$250,000 Price Reduction on 4-BR Arvada Mansion

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This fabulous listing at 12996 W. 81st Place in Arvada was originally listed at $1,875,000 and was worth every penny when you learn its features. Now it’s just $1,600,000.

See all 46 magazine-quality photos and a 21-minute narrated video walk-through at www.ArvadaMansion.info. It takes that long to show this home’s many features such as its ceiling frescos, his-and-her master bathrooms (including bidets), his-and-her master closets, two fully-finished garages that could hold up to 10 cars, and three boilers providing radiant floor heating to the home, its garages, driveways, patios, and even an exterior walkway for snow melting!  Really, even if you’re not in the market for this veritable mansion, you should view the narrated video tour to see how the 1% lives! For a private showing, call your agent or Jim Smith  at 303-525-1851.

Rare Ranch-Style Home in Trailmark Back on Market

Ranch homes are rare in Trailmark. This one at 9379 S. Jellison Way went under contract in 10 days but the contract fell when the buyer’s home failed to sell.  It is back on the market at $630,000.

You’ll love this home with its 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, vaulted ceilings on the main floor, and 3,670 finished square feet. The gourmet kitchen features slab granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and hardwood flooring that extends throughout the main level except for the bedrooms. The backyard features a pergola and stamped concrete which extends around both sides of the house. The master bath features a walk-in shower, slab granite double vanity, and a porcelain tile floor. In the basement is a 4th bedroom with a similar bathroom, plus a second family room with a kitchenette, making it suitable for a mother-in-law apartment. Take a narrated walk-thru (with drone video) at www.TrailmarkHome.info, then come to our open house Sunday, August 18th, 11 am to 2 pm.  Or call Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 for a private showing.

What Requires a Permit, & Does Unpermitted Work Affect Your Ability to Sell?

My July 25th column described how a seller got into a legal dispute from not having disclosed an unpermitted basement finish done decades earlier. That story raised a question common among homeowners — what work requires a permit, and does failure to obtain a permit make it harder to sell a home?

Incorporated cities like Denver, Arvada, Lakewood and Golden issue the permits within their jurisdiction, but residents of unincorporated areas must get permits from their county’s planning and zoning office. 

Each jurisdiction has slightly different requirements. For example, Golden lets you install a backyard fence up to 7’ without a permit (unless on a corner lot or in an historic district), but Jeffco requires a permit for any fence over 42 inches tall.  Denver is more generous, exempting “posthole-dug fences” up to 8 feet high.

When it comes to structures, whether habitable or not, the requirements are fairly consistent. There is an International Residential Code (IRC) which is updated regularly, and most jurisdictions adopt the updated code with only minor adjustments.

I found only one jurisdiction, Golden, which provides a simple one-page PDF listing what does and does not require a permit. Click here for a link to that PDF.  If you are in another city or unincorporated area, you can still expect that document to reflect what your jurisdiction might require of you.

Basically, any modifications to the walls, windows, roof, plumbing or electrical system of a home requires a permit, and it’s a good idea to obtain one, even though you can sell a home which had unpermitted work done, so long as you disclose that fact to your buyer.

Call or visit your jurisdiction’s planning department to find out what permits are and are not required for your home. You’ll find that most jurisdictions don’t require a permit for replacing cabinets, countertops, light fixtures, ceiling fans or plumbing fixtures in existing locations, or for roof or siding repairs/replacement (10% or less).

Denver exempts oil derricks, which I found to be a strange inclusion in its list of exemptions.

As mentioned in my earlier column, the standard Seller’s Property Disclosure form provided in the course of a real estate transaction asks the seller to disclose any work done without the required permit in the previous 12 months.  If so, the seller should check “Yes” and use the space provided on the form to describe what was done.

If, however, the seller had work done more than 12 months prior to completing that disclosure form, I recommend that he or she use the comments column to describe the work done without a permit and when it was done.

    Typically, this disclosure form is provided to the buyer prior to hiring a professional inspector to conduct a thorough inspection of all the home’s components. That way, the disclosure  can be given to the inspector, which would cause him or her to pay special attention to the area of unpermitted work to determine if the work was done “to code” and without defects that the buyer might then ask the seller to fix.

