Great Golden Listing Coming Soon from Debbi Hysmith

Better_front_pictureEnjoy incredible mountain views from this special home at 17425 Rimrock Drive!  Take advantage of the opportunity to own this 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom custom home.  It backs to South Table Mountain open space, with unbeatable views of the foothills!  It features an extra-tall garage — tall enough for your large truck —- with a mud room and laundry room on the main level. Look for more information in next week’s column. We have created a website for this home at, where you can see more pictures and take a narrated video tour. That website will also have information about an open house the weekend of July 14-15. Or call your agent or Debbi Hysmith at 720-936-2443 to arrange a showing.


Property Taxes in 2019 Will Be Based on the Value of Your Home This Saturday

Real_Estate_Today_bylineColorado’s constitution mandates that every county assessor base the assessment of real estate taxes on the full market valuation of each parcel as of June 30th of every even-numbered year. Next May, the assessor will mail out an estimated value as of this Saturday to each parcel owner, giving until June 1st to challenge the assessor’s valuation.

If you are wondering how much your property taxes might go up for the next 2-year cycle, you need only compare what your home might have sold for on June 30, 2016, with what it could sell for now, based on the sale of comparable homes.

Although June MLS statistics aren’t complete yet, let’s compare current sales statistics with those from June 2016. (Remember: Not all sales are on the MLS.)

Statistics for Denver:

Using REcolorado (Denver’s MLS) as my source, the average price per total square foot (PSF) of condos and townhomes in the City & County of Denver rose from $279 in June 2016 to $320 this month. That is a 14.7% increase in value, which is surprising, given that the median sold price during that same timeframe increased from $277,250 to $380,500, a 37.2% increase.

During that same period the average price per total square foot of detached single family homes rose from $231 to $271, a 17.3% increase, although the median sold price increased by 20% (from $405,000 to $486,200).

These calculations are for Denver as a whole. There will, of course, be greater or lesser valuation changes in different Denver neighborhoods.  Here are some examples, based on price per total square foot:

Green Valley Ranch – 10.7%

Northeast Denver – 14.9%

Cherry Creek, Hilltop, Montclair – 15.4%

Southeast Denver (Alameda to Evans) – 10.5%

Southeast Denver (south of Evans) – 10.7%

Downtown Denver (to Platte River) – 19.8%

Northwest Denver (Sloans Lake, Highland, Berkeley, Sunnyside) – 18.4%

Golden Triangle  – 9.6%

West Denver (Colfax to 6th Ave. only) – 24.9%

West Denver (6th Ave. to Alameda) – 14.9%

Southwest Denver (Alameda to Jewell) – 24.4%

Southwest Denver (south of Jewell Ave.) – 24.4%

Valuations also can vary based on style. For example, across Denver ranch style (1 story) homes saw an increase in price per total square foot of 19.3%, whereas non-ranch style homes saw an average increase of 13.8%. 

The age of the home can also make a difference. Single family detached homes built before 1990 saw their average PSF values increase by 16.2%, whereas homes built in 1990 or later increased by 11.5%. 

Statistics for Jefferson County:

Using REcolorado (Denver’s MLS) as my source, the average price per total square foot of condos and townhomes in Jefferson County rose from $188 in June 2016 to $232 this month. That is a 23.4% increase in value. Condos increased their value by 21%, and townhomes increased their value by 26.4%.

During that same period the average price per total square foot of detached single family homes rose from $175 to $211, a 20.6% increase.  

These calculations are for Jefferson County as a whole. There will, of course, be greater or lesser valuation changes in every city and in every subdivision.

Here are the increases broken down by city addresses (which can include unincorporated areas):

Arvada – 20.9%

Lakewood – 21.4%

Golden addresses  – 8.8%

Littleton addresses – 13.6%

Wheat Ridge – 24.3%

Evergreen addresses – 10.2%

Smaller cities such as Lakeside and Edgewater did not have a enough sales to produce statistically valid percentages.

Valuations also can vary based on style. For example, ranch style (1 story) homes in Jeffco saw an increase in price per total square foot of 20.7%, whereas 2-story homes saw an increase of 17.3%. 

The age of the home can also make a difference. Single family detached homes built before 1990 saw their average PSF values increase by 18.8%, whereas homes built in 1990 or later increased by 12.7%. 


All these variations point to only one conclusion — that you need to use the tools provided on the Denver and Jeffco assessors’ web pages (which I’ll explain in a May 2019 column) to determine whether the assessor has valued your home correctly. Last May I challenged the increase on my own home, and, by using the eligible comps listed on the assessor’s website, I received a reduction of nearly $150,000.

Lastly, let me share how the Gallagher Amendment to the state constitution serves to reduce the impact of increased valuations on residential property tax bills.

