Improving Your Home’s Ventilation Can Reduce the Spread of Covid-19

An article I just read in the Colorado Sun, written by Shelly Miller, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at CU-Boulder, tells us something really important — that keeping the concentration of CO2 (generated by human breathing) under 600 ppm in indoor spaces has been shown to dramatically reduce the spread of Covid-19. Here’s a link to the source article:

https://theconversation.com/how-to-use-ventilation-and-air-filtration-to-prevent-the-spread-of-coronavirus-indoors-143732

Prof. Miller receives funding from the National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, and additional nonprofit organizations. She is affiliated with American Association of Aerosol Research and the International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate.

Thanks to reader Jen Grauer for bringing this to my attention, and I’m happy to bring it to yours!

At Golden Real Estate it has been our practice since the beginning of the virus to keep our front doors open so that we and our visitors don’t have to touch them, but now we realize that this practice also makes our indoor air safer. We also have a CO2 monitor, which we’ll now plug in and display prominently in our office.

The Real Estate Market Is Still Active, Meeting the Needs of Both Buyers and Sellers

The Denver real estate market, based on my own analysis of REcolorado listings, showed continued strength last week, despite the imposition of a statewide stay-at-home order by Gov. Jared Polis that Tuesday.

To my surprise, despite the growing COVID-19 threat with all its expected economic impacts, a total of 1,799 listings went “active” on REcolorado last week — that is, between Sunday the 22nd and Saturday the 28th.

Although 53 of those new listings were taken off the market the same week — likely because of the stay-at-home order — and 24 of them were entered as “sold” without ever being active, that left 1,722 new listings on the market, and 387 or 22.5% of them were under contract by week’s end. That does not sound to me like a real estate market that is stalling because of the COVID-19 virus. 

It makes me wonder about those 53 listings that were pulled off the MLS because of the stay-at-home order. How many of them would have been under contract by now had the sellers and their listing agents not been overly cautious?

The homes that went under contract within their first week on the MLS ranged from a 2-bedroom, 1-bath condo for $100,000 in the Windsor Gardens senior community south of Lowry to a 4-bedroom, 4-bath home for $1.3 million in the foothills northwest of Boulder. The median price of those homes was $425,000.

To see how last week compared to “normal,” I researched the listings that were first entered on REcolorado during the same seven days in 2019.

Surprisingly, slightly fewer homes were entered on Denver’s MLS during the same 7 days a year ago — 1,727.  Of those, only 12 were taken off the MLS that same week. Another 73 were entered as “sold” that week. Of the remaining 1,642 listings, 670 or 40.8% went under contract within a week. That’s much higher than the 22.5% this year, but consistent with the slowing of the market which we saw before the advent of the virus. Those 670 listings which went under contract within 7 days last year ranged from a $95,000 condo in Aurora to a $1.5 million dollar 6-bedroom home in South Boulder. The median listing price was $395,000.

As you might guess, I was concerned about whether the new Lakewood ranch listed by me last Wednesday would get any showings, since showings didn’t begin until Friday, three days after Gov. Polis instituted the stay-at-home order. I needn’t have worried. We had five showings by Sunday, with one agent calling to ask if we had any offers yet because his buyer was interested in submitting an offer.

Also on Sunday, a buyer I hadn’t heard from in months called about seeing a new listing.  I set a showing for that afternoon, and the buyer is considering making an offer.

All in all, then, this market continues to surprise me. While it is slower in terms of activity, there are still many serious buyers willing and able to make offers on new listings.  Those buyers who are unable or afraid to make an offer, whether for economic or health reasons, are not calling us. Agents might appreciate the fact that only serious and qualified buyers are going to call about seeing homes for sale.

Meanwhile, sellers who want to sell should recognize that there are serious and qualified buyers out there and consider putting their home on the market. Just make sure you use an agent like us at Golden Real Estate who does narrated video tours of listings.

How Golden Real Estate Is Coping With COVID-19 Guidelines

We and our partners in real estate continue to work while adapting to the COVID-19 guidelines for physical distancing, minimized travel, and more. Inspectors are still inspecting, but they don’t want buyers or agents in the house with them. Title companies are still doing their title searches and conducting closings, albeit with attention to sanitizing rooms and some physical distancing. Mortgage companies are still doing their jobs, as are the appraisers they hire.

Meanwhile, real estate brokers like us are still showing homes, writing contracts, negotiating inspection issues just as we always have — that is, by phone and email — and going to closings, although even that could be more virtual, now that Gov. Polis has issued an executive order saying that Notaries can work virtually.

What’s different is the cancelation of all kinds of meetings, open houses, and in-person continuing education classes (which are still available online). 