   By disclosing all unpermitted work in that document, the seller can forestall any claim after closing such as I described in my July 25th column. Listing agents should ask that question about older unpermitted work and handle it in this manner.  I certainly will from now on!

If you’re in an HOA, you probably will need to get approval for repainting the outside of your house, concrete repairs, landscaping changes or even the location and color of exterior radon mitigation equipment — things that don’t typically require a city or county permit.

The reasons that permits are required make sense. Consider, for example, replacing a water heater or furnace. If they are gas appliances, today’s code requires that outside combustion air be provided so that the appliances don’t deplete the oxygen in your home, and gas-fired devices emit deadly carbon monoxide, so it’s important that they be installed correctly. It is only by getting a permit that you ensure the work is inspected by the city or county, which is a good thing, especially when it comes to health and safety.

In those cases, you’re probably hiring a contractor to do the work, and the contractor should be licensed with the city or county where the work is being done and should obtain the permit for you.  If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you can get the permit as a homeowner, but the city or county may have you take a written test to show that you’re competent at the work being done — and it will be inspected. (I remember taking such a test when applying for an electrical permit in Denver — I failed the test…)

Permitting fees and requirements cause some homeowners to do work without getting a permit and hope they’re not caught. If the city or county catches you mid-project without a permit — something that happened to me in Denver in the 1990’s — expect them to issue a stop-work order and to double the permit fee. 

At least in Golden (speaking again from experience), you can turn yourself in and get a post-facto permit without paying a penalty, but you’ll need to show that the work was done to code and have it inspected.

Property taxes are based on a market valuation of your home by the county assessor, and getting a permit for your finished basement, new deck or detached garage, etc. could result in a higher valuation and therefore higher property taxes for your home, but that’s not a good reason to avoid going through the permitting process.  How much will your taxes go up?  Let’s say your basement finish cost $50,000. It’s unlikely your home’s value will increase by the full amount of any renovation, but even if it did, the assessment rate is now 7.15%, which means your assessed valuation would only increase by $3,575. If your mill levy rate is, say, 100 mills, that means your annual property taxes would increase by only $357.  But it won’t. And if you were to spend the same $50,000 on a kitchen or bathroom remodel, it might not increase the assessor’s valuation of your home at all, even though it was permitted, because it didn’t add any finished square footage to your home.

What the assessor values your home at is not based on what you paid for it, and neither is it based on what you spend to improve it. Your home’s valuation is based on the sale of comparable homes to determine what your home might have sold for on June 30th of the most recent even numbered year. Thus, even if you purchased your home on June 30, 2018 (the valuation date), the assessor won’t use what you paid for your home as the value of your home.

Theoretically, the county assessor’s office could monitor MLS listings and compare the description of your home with what their records show. But I have never heard of anyone’s assessor records being changed based solely on an MLS listing of their house.

If you have any questions that this column did not answer, please feel free to call me or any of our agents at the phone numbers below. I’m always happy to hear from my readers, and all of us are happy to answer your real estate questions.

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

Broker Associates:

  • Carol Milan — 720-982-4941
  • Norm Kowitz — 303-229-3891
  • Andrew Lesko — 720-710-1000
  • David Dlugasch — 303-908-4835
  • Chuck Brown — 303-885-7855
  • Kristi Brunel — 303-525-2520
  • Carrie Lovingier — 303-907-1278
  • Jim Swanson — 303-929-2727

Quarter-Million-Dollar Price Reduction on Arvada Mansion!

This fabulous listing at 12996 W. 81st Place in Arvada was originally listed at $1,875,000 and was worth every penny when you learn its features.  Now it’s priced at just $1,600,000. See all 46 magazine-quality photos and a 21-minute narrated video walk-through (plus drone video) at www.ArvadaMansion.info.

Amazon’s Deal With Real Estate Megafirm Realogy Could Be a Game Changer

Maybe you’ve heard about the recent deal between Amazon and Realogy in which they give buyers $1,000 to $5,000 in smart-home products if you let them assign you an agent.

