Emissions from EVs Depends on the Source of Your Electricity

Before I bought my first electric vehicle in 2012, I told myself, “I don’t want to switch from burning gas to burning coal,” since coal at the time was the biggest portion of my electric utility’s fuel mix. I went ahead and bought my 2012 Chevy Volt, because I installed enough solar panels on my home to get all my electricity from the sun. Since then, I have bought three Teslas and sold one (my RWD 2014 Model S to friends in Arizona).

Then I learned why EVs have lower emissions than gas-powered cars, even if the fossil fuels represent 100% of the utility’s fuel mix. The reasoning is reflected in this graphic from http://www.FuelEconomy.gov:

The gist of the graphic is that only 16 to 25% of the energy in gasoline goes to propelling the vehicle. The rest is basically waste energy, 68% to 72% of it engine losses such as heat. By contrast, roughly 90% of the energy in electricity goes to move an EV.

That differential in fuel efficiency is at the heart of why EVs are more climate- and pollution-friendly than gas-powered vehicles can ever be.

Some Thoughts on War and Peace as I Vacation in Eastern Europe

As I write this on Monday evening, Rita and I are midway through our cruise of the Danube River from the Black Sea to Vienna. On Saturday we had a home visit at a village in Croatia. Our host family’s home was largely destroyed during the Serbo-Croatian war of the early 1990s, but they rebuilt it with help from the government. During that conflict they had to evacuate to another country. I remember those years well and can’t imagine what our life would have been like if it had included such fear, dislocation and destruction.

We already feel blessed to live in the Denver area, spared from the tornados, hurricanes, floods, mudslides, earthquakes (and more) afflicting fellow Americans, but being bombed and having to rebuild entire cities — that’s another matter entirely. Our guide told us that 91% of the buildings in the city where our ship docked were destroyed during World War II. Many buildings still show damage from that war.

And we can’t forget that a few hundred miles to the east of where we are, whole cities, including homes, hospitals and schools continue to be destroyed by Russian artillery.

Yes, we lucked out being born in America and choosing to relocate to Colorado. But we can’t forget the suffering of those — in America and elsewhere — who have suffered and continue to suffer.

As baby boomers, Rita and I are only a few years shy of being old enough to have lived through World War II. We didn’t witness it in real time, and we were raised to believe that such killing and devastation  was only something that occurred before our time. But we have seen too much conventional warfare elsewhere and should realize that America is indeed exceptional for having been spared the experience of warfare at home since our Civil War.

Last week we spent a day in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia and the former capital of Yugoslavia. Located strategically at the confluence of two rivers, it has been fought over through the centuries so often that it has been destroyed and rebuilt 40 times, according to guide books. Al-though it holds the prize in that regard, other European cities were destroyed by war multiple times. Can you imagine your city and your life including such a history?

If you, like me, had thought that the cycle of wartime destruction and rebuilding had been broken, you and I need only look at what Vladimir Putin is doing right now in Ukraine, leveling multiple cities and towns, committing verifiable war crimes by targeting apartment buildings, hospitals, churches and schools.

But shouldn’t war itself be considered a war crime?  We’d like to believe that Putin is the last world leader to justify in his own mind the bombing and destruction of another nation’s cities.

The creation of the European Union and the expansion of NATO gives us hope that European countries, at least, will not go to war with each other ever again.

Meanwhile, with the increased political division in our own country and the use of “civil war” language on the far right, should we worry that those millions of assault weapons in Americans’ personal arsenals might someday be used against fellow citizens perceived as enemies? Even posing that question would have been unthinkable a decade ago, but now it’s a valid and recurring topic of serious discussion. 

I wish more Americans would come to Eastern Europe, or at least Western Europe, to meet people who have in their lifetime experienced warfare at home. We have seen similar devastation from tornados in America, but imagine if those same scenes of devastation had been created by us Americans in a prolonged war against each other?

Please, let that not be our future!

