.  My previous cell carrier was AT&T, which didn’t provide Caller ID on people not in my contact list, but I do get Caller ID with T-Mobile. If a number does not have a name associated with it, I let it go into voice-mail, and those callers rarely leave a message, suggesting, I believe, that it was a “spoofed” number by a solicitor or scammer. Thank you, T-Mobile! I’m wasting a lot less time than I used to on answering unwanted calls.

‘Equity Sharing’ Concept Not as Smart as a Home Equity Line of Credit

A reader brought to my attention a company called Noah (formerly Patch Homes) which offers an alternative to the Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). What they offer is a way of tapping into your home’s equity for needed cash in return for a percentage of your home’s equity — reportedly between 15 and 40%. You don’t pay for this “loan.” Rather, Noah shares in your home’s appreciation (or loss of value) when you sell.

While I don’t consider Noah’s offer a scam, I think it should only be considered as a last resort. In the long run, a HELOC is a much better way to access the equity in your home, and credit unions are the best places to secure such a loan, in my experience. Here’s a third-party review of Noah’s “equity sharing” concept.

Solar Tax Credit Expires Dec. 31st

If you have been contemplating the installation of solar on your home, it’s time to get off the fence, since the 22% federal tax credit expires Dec. 31st. Your system has to be operational by the end of the year, so don’t wait too long. I purchased my first 10-kWH solar system in 2004 and paid over $60,000 for it, receiving a $40,000+ rebate check from Xcel Energy. Those rebates are long gone, but the same system costs a little over $10,000 now.  Time to buy!

Here’s an article from Realtor magazine with advice to give homeowners considering a solar photovoltaic investment. You’re also welcome to call me, Jim Smith, at 303-525-1851, or email me at Jim@GoldenRealEstate.com.

Just Listed: Half Duplex Patio Home Near Belmar

232 Vance Street – Just Listed for $375,000

Legally a condo, this half-duplex patio home in a quiet cul-de-sac has been in the same family since it was built. Despite its quiet location, this home is super-convenient to shopping, entertainment, restaurants, schools and government, with high scores for transit access, walkability and bikeability. Downtown Denver and the foothills are both just 15 minutes away by car. An expansive, landscaped common area is behind this home’s 300-sq. ft. covered patio, which the HOA would allow you to enclose. (Plans for doing so are provided.) There’s a door to the oversized 2-car attached garage from that patio. Upstairs, there are 2 master suites, each with its own balcony. Beautiful engineered hardwood floors cover the entire main level. The full basement has a family room, laundry and storage room. You’ll appreciate the abundant kitchen storage and Corian countertops with under-cabinet lighting. A whole-house attic fan and central A/C cool the home in the summer. Find more details, interior photos and a narrated video tour at www.LakewoodPatioHome.info, then call your agent or Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 for a showing. Open house this Saturday, 11-2.

2021 Will Be the ‘Year of the Electric Pickup’

The best selling vehicle in America for many years has been the Ford F-150 pick-up, so 2021 is bound to be a watershed year, given the number of electric pick-up trucks expected to hit the market — including, by the way, an electric F-150, which has been teased for at least a year.

Rivian is furthest along and will beat Tesla’s entry by several months. Rivian is simultaneously releasing an SUV and 4-door pickup, which appeal to the same demographic. The company is backed by Amazon, which has boosted Rivian’s financial situation by ordering 100,000 delivery vehicles to replace the blue Amazon vans we see every day in our neighborhoods. Some of them are already in service, but not in the Denver market. You may have seen an Amazon commercial featuring the new van.

Ford F-150 Electric

The F-150 Electric begins production this year. Tesla’s Cybertruck may be in production by year’s end but certainly in 2022.

Also coming this year (or soon) are GM’s Hummer EV, the Atlis XT, Bollinger’s B2, and more. Click here for ChargePoint’s article with specs and prices on these six trucks. Click here for InsideEVs.com’s list of all the electric trucks they are expecting in 2021 and 2022, including the above six trucks plus the Lordstown Endurance, the Chevrolet BET, Nikola Badger, Hercules Alpha, and Fisker Alaska. Nissan is reportedly considering hiring Hercules to create an electric Nissan Titan.

