Just Listed: One-of-a-Kind Applewood Home

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Located on a hill in Lakewood’s portion of Applewood, this 4-bedroom, 2-office custom ranch at 1930 Tabor Street was built to the design of its owner/architect, Richard Wolfe.  It was just listed by Jim Smith at $995,000. As you enter, you’re immediately struck by the spacious feeling from the high ceilings (up to 16’). Multiple skylights and windows flood the main floor with sunlight. The stairs are in the center, offering a circular flow — great for entertaining. A vine covered pergola connects the home to its detached 2-car garage with its 240-Volt outlet for EV charging and attached carport. A gravel drive encircles this home’s 0.57-acre lot, adding charm to the beautiful landscaping and secluded yard shown in my video tour at www.ApplewoodHome.info, or click on the thumbnail below. The home’s passive-solar design and 2×6 framing make it highly efficient, too.  Hot water radiant floor heating on the main floor and baseboard hot water heat in the basement combine with evaporative cooling to make this home extra comfortable. Open Saturday, July 17th, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Click on picture to see video tour.

Every Industry Is Facing Disruption of Some Kind. How About Real Estate?

I just finished reading a white paper by the founder of Dotloop (part of Zillow Group) with the catchy title, “The End of the Traditional Real Estate Brokerage.”

The premise of the document is that unless a brokerage adopts that company’s “end-to-end collaborative platform,” it is destined to fail.  Hmm…. Is my successful brokerage, Golden Real Estate, destined to fail?

Basically, the argument is that mobile and digital technology is disrupting every industry and is also disrupting real estate.

“Disrupting,” however, implies winners and losers. I prefer to say that technology is revolutionizing real estate (as indeed every industry), but I see no end to Golden  Real Estate as a small, some say “boutique,” brokerage.

In my two decades as a Realtor (i.e., a member of the National Association of Realtors, not merely a licensed real estate professional), I have seen major transformation of the technologies, tools and software made available to brokers.

When I first got my license and joined the West Office of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Lakewood, we wrote our contracts on 3-ply NCR forms created for each of the many documents required in a real estate transaction. We used typewriters to complete them, or pressed firm with ballpoint pens.

Nowadays, virtually every agent uses on-line contracts. In our market, CTM eContracts is dominant in providing these contracts, and the integration of documents by agents on both sides of every transaction is impressive and… revolutionary. We love it!

Occasionally I will received a contract from an out-of-area agent, as I did just last week on one of my listings, that is not on CTM and uses a third-party e-signature program, DocuSign, for signing each document. (CTM has e-signature capability built into it, and it works great.)

Showing service technology has also evolved beautifully. The near-universal vendor in our market is ShowingTime, and it’s great how they have simplified the process of setting multiple showings, with well-timed route planning and management of feedback requests.

REcolorado, the Denver MLS, is introducing a replacement showing service called BrokerBay, which will have some further enhancements (and be included in our MLS fees), but it will have to be spectacular to be better than ShowingTime.

The MLS itself has been radically improved in the quarter century since it became web-based, and, as with their showing service proposal, continues to do the heavy lifting for us brokerages so that we have only the task of learning new ways of operating.

Despite these changes, I don’t think the in-person model of working with buyers and sellers is up for displacement, merely rapid and ongoing improvement.

An Update on the Ongoing Bidding Wars

This is my regular update on the real estate bidding wars. I was planning to do this analysis next week, but I’ve observed a definite slowing of the market, so I moved my report to this week, analyzing the closings that occurred last Thursday, July 1st, to see how the bidding wars have evolved since my last report. To my surprise, this analysis shows only a slight slowing, likely because those listings went under contract 30-45 days earlier.

As I did in previous months, I limited my analysis to sales within a 15-mile radius of downtown Denver. I limited my search to homes, condos and townhouses that were on the MLS at least one day but not more than 6 days before going under contract, since those are the homes with bidding wars. Once again I divided the results into listings which sold for up to $500,000 and those that sold for more.

On July 1st there were 33 closings up to $500,000, compared to 40 such closings on June 10th. The median home sold for 5.9% over its asking price, compared to 6.3% on June 10th. The highest ratio this time was 20% for a bungalow in Aurora compared to 19.6% on June 10th for a condo in Golden. Four listings sold for the asking price, and three sold for less than listing price, compared to none on June 10th.

There were 44 homes that closed on July 1st for more than $500,000, compared to 37 homes on June 10th. The median home in that group sold for 7.4% over its listing price, compared to 7.7% on June 10th. Only one sold for the listing price, and not one home sold for less than the listing price. The highest overbid was 29.7% for a contemporary 1969 home on Lookout Mountain, compared to 20.9% on June 10th.