That amendment fixes the assessment ratio for non-residential property at 29% of the full valuation. For example, if a commercial property has a full valuation of $1 million, the assessed value against which the mill levy is applied is 29% of that amount, or $290,000.  Because that assessment ratio remains fixed at 29%, and because the amendment requires that non-residential property taxes equal 55% of the total property tax revenue statewide, the ratio applied to residential properties keeps dropping from 21% when the Gallagher Amendment took effect in 1982.  Last year, that ratio dropped to 7.2%,  and it is projected to drop to 6.11% next year.  The end result could actually be a reduced assessed valuation even in the face of an increased full valuation.

Let’s say your home was worth $400,000 in 2016, with an assessed value of $28,800 (7.2%). Now your home is worth $500,000, a 25% increase, but if the assessment ratio is reduced to 6.11% as expected, the mill levy will now be applied to an assessed value of $30,550 — an increase of less than 6.1%.  Thus, if the mill levy remains unchanged, your property taxes will increase by only 6.1%, even though your home’s value (as determined by the assessor) increased by 25%.

Moreover, mill levies from many of the different taxing districts keep declining as a result of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) provision of the constitution, so your actual property tax increase in the above example could well be less than 5%.



Last Week’s “Personal” Column Touched a Nerve

When I took the unusual step of devoting last week’s column to politics, my broker associates and I had little idea what the response from readers would be.  What blowback would we get?

It’s unusual to get one or two emails or calls from readers about a column, but last week I received over 60 emails and many calls that were positive, and only 3 emails (no calls, 1 letter) of a negative nature. There were so many emails that I created a separate folder in Outlook to save them. Common themes were to thank me for my comments and for my “courage” in risking the loss of business for my brokerage, and many of the writers said they would use Golden Real Estate because they were so pleased that I spoke out. Four people came to my office on Friday to thank me in person. One came on Monday to set a listing appointment.

Several readers, including Rep. Ed Perlmutter, liked my suggestion that the Democratic leadership create a “Shadow Cabinet” to monitor the actions and pronouncements of Trump’s cabinet members.

This level of response was all the more remarkable since, by eliminating all branding in the ad, no phone number, email address, website or other contact info appeared with the column.

My blog post of that column has additional content. It’s at


Enjoy the Savings of Solar Power in This Arvada Home

DSC_0346Not visible from the street is this home’s solar system, which meets most of this home’s electrical needs for only $137/month year-round. It is located at 5674 Fig Way in the Candlelight Valley subdivision adjacent to the Van Bibber open space park.  A trailhead is just two blocks away. It’s a super quiet location, as you can tell by watching the narrated video tour at This home has a finished walk-out basement and has one of the larger lots — over 1/3 acre. Everything about this home is top shelf, including the gourmet kitchen with marble floor, granite countertops and built-in refrigerator. The walk-out basement is a mother-in-law apartment with its own kitchen. The expansive deck and covered patio provide additional entertainment possibilities.  Listed at $797,000. 

Open Saturday, June 30th, 1-4 pm.


I Love to Write About Real Estate, But This Week It’s Personal

By JIM SMITH, Citizen

I’m writing this week’s column from the woods near Kalispell, Montana, where we are visiting Rita’s sister and her husband. Although I usually write about real estate, that topic is not top of mind for me this week. Instead, I’m going to write about what’s really top of mind for me these days — Donald Trump and the decline and fall of the America in which Rita and I grew up.

I’m paying for this ad space personally. That’s why I removed all branding in the printed versions.  The opinions I express herein are not those of the brokerage I own and manage.  None of my broker associates were consulted about its content and I know that at least one would disagree with what I write below.

What’s really on my mind as Rita and I take this 10-day road trip to Boise, Seattle and now Kalispell, listening to the national news and conversing with friends and relatives, is the sad state of our republic.

Since I am also writing this on Father’s Day, I’m also thinking about my late father, Abbott Smith, an old-school proper New Englander to whom integrity was everything. I can still hear Dad saying, “Just because other people steal apples doesn’t make it right for you to steal apples.”  I got my values from him.

Dad would be appalled that we have a president who, under the tutelage of his one-time lawyer, Roy Cohn, practices the principle that if you tell a lie long enough people will believe it. Also, that you should never admit you’re wrong. (Google the two names together or click here to learn about Cohn’s influence on Trump.)

Rita and I left on our vacation about the time that President Trump negotiated with his “new friend” Kim Jung Un after insulting his fellow G-7 leaders, including the prime minister of our country’s strongest ally and trading partner, Canada.

