National Association of Realtors (NAR) Bans Pocket Listings

During its annual convention earlier this month, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) voted to ban the practice of pocket listings. Pocket listings are listings which are withheld from the MLS, thereby denying other Realtors (and agents who are not Realtors) from showing and selling the listings. The rule goes into effect on January 1, 2020, but NAR is giving MLSs until May 1st to fully implement it.

Regular readers of this column know that I have long decried the practice of selling listings without putting them on the MLS. Doing so increases the chances of the listing agent “double-ending” the sale, resulting in twice the commission, but it also runs the risk of netting less money for the seller, thereby violating the ethical and legal requirement that listing agents work in the best interest of their sellers instead of themselves.

Perhaps you saw me quoted on page 10A of last Thursday’s Denver Post as welcoming this new rule. As I stated to reporter Aldo Svaldi, the only way to guarantee the highest price for our sellers is to expose their listings to the full market of potential buyers, which is only done by putting the home on the MLS. When the listing agent convinces a seller to accept an offer before their home is put on the MLS, there is no way of knowing how much money the seller will “leave on the table.”

The purpose of an MLS is to provide “cooperation and compensation.” Members of an MLS must allow (cooperate with) any other member of the MLS to sell their listing and makes it known how they’ll be compensated — in our market, typically 2.8% of the sale price.

The new policy, called “clear cooperation,” is spelled out in the following motion passed by a 91% to 9% vote of the NAR board of directors:

“Within one business day of marketing a property to the public, the listing broker must submit the listing to the MLS for cooperation with other MLS participants. Public marketing includes, but is not limited to, flyers displayed in windows, yard signs, digital marketing on public-facing websites, brokerage website displays, digital communications marketing (email blasts), multi-brokerage listing sharing networks, and applications available to the general public.”

I can provide an example from my own practice. In November 2018 I listed a home for $1.1 million. Even before I put it on the MLS, a close friend of the seller said he would pay full price. The seller wanted to accept it, but my advice was to consider the friend’s offer the “opening bid” and to proceed with exposing the home to other buyers by putting it on the MLS.

Five days after putting the home on the MLS, bidding had driven up the price significantly and it sold (to the same friend) for $75,000 above full price. The seller was delighted, and so was the buyer, who only asked that his friend match the highest bid.

I could easily have made a quick commission and saved myself the chore and expense of marketing the home and managing competing offers, but I would have been violating my duty to the seller and, it turns out, cost my seller a lot of money.  I particularly like that, when all was said and done, the seller netted the full listing price, even after deducting commissions and the other costs of selling!

It will be interesting to see how this rule against pocket listings is implemented by MLSs and how effective it will be. One work-around we can expect is that listings will go on the MLS with the notation that “showings begin on such-and-such a (later) date.”

One of our broker associates, Chuck Brown, attended the NAR convention, including a panel of the titans of real estate — from Realogy, RE/MAX International, Zillow, Opendoor, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, and others — and they, unlike the board of directors, were mostly against the new policy on pocket listings.  Zillow and Opendoor, in particular, say they’ll continue to list properties as “coming soon.”

Clearly the new rule will restrict but probably not eliminate the practice.  REcolorado’s Rules & Regulations Committee, on which I have served for over a decade, will discuss it on Dec. 10th. Expect a follow-up on this subject!

Price Reduced on Home in Golden’s Foothills

5771 Bear Paw Road, Golden CO 80403 – Just reduced to $899,000

You won’t believe the mountain and city views (all the way to DIA) from this beautiful log home in a gated community, nestled on 35 acres just 14 miles from downtown Golden, with easy access to Denver, Boulder and Eldora Ski Resort. (You can be on the slopes in 30 minutes!)  Now priced at $899,000, this peaceful, furnished retreat is one of a kind.  Complete with a plow truck and camper for extra guests or rental, all you need to do is move in!  Buyers who offer full price and close before the end of the year will receive a free 1-year home warranty.  There will be no open houses. Schedule a showing with your agent or call Kristi Brunel at 303-525-2520 or Carol Milan at 720-982-4941 for an exclusive private showing. You can find more pictures and view a drone video tour of this listing at www.FoothillsHome.info.

Here’s an Affordable Fixer-Upper in Golden!

This townhome at 1945 Yank Street is a great opportunity to do a fix-and-flip, or a great home for the handyman. It was just listed at only $250,000. There is a newer furnace, nice bay window, new roof and French doors leading out to a fenced in yard. The home needs work, however, and is priced well below market value for quick sale. This must be a cash sale and close on or before December 6th. It is sold as is. Seller will require a post-closing occupancy agreement through January 9, 2020, at no charge. There is also a carport. This location is great for shopping and access to I-70. Showings begin on Nov. 20th.  Call listing agent David Dlugasch at 303-908-4835 for more information on this opportunity, or visit www.ApplewoodHome.info. There is no open house.

What’s a ‘Smart Home,’ and What Elements of a ‘Smart Home’ Make Sense for You?

Home automation is now mainstream, thanks to a strong internet and widespread use of WiFi routers in our homes. Perhaps you’ve heard the term “smart home” used to describe a home with devices that can be monitored and/or controlled from your smartphone.

