Don’t Miss the “Taste of Golden”

Taste-of-Golden-homebuttonThis coming Monday, Mar. 19th, 5-7:30 p.m. marks the return of this special event sponsored by the Golden Chamber of Commerce. Tickets are only available online at www.GoldenChamber.org.  Twenty restaurants, sweet shops, breweries and distilleries will be providing food and drink samples to ticket holders. Tickets are $30.  We’ll be there!

 

How Can Sellers Prepare for the Buyer’s Inspection? Here’s Some Practical Advice

Real_Estate_Today_byline   There are two schools of thought when it comes to whether sellers should look for and address possible inspection issues prior to putting their home on the market.

One school of thought recommends hiring a professional home inspector to do a full-blown pre-listing inspection and fixing problems that are bound to become inspection issues.

I subscribe to an alternative school of thought. When I meet with sellers, I look for what I call “eyesores” — issues that are likely to draw the negative attention of prospective buyers during a showing. This could be wall damage, old carpeting (especially shag), damaged countertops, peeling paint or excessively worn hardwood floors — any number of things that are indicative of deferred maintenance.  Here are some other things I recommend doing before putting your home on the market:

>  Remove and label (with tape) all window screens, and store them in the basement or garage. Wash all windows, inside and out.

>  Use one of our free box trucks to move unneeded items from your home and garage to storage, the Salvation Army, Habitat ReStore or the dump.  If you’re going to use a professional mover, put  items you’re going to keep but don’t currently need into a moving company’s POD rather than a storage unit.

>  Clean the carpets, replacing those which can’t be made presentable by cleaning.

>  After a walk-through, my staging consultant and I will make other suggestions as to repairs or improvements that will help your home to show better.

What I typically do not recommend is a major repair, or improvements that aren’t obviously required.  For example:

>  Do not replace undamaged countertops with slab granite or other surfaces that may be in vogue.

>  Do not replace a 15- or 20-year-old water heater that works fine, just because it might be considered beyond its useful life.

>  Do not add central air conditioning or solar panels or make other improvements.

>  Do not replace double-pane windows that show limited signs of vapor seal failure (minor condensation between the panes).

Behind these recommendations is a simple principle. You have everything to gain and little to lose by leaving undone those repairs or improvements which make little or no difference to the average buyer on his or her first visit to your home.

Imagine, for example, you have two windows with minor vapor seal leaks that end up in a buyer’s inspection objection notice. That objection will probably include other items, both major and minor.  Let’s say, for example, that your home’s radon level measured above the EPA action level of 4 pico-curies per liter and that your furnace is emitting carbon monoxide — a telltale sign that your furnace’s heat exchanger has a crack in it.

Mitigating radon will cost about $1,000. Replacing the furnace will cost $3,000 or more.  Replacing the two windows will cost about $1,000.

Here’s why you should not have replaced the windows before listing your home: you’re now in a position to offer, for example, to mitigate the radon and replace the furnace but not replace those windows with minor vapor seal leaks. If you had replaced those windows prior to putting your home on the market, you wouldn’t have been able to use them as a bargaining chip, which could save you the $1,000 cost of replacing them. Of course, this is but one example of how the agents at Golden Real Estate can help save you money.  The same principle applies to other points of negotiation that might have been lost by making repairs ahead of time.

Sometimes agents will recommend buying a home warranty policy prior to putting a home on the market.  A home warranty costs $300 or so and covers most appliances in the house if the appliance fails within the first year after closing. (Home warranties do have copayments for repairs, typically about $50.)

I like to hold back recommending a home warranty to use when responding to the inspection objection.  For example, the water heater is well beyond its useful life but working fine, and the buyer wants it replaced.  I can usually get the buyer to accept a home warranty, saving my seller several hundred dollars, versus replacing an appliance that is working just fine.

Other practical advice I give to sellers includes the following:

>  Replace the furnace filter and vacuum the interior of the furnace cabinet. This could forestall the inspector suggesting that the buyer require professional cleaning and servicing of the furnace.

