Golden Real Estate Has Opening for 1 or 2 More Realtors

Do you know a Realtor who would be a good “fit” at our brokerage?  Due to a couple departures we have openings for 1 or 2 experienced agents who share our values of integrity and sustainability. Candidates should call Jim Smith at 303-525-1851.

Inspection: The Most Important Step in Homebuying

A key element of every contract to buy a home is the inspection contingency, giving the buyer the opportunity to inspect the home for hidden or not-so-hidden defects.

The process begins with a general inspector, who looks at every component of the house. Expect to pay $300 or so, depending on house size. This inspector will typically…

> Run all the appliances—washer, dryer, disposal, dishwasher, cooktop burners, ovens, hood fan, etc.

> Fill, then drain, all sinks and tubs and run all showers, searching for leaks.

> Test the garage door opener, including checking to see if it has working sensors which reverse the closing door if something is detected or if it will reverse upon hitting an obstruction.

> Check the garage for holes in the fire break (drywall) and if the door between the garage and home is fire rated and has a working door closer.

> Use a moisture meter to detect moisture within or behind the drywall.

> Operate all electrical switches to see if they are working.

> Check a sampling of (or all) electrical outlets for correct polarity, and all outlets within 5 feet of water sources (and in the garage or outdoors) for ground-fault protection.

> Open the breaker box, checking for proper wiring and no double-tapping of individual breakers. Note whether the breaker box in Federal Pacific or Zinsco, which lost their UL approval due to fire risk.

> Determine whether to recommend a secondary inspection for asbestos (such as for popcorn ceiling), mold (if moisture has been detected), sewer scoping (if the home might have clay sewer pipes), or a more thorough electrical or plumbing inspection based on observations made by the inspector.

> Look for foundation problems.

> Check all windows and doors for operability and for missing or damaged screens.

That’s just the beginning! Your agent can recommended a trusted inspector.

Regulation of Inspectors Nixed by Sunrise Review

Home inspectors are the last remaining professional in the real estate transaction process who is not regulated by the State of Colorado. I have long recommended that they be regulated.

Typically, home inspectors are given the lockbox code to enter a home, since the buyer’s real estate agent may not be there to provide access. That alone should justify the regulation, including criminal background check, of inspectors by the Division of Real Estate. 

However, Colorado will remain one of the few states that doesn’t register or regulate home inspectors, based on a “sunrise review” by the Colorado Office of Policy, Research & Regulatory Reform.

Great Development Opportunity in Sunnyside!

This small 1950s  bungalow at 4260 Osage St. in northwest Denver’s dynamic Sunnyside neighborhood is zoned for a duplex and is a prime development opportunity. It’s a 15-minute walk or 4-minute drive to the new light rail station at 41st and Fox, with easy access to downtown, I-70, I-25 and the red-hot Highlands neighborhood. There are few undeveloped corner lots in the area, so grab this one while you can! Offered at $600,000.

Call Chuck Brown at 303-885-7855 for more info or visit this home’s web page.

Before Putting Your Home on the Market, Take Care of the ‘Little’ Things!

I show a lot of homes to a lot of buyers each week, and I’m shocked at some of the conditions I see, many of which could have been taken care of at little or no cost. Here’s a list of the “Dirty Dozen.” Do any of them ring a bell for you?

1. Windows need washing. No home should be put on the market without washing the windows inside and out. I’ve seen homes with great views, but the dirty windows left a bigger impression than the views!

2. Screens are damaged. With our strong winds and sun, window screens don’t last forever. As they age, the damage from wind and sun really gets the attention of buyers, even more than those dirty windows. And replacing screen material is less expensive than you might think. I’ve taken mine to Ace Hardware and had them rescreened at low cost.

After rescreening your weather-beaten screens, I suggest removing and labeling them (with masking tape), and storing them in the basement or garage. Even if screens are not damaged, removing them is as effective as washing your windows.