It was clear to me years ago that Donald Trump is a narcissist and bully, whose only interest is self aggrandizement and self promotion, even when it violates the emoluments provision of our Constitution. My lifelong Republican father would be turning over in his grave if he knew not only what Donald Trump is doing and saying but, worse, how the elected members of the “Grand Old Party” — most of whom at one time proclaimed “Never Trump!” (Google that phrase or click here to read the very long list) — have snapped into line with Trump because they think that’s how they can maintain what’s most important to them — their re-election.

How much further down this road must America go? The President, who says that military exercises with South Korea were “costing us a fortune,” ordered a military parade that will cost millions of taxpayer dollars that would be better spent on almost anything else. He was inspired by a parade in France, but such parades are really the trademark of Russia, China, North Korea and other dictatorships.  What’s next?  Oversized wall-mounted portraits of him in Washington DC?

Rotary’s “4-Way Test”

Every Tuesday we begin our breakfast meeting at the Rotary Club of Golden by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by Rotary’s 4-Way Test. I can’t picture this president beginning cabinet meetings with this declaration of “the things we think, say or do”:

  • First, Is It the Truth?
  • Second, Is It Fair to All Concerned?
  • Third, Will It Build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
  • Fourth, Will It Be Beneficial to All Concerned?

 Try applying that test to such Trump policies as separating immigrant children from their parents, while falsely claiming the Democrats made him do it.   Or how about denying climate change and removing all use of that phrase from EPA documents on the subject? What about imposing tariffs on our closest trading partners, while claiming falsely that trade wars are “good” and “easy to win”?  It’s hard to think of any Trump policy for which any one of those four questions could be answered in the affirmative.

Well-intended policies often need to be reversed, but Trump, as taught by Roy Cohn, will never admit he’s wrong, so he allows bad policies to stay in place when they shouldn’t, just to avoid admitting a mistake.  That’s why he insists on keeping nonsensical campaign promises he made — such as bringing back coal, quitting the Paris Climate Accords, quitting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, exiting the Iran agreement, or abandoning NAFTA, among others.  (The list is pretty long!)

As offended as we have been by so many of this president’s words and deeds, we’re also saddened by the lack of an articulate opposition by both Democrats and those once-moderate never-Trump Republicans.

Also, as a professional journalist, I am saddened by the attacks on the mainstream media as the “enemy of the people” (a Stalinist term) and by the use of the phrase “fake news” to dismiss honest journalistic coverage. The complicity of Fox News in this process is disappointing to anyone who knows and appreciates real journalism.

So what can be done about this situation?  Below are two “modest proposals” that I’d like to advance.

A Couple Modest Proposals for Saving America

It’s easy to criticize President Trump and where he is leading us, but where are the proposals to remedy this situation? Here are mine.

The first is for the Democratic Party to create what the British Parliament has long had and which I learned about in the 7th and 8th grades — a “Shadow Cabinet.”  

Wikipedia describes this pillar of British government as follows:

The Shadow Cabinet is a feature of the Westminster system of government. It consists of a senior group of opposition spokespeople who, under the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition, form an alternative cabinet to that of the government, and whose members shadow or mirror the positions of each individual member of the Cabinet. It is the Shadow Cabinet’s responsibility to scrutinize the policies and actions of the government, as well to offer an alternative program.

In most countries, a member of the shadow cabinet is referred to as a Shadow Minister. In Canada, however, the term Opposition Critic is more common. In the United Kingdom’s House of Lords and in New Zealand, the term “spokesperson” is used instead of “shadow.”

I propose that the minority party (currently the Democratic Party) designate political leaders to serve as Shadow Secretaries for each Cabinet department.  (How cool would it be if they recited the 4-Way Test when they meet as a group?)  The Shadow EPA administrator could focus his or her attention on the unreported activities and pronouncements of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. The Shadow Secretary of Energy could monitor the actions and pronouncements of Secretary Rick Perry, and the Shadow Attorney General could do the same regarding Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And so forth for every other Cabinet member. Their press conferences would be covered, including by Fox News, and provide information which is currently only being provided by investigative reporters who are readily dismissed by the president as “fake news.”  Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi simply cannot provide this service or play this role. Good candidates for a current Shadow Cabinet would be former heads or deputies of those cabinet departments.

I wish the Republicans had had a Shadow Cabinet during the Obama administration for the same reasons.  All sides would benefit from the perspective provided by a Shadow Cabinet.  It would serve to keep the “real” Cabinet and the President honest.  The worst part of the current situation is how easily the President can dismiss investigative reporting that is critical of his administration. If, instead, the reporters were covering the informed statements of department experts, it wouldn’t be as convincing when that coverage is labeled “fake news.” 