The most widely adopted such device is probably the Ring doorbell. You may have one on your own home. Rita and I do, plus one on the door of Golden Real Estate. If you ring our home doorbell, Rita gets an alert on her iPhone and can see and converse with whoever is there. The visitor wouldn’t know if Rita is home or not as they converse, and, even if the visitor doesn’t ring the doorbell, Rita’s alerted to “motion at the front door” and a video of it is archived in the “cloud” for later viewing — great for identifying “porch pirates.”

If you ring the doorbell at Golden Real Estate, I get the notification on my iPhone and can converse with you and perhaps arrange to have an agent meet you there shortly.

There are countless other examples of “smart” devices. For example, we have a car wash closet on the back of our office building, and I’m concerned about the pipes freezing if it gets really cold, so I installed a WiFi connected device which tells me on an app both the outdoor temperature and the temperature inside the closet. And it alerts me when the inside temperature drops below 35 degrees.

We also have security cameras inside and outside our building which I can view on my smartphone or in the office, allowing me to go back in time to capture suspicious events, such as when a snowblower was stolen last year. I have a similar system at home.

If you subscribe to Dish Network or DirecTV, you have a smart device there, able to schedule and even watch DVR recordings on your smartphone or tablet. My Samsung TV is itself “smart” which is what makes it possible to stream Netflix shows and movies.

Even our refrigerator is “smart.”  Rita and I can actually look inside the refrigerator on our smartphones while shopping!

A client of mine has an internet-connected garage door opener that alerts him when the door opens and closes, and he can open or close it from his smartphone — very useful since his detached garage faces the alley and he has no way of knowing if it is open or closed without leaving his house and walking around the garage to the alley.

WiFi-enabled (i.e., wireless) security cameras make it possible to have cameras in places not previously possible. The cameras are powered by lithium-ion batteries that last 4 to 6 months between charges and can be mounted up to 300 feet from their base station. One such application is the wireless camera on the EV charging station in our parking lot, which was once vandalized. Next time, I’ll be able to identify the culprit.

Other applications you might consider are WiFi-connected moisture detectors and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Baby monitors are a no-brainer, too. As long as you have your phone with you, you’ll be able to see and talk to your baby in his room.

WiFi-connected electric shades, especially on your out-of-reach windows, could help you save energy and money by opening and closing based on indoor temperature.

My solar PV system at home is internet connected, not only so I can monitor it but so the leasing company which has guaranteed a certain level of production can know when it has not produced as promised and can automatically send me a check for the under-production. (I have received two such checks.)

Nest is a big provider of smart devices, best known for their thermostat, which not only senses occupancy but can be adjusted remotely.

An alternative to lockboxes that is now widely available is the WiFi connected electric deadbolt. When someone rings your video doorbell and you want to let them into your house, you can unlock your door on your smartphone to let the person in and lock it when they go.

There are devices to make electric outlets “smart” so any device plugged into them can be powered on or off from your smartphone. A variation on that is one with dimming capability. As you can see, there’s no end to what you can do to make your home a “smart” home.

If you want to check out other devices for your home, Google is your friend, or simply go to www.SmartHome.com, which sells smart home devices from a multitude of manufacturers, including Ring, Next, Amazon, and others.

Alexa and other “smart speakers” are also “smart listeners” and, like all internet-connected devices, can be hacked, so it is important that you have strong passwords and take other precautions.

Sellers Ask: Should I Wait Until Spring to Put My Home on the Market?

About this time of year I like to remind readers why winter can be the best time of year to put their home on the market.

First of all, there is less competition because, frankly, most sellers don’t know that homes sell well year-round. If your agent says you should wait until spring, get an agent who understands this!

Second, buyers continue to get alerts of new listings year-round.  You know this yourself if you’ve been looking at listings. Nowadays every serious home buyer has asked their agent to set up an MLS alert matching their search criteria, or done it themselves on Zillow, and these alerts are generated 24/7/365 — even on Christmas morning!

This is a change from years past, when buyers depended on their agent to monitor the market and find listings that matched their buyers’ needs and wants. No more! Buyers do their own searching, even if it’s on Zillow, and call their agent when they want to see a listing which appears to meet their needs and wants.

Third, you won’t be bothered by lookie-loos.  Only serious buyers, ready to make an offer, will be asking to see your home in the winter. The buyers who just like looking at other peoples’ homes are less inclined to go out at this time of year.

Fourth, you’ll have your agent’s and mortgage broker’s full attention.  With less traffic in the winter, these professionals can give you their undivided attention.  Others, including title officers and home inspectors, are also less busy in the winter, which is to your advantage.

Fifth, you can light your fireplace. I love going into a warm, cozy home when it’s cold outside. Unless your home is drafty and cold, this makes for great staging!  And if you have a wood-burning fireplace, it’s even better. I love the smell of a wood-burning fireplace, don’t you?  Also, put some cider on the stove, with cinnamon sticks in it and have a ladle and cups next to it with freshly baked cookies, and you’ve made my day! Your visitors will feel like they are in their new home!

