As Usual, This Year’s CES Show in Las Vegas Featured Some Exciting New Home Technologies and Products

Formerly called the Consumer Electronics Show, CES 2023 made headlines in January for its focus on electric vehicles and EV technology, but it also featured many home-related technologies and products which made headlines at Realtor Magazine. Here are their Top 10 innovations displayed at the show.

First was LG’s ArtCool Gallery, a wall A/C unit disguised as a framed photograph or artwork provided by the user. In 2022, I showed a Willow Springs listing which had this kind of wall unit in various rooms of that home. Below is a picture from that listing. The picture next to the window is the A/C unit. When running, the picture tilts out from the wall an inch or two to allow for air flow. As with a mini-split wall unit, two tubes carrying fluid connect it to a heat pump next to the house. One heat pump serves the units in several rooms, although each has its own remote-like thermostat. Curiously the listing agent didn’t state on the MLS that this was a heat pump system — a big selling point!

I don’t think the units in that listing were from LG, because the LG website shows the availability and price of theirs as “TBD.” Such units are clearly driven by a heat pump, but nowhere on LG’s website could I find the words “heat pump.” Rather, the website refers to a “dual inverter unit.” I find this peculiar because heat pumps are now all the rage. The website also did not mention the substantial tax credits and rebates now available for heat pump installations under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Second was Kohler’s “Sprig Shower” device, coming this spring, which infuses a shower’s water stream with scents and oils. Kohler will initially offer six different scent pods, including lavender, chamomile and eucalyptus. The unit will cost $119, and a 6-pack of single-use pods will cost $21.

If you’re looking for an interesting alternative to stainless steel, you might be interested in LG’s new MoodUp Refrigerator, which can display 190,000 different color combinations on the LED screens on the front of the fridge.

Meanwhile, Samsung is bringing to market this spring its “Bespoke” refrigerator which has no handles. Both doors open by touching them.

For $6,500, you can replace your home’s front door with Masonite’s “M-Pwr Smart Door,” which incorporates a downlight and two side lights which turn on when you approach it, plus both a smart lock and Ring video doorbell. It is connected to your home’s electricity, but includes a battery backup so you can still get in if there’s a power failure.

For $11-17,000, you can replace your staid old bathtub with Kohler’s “Stillness Infinity Experience,” which brings a “Zen-like, multi-sensory experience, combining water, lighting, mist, essential oils and soothing sounds.” Water cascades over the top into a wooden moat, from which it is filtered and pumped back into the tub.  I’ll pass on this product!

Is pushing buttons or using a key difficult or too much effort for you?  For $189.99, you can buy Lockly’s “Flex Touch” fingerprint deadbolt, shown here.

Do you have a Roomba robotic vacuum and wish there was a robot that could mow your lawn and clear snow from your driveway, walkway and sidewalk? Well, your ship has come in! It’s the Yarbo 3-in-1 Intelligent Yard Robot, below, which has attachments for those two tasks and many others, which are demonstrated at www.Yarbo.com.

Completing Realtor Magazine’s Top 10 products for CES were touchless window shades from Eve which respond to voice commands; a 2-wheeled family robot from Enabot; and the “M3 OLED Smart TV” from LG, which is totally wireless except for the power cord.

Here’s a link to the Realtor Magazine article, which has links to all 10 items.

Do you have a favorite new product that has made your life better, more interesting, or more sustainable? Tell me about it (my email is jim@goldenrealestate.com), and maybe I’ll feature it in a future column. And let me know if you purchase one of the products featured above!

Canadian Company Develops Recycled Rubber Roofing

The picture above is of Euroshield® roofing made from recycled tires. It is manufactured by G.E.M., a company in Calgary, Alberta. Henry Kamphuis founded the company in 1999 to solve the problem of old tires clogging up landfills and dumpsites. Several years later, after much research and trial-and-error, he came up with a green roofing system that is 95% made from the rubber in old tires. It takes over 400 such tires to provide the rubber for a typical roof.

The roofing tiles are connected by a tongue-and-groove design and can be made to look like slate tiles, shown above, or wood shakes.

The roofing is sold and installed in the Denver metro area by Johnson Construction Company LLC, which you can reach at 303-719-7663, or via their website, www.RoofsByJohnson.com. The cost of a Euroshield roof is more than twice that of a conventional composition shingle roof, but it comes with a 50-year warranty against damage from up to 2” hail with no pro-rating and no deductible. The company installed a Euroshield roof in Golden’s Amberwick subdivision after a 2017 hail storm. Those roofs survived two subsequent hail storms without any visible damage.

