Just Listed: Historic Downtown Golden Home with Accessory Dwelling Unit

1110 12th StreetOn the outside, this home in Golden’s 12th Street Historic District retains all the charm from when it was built in 1913, but come inside and you’re firmly in the 21st Century!  The owner did a gut-rehab in 2006, which included a rear addition with gourmet kitchen on the main floor and a gorgeous master suite upstairs. They also built a 3-car garage on the alley with a high-end Accessory Dwelling Unit above it. How high end? Think hardwood floors and hot water heat for starters — just like the main house. The tenant pays $1,800 per month, which further justifies the $1.1 million listing price. Visit www.HistoricGoldenHome.com for more details and to see lots of magazine-quality photos of this home inside and out and to view a narrated video tour of this home inside and out (also linked below), then call your agent or Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 to schedule a private showing. Or come to the open house on Saturday, November 10th, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  The address is 1110 12th Street, close to all that makes Golden a great place to live, work and play!

Back on the Market: The Finishes in This Golden Ranch Will Blow You Away!

Screenshot_from_videoThis home at 19054 Eagle Ridge Drive is just 100 yards from my own home in Stonebridge at Eagle Ridge, the subdivision west of Heritage Road at the foot of Lookout Mountain.  It is priced at $950,000.  It was built with the same floor plan as my house, but what the owner has done is so stunning and beautiful that I had to Facetime Rita before leaving the listing appointment to show her what was possible for our house! I thought we had an open floor plan, but they took it to a whole new level, and I love it! Moreover, the hardwood floors, the kitchen upgrade, the metal railing around the stairs to the walk-out basement — it all works so beautifully. You really have to visit this home’s website, www.StonebridgeHome.net, to look at the narrated video tour (with drone footage) and the still pictures to get a feel for it. You’ll then call your agent or me to demand a private showing! Here are the raw facts: There are two bedrooms on the main floor, both with huge walk-in closets and en suite bathrooms, and two more bedrooms and a second family room/home theater with a fabulous wet bar in the walk-out basement.  You can see the front patio in the picture; there’s an expansive deck (partly covered) with patio below in the back. Separate HVAC systems serve each floor. There are 4,714 finished square feet.  Call your agent or Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 for a private showing.


Are You Ready to Take Full Advantage of the Winter Home-Selling Season?

[This column appeared only in the Denver edition of YourHub.]

Real_Estate_Today_bylineAs the weather turns colder, the real estate market can actually get hotter for sellers. However, since few sellers are aware of this dynamic, let me explain.

The internet has changed the way home buyers shop, making the residential real estate market far less seasonal than it used to be. In the past, buyers would tell an agent what they’re looking for and wait to see what the agent turned up.  Those days are behind us.  Buyers now have a variety of tools by which they can perform a home search online, contacting their agent as they identify properties they’d like to see. Consumer-facing real estate websites also offer email alerts based on geography, price and other criteria.

A hybrid option, made possible by MLS improvements over the years, is for the buyer’s agent to set up an email alert within the MLS. This option has the advantage of the search being far more specific, since agents can search every MLS field, not just location, price range, bed/baths and a few other fields.  Buyers can choose to receive their MLS alerts monthly, daily or even as soon as a new listing is entered on the MLS by the listing agent.  When a buyer receives an alert on a home that checks enough of their boxes, he or she can call their agent and request a showing.

While a buyer might do less active searching on the internet as winter sets in, the MLS alerts keep coming on their own.  This allows a buyer to respond quickly should the “perfect” home hit the market.  (If you haven’t asked your agent to set up such an MLS alert, ask him – or me. It’s a free service to us and you and takes little time to set up.)

Experience has shown me that, if a buyer were to get an MLS alert the day before Christmas with a new listing that sounds perfect, he or she would pick up the phone to wish his agent “Merry Christmas… and by the way, did you see that new listing?  When can I see it?”

