CES 2021 Featured New Tech and Designs for Kitchen, Bath and Elsewhere

January’s virtual CES 2021 showcased some interesting new products for kitchen, bath and other rooms, which were described in an article by Melissa Dittmann Tracey of Realtor Magazine.

For kitchen appliances, there’s a move toward more intelligent and colorful appliances. Rita and I have one of Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerators, and we like it! You can display a slide show of pictures from a thumb drive, or even mirror your WiFi-connected TV from another room.

Samsung is offering its Bespoke refrigerators in eight glass or steel colors: gray glass; sky blue glass, navy steel, champagne steel, matte black steel, navy glass, white glass, and rose pink glass.

LG introduced its “Furniture Concept Appliances,” which make sense now that open floor plans are commonly combining kitchen, dining room and family room. Their appliances come in several materials and color combos.

Another trend featured in the article was toward a “wellness” design for bathrooms, inspired by the greater amount of time everyone is spending at home because of Covid. Kohler’s $16,000 “Stillness Bath” (above) is an extreme example of this: “It mixes water, light, fog, and essential oils and features an infinity-style water cascade that falls onto a Hinoki wood moat that then recirculates the water back into the bathtub.”  No thanks!

LG also introduced a $2,599 “Wash Tower” which is nothing more than a stacked washer and dryer in a single unit with controls of both units between the two. I don’t like this because Rita and I are completely sold on the new style of high efficiency washing machines which are top loading with a glass top and no agitator, also sold by LG. They are smart units which, among other things, sense the size of your load and only introduce the amount of water needed for that load. 

As you’d expect, there were lots of innovations displayed by TV manufacturers. I like the idea of Samsung’s The Frame (above): “An extra-slim 4K television, attempts to turn the TV into actual artwork that you can hang on your wall like a picture frame.” When you’re not watching TV, it can display a painting or picture of your choosing or, presumably, a slide show like you are used to viewing on the electronic picture frames available for years.

NAR’s ‘Clear Cooperation’ Policy Is a First Step at Eliminating Pocket Listings

A “pocket listing” is a property which the listing agent does not put on the MLS, hoping to sell it himself or get it sold by other agents in his office. It’s not typically in the best interest of the seller, since the property is withheld from the full universe of potential buyers.

The organizing principle of the Multi-List System, or MLS, is “cooperation and compensation.” Every real estate agent working in the public arena needs to belong to the local MLS, because it’s only through the MLS that the agent can show and sell that MLS’s listings and be guaranteed the “co-op” commission displayed on the MLS.

A listing agent, naturally, would prefer not to give a big slice of the listing commission to the “cooperat-ing” broker who brings the buyer. He or she would much rather sell the listing, keeping the entire commission for him or herself. Meanwhile, other agents (and their buyers) are upset when they don’t have the opportunity to show a new listing and submit an offer, especially when there are so few listings on the market, as is currently the case.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) took up the issue of pocket listings last year when it adopted a policy called Clear Cooperation. Essentially the policy says that if an MLS member advertises or promotes a listing in any way — including putting a “coming soon” sign in the yard or mentioning it on social media — that listing must be entered on the MLS within 24 hours. It can be listed as “coming soon” on the MLS, during which time it can’t be shown, including by the listing agent. Once it is shown, it must immediately be changed to “active,” allowing all MLS members to show and sell it.

Unfortunately for sellers, who are the big losers with pocket listings, this policy will never be completely effective. That is evident from the fact that over 7% of listings, by my count, are entered on the MLS only after they are sold. Unless a home remains active on the MLS for 3 or 4 days, it’s unlikely that all potential buyers will have had a chance to compete for it.

You may recall the featured listing in last week’s column. It was listed at $375,000, a price consistent with comparable sales, and we received a full-price offer on the first day. Our policy, however, is to get our sellers to wait four days before going under contract. We had 30 showings and received six offers by day four. By being transparent about the offers received, we were able to bid up the property by  more than $55,000 by day four. We did get an offer $35,000 over listing price on day two, but we waited. Our seller benefited from waiting 2 more days.

Sadly, most listing agents haven’t adopted this practice. They sell their listings too quickly, potentially costing their sellers thousands but also frustrating would-be buyers who might pay more. 

I have calculated that in addition to the 7% of listings being sold with zero days on the MLS, 15% are sold after only 1 or 2 days on the MLS.

One technique for minimizing showings by other agents has been to make a listing “active” but block showings with the showing service. Because the listing is “active,” the listing agent can show the property him or herself without technically violating the clear cooperation policy.

Another technique is the “office exclusive” option.  A listing can be marketed within a brokerage without putting it on the MLS. But once any kind of public marketing takes place, the listing must immediately be put on the MLS as either “coming soon” or “active.”

Candelas Home Just Listed by David Dlugasch

17830 W. 94th Drive, Arvada – Just listed for $675,000

This 4-bedroom, 3-bath home backs to open space. The kitchen has stainless steel appliances, a gas range, granite countertops with beautiful backsplash, and lots of light. The dining area opens through sliding glass doors to a covered deck, perfect for fair weather entertaining. The family room has large windows, recessed lighting and engineered hardwood flooring. Also on the main floor is an office/den with new carpeting and a half bath. The upper level has the master suite with 5-piece master bath and walk-in closet. Two other bedrooms are carpeted, and the third has hardwood laminate flooring. See more pictures and details at www.CandelasHome.info, then call your agent or David Dlugasch at 303-908-4835 to arrange a private showing.

Just Listed: 1-Bedroom Condo in Downtown Golden

Gateway Station is the fabulous 2007 condo building at 1275 Washington Ave. in the heart of downtown Golden. Unit R408, at 1,084 square feet, is one of the smaller and more affordable units in this highly coveted building.  From its open balcony, enjoy a view of North Table Mountain. Outside, enjoy the countless shops and restaurants along Washington Avenue and on the side streets. (Learn about them all at www.VisitGolden.com.) Although this is a 1-bedroom unit, a Murphy bed in the living room and second bathroom can accommodate your short-term guests. Take a video tour at www.GoldenCondo.info, then call your agent or Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 to set a private showing.

All this furniture – Murphy bed, desks, shelving and drawers, is built-in and included!
View of North Table Mountain from this 4th floor unit’s balcony.

Just Listed: Westminster Townhome with a 2-Car Garage

8762 Allison Dr. #E – Just listed for $340,000

This townhome-style condo has it all. Downtown Westminster is minutes away to the east and Standley Lake is equally close to the west. It has 2 bedrooms, 2½ baths and an oversized 2-car garage. The entire unit was recently painted and includes a new furnace and water heater. The skylights provide lots of natural light in the loft area. Just add your desk and work from home! The large master has a full en suite bathroom with double sinks. Enjoy the lovely outdoor pool during the summer. See more pictures and take a narrated video tour at www.WestminsterHome.info, then call your agent or Ty Scrable at 720-281-6783 to set a private showing.

Front porch
Open floor plan
Four skylights! Two for downstairs, two for the loft!
One of two bedrooms

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.

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.