Here Are Some Questions Sellers Should Ask When Hiring a Listing Agent

Do you know what to look for in a listing agent, and the questions to ask during a listing presentation?

You’ll probably want to know their level of experience, competence and success in selling similar properties, hopefully within your city or neighborhood.

Like you, I monitor the real estate activity where I live, and I’m astonished how many homes are listed by agents I’ve never heard of. As I write this on Monday, there are 50 active or pending listings in my area, represented by 40 different agents!  No agent has more than three listings. And despite practicing real estate here for 17 years, I only recognize the names of 11 of them.

This is typical of every city. Where did the sellers find all those different agents to list their homes? Many, I suspect are friends and family — every agent’s biggest “competitor.” In some cases, the seller had just bought their replacement home elsewhere and was convinced by that listing agent to list their current home — not the best decision if that agent is unfamiliar with your neighborhood, lives far away, and is unable to show the home on short notice, answer questions from buyers, or keep your brochure box well stocked.

Or perhaps the agent sent a letter or taped a note to your door claiming to have a buyer for your home. That earned him or her an interview, in which the agent said that his buyer found another home but convinced you to list with them.

Let’s say, however, that you want to interview  listing agents and make a rational hiring decision.

First, choose the agents to interview based on their location and experience in your neighborhood or city. Second, study their active/sold listings to see (1) their geographic distribution and (2) how well they are presented on the MLS. 

For this you can use a shortcut I created,  FindDenverRealtors.com, which takes you to the page on Denver’s MLS for searching agents by name. In my case, you’d see a profile and my active, pending and sold listings. Search for the agent(s) you’re considering. Read their profile, if they created one. Look at their current and sold listings. Click on one or more of them to see how they described the home on the MLS. Did they list all the rooms, not just bedrooms and bathrooms, providing dimensions and descriptions, or just enter the mandatory fields? Keep in mind that, the best indicator of how they will serve you is how they have served previous sellers.

Looking at those listings will answer the most important questions which you’d ask in person, but you won’t have to take their word — the truth is there in front of you. You’ll learn, for example, whether they did point-and-shoot pictures or had a professional photographer shoot HDR (magazine quality) photos, and whether they created a narrated video tour or just a slide show with music.

Having chosen who to interview that way, ask these questions of those you invite into your home for an interview:

What commission percentage do you charge? Keep in mind, there is no standard commission. It’s totally negotiable, and the industry average is in the mid-5’s, not 6%.

See whether the agent volunteers that they reduce their commission when they don’t have to pay 2.8% to a buyer’s agent. If you have to ask them, consider it a red flag. They hoped you wouldn’t.

Ask the agent whether he or she will discount their commission if you hire them to represent you in the purchase of your replacement home.

Hopefully the candidate will have researched the market and make a sound recommendation of listing price. Beware of agents who inflate their suggested listing price so you will list with them.

When setting the appointment, ask the agent to bring a spreadsheet of their sold listings with dates, days on market, listing price and sold price.

Lastly, how will they promote your listing?  Measure their promises against what we do, published at www.HowWeMarketListings.info.

Finding the Right Senior Living Community for You Can Be Confusing!

Buying and selling a single family home can be confusing enough, but it pales in  comparison to shopping for the best senior living community.

According to Jenn Gomer of CarePartrol (more about her later in this article), there are no fewer than 400 senior communities in the Denver metro area, and the variety of living options and business models can be overwhelming.

There are pure rental facilities and rentals with buy-ins. The size and terms of those buy-ins can vary greatly, too.  Some facilities are on a campus with continuous care options as your health changes, ranging from independent living to assisted living to nursing home care, to memory care to hospice.  Personally, I like the idea of not having to move again if my health changes, but not all senior communities include that feature.

Financing, of course, is a huge consideration. If you own your current home and have lots of equity in it (little or no mortgage), that can provide a nest egg that could hopefully outlive you, if managed correctly and spent on the right facility. But not everyone has that luxury.