Just Listed: A South Golden Ranch in Eagle Ridge with Walkout Basement

This rare ranch-style home with a southwestern feel at 634 Entrada Drive is on a mini cul-de-sac, giving it an oversized backyard with a water feature (stream & pond) that you can enjoy from the newly rebuilt wood deck off the living room and primary suite. It was just listed for $775,000. A 10’x13′ office is used by the seller as a 3rd bedroom minus only a closet. An open floor plan links the spacious living room to the kitchen over a breakfast bar. The living room has a gas fireplace. There’s attractive use of glass brick in the dining room and kitchen and also in the garage. New carpet has been installed, making this home move-in ready. The walk-out basement is unfinished but with a half bath installed. Interior photos and a narrated video tour are at www.SouthGoldenHome.com. Broker associate Jim Swanson, 303-929-2727, is holding it open this Saturday, 11am to 1pm.

Fannie Mae Requires Appraisers to Use a Measurement Model for Square Footage Not Used by Realtors

How we measure the gross living area of a home is important, but there is little consistency. Different websites may use different numbers for the same home, primarily because they tend to have only one field for square footage.

Below, I’ll write about Fannie Mae’s new rules for measuring homes, but it’s up to each real estate website operator which number it uses for square footage. For example, the web page that we create for each Golden Real Estate listing has only one square footage field, so I choose to display finished square footage. The MLS has fields to distinguish between finished, unfinished, basement, above-grade, and total square feet, as shown below, and all those fields are uploaded to every consumer website, but I haven’t found any consumer website which displays all those fields.

Zillow is an example of a website which features only the total square footage in each listing, even if half that area is unfinished basement space. It doesn’t show the breakdown of finished vs. unfinished space or basement vs. above-grade space unless you click on a link titled “See more facts and features.”

Trulia, which is owned by Zillow, has a link “See all” which lists “finished area” if you scroll down far enough, but that’s all. I find this ironic, because both Trulia and Zillow provide a ton of information not found on the MLS, yet they downplay or omit the most important detail of all — the breakdown of square footage.

Redfin, which, like Trulia and Zillow, gets the full feed from our MLS, also features only the total square feet and has no link that I could find which displays a breakdown. And, like both Trulia and Zillow, Redfin prominently features “price per square foot,” but that figure is based on the total square feet, which can be really misleading.

Golden Real Estate’s website, like those three, gets its active listings from the MLS, but our display is managed by the MLS, and all listings on our website use the finished square footage number, which is, I believe, the most useful single number to use. But, once again, there’s only one field for displaying square footage.

The MLS has its own consumer-facing website, www.REcolorado.com, where you can search for listings. On that site, the total square footage is featured, but scroll down and you see this very thorough breakdown of square footage:

On other websites, you’d only see 3,166 square feet and $271/sq. ft. for the listing in this example.

The numbers  displayed on the MLS are entered by the listing agent. Our sole obligation in providing them is to indicate the source. It could be from public records, or it could be from a prior appraisal. We could also measure it ourselves, but that is really unlikely. The only requirement is that we disclose the source. The safest choice is public records, but those numbers could be wrong.

Fun fact: Square footage of a home, by whatever standard, is measured from the outside of the exterior walls, not the inside.

Lenders, of course, want to know that the square footage is accurate and consistent, so recently Fannie Mae mandated that all appraisers follow the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard, which can result in appraisals which come up with different numbers than in the MLS listing on which the buyer relied.

The ANSI standards don’t allow for space with ceiling heights under 7’ to be included in the gross living area, and the square footage of staircases can only be counted on the level from which the staircase descends. Also, if even part of a level is below grade, the entire level has to be counted as “basement,” which directly conflicts with MLS rules which say the lower level of a bi-level or tri-level home (which is at least partially below grade) can be counted as above-grade square footage.

Complicating matters, appraisers must measure properties using the ANSI standards, but they have no choice but to rely on MLS measurements for the comps they cite in an appraisal, which were surely not done to ANSI standards. The technical term for this is “apples and oranges…”

There are three different square footage numbers for every MLS listing, and here is a quick tutorial on REcolorado’s rules for measuring square footage.