Sixth, holiday decorations are good staging, too.  Most stagers will urge you to depersonalize your home, including removal of crucifixes or other religious symbols, but this is Colorado, and people of all religions enjoy our Christmas holiday decorations. Again, like the fireplace and hot cider, holiday decorations can add a welcoming, homey feeling to your home.

Remember, buyers need to move year round. The concept of selling during the children’s summer vacation may be valid for a limited segment of the population, but even in that case many families move locally, and the MLS allows us to set up searches based on school district or even specific elementary, middle or high school service areas. Other moves are triggered by job changes, health changes or seniors moving to be closer to grandchildren, and these needs arise year-round.

Call any of us at Golden Real Estate — our phone numbers are below — if you’d like a free market analysis of your home or for any other reason.

Jim Smith, Broker/Owner –  303-525-1851

Jim Swanson — 303-929-2727

Carrie Lovingier — 303-907-1278

Kristi Brunel — 303-525-2520

Chuck Brown — 303-885-7855

David Dlugasch — 303-908-4835

Andrew Lesko — 720-710-1000

Carol Milan — 720-982-4941

Another Great Cedaredge Listing by Kim Taylor

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Two years ago, Kim Taylor did the unthinkable and left Golden Real Estate to live in Cedaredge, where she and Craig could experience more of what Colorado has to offer on the Western Slope. We still love them both and are happy to promote her listings in that wonderful part of Colorado. (Rita and I have visited them and can see why they love their new life.)

This new listing at 1047 SW Brook Lane is your opportunity to do what they did and live the good life in a quieter, more affordable part of our great state. It was just listed at $394,000. It’s a fabulous ranch-style 3-bedroom, 3-bath home on two irrigated acres. This home has it all — country living close to downtown Cedaredge, and 20 minutes to the top of the Grand Mesa with its 300+ lakes and extensive trail system for snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking and hiking. It has views of the San Juan Mountains to the south and the Grand Mesa to the west and will accommodate horses, pets and/or livestock with its two fenced and irrigated pastures and 3-stall loafing shed. This amazing property also has a 30’x46’ shop with 220v service and oversized garage door to accommodate an RV, plus a separate office area. The shop has natural light and is heated with natural gas or wood. There are a dozen fruit trees on the property and a fenced garden area. The intelligently landscaped yard provides shade in the summer and full sun to the sunroom in the winter, assisting in heating and cooling the home. The open concept main living and kitchen area has a beautiful moss rock fireplace with a natural gas, thermostat-controlled insert. Kim will be holding an Open House on Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 9 & 10, from 2 to 4 pm. Or call Kim at 303-304-6678 to arrange a private showing. More exterior and interior pictures can be found at www.CedaredgeHome.info.

The Crackdown on Hispanic Immigration Is Hurting the Construction Trades

Like any homeowner who has lived in Colorado for a long time, I have experienced roof replacements due to a hail storm more than once, and have observed that the roofing industry, like many construction trades, is particularly dependent on Mexicans and other Hispanics for their work force.

So I’ve been wondering how the President’s unrelenting (and increasing) crackdown on immigration from Central American countries has been affecting construction trades, including roofing.

Fortunately, my last big hail storm requiring roof replacement was in May 2017, before the crackdown on such immigrants had matured into what we are seeing today.

Googling the topic and surveying the many roofing companies with which I’ve dealt over the years, I find that what I suspected is indeed the case.  Roughly 20% of that industry’s work force has been lost directly or indirectly. It makes me wonder how we will fare in the event of another widespread hail disaster.

The problem is that few non-immigrants jump at the offer of earning minimum or higher wages climbing on roofs in the hot sun and doing the back-breaking work of removing and replacing a roof.  The same is true in the farming industry where migrant labor has been essential to getting seasonal work done.

I remember Elliot Eisenberg, the “Bowtie Economist,” telling Realtors at a 2017 event that immigration is essential to growing the economy, and that we need at least 1 million immigrants every year to achieve the kind of growth which President Trump was promising. (He also pointed out that cutting taxes while the economy is doing as well as it was in 2017 was not smart and could only have a short-lived effect, which is now evident.)

I was reminded of all this on Sunday night, watching a 60 Minutes segment on the Japanese economy hurting because of its historic limitation on immigration in addition to its declining birth rate.

Immigration is good, and it’s necessary to maintain and grow our economy.  The effect of restricting immigration and terrorizing immigrants by raiding businesses with immigrant work forces ends up hurting us all.

According to one website I Googled,

> A U.S. Department of Labor study prepared by the Bush Administration noted that the perception that immigrants take jobs away from American workers is “the most persistent fallacy about immigration in popular thought” because it is based on the mistaken assumption that there is only a fixed number of jobs in the economy.    

> Experts note that immigrants are blamed for unemployment because Americans can see the jobs immigrants fill but not the jobs they create through productivity, capital formation and demand for goods and services.  

> Immigrants pay more than $90 billion in taxes every year and receive only $5 billion in welfare. Without their contributions to the public treasury, the economy would suffer enormous losses. 

Personally, I think we should welcome, not shun, immigrants.