Just Listed: Applewood Home With Walkout Basement

DSC_0222The seller of this brick ranch at 1835 Union Drive is the original owner. They built it in 1960! Most buyers will probably think of this largely unimproved home as a fixer-upper, but it has great bones, including hardwood floors that have been protected for 58 years by wall-to-wall carpeting. The attached garage does not have direct access into the house, requiring a 25-foot walk to the front door of the house. The old trees have been removed from the large backyard, leaving a grassy “blank canvas” for your landscaping ideas. You’ll love this quiet Applewood neighborhood. You can see more pictures and take a narrated video tour of this home at www.ApplewoodHome.info, then come to our open house on Sunday, April 22nd, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Or call your agent or me at 303-525-1851 for a private showing.  Listed at $495,000.


Buyers Save a Little on Property Tax When Buying a Long-Held Home from Seniors

Real_Estate_Today_bylineAs homeowners 65 and over well know, they get a discount on their home’s property taxes once they have lived in their home for at least 10 years.  It’s called the “senior property tax exemption.”  For those who qualify, 50% of the first $200,000 in actual value of their primary residence is exempted from property taxation.  At 100 mills, that’s worth $720. Rita and I have been in our current house for six years, so we can look forward to saving about that much on our property taxes if we stay put for another 4 years – and if the state legislature continues to fund it, as I’ll explain below.

A veteran who has been deemed permanently disabled by the VA enjoys that same discount, but isn’t subject to that 10-year rule. He/she only has to have owned and lived in the house on Jan. 1st of the tax year. There is also a little-known program by which qualified seniors and veterans can defer the payment of property taxes. Under that program, the state of Colorado pays your local property taxes, creating a lien against your home for the deferred amount, which is paid off like any lien when the house is eventually sold.  Conditions apply, of course, which you can read by Googling “Colorado senior property tax exemption,” as I did.

What you may not know is that any buyer, irrespective of age, enjoys that same property tax exemption for their first calendar year in a home they purchase from a senior citizen who earned that discount.

My new listing (below) brought this topic to mind. The sellers, who are over 65, paid only $1,221 in property tax last year, and the property tax bill will probably be the same for this year’s property taxes, which are payable in April 2019. Whoever buys the home in the next month or so will enjoy that senior property tax exemption next April and won’t begin paying the full property tax amount until 2020. The reason for this mini-windfall is that state law specifies that the exemption only requires that an eligible senior owned and lived in the house on Jan. 1st of the tax year.

Something else you may not know is that this property tax exemption does not cost the county or other local tax jurisdictions a penny. The state reimburses the jurisdictions for the discount given to qualified seniors. After making their annual revenue and expense estimates, the state legislature determines how much of a discount qualified seniors will earn. It wasn’t funded in 2009, 2010 and 2011, but it was restored in 2012 and remains in effect. Because the state’s balance sheet is expected to look good for the coming year, there’s certainly reason for optimism.

My only complaint with the senior property tax exemption is that it requires 10 years’ ownership of a home before seniors quality. This poses a disincentive to downsizing, which often makes sense for seniors, especially after one of them has died.


Buyers Need to Understand the Scope of the Inspection Process

App_LogoOne of the first orders of business for any buyer upon going under contract is to hire a professional home inspector. For us to add an inspector to our list of preferred vendors, we have several criteria. We require their reports to be in narrative format, versus a simple checklist. Digital photos documenting each issue discovered during the inspection should be included next to that item. We expect inspectors to have appropriate carbon monoxide and moisture detection equipment, and we like to see them employ an infrared camera, which helps to determine the quality of insulation and weatherization.  Click on the image above left to download our smartphone app, which includes several home inspectors. 

We recommend to our buyers that they schedule the inspection well before the inspection objection deadline in the contract.  We do this so that secondary inspections can be scheduled and the results obtained prior to the deadline. For example, the inspector may suspect the presence of mold and recommend a mold inspection. Inspections by electricians, plumbers, or structural engineers might also be recommended. Because these secondary inspections cannot always be completed quickly,  an extension of the inspection objection deadline might be necessary, something most sellers consent to when well reasoned.

Buyers should also consider testing for radon and having the home’s sewer line “scoped.”  Typical cost for each of these inspections is $100-$150. Radon, the presence of which can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood (and even house to house) is a naturally occurring gas that has been linked to lung cancer.  Proper testing for radon requires 48 hours.

Sewer lines in older homes are often made of clay pipe and are prone to root intrusion and collapse.  A sewer scope can usually be completed in an hour.


Just Listed: Immaculate Brick Ranch South of Belmar

DJI_0008.JPGThis meticulously cared for home at 8324 W. Arkansas Ave. has a number of well documented improvements, inside and out. The landscaping is eco-friendly and well maintained. The home is within walking distance of Belmar Park, and downtown Denver is easily accessible by car. Grocery stores and many big box stores are minutes away in Belmar. Blessed with friendly neighbors, the home is located in a quiet neighborhood, on a lightly-traveled side street. The sellers, who have lived in this home for 32 years, have continued making improvements throughout the years. You’ll love the hardwood floors, the enclosed patio and the beautiful back yard. The extra deep garage has a great workshop area, too. Solatubes bring sunlight into the heart of the main floor, and the dramatic wall colors give the home a warm, comfortable feel.  You can enjoy a virtual experience of this home by watching the narrated video tour I created at www.LakewoodHome.info. Call your agent or me for a private showing, or come to our open house this Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Listed at $398,000.