What this means for sellers is that you shouldn’t withhold your home from the market just because winter’s approaching. Don’t think that spring and summer are the “selling season.”  Homes sell year round more than in earlier times, and, because many sellers aren’t aware of that and wait for spring, the opportunity for your home to get more attention increases. Put your home on the market in the depths of winter and if you’ve priced it right (not too high), you’ll be amazed at how many showings you will have and how quickly it will sell. Why? Because there’s little else out there!

My own research shows that homes take longer to sell in December and January than in June and July — almost double — but median days on market have stayed under 20 through every winter since 2014. That’s still a very good environment for selling a house, and the showings you get in  mid-winter are higher quality. People who are house hunting in the winter are, for the most part, serious buyers and not “lookie-loos.”

Yes, families with young children might prefer to move during summer vacation, but they are not the majority of home buyers anymore. Consider these other buyers: baby boomers looking to downsize, millennials looking to start a family, and employees facing mid-winter job relocations.

Seniors facing a knee or hip replacement six months from now want to sell their 2-story home and buy a   ranch-style home with no stairs without waiting for spring. Ditto for women who are three months pregnant. They want to move now into a home with more bedrooms, not wait until they’re eight months pregnant or until after the baby is born.

Yes, the market is slowing, but we’ll continue to see quick sales with multiple offers on homes that are priced properly this winter, just as we did last winter. If you fail to price your home right, you’ll think I misled you, as your home sits on the market for weeks or months with few showings and no offers. I’ve written columns on how to price a home properly in the past. Find them at www.JimSmithColumns.com, or call for a free consultation with me or one of our nine excellent agents.

It’s all about supply and demand. There are just as many buyers in the winter, but there are far fewer listings to choose from, which makes it a great time to put your home on the market. Some of those buyers tried all summer to buy a home and lost out to other bidders. They are not going to stop looking just because the days are getting colder and shorter.

Jeffco Commissioners Quietly Eliminate the County’s Portion of a Business Tax

[This column appeared only in the Jefferson County editions of YourHub and in four Jeffco weekly newspapers.]

Real_Estate_Today_bylineIf you haven’t already mailed in your ballot, consider this tax giveaway to Jefferson County’s biggest businesses by our current Board of County Commissioners (BCC).  By a vote of 2-to-1, with the lone Democratic commissioner opposing it, the BCC voted to eliminate the county portion of the Business Personal Property Tax (or BPPT). Depending on where in the county a business is located, this represents a 10 to 20 percent reduction in the total mill levy that is applied to business personal property.

What is “business personal property”? It’s the equipment and other non-real estate owned by businesses. Utilities like Xcel Energy pay the bulk of this tax on such items as generating equipment and high-tension power lines. In our case, the tax applies to the current (depreciated) value of the copy machines, solar panels, and office furniture owned by our business. If you have a home business, the tax applies to your business equipment and furniture, although the first $7,700 of such value is exempt. This means that small businesses pay little or no tax – although it is a headache to fill out the declaration.

I do agree that this tax is an annoyance and could discourage businesses from relocating to Colorado — if they are aware of it ahead of time, which I wasn’t when I moved a company from New York City to Denver in 1991. We were shocked to receive a property tax bill for the equipment and furniture we brought with us.  (New York City has high taxes, but not a business personal property tax.)  I have learned that the BPPT is a big contributor to the revenue of local tax districts, big and small, around the state. These include fire districts, school districts, parks and recreation districts, counties and municipalities — the exact same tax jurisdictions that benefit from real estate taxes, because it’s from the same set of mill levies. Now that Jefferson County has eliminated that source of revenue, one might reasonably ask how the county will make up that lost revenue.

Although this tax is not part of the State’s revenue stream, only the State can amend or abolish it. Thus far, because the BPPT is a major component of local jurisdictions’ income, the General Assembly has only been willing to increase the exemption noted above, which benefits smaller businesses but maintains the tax as a source of revenue from big businesses.