It’s important to get the right advice from someone who is not looking to drain more of your limited funds. We think we have found that person in Jenn Gomer. Jenn and her associates at CarePatrol don’t charge for their services.  Jenn’s company is paid by the communities that she helps you visit, analyze and ultimately select. She has all the important information about those 400 senior communities that I mentioned above. She knows their safety records, their health records, their reputation in the industry, their financial conditions, their charges, their amenities, and so much more.

If you own a home which you’ll want to sell, it makes sense to bring Jenn and me together to meet with you in your home and discuss your options.

Everyone’s situation is different. Let us learn your specific needs and wants. If working with Golden Real Estate and/or CarePatrol isn’t a good fit for you, we’re going to tell you so. Such a meeting carries no obligation to work with either of us.

Call me at 303-525-1851 to arrange such a meeting.

Just Listed: Rare Ranch-Style Home in Trailmark

If you’re looking for a great ranch home away from the city and close to open space, you’ll love the Trailmark subdivision and this beautiful home at  9379 S. Jellison Way. It was just listed by Jim Smith at $630,000.

Trailmark is surrounded by open space, including the Denver botanical gardens at Chatfield, and close to Roxborough State Park.  Waterton Canyon is a short drive south.  C-470 is a few miles north, providing easy access to the rest of the metro area. Ranch homes are rare in Trailmark. Only one has been on the market in the last 6 months, compared to 20 2-story homes. 

And you’ll love this home with its 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 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.

I’ve created a video walk-through, which is online at www.TrailmarkHome.infoOpen Sat.,  June 1st, 11-2.

$50,000 Price Reduction on a Cute Arvada Cottage

You’ll feel like you’re in the country when you visit this home at 8050 W. 50th Ave., just 3 blocks west of the Arvada Costco store.  Originally listed at $475,000, the price is now $425,000.

Built in 1949, the seller has owned it for 25 years. It is on well water, but connected to the public sewer system. The second floor, with its four dormer windows, has two bedrooms, in addition to the two bedrooms on the main floor. There is no basement. The main floor has original hardwood, except for the kitchen and bathroom.  Upstairs has all-new carpeting and has been freshly painted. The heated 2-car garage is in addition to a one-car garage in the backyard that a previous owner used to store his Model T. The seller uses if for storage. Take a narrated video tour (with drone footage) at www.ArvadaHome.info.

What Is Negotiated When You Purchase a Home? More Than You Might Think!

It’s easy to assume that the main (or only) negotiation in the sale or purchase of a home is the contract price, but it turns out that there’s a lot more negotiation — both before and after going under contract.

Most contracts are or should be countered, and not accepted as written. For example, there are 39 different deadlines in the standard contract — everything from when the earnest money check is delivered to when the buyer gets to take possession.

If the seller is given extended possession after closing, will it be free, and who pays the utilities?  It’s all negotiated.

If a contract falls, it’s usually because of inspection issues, so the seller will want that inspection deadline to be as early as possible — preferably within 5 to 7 days. And there are other deadlines which allow a buyer to terminate and get his earnest money back, so a good listing agent will make sure they are reasonable. For example, I have seen contracts in which the deadline for terminating based on the acceptability of insurance costs is a week prior to closing. That’s ridiculous, because it takes only a couple days to get that quote.

The second big negotiation in any transaction is over inspection issues. Some buyers will want to have the seller fix every single problem identified by their inspector. (Once my seller received an inspection objection notice that didn’t even itemize the problems but said, “Seller shall fix everything listed in the attached inspection report.”)

Negotiating what the seller will and will not fix and what the seller might give as a credit in lieu of certain repairs is different in every transaction, and your agent’s experience in handling that process can be critical in obtaining a favorable outcome, whether you’re the buyer or the seller.