Golden Development Site Just Listed by Austin Pottorff

This parcel at 17205 W. 12th Ave. is a multi-family zoned parcel ready for continued rental income, or ripe for redevelopment. Directly adjacent to the city boundary, this 19,300-square-foot parcel could possibly be annexed into the City of Golden. It was just listed at $1.6 million. This land offers proximity to parks, trails, grocery, dining, and public transit. Golden’s King Soopers Marketplace is a couple blocks away, and the Denver West Office Park, Coors Technology Center, Colorado School of Mines, Colorado Mills Shopping area, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Jefferson County Government Center, schools and downtown Golden are all within a few minutes of the site. Bell Middle School and Golden High School are a short distance away. Located within an Opportunity Zone, this parcel is a prime redevelopment option. Take a narrated aerial video tour at www.GoldenDevelopmentSite.info. Then call Austin Pottorff at 970-281-9071 for more information or to arrange a showing.

Why Any Denver Seller Would Be Smart to List With Golden Real Estate

Choosing the best agent and/or brokerage for listing your home is no small matter. For most people, their home sale or purchase is the biggest transaction of their life, one they would want handled by an experienced and resourceful agent and brokerage.

For many sellers, perhaps even most, the decision seems all too simple. We all have a relative, classmate or friend who holds a real estate license, and there’s a compulsion to use that person, or, to put it differently, a fear of upsetting or insulting that person by using someone who might, in fact, do a better job.

At the end of this article I will suggest how to navigate those waters, but first let me lay out the argument for using one of our great agents at Golden Real Estate.

Let’s accept as a premise that any listing agent’s job is to maximize exposure of your home and thereby get the highest possible price for it, perhaps with competing bidders driving the final price above the price at which it was listed.

Golden Real Estate’s “value proposition” is all about maximizing exposure of your home, beginning, of course, with featuring it in this column. We don’t have a featured listing in this edition, but regular readers know that one or more new listings appears here nearly every week. This column/ad appears in more than just this newspaper. It’s in three Jefferson County weekly newspapers — the Golden Transcript, Jeffco Transcript, Arvada Press  — as well as in every metro area edition the YourHub section of every Denver Post. Altogether, this ad exposes your home to nearly 200,000 newspaper readers — a great demographic!

The Denver Post version of this ad is then emailed to more than 800 subscribers, about half of whom are fellow agents. The articles and featured listings are also posted on our blog at www.GoldenReblog.com and are archived at www.JimSmithColumns.com

In addition, we create a custom website for every listing, the URL for which is included in the “featured listing” article. On that website, as on the MLS, we post our magazine-quality photos plus a narrated video tour, as well as the open house information. The video tour is hosted on YouTube, which provides additional exposure, and we promote the listing and every open house on our Facebook page, which is www.Facebook.com/GoldenRealEstate1.

Just as important as maximizing the number of people who learn about your home is making sure that the information is as complete as possible. We enter every possible bit of information on the MLS, instead of completing only the required fields. That means that instead of just entering “public remarks,” we enter a description of every room in the house, including dimensions, flooring, closet information, view out the windows, ceiling fan and other features that add to the sales pitch for your home. This is not common practice among the majority of agents.

As you may know, listing agents can double their commission by not having to share it with a buyer’s agent. To that end, your agent might hold your home off the MLS for some period a week or two (and sometimes even longer!) in an attempt to find a buyer on their own. This is commonly done by putting a “coming soon” sign in your yard and advertising it as “coming soon” on websites such as NextDoor.com or craigslist.org. The listing agent might then convince a seller to go under contract with that first buyer and put the home on the MLS as “Under Contract” without it ever being listed as “Active.”

In 2017, there were 2,781 homes listed as “Sold” on REcolorado.com, the Denver MLS, with zero days on market. That means they were never “Active,” and therefore never exposed to the widest possible number of buyers. Not surprisingly, 19% of them sold for less than the listing price, and only 19.7% of them sold for more than the listing price.

By comparison, 4,007 homes were on the MLS for 2 days before going under contract. Among those sales, only 12.2% sold for less than full price, and 59.1% of them sold for more than full price. At Golden Real Estate, we have found that 4 days on market is the “sweet spot,” for the length of time it takes to attract the number of buyers that allows us to obtain the highest purchase price for our sellers.  Just last week, I had a listing which could have sold for $15,000 less than listing price on the second day, but we waited until day 5 and got it under contract for $11,500 over the listing price. Half of Golden Real Estate’s listings in 2017 sold at or above listing price, and 3 of them sold for more than 10% above listing price.