>  Install downspout extenders so that water from your roof is diverted away from your foundation.

>  Replace all burned out light bulbs. Otherwise the inspector might question whether your light fixtures are working.

>  Apply silicone spray to your sliding doors so they operate smoothly and quietly.

¨  Imagine yourself as a prospective buyer who’s seeing your home for the first time, and pay special attention to first impressions.  This includes your front landscaping and especially your front door.  If the door or frame is weather beaten or badly faded, have it repainted or re-stained so it looks fresh and clean. If your doorbell or doorbell button is broken, fix it.

Andrew Lesko    I was assisted on this article by broker associate Andrew Lesko, who has additional suggestions regarding condos and townhomes, which are his specialty. You can reach him at 720-710-1000. Or visit his website detailing 30+ condo & townhome communities at www.GoldenTownhomes.com.

 

Price Reduced on Net Zero Energy Home Near DU

Murals    This 2008 home at 1960 S. Gilpin Street, near Denver University, was built to Passive House standards. It is super-insulated and solar-powered, generating more electricity than it consumes. It is grid-connected but with battery back-up so that it can function off-grid. The seller’s monthly bill from Xcel Energy is $5.89.  There is no gas meter and no furnace or air conditioner, because they are not needed. A solar thermal panel provides the home’s domestic hot water. You’ll like the main-floor master suite! And the location is great — four blocks to the light rail station, and four blocks to DU and the Ritchie Center. Wash Park is a short bike ride away, too! There are so many sustainable features to this house that you really need to watch the video tour at www.DenverPassiveHouse.com.  The price has just been reduced to $885,000. Come to our open house this Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Here’s a video of a recent 80-minute class on “Getting to Net Zero & Beyond” taught in the living room of this net zero home:

 

 

You May Want to Pay off Your Home Equity Line of Credit

One of the changes in the Trump tax reform legislation was to remove the tax deductibility of HELOCs — Home Equity Line of Credit loans.

My contact at US Bank tells me that their lawyers say the interest is still deductible, but only if the money from the loan was used for home improvement. I used a HELOC to pay for hail damage repairs to my home and car, so I’m guessing that the interest on it will not be deductible starting this year.  If this is confirmed, Rita and I are planning to pay it off as soon as possible. You may want to do the same.

Are You Interested in Urban Farming? Here’s an Introduction and an Opportunity

Real_Estate_Today_bylineAn increasingly popular aspect of living sustainably is to engage in “urban farming.” As shown in another post today, we have an urban farm listing in Lakewood, and in a couple weeks we’ll have a second urban farm listing in Arvada.

In light of these two listings, I asked an expert to enlighten you (and me) on this topic. Her name is Elizabeth Buckingham, and she writes a terrific blog, at www.FindingQuietFarm.com.

Here’s what she sent me on this topic:

By ELIZABETH BUCKINGHAM, Guest Columnist

Until the global economy collapsed a decade ago, my husband Nicholas and I were working on private yachts in some of the world’s most glamorous places. He was a deckhand and dive instructor, and I was a chef. We had spent years travelling, and when we returned to Colorado, where I was born and raised, we knew we wanted a little space around us. We found a charming 1960s home in midtown Arvada on about one-fifth acre. In addition to built-in bookshelves and a wood-burning stove, the yard had mature, leafy trees and plenty of space for extensive vegetable and herb gardens, a chicken coop with run, and a beehive.

We’ve spent the past eight years building an exceptionally productive urban farm. Our largest vegetable plot benefits from variable shade; we use it for greens, such as lettuce, kale and spinach, plus garlic and Egyptian walking onions. The northern third, up against the shed, collects quite a bit more sun, so we often plant staked runner beans and eggplant there. The soil in this in-ground plot was in decent shape, but every year we amend it generously with mulch from our leaves and compost that we make ourselves along our southern fence. Whether in a backyard garden or a farm, soil is by far the most important component – it’s essential to take good care of it.