Above-Grade square footage used to be called “Main” square footage. As the new name suggests, it does not include basement square footage.  But that begs the question, “what is a basement?”  In a split-level home, the lower level, which is often below grade, is included in the “above-grade” square footage, since there is frequently a basement below that level. In a “raised ranch” home, the lower level is included in “above-grade” square footage for the same reason. (A “raised ranch” is defined as a home where you have to climb a flight of stairs to get to the “main” level. The “main” level is defined as the level containing the kitchen.) 

Finished square footage includes all the finished square feet, whether in the basement or above-grade. If the basement is unfinished (or there is no basement), this number will be the same as the “Above Grade” number.

Total square footage is what the name suggests, whether finished or unfinished.

All three of these numbers will be different when a listing has a partially finished basement.

The Real Estate Market Is Showing Signs of Revival

Here at Golden Real Estate, we have some anecdotal evidence of a resurgence in the real estate market, which was moribund in December.

On Saturday, Jan. 7th, I held a 2-hour open house at my listing on Bates Avenue. My previous open house at that listing had drawn not a single visitor, so I was quite surprised to have ten sets of visitors that day. All of them were actual buyers, not lookie-loos.

I immediately decided to hold it open the following day, Jan. 8th, and once again it was my most visited open house in recent memory.

I had four prospective buyers from those open houses and this Monday that home went under contract.

A second example of this resurgence came when broker associate David Dlugasch listed a 1960 brick ranch with walkout basement in south Golden/Pleasantview. (It was featured in last week’s ad.) It drew 22 agent showings on the first three days, and it went under contract on Sunday at full price — $798,000, which I frankly thought was a reach.

Although anecdotal, these experiences give me hope for a continued market resurgence in 2023.

For Sale: Golden Real Estate’s Former Office Building on South Golden Road

Currently vacant, this unique 1,318-square-foot office building at 17695 S. Golden Road (originally a restaurant) is powered by 20 kilowatts of solar power, which more than meets the energy needs of the building in addition to charging up to three electric vehicles at three Level 2 charging stations. The monthly bill from Xcel Energy is only $12.56.  There is no natural gas service, because the building is heated and cooled by a state-of-the-art heat pump/mini-split system powered by those solar panels. This is a true “net zero energy” building and was planned to be “The Net Zero Store,” but we decided to stick to real estate and sell the building. For a showing, call Jim Smith at 303-525-1851. You can take a narrated video tour and view interior and exterior photos at www.SouthGoldenBuilding.online.

Note the 5 kilowatts of solar panels on the building roof.

View of parking lots and 15 kilowatts of ground-mounted solar panels.

One of three wall-mounted mini-splits driven by a heat pump on roof, provides both heating and cooling at no cost thanks to solar panels.

Four Velux sun tunnels (similar to Solatube brand) provide natural light

Golden Real Estate wants to rent back this secondary parking lot plus the two sheds and Styrofoam Corral behind the building for $200/month.

Two ChargePoint charging stations earn average $50/month at no cost to building owner because of solar power.

This Tesla charging station earns $75/month from an Uber driver.

Here’s a Solution to Your Snow-Packed Streets

Does your street still look like the one above — over two weeks after the snow stopped falling?

Would you pay $1 or $2 to have someone plow your street before the snow gets beaten down, rutted and icy?

If you live in the City of Golden, this is not a problem. It’s the only city I know of which has committed to plowing every residential street, no matter how small the snowfall. (If you know of another city that does that, let me know, and I’ll share it.)

If your street is not being plowed, there’s a solution in plain sight, but only if you have an HOA or neighborhood association. Lobby your HOA to hire a person or company to plow your street immediately after each snowfall. The cost will be in proportion to how many streets and homes are in your subdivision, but regardless of size, I bet your association could find a person or company who would do it, and the cost would probably compute to no more than $2 per household per storm. Ten plowing events a year might cost $20 per household, but even it if were twice that, wouldn’t it be worth it?

Your association would probably not even have to raise their monthly dues for such a small expense. Google “snow plowing companies near me,” and get some quotes. Be your neighborhood hero and solve this recurring problem!

(If your HOA, not the city or county, owns and maintains your streets and/or if your community is gated, the HOA is probably already plowing your streets when it snows.)