Above, I mentioned that a listing agent can double his or her commission by not having to share that commission with a buyer’s agent. At Golden Real Estate, it is our policy to have what’s called a “variable commission,” meaning that we reduce our commission when we sell a home ourselves.  Based on my own sampling, roughly 5% of the listings on the MLS are double-ended, but of those homes that sold last year with zero days on market, over 50% of them were double-ended, and less than half of those reduced their commission for doing so. When you interview a listing agent, ask if he or she will reduce their commission if they don’t have to share it with a buyer’s agent. If you ask, the agent will typically agree to do so, but I think you’ll find that most agents hope you won’t ask. At Golden Real Estate, we offer that discount without you having to ask for it. It’s on our printed list of services.

Now, most people who sell their home are also going to buy a home, and you should consider using the same agent who lists your home to help you buy your replacement home. Why? Because you should get a discount on your listing commission in return for allowing that agent to make a commission (paid by the seller) on your purchase. You sacrifice that opportunity when you don’t have a buyer’s agent and deal only with the listing agent on your purchase.

Too many buyers think they will get a better deal if they purchase a home without a buyer’s agent — that the seller saves that 2.8% co-op commission. But that’s not the case. Unless there’s a variable commission (and I already explained that only 15% of listings have a variable commission), the only person who profits from you not having a buyer’s agent is the listing agent, not the seller. In most cases, you’ll do a whole lot better by having your own listing agent earn that 2.8% commission on your purchase and discounting his listing commission by, say, 1%.

So, what about that friend or relative who expects you to hire him? Tell him/her that you want to use Golden Real Estate, which has agreed to pay him/her a 25% referral fee.

Buyers Should Use Us, Too!

I already mentioned that your listing agent should be your buyer’s agent, too, but if you are buying without selling, or have already sold your home, say, in another state, here are some reasons you should hire an agent from Golden Real Estate to represent you in the purchase of a home, whether a resale or a new home.

You need our advice on what to offer and you especially need our help if you find yourself competing with other buyers. We have a moving truck, which is free to you, but we also can offer it free to the seller as an incentive for them to accept your offer over that of another buyer. We have excellent home inspectors and loan officers, and you’ll appreciate our closing gift, which is a free energy audit of your new home.

Negotiation skills are needed not just to get under contract, but when it comes to negotiating inspection, appraisal or other less common issues. This is a particular strength here at Golden Real Estate.

Buying a home can be a tricky proposition, so don’t go it alone, and don’t put your trust in the listing agent, who isn’t looking out for your interests.

Buyers & Sellers Ask: Why Did the Appraisal Come in at Exactly the Contract Price?

Real_Estate_Today_bylineWhen purchasing a home with a mortgage, one of the major hurdles for buyers in getting to the closing table concerns the home appraisal. The lender hires the appraiser – at the buyer’s expense – to make sure that the home is worth what the buyer has agreed to pay for it.

More often than not, the appraisal comes in at exactly the contract price, which understandably seems a little fishy.  Typically, when the buyer asks me why, I explain that the appraiser always gets a copy of the purchase contract and therefore knows his or her target valuation. Once an appraiser can justify that target, there’s no need to identify additional value. That’s been my hypothesis anyway, but since it’s only a hypothesis, I posed the question last week to several experienced lenders with whom I have long-standing relationships.

Bernie Bernfeld of Wells Fargo (303-273-6373) responded as follows: “My short answer is that with so much scrutiny on appraisers and their valuations due to past abuses in some areas of the country, the appraiser will generally not assign more value than is necessary to support the sales value even if he knows the property may be worth more. This conservative approach satisfies the loan underwriters and those reviewing the appraisal while still supporting the buyer’s accepted offer.”

Jim Spray, a mortgage broker specializing in reverse mortgages (303-403-8168) said the following: “One should keep in mind that an appraisal is simply a valuation tool for lending purposes; it is nothing else. It may or may not reflect the actual market value,  which is what an independent party (the buyer, in this case) is willing to pay.  This may not reflect the value of an appraisal that is not associated with a purchase. In large part, an appraisal is just a tool for lenders to use to help prevent fraud and prove they are making sound lending decisions.”

Scott Lagge of Eagle Home Loans (303-944-8552) gave the longest response, making several interesting points.  He wrote: “Appraisals come in at value because appraisers don’t want to deal with appraisal objections from the real estate agents, their buyers and sellers, or the buyers’ lenders.