As I have written before, I advise my sellers not  to fix many of the known problems prior to putting their house on the market, but to save some of them as bargaining chips during the negotiation over inspection issues. Getting a back-up contract in place also helps with negotiating inspection issues. If the buyer is asking for an unreasonable number of repairs, I’ll provide those demands and the buyer’s inspection report to the back-up buyer. Often that back-up buyer will agree not to ask for any of those repairs, giving the seller the ability to tell buyer #1 that he won’t fix anything. This can be an effective technique.

Having multiple offers presents a great opportunity for negotiating matters that are important to the seller.  For example, a downsizing seller may have lots of furniture he’d like to sell. Rather than have an estate sale, I recommend making a list, with prices, of the items “for sale outside of closing,” and leaving it on the kitchen counter for every visiting buyer to see.  Many times I have been able to have the winning bidder include in their contract that they will purchase everything on that list at the prices shown. In a recent case, the buyer asked that all the purchased furniture be moved to the garage prior to closing — a sure sign that they bought the furniture only so they would win the winning war for the house!

If the home doesn’t appraise for the contract price, the buyer can demand a price reduction on threat of terminating the contract. Since the appraisal deadline is usually very close to the closing date, the seller may feel compelled to accept the price reduction rather than lose the contract.  But a good listing agent knows that the same reluctance exists for the buyer, so oftentimes the seller can negotiate little or no price reduction.

Gated Daniels Gardens Home Listed by Jim Swanson

Buyers looking for a private turn-key house will love the top quality features in this move in ready 3-bedroom, 3-bath home at 1205 Vivian Street. The entire home was gutted by the previous owner and further improved by the current owners. Features a long paved driveway leading to a detached 2-car garage with 220V service and an upstairs finished exercise room. There is covered RV parking area with 50 amp service and sewer access.  The Daniels Gardens area is quiet with great access to 6th Avenue and I-70.

There are 32 pine trees in the 0.29-acre fenced lot. Everything in this home has been meticulously upgraded or replaced with great care and quality — new roof, new boiler, gas stove, new paint, new granite kitchen counter and backsplash. The large master bedroom has wood floors and a walk-in closet. All appliances and the newer washer and dryer are included. Visit www.LakewoodHome.info for more details and photographs as well as a narrated video tour.  Call your agent or Jim Swanson at 303-929-2727 for a private showing.

Just Listed: A Veritable Mansion in Alkire Estates

No expense was spared in the construction of this 4,937-square-foot home at 12996 W. 81st Place. The roof, for example, is Italian Ludowici tile. The 18’x20’ kitchen has two Corian double sinks and two dishwashers, a Sub Zero refrigerator and a 2-drawer Sub Zero wine refrigerator. The master bedroom features two master bathrooms (each with a deep whirlpool tub and a bidet) and his-and-her master closets. There are also his-and-her offices.  There’s a wall fresco water fountain in the foyer and three domed ceiling frescoes that were hand-painted by a local artist. Ceiling heights are 10 feet in the basement and 12 to 14 feet on the main level.

There are two oversized garages, each with epoxy floors, radiant floor heat, floor drains, bright fluorescent lighting, and abundant electrical power. The basement garage alone measures over 2,000 square feet and could accommodate at least 5 or 6 cars, but is designed to include a large workshop and man cave. Three boilers provide radiant floor heating not only to the house but to both driveways, patios and decks for snow melting.

At left is a picture of the basement patio. The basement and garage concrete slabs are 8” thick, poured over 5 feet of imported compacted fill dirt. The structure itself is built on approximately 48 concrete caissons. An elevator suitable for a large wheelchair connects the two levels. A 10-camera security system is monitored from the master bedroom where there are two wall-safes, one suitable for long guns. A 22-zone sprinkler system serves the home’s grounds, including an herb garden and two vegetable gardens, as well as the well-manicured greenbelt below the property. My narrated video tour at www.ArvadaMansion.info covers all this and much more! All in all, this is one amazing home that is unmatched in the number of luxury features and quality construction details. Call your agent or Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 for a private showing!  There will be no open house.