That keeps us all at home, which is where most brokers work anyway, but with fewer reasons to leave.  I’m walking the dog more than ever.  My Apple watch tells me that I completed all three activity rings last week.  Woohoo!

Bottom line: I’m sort of liking this, although I do look forward to getting back to normal.

COVID-19 Will Certainly Impact the Real Estate Market, but By How Much?

By JIM SMITH, Realtor®

We Realtors are keenly aware that the COVID-19 outbreak will affect the real estate market, but we’re all waiting to see that happen in a more measurable way. We’ve seen a reduction in showing activity, but homes are still being listed and keep going under contract, especially in the higher price brackets.

I dropped in on an open house Sunday and spoke with the agent on duty. This was a million-dollar listing on Easley Road, north of Golden. I showed up two hours into the open house, and he said that he had already had about 10 sets of visitors. Indeed one visitor was in the house when I arrived.

Two Saturdays ago, I had my best open house ever at a $580,000 listing in Golden proper, and 18 agent showings had been set for that same day. Two days later, the home was under contract for $620,000. Other than bumping elbows instead of shaking hands, it was pretty much business as usual.

I’m under no illusion that the market won’t slow down as more potential home buyers are unable to get mortgages because they were laid off. Cash buyers may be less willing to sell depreciated stocks to buy a home. But that’s not happening a lot yet.  A local TV news program had a segment Saturday evening in which a local real estate agent gave a similar account of a busier-than-ever real estate market.

My broker associates have seen some impact.  One of them told me a buyer had terminated a million-dollar purchase because they were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to sell their current home.

Another broker associate reported that his buyers are moving forward with their contract on a home, but only because they have stable jobs — one a physician and the other a public defender.

A third broker associate has a vacant land listing that had failed to sell for three years but suddenly has multiple buyers talking to her about submitting offers for it.

Another broker associate has a buyer from Connecticut who is retiring and wants to move to Colorado but had to cancel her flight because of COVID-19. Her state has instituted a stay-at-home order. Meanwhile, she told our agent that she’s now thinking more about looking outside the metro area where there’s “more space.” Maybe she’d like Kim Taylor’s Cedaredge listing featured this week!

The same broker associate said that a buyer from Chicago had been planning to make a non-contingent offer on a home but now wants to make it contingent on the sale of his current home because of concerns that it may not sell as readily now.

Yet another agent has a client who was ready to list their current home and buy another but is a physician concerned about getting infected herself, so she is holding off on those plans.

Source: REcolorado

The MLS statistics above show that life goes on across our industry. Homes are still being listed, going under contract and selling. However, the 21 withdrawn listings and the 25 back-on-market listings are likely homes where a contract fell, perhaps because of COVID-19.

Like any business, Golden Real Estate is adjusting to the situation with new practices and procedures. We carry disinfectant wipes and rubber gloves in our cars, and we have buyers meet us at listings instead of carpooling.  At our office, we have disinfectant wipes handy for wiping down hard surfaces after we or visitors touch them.  When it’s warm outside, we keep our front door open so that visitors (and we ourselves) don’t have to touch the handles at all.

Title companies are adapting, too. I attended closings recently at which the closer handed out only new pens and wore blue gloves herself, and the rest of us were spaced out more than before around the closing table.  One title company is doing “drive-through” closings, in which the documents were passed through the car window for signing!

The real estate industry will survive and people will still buy and sell homes, but we expect the volume of sales to decline.  How much we can’t be sure.

Stay-at-home orders and the closing of businesses, as implemented this week, could have a big effect, but real estate was exempted from that ruling as an “essential professional service.”

For over decade, Golden Real Estate has created narrated video tours of its listings. For an example, click on any of the listings at www.GREListings.com. If all brokerages did this, it would greatly reduce the need for open houses and in-person showings.

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!

Plant-Based Meat Has Won Us Over

First, Rita and I tried the “Impossible Whopper” at Burger King, and we liked it — can’t tell it from the regular Whopper. Then Rita found the package shown here at Costco — eight 1/4-lb. patties for $14.99. She cooked them in a pan and seasoned them as she would regular burgers, topped with pepperjack cheese and sautéed mushrooms, and served the patties on a bed of romaine lettuce and sliced tomatoes with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. On another occasion she substituted Roast Pineapple & Haberno Sauce for the dressing, and it was even more delicious.  Try it! You’ll thank me for telling you about them!

Committed as Rita and I are to mitigating climate change, we recognize the desirability of reducing our consumption of beef, and this product makes that really easy and enjoyable.