“When an appraisal comes in below the contract price, the first ones to cry foul are the real estate agents. They immediately question the appraiser’s ability, and put pressure on us lenders to fix it.  The agent send comps to the appraiser or lender, arguing their position, and wanting the lender to challenge the appraisal.

“So the extra work for the appraiser begins. They have to fix or defend their appraisal.

“Conversely, if the appraisal comes in high, especially if it comes in way higher than the contract price, there’s a concern on the part of the seller that they are leaving money on the table. This was more common in years past when sellers had access to the appraisal.  You can imagine being a listing agent in this situation. You’re selling a home for $400,000 and the appraisal comes in at $450,000. Bad deal for that seller — and for their listing agent!

“In either of these situations, the pressure is being put back on the appraiser to fix it.

“Let’s be clear, all lenders have a legitimate process for challenging an appraisal, and we have to prove that there is a material defect in the appraisal in order to rebut it.  We all have an internal or external appraisal management company that assures everyone is coloring inside the lines.  In other words, only valid challenges are accepted these days, but that doesn’t eliminate the pressure on us as professionals to explain why the value came in low or high to the consumer.

“So, coming in at value is the appraiser’s only sure-fire way to avoid scrutiny from clients, lenders and agents, thereby avoiding the extra work of defending and/or redoing the appraisal.

“The easier answer is that a home is worth what someone is willing to pay for it in an arm’s length transaction.  If you have a contract price of $300,000 and a buyer and seller have agreed on that price, once that transaction closes and records, it is officially worth exactly $300,000 and becomes a valid comp for future transactions.

“So why would an appraiser state anything different than the contract price, assuming he can justify it?”

[End of lenders’ responses]

I found it necessary once to challenge a low appraisal, and I was successful.  It was for a Golden area purchase, and the appraiser was from Castle Rock and clearly didn’t have geographical competence, because he checked the box indicating that the housing market was “stable” instead of “rising,” which was obvious to anyone.  I was able to point out other factual errors, and the appraisal was recast at the contract price.

Any of the above mortgage lenders would be happy to answer your questions on this topic. Call them!

Preparing Your Home for Sale – Some Practical Advice

Submitted by Suzie Wilson of HappierHome.net

Whether you’re moving because of a job, family expansion or retirement, you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and get to work if you want your property to appeal to the most buyers. Before you start packing, however, there are a few minor home improvements you should tackle, which will speed up the process and get you on the road.

Start with aesthetics

No matter how short a time you’ve lived in your home, there are likely lots of little things that you’ve learned to overlook. The vast majority of these will be minor aesthetic imperfections that are cheap and easy to rectify. ProfessionalStaging.com notes that buyers are on the lookout for issues and will notice every little crack, stain, or chipped tile. Here are a few DIY projects that will reduce the lived-in look of your home:

  • Replace moldy or damaged caulk in the bathtub and shower
  • Clean or stain grout in the kitchen and bathroom
  • Fill nail holes in the wall and gaps around the trim
  • Plant colorful flowers by the mailbox and entryway
  • Organize storage spaces (buyers love to look in closets, under the stairs, and in the garage and attic)
  • Paint rooms that don’t already have a neutral color scheme
  • Install functional smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
  • Pull weeds and add a layer of fresh mulch to flower beds
  • Repair brown spots on the lawn
  • Replace outdated bronze and brass doorknobs, handles, and drawer pulls

Manage major malfunctions

There are plenty of small things you can tackle on your own, but you’ll also need to invest time and money making sure there are no major defects that may derail your home sale at inspection time. These include:

  • Foundation problems (Homes.com estimates this can devalue your property by up to $100,000)
  • HVAC issues
  • Mold
  • Leaks in the roof/missing shingles
  • Major plumbing problems, such as a clogged mainline
  • Outdated electrical panel
  • Windows that won’t open up or lock
  • Musty/animal smell
  • Rotted wood behind walls – most likely in the kitchen or bath
  • Damp basement

Small issues won’t necessarily be deal-breaker for most of your buyers but the less work they have to do the more likely they will be to give your home a second look. Large issues such as a crumbling foundation may designate your home as a fixer-upper, which won’t attract “everyday” buyers who want to move in immediately.