Tesla Cybertruck

Amazon van by Rivian – already in production and in service

GM’ Hummer EV

Atlas XT

Lordstown Endurance

Bollinger B2

Nikola Badger

Hercules Alpha

Fisker Alaska

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly About Mortgage Loan Forbearance

A record number of homeowners entered into a forbearance plan for their mortgage over the past year amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Forbearance — an option that allows borrowers to pause payments on their mortgage for a limited amount of time due to an unforeseen hardship — served as a veritable lifeline for many people who found themselves unexpectedly out of work and unable to pay their mortgage as COVID restrictions tightened.

As more time passes, however, it is apparent that issues stemming from forbearance are starting to surface. While this is not an immediate cause for panic if your own mortgage has been in forbearance, being aware of issues that others are facing will help to keep you prepared for any trouble that arises.

For that reason, I had a Zoom meeting this week with Jaxzann Riggs, owner of The Mortgage Network in Denver, to learn more about complications that forbearance may bring about.

When the CARES Act was initially passed back in March 2020, it included a provision for mortgage forbearance, making it relatively easy for millions of borrowers with government backed mortgages to enter into such a program. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two largest servicers of government backed loans, subsequently issued an extensive list of guidelines for lenders in response to Covid-specific forbearance.

One of the most crucial guidelines involved credit score reporting. An account in for-bearance must continue to be reported as current, provided it was current prior to the forbearance plan. Due to the vast number of people who entered into forbearance in such a short time period, it is especially important to monitor your credit score — but that is not necessarily the end of the story.

Some borrowers who were previously in forbearance that are now applying for new loans are discovering that their issue does not lie with the credit reporting bureaus themselves but with the underwriting on their new loan. Underwriters, who are primarily responsible for qualifying a borrower for a loan from a specific lender, have a significant amount of discretion when it comes to approving an application. The consequence of this is that borrowers who would otherwise be well qualified to purchase — with high credit scores, steady employment, and a significant down payment — may find themselves struggling to obtain the loan they are seeking if they previously had a loan in forbearance. Although Fannie’s and Freddie’s guidelines include specifics for underwriting, the sometimes unfortunate reality is that these guidelines can be interpreted differently by different underwriters.

If you had a loan in forbearance sometime this past year and are now considering a new purchase or refinance, you should not immediately despair. Maintaining meticulous records that indicate when you initially applied for forbearance and being able to produce all communications with your current lender to the new lender are essential. If you have entered the repayment phase of the loan it is critical that the repayment agreement is followed exactly as written.

Because forbearance was originally intended to help those that had a loss of income or employment due to COVID, underwriters are scrutinizing employment history and the likelihood of it continuing for all borrowers. Borrowers that did not have any change in employment status during the pandemic but who entered into a forbearance agreement should be prepared to outline for the new lender their motivations for entering forbearance and to additionally explain how they will be able to avoid forbearance in the future. This is a bit ironic, in that lenders strongly encouraged many to utilize the options afforded them under the CARES Act. If you have questions about how forbearance may impact your future lending, I recommend, as always, that you consult Jaxzann Riggs of The Mortgage Network. You can reach her anytime on her cell phone, 303-990-2992.

Environmental Film Festival Opens Virtually This Weekend: See the Films Online!

With Golden Real Estate’s commitment to sustainability, it’s only natural that we have co-sponsored the Colorado Environmental Film Festival for at least a decade, and we’re happy to co-sponsor it again this year.

The silver lining of the Covid-19 pandemic is that events like this are going virtual, making it possible for many more people (including me!) to see any or all of the films at home and on our own timetable. In past years, I was lucky to see even a few of the films, especially since I also needed to man our company’s table in the festival’s Eco-Expo.

The festival runs from Feb. 12th to Feb. 21st at www.CEFF.net. The three-part mission of the festival, as stated on its home page, is:

Inspire: With a growing public awareness for the environment, CEFF aims to increase this groundswell through inspirational and educational films which help motivate people to make a difference in their community.

Educate: CEFF’s films and  programs help people build the knowledge and skills they need to make environmentally responsible choices.

Motivate: CEFF wants audiences to be a part of the solution to today’s environmental issues and motivates audiences to make a difference in their local environment.

This year’s festival has 75 films in 22 collections. You can buy an all-access pass on their website for $70 (less than $1 per film), a 5-collection pass for $35, or a 1-collection pass for $10.

As I said above, you can view any film at any time during the ten days of the festival, but once you unlock a collection, you need to view its films within 72 hours.