Unless you’re in real estate, you probably never heard of Realogy. They’re a holding company which owns multiple real estate franchisers that you have heard of — Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate, Sotheby’s International Realty and ERA Real Estate.

Denver is one of 15 markets where Amazon’s “Turnkey” program is being rolled out, with the intention of making it nationwide.

Putting on my journalist hat, I pretended to be a home buyer and went to Amazon’s website for this program. I filled in my name, my non-Realtor email address, and cell number, and within a minute received a screening call from a man at Realogy affiliate OJO Labs, who asked me where I was looking (Golden & Arvada), price range ($500,000), and whether I owned and would be selling my current home. (I said yes.)  Note: Since many or most buyers have homes to sell, this program is effective at generating seller leads, too.

Then he explained (because I asked) that he was sending a text message to all the participating agents in my market and the first agent who responded to the text would be my agent. I would not be able to select the agent.

Before he connected me to that agent, I asked her name and Googled it. She’s with a brokerage in Longmont, 45 miles by car from Golden. Of course, she didn’t tell me that herself, hoping I’d hire her to buy a home and probably to sell my current home. She also overstated her experience, which I was able to check online.

After saying I wouldn’t work with her, I received a call from a second agent. This one was from a Denver office of the same brokerage and knew me, so my pretense ended with her, but I was able to interview her about the program.

She confirmed that the program is run through Realogy’s relocation business called Cartus and that the  participating agents are the ones who already get relocation leads. This program will be a windfall for those agents because the leads could result in both a listing and a purchase, whereas relocation leads are only for a either a listing or a purchase. It will be a windfall for Cartus, too, since, like all relocation companies, they take 30% or more of the agent’s commission. Amazon must be getting a big fee, too, which ultimately comes from the commission paid by sellers to the participating agents.

As I told Aldo Svaldi of the Denver Post when he interviewed me, this is a really smart move for Amazon and a great deal for Realogy, and I suppose companies like Golden Real Estate could lose market share, even though we do offer other advantages to using us, including free use of our own moving trucks, boxes and packing materials. And when a buyer also lists his or her home with us, we also provide free labor, saving our clients thousands of dollars.

Price Reduced on Horse Property North of Golden

This beautiful home at 16826 W. 57th Ave. is on the eastern slope of North Table Mountain, just four miles from downtown Golden.  The price was just reduced to $745,000. It has 5 bedrooms, including a master bedroom with vaulted ceiling that has its own deck with an unobstructed mountain view. The lower level has a 25’x27’ family room with stone wood-burning fireplace and access to both the garage and a large dog run. An impact-resistant roof, gutters and downspout were just installed. The 24’x28’ horse barn has a tack room and 3 stalls, one with its own outside run, separate from the half-acre pasture. Whether or not you have or want horses (you could generate a great income from boarding other people’s horses) you will love this country home so close to Golden, Denver and the mountains. There’s lots of space for your RV and other toys, too! See more pix and view my narrated video walk-thru at www.JeffcoHorseProperties.com. Open Sunday, Aug. 4, 11 to 2.

Tri-Level Arvada Home Just Listed by Andrew Lesko

This custom 1950’s tri-level home at 6315 Pierce Street features wood-beamed, vaulted ceilings, beautiful hardwood flooring and mahogany woodwork throughout. It was just listed for $455,000. This 3-bedroom, 2-bath home also features a lower-level family room, an extra-large patio sunroom with wood burning fireplace and a great deck area for outdoor entertainment. The backyard is large, private and comes with a large garden shed. There is an attached 1-car garage and a detached 2-car garage. This home has been beautifully maintained by the same owner for the last 40 years. It is located just two blocks from  Secrest Park and Recreation Center, one block from Secrest Elementary School and about a mile from Old Town Arvada. View a narrated walk-through of the home at www.ArvadaHome.info.  For a private showing, call your agent or listing agent Andrew Lesko at 720-710-1000. Open Saturday, August 3, 11 am – 3 pm.