The above picture is of the street in front of my listing at 14165 W. Bates Avenue. When I returned the day after taking that picture, I found a City of Lakewood road grader and dump truck working in tandem to scrape up the ice-caked snow and plow it to the side. Lakewood would have saved money by following Golden’s example and plowing the street when it snowed! Later that day, I found four Lakewood workers on foot chopping and removing ice on Union Blvd.

Price Reduced on Downtown Denver Loft

If you’re looking for loft living, this is as good as it gets! The price of this loft at 2000 Arapahoe St. #204 was just reduced to $550,000. Walk to everything in Downtown Denver — Coors Field, the  Performing Arts Complex, 16th Street Mall, Lodo, Union Station, shopping, restaurants, and light rail, including the A-line to DIA. The 12-foot ceilings and four massive pillars, plus huge windows with views of nearby skyscrapers — this is the loft life you’ve been looking for! It comes with three garage spaces, which is probably more than you need. Rent them out for $150-200 each to create a nice cash flow! This is a rare opportunity, so act fast. No open houses. More pictures and information can be found at www.DenverLoft.info.

View from Loft window

Golden Ranch with Walkout Basement Listed by David Dlugasch

This ranch at 16030 W. 14th Place is a gem. David Dlugasch just listed it for $798,000. It has hardwood floors throughout the main level. The newly remodeled kitchen has stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. It has all new windows, electrical panel, A/C, clean air system, high efficiency forced air heating system, sprinkler system front and back, fenced yard, SimpliSafe alarm system and so much more. Off the dining room is a large deck with mountain views.  The main level has two bedrooms and a full bathroom, with two non-conforming bedrooms and a tiled 3/4 bathroom in the basement. The lower level family room is huge! It has a separate bar area, and space for a theater, playroom, pool table, or whatever. Walk out to your beautiful backyard with a covered deck, fire pit, patio, and an upper deck for BBQing. The oversized garage is an added bonus with a 220V outlet for an electric vehicle. Enjoy Orchard Park one block away with tennis courts, swings and lots of open space. You are minutes away from I-70, Colorado Mills, downtown Golden, and walking distance to South Table Mountain trails. See more photos and take a narrated video tour at www.SouthGoldenRanch.online. Call David at 303-908-4835 to set a showing.

Experts Differ on What 2023 Will Bring in Terms of the Real Estate and Mortgage Markets

Real estate and mortgage professionals are coming to grips with how the market changed in 2022, but they’re holding back on predictions for the market in 2023.

On the national level, Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, predicts home prices will remain stable and the sales of existing homes will decline by 6.8%. He identified ten markets that will outperform other metro areas, and all ten of them are in the southeast.

“Half of the country may experience small price gains, while the other half may see slight price declines,” Yun said.

Here in the Denver market, the Denver Metro Association of Realtors (DMAR) issues a monthly market trends report. In its latest report, it pointed out that while there is a steady month-over-month decline in the average sold price, the year-over-year sold prices remain higher.

“Without a doubt, the Denver Metro housing market is changing, but the question on everyone’s mind is how long this change will last and what to expect next year,” commented Libby Levinson-Katz, Chair of the DMAR Market Trends Committee and a metro Denver Realtor®. “Most of the answers are tied directly to when we will see relief from increasing mortgage rates that have more than doubled since January… While we expect to see the Denver real estate market continue to change through 2023 due to interest rates and inventory woes, it has continued to show strength and stability.” 

As I highlighted above, a lot depends on the direction of mortgage rates, and predictions of where rates are headed are few and varied, because there are so many factors.

For example, will the Federal Reserve’s increases in the Fed Funds rate continue, and for how long? Will it cause a recession? Will unemployment increase and inflation abate?  What’s the future of the war in Ukraine and its impact on the US and world economy? What will energy cost in 2023?

Personally, I have no predictions to offer. What I know for sure is that people will still want to sell, and there will always be buyers ready to buy. We continue to see new listings come on the market. As always, some listings will be priced wisely and will sell quickly, but most will be overpriced and will sit on the market, slowly reducing their prices until they sell, expire, or are withdrawn from the MLS.

There may even be bidding wars on homes that are priced right. For example, I just sold a home in Applewood which we priced at $895,000 and sold to one of three bidders within a week for over $900,000. But we’re not perfect. Other listings have languished on the market and only sold once we reduced the price sufficiently to attract a buyer.