As in past years, the festival’s films include both shorts and full-length films. I’m getting an all-access pass and look forward to seeing as many as possible!

Although most of the films are “on demand,” selected films will be live streamed so that you can watch with the filmmaker and an audience and chat about it during the film and exchange comments, like on Zoom, afterwards. These live streams will be archived and can be viewed on demand later.

There will also be live online “lunch and learns” (one of which is a “Vegan Fusion Cooking Demonstration”) and the Eco-Expo will go virtual too, with live visits to the booths of exhibitors during five “happy hours.”

There will be an “Opening Night Watch Party” featuring a short documentary on electronic waste and a feature film, “The Story of Plastic.” At this event, awards will also be presented for the winning films in each of several categories. Again, if you miss this event, you can stream it later.

The “Closing Night Watch Party” from 7 to 10:30 pm on Feb. 20th is an exception. It can only be viewed live and will not be streamed on demand later. It includes two films, The Catalyst and Beyond Zero, that you cannot pause or rewind. These are summarized on the website. I’m looking forward to these in particular, since the first one is a 6-minute film about going net zero in a home, and the second is a much longer film about a billion-dollar global energy company that committed itself to going beyond net zero by 2020. You can watch a trailer for it on the website.

The festival also has a photography component, and one of the live events (viewable later) is a keynote speech on Feb. 13th by famed photographer Russ Burden, who will show his Serengeti photos.

Of the 22 film collections, several contain films on a variety of different subjects, but there are collections on individual subjects, including: Climate Change; Colorado Issues; International Issues; Oil and Gas; Public Lands and Parks; Rivers; Solar Power; Water Issues; and Wildlife. One collection features various short films. (Each of those links takes you to a page with a list of all the films contained in that collection.)

For the Eco-Expo exhibitors like Golden Real Estate, this year’s virtual format is a big win, because each “exhibitor” has a link you can click on to learn about that company or organization. In our case, you click on Golden Real Estate to view a short video tour of the sustainable features which have made our office a true “net zero energy” facility. You wouldn’t get that opportunity standing at our booth in the physical exhibit hall.

Other exhibitors you’ll enjoy learning about include GoFarm, Metro Denver Green Homes Tour, Citizens Climate Lobby, Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary, Waste Management Recycling, Population Connection, and Tower Garden by Juice Plus. (These links become active on Friday, Feb. 12th.) I’m looking forward to seeing their videos, because in past years I was too busy manning our own booth to visit theirs!

The festival has always featured films by our youth (18 & under). This year there’s a live stream at 10 a.m. on Saturday the 13th called Filmmaking 101 for Young Filmmakers(also viewable later). Here’s a paragraph from the website: Any young aspiring filmmaker can join experts from Talk to the Camera for a fun, interactive workshop and introduction to the CEFF Youth Filmmaker Festival Challenge. Submit your storyboard to CEFF by Sunday, February 21…. Winner(s) will receive mentoring from a professional filmmaker in 2021 to help you complete and submit your youth environmental film for CEFF’s 2022 Festival!

There are some creative solutions to the lack of in-person events, including “Dinner and a Movie” on Feb. 13th & 19th in conjunction with Tributary Food Hall. You order a 3-course meal-to-go from the online menu for $40 including a ticket to one of the 22 film collections, and pick up your food between 3 and 7 pm to enjoy at home. If you already have the movie ticket, the charge is $35.

Visit the Virtual Festival Home for all the details and to buy tickets — http://ceff.eventive.org — and enjoy all the 15th annual Colorado Environmental Film Festival has to offer from the comfort and safety or your own home! That web page has a useful calendar showing all the events that are live streamed.

DMAR Reports Average Home Price Rose by $100K in Last 12 Months

The Denver Metro Real Estate Market Trends Report, released on February 3rd by the Denver Metro Association of Realtors, reveals that detached single-family homes in the metro area set yet another record for average price, exceeding $629,000 in January. Attached single family homes (condos & townhomes) rose by less than half that amount, as shown in the above chart. Download the full report here.

Reader response to Jan. 27th posting about racism’s role in the evolution of local zoning

An Arvada reader thanked me for that earlier post and asked if I was aware of the 1898 “coup” in Wilmington, North Carolina. (I wasn’t.) I found the following article on History.com which described it as “America’s only successful coup d’etat.” Here’s a link to it.