What do buyers want?

Buyers in different demographics will seek out home features that appeal to their lifestyles. There are, however, a few universal want-list items you can play up in your listing to cast as wide a net as possible. According to American Home Shield, the features homebuyers want are:

  • Separate laundry room
  • Energy-efficient appliances and windows
  • Exterior lighting
  • Outdoor entertainment space
  • Ceiling fan
  • Full bathroom on the main level
  • Hardwood flooring
  • Proper insulation
  • Garage storage
  • Eat-in kitchen

When it’s time

Once you’ve completed these repairs and renovations, there are a few finishing touches that will put the icing on the cake and sweeten the deal for your buyers. First, you should declutter, so that buyers can see more of the house and less of what you own. Before you declutter, though, it’s a good idea to buy an air filter. Since digging through those items is going to stir up a lot of dust, it’s important to keep the air clean for you and home buyers.

After you declutter, deep clean the entire home and weed out any belongings or furniture that don’t look quite right. To get your home sparkling clean, spend a little money on a housekeeping service. For an average of $166 a visit in Golden, housekeepers can help you keep up with laundry, mopping, sweeping, vacuuming, and straightening. Just keep in mind that the more you request from the housekeeping service, the more you’ll ultimately pay for the privilege. 

Also, staging and investing in high-quality professional listing photos (a real estate photographer usually charges between $110 and $300 for a shoot, depending on your location) will give online searchers a reason to pay your house a visit. 

Perhaps most importantly, you’ll need to choose the best listing agent. Interview multiple individuals and ask about their recent local sales history and how many current listings they manage. A good agent will encourage you to price your home competitively and will go above and beyond simply listing on the MLS to promote the property.

Brokerages Should Allow Agents to Enter or Change Their Listings on the MLS

At Golden Real Estate, each agent (under my supervision) enters and updates their own listings on the MLS. I believe that helps to promote accuracy.

But many brokerages block their agents from accessing their own listings, sometimes resulting in incomplete or inaccurate data. One would hope that agents in those brokerages check to see how their listings were entered and tell their admins when mistakes have been made or data omitted, but there’s no way to know that.

Did you know that in addition to the “public remarks” for listings, there is a place to enter a description of every room in the house?

Very few listings — under 50% by my count — include a description of any rooms, and some listings don’t even list rooms other than bedrooms and bathrooms.

Dimensions can be entered for each room, too (rounded to the nearest foot), but I find very few listings with that information either. Our office policy is to enter room dimensions and descriptions for every room in every listing.

Brokerages which require all agent listings to be entered by their unlicensed administrative staff are less likely to have these non-mandatory fields entered. If they would make each agent responsible for such data entry and then monitor their work as we do, I believe that buyers would have much more useful and accurate information for each listing. Other non-mandatory fields in the MLS include the following:

> Is the property owner-occupied, tenant-occupied, or vacant?

¨ How close are bus stops and light rail stations?

¨ Is it in an incorporated or unincorporated area?

¨ What are the dimensions and features of the garage/carport/RV parking?

¨ What appliances are in the house?

¨ What kinds of flooring is there?

¨ Does the home have any fireplaces, and where are they?

¨ If there’s an HOA, what are the fees and what do those fees cover?

Our office policy is not only to complete every field on our company’s MLS listings, but to share our MLS data entry in draft form with the seller before making the listing live on the MLS, which also helps to assure accuracy and completeness of our listings.

Have You Wondered About 72Sold? It’s Not Licensed as a Real Estate Brokerage in Colorado

Perhaps, like me, you have wondered about 72Sold, which runs commercials every night on local TV stations, giving the impression that it is a Colorado real estate brokerage, and directing you to www.72Sold.com, which gives the same impression.

In researching this company, the first thing I did was to look on REcolorado.com, the Denver MLS, to see how many listings they have sold. The answer was none, because 72Sold is not a member of the MLS and is not even licensed in Colorado to sell real estate.

So what’s the story? First I asked Marcia Waters, director of the Colorado Division of Real Estate, who confirmed that 72Sold is not licensed in Colorado, and said the division has not received any complaints about them — which makes sense, since one can only file a complaint against a licensed brokerage.