My second proposal is that some newsworthy opponent of the current president (likely a Democrat) announce his or her candidacy for President now instead of next year. Doing so not only provides a mechanism for fundraising (which is working well for Trump), but it also makes it possible to have full-fledged rallies (also working well for Trump) that would garner coverage by all the media, providing yet another avenue for turning the mainstream media  into reporters covering newsmakers critical of the Trump administration instead of providing the analysis themselves, which has only made them vulnerable to charges of partisanship (aka “fake news”).

Lastly, I want to reiterate that these are my personal remarks and not those of my real estate brokerage or its broker associates. I’m not worried that speaking out on this subject will hurt my brokerage or me financially, but if it does, I am willing to pay that price, and I will understand if an agent wants to disassociate him or herself from what I have written and leave our brokerage. Our democracy, our country, our future as a nation are too important for me to remain silent any longer about this president, his denial of climate change, his assault on the free press, and his total disregard for telling the truth.


Here’s Why You Should Not Sell Your House Without Putting It on the Market

Real_Estate_Today_bylineImagine the heartbreak. You’ve been waiting for a home in a particular neighborhood that backs to open space. There are very few of them. Your agent has set up an MLS alert so you’ll be notified the minute such a home goes on the market.

One day you get an MLS alert — your dream house was just listed! Two minutes later, before you can even call your agent to schedule a showing, you get a second alert that it’s under contract. Then, two minutes later, a third alert that it’s sold. What happened?

It’s simple. Listings can only be entered on the MLS as “Active” and then changed to “Under Contract” and “Sold.”  Apparently a buyer’s agent had convinced the homeowner to sell their home for $925,000. The seller agreed. After all, the county assessor’s most recent valuation was $924,138, and the seller purchased the home in 1997 for $343,400.  A tidy capital gain indeed!

But it’s not that simple.  That assessor’s valuation was as of June 2016 — two years ago!  Valuation software shows the home is worth up to $150,000 more today. Heck, even Zillow shows it as being worth $10,000 more.

Given the opportunity to see the home and submit competing offers, other buyers could well have driven the price over $1 million.

So it was a lose-lose — or should we say win-lose-lose? That buyer won, getting the home for less than it’s worth, but the seller and the would-be buyer both lost. And, oh yes, the buyer’s agent was rewarded with a big commission for convincing the seller to part with their home for what the county assessor said it was worth two years ago!  (This was an actual recent sale.)

Don’t let this happen to you.   A savvy seller would treat an unsolicited offer to buy their home as the “opening bid.” Professional agents, like the ones at Golden Real Estate, would analyze the market and help you determine your initial asking price.  Our approach is to list homes at a price that attracts the greatest number of qualified prospective buyers. Using this ad space and other media, we expose our listings to the widest possible market.  In short, we do exactly what buyer’s agents hope you won’t do – work diligently to give sellers the best opportunity to benefit from the current sellers’ market.

The scenario described above has contributed to the limited inventory of active listings.   As I wrote in my March 22 column (download-able at, homes that are on the MLS between one and four days sell for much more than those at zero days.  Experience has shown us that 4 days on market is the “sweet spot,” where, with a solid pricing strategy and effective marketing (like that offered by Golden Real Estate), potential buyers are given the best opportunity to find, view and make an offer on your home.

The following chart (source: REcolorado) shows the ratio of sold price to list price for listings sold since Jan. 1, 2018:

1 Day on Market  =  102.0%

2 Days on Market  =  102.2%

3 Days on Market  =  102.2%

4 Days on Market  =  102.3%

5 Days on Market  =  102.2%

6 Days on Market  =  101.5%

7 Days on Market  =  100.5%

8 Days on Market  =  100.0%

9 Days or longer  =  Under 100%.

Of course, there can be legitimate reasons for a property to be sold without being put on the market, such as selling to a relative or friend, but any arm’s length transaction really should be put on the market. Otherwise, you could be leaving money on the table.


Charming Lakewood Tudor Near Belmar & O’Kane Park Just Listed by Chuck Brown

DSC_0463.JPGThis brick Tudor at 6585 W. 2nd Ave. will win the heart of any fan of great architecture.  Built in 1945, it has its own well for both irrigation and household use — a great savings over public water. The entire second floor is a fabulous master suite. The basement is a mother-in-law suite with its own entrance and kitchen. The roof is new (2017) and the home is updated with brand new (2018) electrical service, central air conditioning, furnace, water heater and well pump. It has a detached 2-car garage. The location is great, too — on a quiet street close to Belmar and 6th Avenue expressway, and 1/2 block from O’Kane Park.  For a narrated video tour of this great home, inside and out, visit its website at Then call Chuck at 303-885-7855 for a private showing. Open Saturday, June 16th, 11 to 2. Listed at $430,000.