The shaded garden plot was useful, but we needed space for heat-loving summer vegetables, like tomatoes and peppers. Nicholas built two large raised beds, which we filled with a mixture of lush organic soil and worm-rich compost. The beds are light, loamy and easy to grow in. We also constructed five smaller raised beds, ideal for squash, potatoes, peas and flowers, and we’ve planted raspberry bushes and perennial herb beds, including sage, English thyme, oregano, chives, lovage and mint. Every year, we harvest hundreds of pounds of organic food from our backyard.

chickens2Nicholas repurposed some beautiful redwood and built a secure chicken house and run. Instead of flimsy, inexpensive chicken wire, which a hungry raccoon can easily pry open, he used heavy-duty hardware cloth – and buried it nearly twelve inches underground to deter digging predators. Thanks to its solid construction, we never lost a bird to predation, which is the major risk to chickens in an urban area. The hen house itself is thoroughly insulated, eliminating any need for dangerous heat lamps which can kill chickens and burn down structures. Backyard chickens are easy to keep; they need protection from the sun and predators, plenty of fresh water and good-quality food and a clean, safe place to nest and sleep. The eggs are unparalleled.

BeehivesTo bring more beneficial pollinators not only to our garden but also to the surrounding area, we also installed a Langstroth beehive. The bees have overwintered successfully for three seasons and each fall they provide us with about fifty pounds of our own local honey. They’re fascinating to watch, improve pollination in our crops as well as those nearby, and maintaining a beehive doesn’t take much work.

Soon we plan to relocate to a much larger piece of agricultural land, where we’ll start a small organic teaching farm focused on sharing our knowledge with others. We want to encourage everyone to pay attention to where your food comes from and to grow and cook as much of your own food as you can. It’s not as hard as you think, and you’ll be amazed at how much food you can grow and how much money you can save. And it can be done even in an urban area! For more about our journey, please visit www.FindingQuietFarm.com.

Here are more resources where readers can learn more about all aspects of urban farming:

www.Echters.com

http://www.FleischerFamilyFarm.com

http://www.TheGrowHaus.org

http://www.SlowFoodDenver.org

http://www.ColoradoBeekeepers.org

Learn More About Urban Farming

Does urban farming make sense for you? Find out this Saturday by attending a 90-minute class taught by Elizabeth Buckingham in the living room of our Lakewood urban farm listing. The fee is only $10. You can RSVP at Jim@GoldenRealEstate.com. or by calling Chuck at 303-885-7855. The class starts at 1pm on Sat., Mar. 3rd, at 2665 S. Eaton Place. You don’t have to be interested in buying this home to attend this informative class on urban farming.

 

Just Listed: An “Urban Farm” Home in South Lakewood

2665 S Eaton Place

Broker Associate Chuck Brown has just listed this solar-powered home at 2665 S. Eaton Place in Lakewood for $650,000. If it looks a little overgrown in this photo taken last summer, watch the three video tours at www.LakewoodUrbanFarm.info. At that website you’ll find two narrated video tours, because the tour of the gardens alone, led by the seller herself, took 24 minutes!  The video tour of the interior is much shorter.  A third video gives an aerial view of the home and its surroundings. The house has four bedrooms and 3½ baths spanning 3,175 above-grade square feet, plus an unfinished 1,703-sq.ft. garden-level basement. Built in 1996, it is in the Thraemoor subdivision, but, unlike other homes in that subdivision, the front, south and rear yards are devoted to providing year-round food for the owners.  This home will be the venue for a class on urban farming this Saturday, March 3rd, 1:00 to 3:00 pm,, which will include a seller-led tour of the gardens themselves. The house itself will be open for touring the following day, Sunday, March 4th, 1 to 3 pm. Call Chuck at 303-885-7855 to reserve a seat at the urban farming class or for more info.