My suspicions about 72Sold were raised further as I scanned the company’s website, which contains numerous testimonials and the following graphic, which has no identification of, or links to, the “five independent studies” cited in it:

To learn more, I posed as a potential seller and requested a valuation on 72Sold’s website, which uses such terminology as “a better way to sell your home.” That sure sounds like a brokerage, doesn’t it?

Registering my name and a home address on their website resulted in a call from a woman who said she was from 72Sold but who, under questioning, said she was actually with Your Castle Realty, a non-Realtor brokerage. So as not to blow my cover, I used the excuse that I only wanted to work with a Realtor, and she offered to have an agent from Keller Williams call me.

Susan Thayer, co-owner with her husband of Keller Williams Action Realty in Castle Rock, was the agent who called me next. I revealed to her that I was actually a Realtor myself writing this real estate column. I explained that posing as a seller on 72Sold’s website was the only way I could find out what was really behind all those TV commercials.

Susan was quite open and helpful and sent me links with background information, including an Inman News article about 72Sold’s partnership with Keller Williams and its many franchises.

Like 72Sold’s website, the Inman story conflated the roles of a lead generating company and a real estate brokerage, reporting, for example, that 72Sold had grown from 10 agents to 426 agents (as of August 2022), when in fact they only have licensed agents in Arizona, where they are a licensed brokerage.  Everywhere else, as I understand it, they have what should be called “referral partners” instead of agents.

What 72Sold does is invest 80% of its referral fee income (according to the Inman story) into more TV advertising in those markets where it has referral partners, and some of that expense is apparently shared by those referral partners, although I didn’t garner any specific numbers.

What 72Sold offers through its referral partners is a strategy of combining a 7-day coming soon period with a Friday-to-Sunday active period during which buyers’ agents may show the home for 15 minutes on Saturday, according to the Inman article. The idea is to create a buyer frenzy and “fear of loss.” With the slowing of the market, that strategy has softened. It sounds great to sellers, however, making the leads generated well worth 72Sold’s referral fee.

Click on the thumbnail below to watch a video from 72Sold’s home page. Judge for yourself whether they are posing as a brokerage in Colorado, where you just watched their TV ad.

PS: It is a violation of the Realtor Code of Ethics for a member to misrepresent himself or his level of success, but neither Greg Hague nor his Arizona brokerage is a member of the National Association of Realtors, and therefore neither is bound to the Code of Ethics.

An Apple ‘AirTag’ Can Help You Locate Your Stolen Car  

News media is full of reports about the increase in the theft of cars and trucks. This is not a problem for owners of internet-connected cars like Tesla, which you can follow on your app and even limit its speed (15 mph is good!), but what if your car is not connected that way and gets stolen?

Apple sells a $29 product called AirTag which you can hide in your vehicle. There’s no ongoing fee. If any GPS-connected smartphone is nearby, it uses that device to transmit its location. We have one hidden in Golden Real Estate’s truck, and I can use it to see where it is at any time.

Pictured here, the AirTag is about the size of a quarter and about as thick as 2 or 3 quarters. Put it under a seat or floor mat or any other place in your vehicle and know that if your vehicle is not where you left it, you’ll be able to tell police where to find it and perhaps nab the thief.

96.9 The Cloud Honored by Golden Chamber of Commerce for ‘Community Impact’

The Golden Chamber of Commerce recently honored 96.9 The Cloud (KKCL-FM) for its contribution to Golden and the greater Golden/Jefferson County area. Golden Real Estate is proud to have been advertising on The Cloud since its first year in business six years ago. I don’t recall the Chamber having such an award before, and its title is so appropriate: “2021 Community Impact of the Year Award.” The subtext reads as follows: “Awarded for creatively and effectively bringing together community members, resources, and organizations to encourage an environment of support, respect, and thoughtfulness within the Golden community.”

Rita and I have come to know Chuck Lontine, the owner of this radio station and a 7th generation native Coloradan. He is a remarkable man with quite a background, including as National Sales Manager for KOSI 101.  Although KKCL’s signal only reaches Jefferson County from its transmitter on Lookout Mountain, you can stream it on www.TheCloud.FM.

In addition to our regular advertising spots on The Cloud, I also record a weekly 5- to 10-minute report on the real estate market that the station carries.