To have a statistically significant number of closings over $1 million, I analyzed the 123 closings between June 16th and July 1st. The median closing for those high-end homes was 5.7% over listing price, compared to 6.1% from June 1-13. Fifteen homes sold for the listing price and 9 homes sold for less than the listing price. The highest overbid was for a 1985 home in “The Ridge” south of downtown Littleton which was listed at $900,000 and sold in five days for $1,200,000, 33.3% over listing price.  

Note: 27 of the 123 homes that sold for over $1 million were listed for under $1 million.

Price Reduced on Sun Valley Estates Ranch – Open Sat., July 10, 11-2

9566 W. Kentucky Drive – Now listed at $590,000

Sun Valley Estates is a beautiful and quiet Lakewood subdivision of 1960s homes, including brick ranches like this one at 9566 W. Kentucky Drive. This home has been owned by the seller for 31 years, during which time it has been well maintained and improved. You’ll love the family room addition with its fireplace and included artwork. The eat-in kitchen has a unique wall-mounted table with four included chairs. Kentucky Drive is on a snow route and gets priority plowing in the winter. The house is well insulated with 16 inches of blown-in insulation in the attic. All main-level windows are newer low-E vinyl windows. It is convenient to the Federal Center light rail station. Take a narrated video tour at http://www.LakewoodHome.info or simply click on the thumbnail below, then call your agent or Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 to set a showing. Open this Saturday, July 10th, 11 to 2.

Click on this photo to see YouTube video tour of this home.

2-Bedroom Home in a Denver Cohousing Community

Hearthstone is a special co-housing community built on the former grounds of Elitch’s park in northwest Denver. All units, including this one at 4730 W. 37th Ave. #10, face an interior courtyard and a select few, including this unit, have a detached 1-car garage. It was just listed for $520,000. Seller will favor a buyer who demonstrates a commitment to the co-housing concept and is willing to meet with one or more co-housers to discuss life there. Visit the community’s website (www.HearthstoneCohousing.com) before requesting a showing to make sure it’s right for you and you’re right for it. When touring this home, don’t overlook the common house, which has a fitness room, woodworking shop, guest bedroom and bathroom, TV room, fireplace room and large common room with kitchen for the monthly community meetings and twice-weekly community meals. Take a narrated video tour at www.HearthstoneCohousing.info. I’ll hold it open this Sat., July 3rd, 11-1.

Community garden
Sprouts market is just one block away!

2-Bedroom Golden Condo Faces Clear Creek

     Downtown Golden condos that face Clear Creek like this one at 640 11th Street #106, just listed for $725,000, are highly sought after, selling for up to 50% more than the ones facing the parking lot. And this is a non-smoking complex. You shouldn’t smell cigarette (or other) smoke anywhere on the property, including on your patio overlooking the pedestrian path along Clear Creek. This condo is being sold fully furnished. The master bathroom is connected by a pocket door to a half-bath serving the non-conforming 2nd bedroom which has no closet or windows other than the French doors which open to the foyer and kitchen. Take a narrated video tour, inside and out, online at www.MillstoneCondo.info, then call for a private showing. This is a secure building, so no open houses.

Winning a Bidding War Is Harder Than Ever for Buyers

It is a lot harder working for buyers these days. You’d be hard pressed to find a buyer’s agent who hasn’t lost more bidding wars than he has won for his clients. I don’t mind admitting that has certainly been true for me.

Last Sunday, however, I had a big success. My buyer fell in love with a patio home that backed to her alma mater, a Jeffco high school. Like her, the seller was a single woman, so maybe there was some sympathy there — I wouldn’t know.

It’s not accepted nowadays to present “love letters” from buyers, because they could lead to a fair housing violation, but it is okay to say things in a cover message with the contract written by me, not the buyer, so I made a point of saying that my buyer was an alum of that high school and relished buying this house. I don’t know if that helped either, but it didn’t hurt and it didn’t constitute a fair housing violation.

What did help was that I learned from the listing agent that while the seller was moving out of state, she was going to move her furniture to a friend’s house in the greater metro area. We have a moving truck which we make available to our buyers and sellers, but we can also offer it free to another agent’s client if it will help us win a bidding war. That did the trick for my buyer in this situation, and it also saved her several thousand dollars. Here is how and why.

In our offer we added an “additional provision” that Golden Real Estate (not my buyer) would provide totally free moving of the seller’s furniture anywhere in the Front Range, using our own moving truck and personnel, moving boxes and packing material.

Then, instead of a typical “escalation clause” offering to beat any competing offer by one or two thousand dollars (or more), I wrote that “buyer requests the opportunity to match any competing offer in order to retain for the seller the above mentioned totally free moving benefit.”