3. The home is cluttered.  We all have too much “stuff” in our homes, so selling your home is a great time to thin out your possessions. Rita and I aren’t thinking of selling our home, but she’s on a decluttering kick, which I love and support!  Most things go to Goodwill or the Christian Action Guild or the Habitat ReStore. Others go on Nextdoor.com as giveaways or “for sale.” (On a personal note, call or email me if you’d like some great wooden shelves which cost $600 new but which we want to give away now that we have donated most of our books to a book drive.)

Some things, of course, go in the trash can or get added to our box truck the next time we do a dump run for a client.

5. The yard needs clean-up.  We all have bushes that need trimming or seasonal cutting back, or weeds in our gravel areas that need pulling or killing. This is especially important in the front yard, where they can make a bad first impression. If your yard needs a large-scale fall cleanup, I recommend the  Vietnamese family which performs that service for Rita and me.  It costs more, but it’s worth it!

6. Wall-to-wall carpeting needs stretching.  This is a task for which you need to hire a vendor , but nothing generates a bad impression quite like ripples in wall-to-wall carpeting.  It will set you back a few hundred dollars, but it’s money well spent.  If the carpet itself is old and worn and terribly out of style, consider replacing it. The few thousand dollars you spend has a good payback in that your home will actually sell instead of sitting on the market turning off visitors! We recommend buying neutral color berber carpet.

7. The home is dark.  A bright, well-lit home sells!  I applaud you for replacing your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, but CFLs are obsolete now that LED bulbs are available and inexpensive.  Last week I went to Batteries + Bulbs, and they were having a special on 60-watt equivalent LEDs. I left with 12 LED soft-white bulbs (same shape as traditional bulbs) for $4! Even if you pay more at Lowe’s or Home Depot, go ahead and splurge. I replaced all my home bulbs with LEDs, including the can lights in my vaulted ceilings. LEDs last forever, so it’s nice to know I won’t have to pull out my 8-foot ladder again anytime soon!  Many LED bulbs are now dimmable, too, unlike CFLs.

CFLs take a while to reach their full brightness, but LEDs are instant on.  In my garage I’m replacing two 8-foot fluorescent fixtures (drawing 300 watts) with a couple 2’ x 2’ flush mount LED fixtures which draw 9.2 watts each and provide equivalent lighting. I splurged on a motion sensor, so every time I enter the garage, the lights turn on until five minutes after I leave. Sweet!

Also, open your drapes and shades to maximize sunlight.

8. There are too many personal things.  This is rule #1 of staging a home for sale. Your family pictures, snapshots and refrigerator notes may make your house a home for you, but they create a distraction for visitors. Take them down.

9. There’s too much furniture. I showed a home last Sunday where the furniture had been thinned — but it was crammed into the garage. We couldn’t even enter the garage. Looking through the door, my buyer muttered “small garage.” In fact it just looked small because it was so full. (This is a basic principle of staging — a full closet, book shelves or whatever conveys a lack of space, whereas a partially full closet, etc., conveys abundant space.)  The stuff that you know you’ll take with you could go in a storage unit or into a POD. For the rest, see item #3 above. Note: I know a storage place that gives the first month free without requiring a contract, if they have vacancies.

10. The toilet lids are open. Closing your toilet lids is easy! It’s good Feng Shui, too.

11. Plug-in odor devices are in use. Every time I see one of these, it makes me wonder what the seller is covering up. Smoke? Cat smell? The “pleasant” smell is also unpleasant to many, myself included, so why use them?

12. The alarm system is armed. Some showing instructions include disarming and re-arming an alarm system. Do you want buyers to think your street has a burglary problem? In most cases, it doesn’t, so why raise the question?

Sunset Review Recommends HOA Dispute Resolution Function

Advocates of homeowner rights (like myself) were disappointed when Gov. Polis vetoed the bill that would have retained licensing of Community Association Managers. Now, the Colorado Office of Policy, Research and Regulatory Reform (COPRRR) has released its 2019 Sunset Review Report concerning the HOA Information and Resource Center.

COPRRR recommended continuing the HOA Information and Resource Center through 2025 and directing the Center to implement a dispute resolution process for HOA complaints, which it lacks now. A bill to that effect would have to be passed and signed by Gov. Polis.