It’s January — Time to Think Again About Losing Weight and Getting Fit

By JIM SMITH, Realtor®

It was four years ago this month that Rita and I made a decision that has changed our lives for the better — we enrolled in a program called “8 Weeks to Wellness” at Body In Balance Wellness Center, located near our home in Golden.

At the time, we were 68 years old and technically obese. I had a bit of a “beer belly” and weighed in the mid-240s. When the program ended in March 2016, I weighed under 220. At right are before and after pictures showing that much of my belly fat was gone.  As I write this, I weigh 206, because I have continued with the lifestyle which I learned during the 8-week program.

What is that program?  It’s a holistic program combining nutritional training, mindfulness, regular chiropractic adjustments and massages, and twice-weekly workouts with a trainer.

Since January is a time of year when we all think about shedding the weight we gained over the holidays and making other healthy resolutions, I thought it appropriate to share my personal story of making lifestyle changes that I know are leading to a longer, healthier life, and I invite you to learn about “8 Weeks to Wellness” and if it’s right for you — whether or not you’re a senior like us.

Let’s talk about nutrition first. Rita and I learned things we didn’t know from Drs. Leah and Scott Hahn during the program and at free lectures which they give each month. 

Dr. Leah’s class on sugar was particularly enlightening. We learned how much sugar is in processed foods and how bad it is for us.  Cancer feeds on sugar, and because so many foods contain sugar, Americans are consuming an average of 57 lbs. of added sugar per year.  That’s eleven 5-lb. bags of sugar per person! Our bodies can only metabolize between 1/2 and 1/3 that much sugar, so the rest of it has to be stored as fat — belly fat.

The key, I learned from the doctors, is to learn where that “added” sugar is hidden. They taught us about the glycemic index, which ranks carbohydrates according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates with a high glycemic index (such as in many snacks, bread and potatoes) raise blood glucose levels too quickly. The body needs time to absorb the sugar created by carbs, so you want to choose foods with a low glycemic index such as green vegetables. Also, sugar is literally addictive, creating appetite rather than satisfying it. It’s true — you can’t eat just one potato chip!

We also learned about “good fats” and “bad fats.” Did you know that the low-fat movement created by the government had the unintended consequence of increasing our sugar intake?  Since removing fat from foods makes them less tasty, food producers started adding sugar to low-fat products they sell us.

Obesity, we learned, is caused by all the excess sugar in our diets, and Type 2 diabetes is a natural biproduct of obesity caused by excess sugar intake.

So, in addition to reducing the granulated sugar we add to our foods, Rita and I have dramatically reduced our intake of added sugar by eliminating fast foods and soda beverages from our diet. We purchase only “real” foods, avoiding processed foods as much as possible, and we buy organic food, grass-fed beef and eggs from free-range chickens. (We shop at King Soopers, not at Whole Foods or Natural Grocers.)

It’s funny to think that we’re more concerned about the fuel we put in our cars than the fuel we put in our bodies. My handyman buys premium gasoline for his truck because he thinks it’s better for his engine, but you should see the food in his pantry!

Nutrition, however, is only one component of keeping our aging bodies healthy. We’ve all heard that we should exercise, but the doctors at Body in Balance have given Rita and me more context for its importance.

As we age, we all experience a loss of muscle mass. One evidence of muscle loss is the loose skin hanging from most old folks’ out-stretched biceps. That’s why I kept up my twice-weekly training sessions after the end of “8 Weeks to Wellness.”  And it’s working.

I used to think that hiring a personal trainer was a waste of money, but I was wrong. My Monday afternoon and Friday morning sessions last one-hour under the guidance of a certified personal trainer who creates a “workout of the day” that works all the different muscle groups in my body in a manner that never gets tedious or repetitive.  Through “bio-impedance analysis” I have seen the actual results of continuing this program — decreased fat and increased muscle mass in my body. Combined with my good nutrition and reduced weight, I will continue to age in good health and be less prone to falls and breaks. We should all strive for that as we age, and I urge you to consider the benefits.

Body In Balance Wellness Center, located in Golden, is a chiropractic office specializing in Network Spinal Analysis (NSA), which is more gentle than traditional chiropractic. In addition to their three chiropractors, they have two personal trainers in their fitness center, a functional medicine nutritionist, and two massage therapists on site. See www.BodyInBalanceChiropractic.com.

Because “8 Weeks to Wellness” made such a difference in Rita’s and my life, I encourage you to attend a free introduction to the program to be held at Body In Balance’s Golden facility, 755 Heritage Road, on Wednesday, January 22nd, at 6:15 p.m.

Call 303-215-0390 to reserve a seat. I’ll be there to share my story and answer questions.