Coming Soon: Gated 2-Story Home in Wheat Ridge

This Tudor-style home at 3415 Quail St. is unlike any I have listed before.  It was just listed for $695,000. It has its own electric remote-controlled gate to its driveway and has a beautifully landscaped 0.4-acre lot. There are four bedrooms upstairs, including a master suite with its own deck with a partial mountain view past a mature pine tree. There is an expansive flagstone patio with stucco privacy walls to the left and right outside an enclosed sunroom. Built in 1977, it has 2,502 above-ground square feet plus a full basement which is 50% finished. It’s located on a quiet cul-de-sac with only the playing field of an elementary school across the street. Located half-way between I-70 and Kipling Street, just north of 32nd Avenue, it is convenient both to downtown Denver and the mountains. It should be ready for showing this weekend. Check out its website, www.WheatRidgeHome.info for more pictures, a video tour and open house information.

In Real Estate, Truth Matters, Unlike in Politics and the Legal Profession

I was brought up to respect the truth by always telling the truth and expecting others to tell the truth. My father drummed this into me, as did the private schools that I attended. My boarding school, Choate, had an honor code (and still does) that required students to handwrite on every test or paper submitted, “I pledge this paper on my honor,” which we knew was shorthand for the following longer statement, “I pledge upon my honor as a gentleman that I have neither given nor received help on this paper.” (The phrasing has changed a little since the school went coed, but I’m told by the school that it’s still used and is, in fact, framed on the wall in every classroom and academic space: “On my honor, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid.” In language classes, it’s posted in the language being taught – even in Latin!)

To this day, it upsets me when someone knowingly lies, and it pains me that some of America’s leaders, who serve as role models, have made lying in the face of clear evidence acceptable instead of condemned, as it should be.

So, I’m glad that I ended up in the real estate profession, where truth is important and is still honored. The National Association of Realtors, to which we agents are required to belong if we join any major and most minor brokerages, has a Code of Ethics to which we swear allegiance upon induction as members. In the preamble to the Code, the word “integrity” appears twice, including in this paragraph:

“The term REALTOR® has come to connote competency, fairness, and high integrity resulting from adherence to a lofty ideal of moral conduct in business relations. No inducement of profit and no instruction from clients ever can justify departure from this ideal.”

The Code of Ethics even commands Realtors to take action when they find another Realtor violating the Code. I myself have filed (and won) an ethics complaint against another Realtor who advertised that he was selling “4 homes every week,” violating the article which says members shall not misrepresent their level of success. That agent was ordered to stop making that claim in his advertising.

With the bidding wars of recent years, buyer clients have understandably wondered whether other agents were telling the truth when claiming multiple above-listing-price offers on a listing. I am pleased to tell them, and to state here, that I don’t recall ever being lied to by another Realtor, although I do worry on occasion when the agent on the other side of a transaction is a non-Realtor. Agents who are not NAR members don’t have a code of ethics to which they subscribe, which is why NAR advertising has often urged consumers to “make sure your agent is a Realtor.”

State laws regarding real estate do impose requirements of an ethical nature that aren’t imposed on other professions such as car sales. When you buy a used car (or anything else), it’s usually without any disclosure of past or current defects, but state law, like the Realtor Code of Ethics, requires that sellers of existing homes disclose all known past or current defects, and we can be disciplined even to the extent of losing our real estate license if we, as listing agents, fail to disclose a defect, past or present, of which we are aware.

Since every brokerage is also responsible for the actions of its agents (another term for the managing broker is “responsible broker”), every brokerage should instruct its broker associates to refuse to list any property where the owner is unwilling to fully disclose all problems or defects with the home. I’m happy to report that I have never had a seller who didn’t recognize and accept his or her obligation to disclose known defects. 

One of the standard forms for every listing is the “Seller’s Property Disclosure” (SPD). The document itself is voluntary, but (1) I’ve never had a seller who refused to complete it, and (2) failure to complete it does not relieve the seller and his/her listing agent of their responsibility to disclose all known defects or problems.

The SPD is very thorough in the questions it asks, but one shortcoming is when it asks about unpermitted renovations. It only asks the seller to disclose renovations done without a permit in the last 12 months. This creates a loophole which can be exploited by an unscrupulous buyer after closing.

Consider the following scenario: the seller does not disclose a basement that was finished decades earlier because it was done professionally — and the SPD didn’t ask about it. A few weeks after closing there’s a plumbing leak in the renovation. The buyer hires a lawyer who takes the seller into mediation (required by the contract), where the lawyer asserts that the seller told a neighbor, “There’s a plumbing problem, but we’ll let the buyer take care of it.” The lawyer had requested separate rooms for the mediation, so there is no way to confront the buyer or lawyer on what the seller knows is a totally bogus assertion. The seller would have to reject mediation and go to trial, at great expense, to make the buyer produce the false claim from a neighbor. So the seller agrees to settle for a 5-figure amount, plus his already high legal fees.

To me, this is legal bullying, but such tactics are sadly a tool that some lawyers are willing to utilize.