BPPT_chart_with_insetJust as with Trump’s federal tax cut, the BPPT cut was put forth as primarily benefiting smaller taxpayers, which is simply not true.  What prompted me to devote this week’s column to this subject, however, was that the document used by the County Commissioners to claim the cut primarily benefits small businesses includes a chart showing exactly the opposite!  Above is the top half of that one-page document.

Only Commissioner Casey Tighe seemed to recognize that the document disproves its own headline and that the tax cut would primarily benefit larger taxpayers, so he voted against it.

The first line under the headline is accurate. The information in the next one is not, as the chart that makes up the rest of the one-page document clearly shows. Instead of stating that “68% of the BPPT revenue[s] are from schedules under $100,000,” it should have read, “53% of BPPT revenue is from tax schedules over $10,000.”

If Lesley Dahlkemper, a Democrat well-known from her tenure on the Jeffco School Board, defeats the Republican commissioner who is up for election this year, the BCC will be controlled by Democrats. Then I hope the Board will reverse this tax giveaway and do something else that the Republican-controlled Board wouldn’t do, which is to put on next year’s ballot a referendum to change the Board of County Commissioners from a 3-member board to a 5-member board. A 5-member board, with commissioners elected by district, would be a great improvement over the current 3-member board, all of whom are elected at large. And if more locally-focused representation isn’t reason enough for the change, consider that the state’s Open Meetings Law makes it illegal for any two commissioners (because they would constitute a quorum) to meet privately without that meeting being announced in advance and opened to the public.


Just Listed: Wheat Ridge Ranch Is Close to Crown Hill Park

3370 Estes StThis is a great ranch home all on one level, no steps, with newer air conditioning and heating units, large bright family room, kitchen island, covered deck, wood-burning fireplace, and a large master bathroom with dual sinks and a second full bathroom. THe address is 3370 Estes Street.  It was just listed for $495,000.  Hardwood flooring is throughout the house, including under the carpeting in the bedrooms and living room. The yard is fenced, with a new storage shed (10’x10′) and a larger metal storage shed (24’x13′) in which the seller stored a classic automobile. Visit www.WheatRidgeHome.info to view a narrated video tour, then call listing agent David Dlugasch at 303-908-4835 for a private showing. David will be holding it open this Saturday, Nov. 3rd, from 11 to 2.


Just Listed: 2-Bedroom Townhome with 2-Car Garage in Downtown Golden

IMG_3778Briarwood Commons is a late-1990s townhome community built across 8th Street from the Golden Community Center’s upper parking lot. All units have 2-car attached garages accessed from an alley. This one at 1216 8th Street, just listed at $535,000, has its kitchen and living/dining rooms plus the master suite on the upper floor, and a guest bedroom with en-suite bathroom on the main floor, plus an unfinished basement with 9-foot ceiling that could accommodate a 3rd bedroom and full bath. There’s a walled patio in front and a full-width balcony accessed from the upstairs living room, both with mountain views. Open Sunday, Nov. 4th, 11 to 2.   More details and a narrated video tour at www.GoldenTownhome.com.


When Buying or Selling Your Home, Don’t Overlook the Cost of Moving!

Real_Estate_Today_bylineWhen calculating the cost of selling one’s home, commissions, title insurance and other closing costs are typically at the forefront of sellers’ thinking, perhaps overlooking the cost of the move itself, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Buyers, on the other hand, happy that the seller is paying for the commissions and title policy, tend to focus on their loan costs, again overlooking at first the cost of moving.

Although there surely are positive reviews of moving companies, mostly we hear the horror stories, such as a recent one from a client of mine who moved from Arvada to Connecticut.  In her case, the moving company miscalculated what would fit in the moving trailer they’d assigned to the job (it also contained other clients’ furniture), so they didn’t put all her belongings in the original trailer (without telling her until arrival), and were unable to tell her when the remainder of her belongings might arrive!

Understandably, movers want to combine loads of different customers moving in the same direction. But as the example above demonstrates, the process can disappoint (and even anger) the customer.

Perhaps you or a friend had a similarly unpleasant experience – it happens all too often.