It worked. We were told the dollar amount of the best competing offer and were allowed to match, not beat, it. My buyer is now happily under contract for her dream home.

Any agent could make the same offer on behalf of his or her buyer, paying for the cost of moving. It’s just that we have the economy of having our own truck and moving personnel.

Since I’m often on the listing side of a bidding war, I have seen other strategies used by agents hoping to win a bidding war for their clients. A common one is to make a quick first offer that is substantially over the asking price but with an early acceptance deadline, hoping to get it under contract before anyone else can submit. This can pose a dilemma for the listing agent when his strategy, like ours, is to wait four days so that every possible buyer gets a change to compete.

Agreeing to accept an early offer like that should be the seller’s decision, however, not mine. Yes I gave my word that we would not sell the home in less than four days, but now I modify that promise by saying that, “in the event the seller wants to accept a particularly attractive early offer, we will give sufficient notice to every agent who has set a showing so that they can accelerate their showing and offering schedule.” We don’t want any buyer or their agent to be blindsided. As we like to say, “the only way a buyer will lose out is if he or she drops out.”

Abuse of Lockbox Access Is Serious But Rare

Access to listed properties has changed significantly over time. Long before I became a real estate broker, an agent wanting to show a listed property might have to go to the listing office to sign out the keys and bring them back after the showing. That approach would certainly not work in today’s market where 10 or more showings might be scheduled in a single day.

Then we saw the introduction of lockboxes, usually with alphabetic dials, like those padlocks on high school lockers. When I first confronted one of those lockboxes as a new agent, I had forgotten which way to turn first, and I took way too long to open the lockbox. It was quite embarrassing. They don’t teach that skill in real estate school!

Lockboxes with numeric push buttons are more common now, and they are my favorite for two reasons. First, you can open them in the dark, since you remember where each button is located. Second, no one will know what the code is by looking at it after you open it. Lockboxes with dials allow a buyer to look at the lockbox after it is open and memorize the code for unauthorized use later on.

Agents should never allow their buyers to know the lockbox code, nor should they give it to another agent, inspector or vendor without approval from the listing agent. Writing the code on a listing sheet or other paper which could be seen by the buyer is a no-no.  I record the code for individual showings on my iPhone where only I can see it.  If I’m showing several listings, I print out the agent instruction sheet for me, giving my client a version which does not have the lockbox codes.

Abuse of lockbox or other access is a serious matter that can subject a broker to suspension or loss of his/her license.

Electronic lockboxes are struggling to gain acceptance in our market, although they are quite common in other markets. These boxes will only open for agents when they are allowed access, preventing them from returning on another day or at another time without additional permission. Codes are unique for each showing agent, allowing listing agents and their sellers to know exactly when each agent came and left.

The main reason electronic lockboxes have not caught on here is that abuse of the mechanical lockboxes has been quite rare. We have insurance to protect our sellers from losses related to unauthorized access, but in two decades as a listing agent, I have never filed a claim, just as I have never had a loss sustained during an open house.

5-BR Lakewood Ranch in Sun Valley Estates

Click on the above thumbnail to view narrated video tour.

Sun Valley Estates is a beautiful and quiet Lakewood subdivision of 1960s homes, including brick ranches like this one at 9566 W. Kentucky Drive. It was just listed by Jim Smith for $600,000. This home has been owned by the seller for 31 years, during which time it has been well maintained and improved. You’ll love the family room addition with its fireplace and included artwork. The eat-in kitchen has a unique wall-mounted table and four included chairs. Street is on a snow route and gets priority plowing in the winter. House is well insulated with 16 inches of blown-in insulation in the attic. All main-level windows are newer low-E vinyl windows. Close to Federal Center light rail station. Take a narrated video tour at http://www.LakewoodHome.info, then call your agent or Jim Smith to set a showing. There will be no open houses.

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Condo in SE Denver Just Listed for $190,000

Click on this thumbnail to view narrated video tour

This condo at 2575 S. Syracuse Way, #A207 would be a great starter home for anyone. This 2nd-floor walkup in Hunters Run Condominiums has berber carpeting, a wood-burning fireplace,   in-unit washer and dryer, and a 6’x13′ balcony with a 4’x8′ storage closet. The HOA dues include use of a swimming pool and 101-degree hot tub a short walk from this unit. Hurry! This unit, like ones before it in this complex, will sell quickly! Visit www.DenverCondo.info to see more pictures and get more information about this complex, this unit, and the swimming pool/hot tub amenity. Then call your agent or Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 for a private showing, or visit our open house on Saturday, June 26th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.