Just Listed: Golden Gate Canyon Home on 12 Acres

This spectacular 4-bedroom, 3-bath mountain retreat is located just 5 miles or 10 minutes from Downtown Golden and is perched upon an 11.83-acre lot! The address is 26202 Golden Gate Canyon Road. It was just listed by Kristi Brunel for $985,000. 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 through every window.  Enjoy the spacious master suite, complete with gas fireplace, and the living room which is currently a study and trophy room.  The gourmet kitchen features a 6-burner gas stove, granite  countertops and 12-ft. ceilings.  The finished basement, with 10-ft ceilings, 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 pasture for horses), a 10,000-gallon cistern, multiple outbuildings and an old building site with two wells (not permitted). See Foothills Home.info for more info and pictures. Or call Kristi Brunel, 303-525-2520.

Minneapolis Ends Single-Family Zoning — But Why?

I was surprised to read that Minneapolis has “become the first major U.S. city to end single-family zoning, a policy that has done as much as any to entrench segregation, high housing costs, and sprawl as the American urban paradigm over the past century.”

The premise that single-family zoning was actually intended as a tool of de jure racial segregation was news to me, but that’s what the article said.

Influencing the Minneapolis action was a 2017 book, The Color of Law, by Richard Rosenstein. The book’s subtitle is “A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.”

I’m not saying that I agree with the premise, but I find the argument both interesting and somewhat compelling.

The Dec. 7, 2018, article in Slate said, “Opening up Minneapolis’ wealthiest, most exclusive districts to triplexes, the theory goes, will create new opportunities for people to move for schools or a job, provide a way for aging residents to downsize without leaving their neighborhoods, help ease the affordability crunch citywide, and stem the displacement of lower-income residents in gentrifying areas.”

Slate describes Minneapolis as a “staunchly liberal” city, so this may be an isolated action, not likely to be replicated elsewhere, including here.

Buffalo Bill Days This Weekend in Golden

As we’ve done for over a decade, Golden Real Estate is a sponsor of this annual multi-day event, and we’ll have an entry in this Saturday’s parade in Downtown Golden. The parade begins at 10, but is preceded by a pancake breakfast at the Golden Fire Department on 10th Street and followed by many other activities. See www.BuffaloBillDays.com for a complete list of those activities, and come play in Golden with us this weekend!

Some Favorite Home Improvements When Purchasing a New-to-Me Home

Who doesn’t want to make some improvements on a home they have just purchased?  Here are some of my personal favorites.

Energy efficiency is very important to Rita and me, so the first thing we do is pay for an energy audit by someone like Andrew Sams of Alpine Building Performance to identify opportunities for making the home more air-tight. This would likely include blowing more insulation into walls or ceilings and caulking around windows. It might also include installing an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) to bring fresh air into the home. This device warms cold outside air in the winter and cools hot outside air in the summer by means of a heat exchanger.

I love bringing sunlight into a home, not with traditional skylights but with sun tunnels. Most people are familiar with the Solatube brand, but I prefer the Velux brand. I had Mark Lundquist of Design Skylights install a 22-inch Velux sun tunnel in my windowless garage and a 14-inch sun tunnel in my windowless laundry room — and four large Velux sun tunnels in the Golden Real Estate office. Ah, sunlight!

Speaking of sunlight, we replaced every light bulb is our house with LEDs which are “daylight” color (like sunlight), not cool white or warm white. CFLs and incandescent bulbs are so 2010!

Installing solar photovoltaic panels is a no-brainer for us, especially now that the cost has dropped so much. Your roof doesn’t have to face due south. Southeast and southwest are good enough. (That’s our situation.) Since you might be driving an electric car someday, install as much PV as Xcel Energy allows to cover that future load.  If you have just purchased an EV, Xcel will allow you to install more panels based on anticipated future use.

Don’t you hate climbing a curb to enter your driveway? Developers install those mountable curbs the entire length of the streets in new subdivisions, not knowing exactly where each driveway will be. One of the first things I would do (and have done) is to hire a concrete company to replace the mountable curb with a smooth entrance. It cost over $2,000 for our 3-car-wide driveway, but I love it every time I enter from the street! Caution: the sidewalk will now be sloped slightly and pedestrians could more easily slip on ice, so be prepared to salt your sidewalk to eliminate icing!

When your gas forced air furnace needs replacing, consider replacing it with a heat-pump furnace or mini-splits. And when your gas water heater needs replacing, I suggest buying a heat-pump water heater. The cost is about the same, and, by converting to electricity for both, you will have eliminated the most common sources of carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.

Other improvements I’d consider include: Replacing carpeting with  tile in bathrooms; and replacing regular glass with Low-E glass on south-facing windows to reduce the harmful effects of sunlight on furniture, hardwood floors and artwork.

Price Reduced on Veritable Mansion in Arvada’s Alkire Estates

   No expense was spared in the construction of this 4,937-square-foot home at 12996 W. 81st Place. The price was just reduced to $1,850,000. 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 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. All in all, this is one amazing home that is unmatched in the number of luxury features and quality construction details. My narrated video tour (with drone footage) at www.ArvadaMansion.info covers all this and much more! Call your agent or Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 for a showing!