As for myself, I consider frequent moving an occupational hazard of being a real estate agent, since I am likely to tell my wife about a great home I just showed. Since getting married in 2004, Rita and I have moved three times — not counting our dual moves into the home we bought prior to our wedding.

Truck and charging stationFortunately, I took delivery of our first moving truck in early 2004, so none of those moves required hiring a professional moving company. My long-time handyman and I did all the moving using that truck.

Over 90% of our clients have been able to take advantage of our free moving trucks for their in-state moves.  This coming week, one of my sellers is even taking our truck to the Western Slope for a full week, paying only for the gas used. But what are the options for people who can’t take advantage of our trucks?

The most obvious, of course, is to hire a professional moving company. For interstate moves, a sales representative will come to your house and estimate the weight of the items you want to move.  Your final cost will depend on the actual weight, which could result in an unpleasant surprise. You will be charged by the hour for the workers who will be loading and unloading the truck, and that could be pretty expensive, especially if you also want them to do the packing. These workers should be bonded (insured against damage and loss), although the claims process can be discouraging and lengthy. You will also pay for boxes and packing materials.  Figure on paying at least 4-figures, even for a local move.

Most full-service moving companies are local franchises of a larger national moving company. The logistics of long-distance combined loads is challenging, and requires careful coordination. Local moves, however, are completed within the franchise and in a single truck, which helps to ensure quick service through the use of their own workers and trucks. The quotes I got were typically $120/hour for two men and a truck, plus $1 or so per mile, charged from their depot back to their depot, not just from your current home to your new home.

A second option is one where you handle the loading and unloading. There are probably several vendors for this type of service, but the company with which I’m most familiar is   U-Pack (www.upack.com). They’ll deliver a trailer or container to your current home, give you three days to load it, then pick it up and deliver it to your new home three to five business days later, where you’ll have another 3 days to unload it.

Speaking of containers, PODS (www.pods.com) is a brand of a similar type of service, but one that allows you to take more time to load.  Once you’re finished loading, you lock the container and PODS will pick it up and store it until you tell them where to deliver it.  I like this approach because it allows you to de-clutter your home for better staging by removing much of what you know you’ll be moving anyway. Most people use their garage for this de-cluttering process, but your garage shows better when it, too, is de-cluttered.

U-Pack and U-Haul offer services similar to PODS, and there are probably other vendors out there as well.

As a side note, you might want to use PODS when you aren’t actually moving, such as to get furniture out of your house during renovations. Trucks can also be used for that purpose. U-Haul makes its money on miles traveled — about $1 per mile. Their daily rate of $19.95 is a cheap storage solution if you just need temporary storage and have a place to park the truck for several days. When we carpeted our office (which had a tile floor), we moved all our office furniture into a truck for 3 days, then back into the office after the work was completed.

That brings up option #3, which is renting a truck and doing all the moving yourself. As I said, you’ll pay $1 per mile plus the cost of gasoline (figure 30 cents/mile). U-Haul’s website (http://www.uhaul.com) makes it easy to estimate the cost of local or one-way moving without actually making a reservation or giving your name and contact info. I tried to get estimates from professional moving companies but had to give my phone number and email address and was bombarded with sales calls!  The only website I found with good consumer-friendly info was http://www.relocation.com.

FREETRKYour final and best option if you sell or buy your home using Golden Real Estate and are moving within Colorado is to take advantage of our free moving trucks. We also provide free moving boxes and packing materials, even if you don’t use our trucks, such as for a move out of state. You pay only for our truck’s gas. We can connect you with a driver and movers for $20 to $25 per man-hour. They are unbonded and not Golden Real Estate employees, so any agreement you have is with them, but the feedback we’ve received indicates that they are hard-working and trustworthy.  Because they’re not bonded, you will want to supervise them yourselves and perhaps move fragile items and valuables in your own vehicle.

Note: When you both buy and sell locally using Golden Real Estate, earning us a commission on both transactions, we pay for the labor & gas  We call it Totally Free Moving.  You just pack and unpack!