Price Reduced on a Foothills Home on 11 Acres

This spectacular retreat at 26202 Golden Gate Canyon Road is located just 6 miles or 13 minutes from Downtown Golden! The price was just reduced by over $25,000 to $949,900. As you walk through the front door you will be impressed with the vaulted ceilings, open floor plan, stone fireplaces, gourmet kitchen, modern lighting and amazing views out of every window. Enjoy the spacious master suite, complete with gas fireplace as well as the living room shown at left and a second living with fireplace currently utilized as a study  The gourmet kitchen features a six-burner gas stove, granite countertops and 12-ft ceilings. The finished basement is a great place to watch a movie in surround sound or walk out to enjoy the expansive views after fixing your bike in the workshop. Exterior features include a shooting range (could also be a great area for horses), multiple outbuildings and an old building site with two wells (not permitted). Words cannot describe this wonderful 11-acre property. Book a showing today and come take a look, you won’t be disappointed. Take a narrated video tour (with drone video) at www.FoothillsHome.info. Listing agent Kristi Brunel (303-525-2520) will be holding it open this Saturday, Oct. 26th, 11am to 2pm.  Special offer through November: Free one-year home warranty!

Have You Noticed How Many Homes Are Selling for Over $1 Million? Here Are the Stats.

We Realtors are as surprised as anyone at the increase in home values, especially of the most expensive homes. The charts below speak for themselves. Not only are sales of million-dollar homes in Denver and Jefferson County increasing, but the time it takes such homes to go under contract has continued to go down.

Not shown in these charts is 2019, since we’re only 9 months into the year, but the number of sales for both counties thus far in 2019 is already about to surpass the sales for all of 2018, and the median days on market (DOM) is about the same as last year. Evidently, the number of sales over $1 million will continue to increase, while the days-on-market line may level off.

The number of sales of Denver homes over $1 million thus far in 2019 is 739, vs. 746 for all of 2018.  The yearly increase in million-dollar closings has ranged from 9.2% to 40% over the past 5 years.

Those are the statistics for all of Denver. The figures for Denver’s four quadrants (divided from each other by Colfax and Broadway) present differing market trends, as follows:

It’s worth noting that two of the quadrants — northwest and southwest Denver — have already recorded a big increase in sales for 2019 over all of last year. And the other two quadrants are likely to top last year’s sales, since there are currently enough homes under contract to make that happen. At press time there were 125 Denver homes over $1 million under contract — 78 in southeast Denver and 13 in northeast Denver, most of which can be expected to close in coming weeks. There are another 323 active Denver listings over $1 million, many of which could also sell by year’s end.

The number of Jefferson County homes over $1 million sold in 2019 through press time was 235, vs. 242 for all of 2018.  The yearly increase in million-dollar closings has ranged from 21% to 53% over the past 5 years. Those, however, are the statistics for all of Jefferson County. The figures for the four biggest Jeffco cities present differing market trends, as follows (Note: Golden stats are within city limits only):

Only Wheat Ridge is lagging in this trend of massively increased sales of Jeffco homes for over $1 million.  The other three cities are beating the county trend. The days on market for these four cities varied significantly from each other and from the Jefferson County statistics. 

For example, those five sales last year of million-dollar homes in Wheat Ridge had a median DOM of 298, while the 20 homes that sold last year in Lakewood had a median DOM of 25 and the 5 homes that sold in Golden had a median DOM of 89. The Arvada homes had a median DOM of 21 days.  The 15 Arvada homes that have sold thus far in 2019 have a median DOM of just 14 days.

While the market for lower-priced homes does show signs of slowing, the market for homes over $1 million seems only to be strengthening. This may be a reflection of the Trump tax cuts which are known to have helped the ultra rich more than those in lower income brackets. That discrepancy has also evidenced itself in the rates for jumbo loans, which have been lower in recent years than the rates for conventional mortgages. When I checked on Sunday, Wells Fargo was quoting jumbo loans at 3.5% and conventional loans at 3.625%.

There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, especially in the Middle East and on the domestic political scene, and I’m frankly surprised that the markets remain so stable.  It will be interesting to see how things shake out in the coming months and how that impacts the real estate market.