Fixer-Upper in Southwest Denver Is Across From Greenbelt

View from W Mesico AveThis brick bungalow at 1696 S. Tennyson Street has been neglected for a while, both inside and out, but has good bones and offers great potential appreciation to the right buyer. It has hardwood floors, a high-efficiency Rheem furnace and newer Rheem gas water heater, and a matching oversized 2-car detached garage with lots of electrical outlets and lighting, both natural and fluorescent. All appliances in the eat-in kitchen are included. The location is great, being across from the Sanderson Gulch greenbelt and trail. Visit www.DenverFixerUpper.info for a narrated video tour of this home inside and out, then call your agent or me at 303-525-1851 for a private showing!  Or come to the open house this Saturday, 11am to  2pm.  Listed for $338,000.


What If Sellers and Their Agents Don’t Disclose Known Defects to Their Listings?

Real_Estate_Today_bylineLast week I got a call from a reader who sold a house with structural defects last year, defects he had properly disclosed. He was concerned because he thought the current seller might not be disclosing those same defects to prospective buyers.  He feared that the seller had simply covered up the defects when he finished the basement, hiding them from unsuspecting buyers.



What safeguards are in place to protect buyers from being sold a home with undisclosed defects?  The primary safeguard, of course, is basic honesty — that most sellers and agents are forthcoming, as I’ve found, when it comes to disclosing defects. Another is that the listing agent could lose his real estate license if it can be proven that he or she conspired in failing to disclose a major defect.  Unfortunately, should you purchase a property directly from a seller who is not himself a licensed agent, you don’t have that same protection.

A buyer’s recourse against an unlicensed seller for failing to disclose a defect is civil in nature. The buyer would have to sue the seller and rely on a judge or jury to decide in his favor and rule that the seller must provide compensation for their deceit.  Even if successful, though, the buyer still has to deal with the defect, which can be a hassle.  And what if they’re not successful?   Well, along with having to fund the repair of the defect themselves, they’re out whatever time and money it took to work their way through the court system.  On the other hand, it costs virtually nothing for that buyer to seek damages from a licensed agent: just go to the Colorado Real Estate Division’s website and fill out an online complaint.

My personal experience is that both sellers and their agents have been forthcoming in disclosing known property defects using the very detailed Sellers Property Disclosure form provided by the Colorado Real Estate Commission.

This January, a simplified version of the disclosure was issued, and some agents, including myself, are not entirely pleased with it.

Old_SPD_formPrior to January 1st, the Sellers Property Disclosure asked sellers to answer “Yes,” “No,” “Do Not Know” or “N/A” to each item, as shown on the disclosure at right from one of my own transactions.

The Sellers Property Disclosure that all listing agents were required to begin using on January 1, 2018 asks only whether there is (or was) a problem, but doesn’t provide an opportunity for the seller to affirm that there is no problem.  Below is the same section of the new disclosure as completed by the seller of one of my 2018 listings.

New_SPD_formWhat was nice about the previous version was that it required an answer to every item, even if that answer was “do not know” or “not applicable.” I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that if there were to be a civil trial over a failure to disclose a known defect, it would be more convincing to show that the seller answered incorrectly rather than simply remained silent on the issue at hand.

One reason agents are unhappy with the new form is that there will often be entire pages of the form with no checkmarks at all, raising the question of whether the seller even completed the form.

Despite this development, you can be comfortable with the fact that listing agents and their clients take seriously their responsibility of disclosing all material facts about a property. The next time someone compares real estate agents to used car salesmen, you can tell them it’s a bogus comparison. Failure to disclose a used car’s defects isn’t a crime.


Just Listed by Kristi Brunel: A Unique 7-Bedroom Home in Arvada

Streetview    A unique buyer opportunity in The Ridge at Harvest Lane, this Arvada home at 7587 Union Court has served as a residential assisted living group home for the past 10 years. (Neighboring houses are all single family.) Whether continuing with assisted living, a group home, multi-family/multi-generational living, or something else, this versatile property offers a tremendous opportunity! This home features 4,203 square feet, 7 bedrooms including a main-floor master suite, plus a loft, 4 full or 3/4 bathrooms, spacious living spaces on the main floor and walkout basement, and plenty of outdoor space on this 0.28-acre corner lot. Stop by the open house on Sunday, April 8th, from 10-2 to see for yourself!  Because this home was licensed for a group home, it has exceptional safety features, including fire sprinklers and alarm system, which could reduce your homeowner’s insurance if you make it a private home. The home is also fully handicapped accessible, including a ramp to enter the home, fully accessible bathrooms, and even a stair elevator between the first floor (which has 3 bedrooms) and the basement (which has 4 bedrooms). Lots of furniture and equipment is included.  You can view interior pictures plus a narrated video tour at www.ArvadaHome.info, then call Kristi Brunel for a private showing at 303 525-2520.