Readers Say I Could Write a Book on Real Estate. Perhaps I Already Have!

 Real_Estate_Today_bylineI have been writing this weekly column for over a decade. The last 5 years are archived at http://www.  JimSmithColumns. com. Below are some of the topics I wrote about going back to December 2011, in case you’d like to look for any.  Each column has a link so you can download it.  I have highlighted in bold the more popular ones.

What’s a “Material Fact” That Needs to Be Disclosed by Sellers and Agents?

How Many Square Feet Is Your Home?It Depends on the Website

How to Avoid the Most Common Real Estate Mistakes

How Should You Respond to an Offer to Buy Your Home Without Listing It?

My Favorite Sustainable Practices and Home Improvements

Beware the Less Obvious Costs of Ownership When You Buy a Home

What Is Your Capital Gains Tax Liability When You Sell Your Home?

You’ve Heard About Geothermal Heating, But How Does It Work, Anyway?

Do You Have Tenant-Occupied Property? Here’s Advice for Selling It

Post-Closing Occupancy Agreements Can Work for Both Buyers and Sellers

How to Appeal the County Assessor’s Valuation of Your Home

Selling a Home on the 1st or 2nd Day (or Without Listing It) Just Isn’t Smart

First-Time Buyers & Veterans Buying a Home May Be Overlooking a Huge Tax Benefit

When the Fed Raises Interest Rate, Do Mortgage Rates Increase?

What You Need to Know About Buying a New Home from a Builder

How to Find the Right Mortgage Professional

How Do Credit Scores Affect Mortgage Interest Rates?

Dealing With Real Estate Can Be Overwhelming for Senior Citizens

Where Should Zillow Fit Into Your Home Search Process?

What’s the Difference Between a Condo and a Townhome?

The Trend Continues: Winter May Be the Easiest Time to Sell Your Home

Millennials Want to Buy, But They Think It’s Harder Than It Really Is

Some Measures You Can Take to Re-duce Your Winter Energy Bill

Should Sellers Wait for Spring to List Their Homes on the MLS?

HOAs Are Supposed to Serve Members, But Are Often Reviled

Is Your Neighborhood Literally Going to Pot?  Will It Only Get Worse?

For Homeowners Over 62, a Reverse Mortgage Could Make Sense

HOA Transfer Fees Can Be Excessive & They Benefit the Management Company, Not the HOA

Why Should Buyers Even Look for Homes When Inventory Is So Low?

Did You Know? The ‘Grace’ Period on Your Mortgage Payment Isn’t Free

Who Pays for What When You Buy or Sell Real Estate?  It’s All Negotiable

Metro Area Property Tax Rates Vary Much More Than You Might Realize

House Hunting? How Do You Find a Home That Fits Your Lifestyle?

‘High Performance’ Homes Go Far Beyond Energy Efficiency & Solar Power

What Are the Services You Can and Should Expect an Agent to Perform?

Thinking of Becoming a Realtor? You Might Think Twice Based on This Survey

Considering Solar? We Can Help You Sort Through the Financing Options

What Is a Buyer’s Recourse When the Seller Fails to Disclose a Known  Serious Defect?

Here Are Some of the Common Pricing Mistakes Made by Sellers and Their Listing Agents

What Is a “Variable Commission” and Why Should Sellers Demand It?

Whose Side Is Your “Agent” On?  What You Need to Know About Agency Laws in Colorado

Did Your Listing Agent Find Your Buyer?  He Might Have Been Acting in His Best Interest and Not Yours

Some Listing Agents Seem Confused About How to Handle Multiple Offers

Higher Property Values Mean Higher Property Taxes, But Doesn’t That Conflict With TABOR?

Why Sellers Should Want Multiple Offers and How to Get Them

Colorado’s Property Tax System Makes It Costly to Keep Vacant Land Vacant

Questions to Ask When Interviewing a  Realtor About Listing Your Home

Cheap Electricity From Renewables Is Revolutionizing the Utility Industry

Here’s Some Different Advice for Buyers and Sellers in the Current Market

Chart Demonstrates Our Seller’s Market — More Sales from Fewer Listings

As a Listing Agent, I Used to Think Buyer Agents Were Overpaid, But Not Anymore

Understanding the Resale Value of Roof-Top Solar Installations

Understanding Real Estate Property Taxes and Why They Vary So Much

Some Pros and Cons of Buying and Selling During the Holiday Season

Here’s Some of What I Learned at the Realtor Convention/Expo

Deciding When It’s Time to Downsize Is a Very Personal Decision

What Is the Value of Hiring a Realtor When You Can Sell Your Home Without One?

Is Your Denver Area Home Listed on the Right MLS?  Here’s What You Need to Know

It Can Be Quite Stressful to Buy a Home When You Have to Sell One First

Everyone Has a Friend or Relative in Real Estate, But Should You Use Him or Her?

In Our Internet-Connected Marketplace, What’s the Role of Realtors Now?

A Familiar Challenge: Mom & Dad Need to Go to Assisted Living

Social Media Can Supercharge the Marketing of Real Estate Listings

You’d Be Surprised How Many Agents Compete for Your Business

In Greening Your Home, Where Do You Get the Most Bang for Your Buck?

Realtor Association Says “Marginal Agents Threaten Industry”

What Is Marijuana’s Impact on the Real Estate Market

What Can You Do If You Don’t Have the Money for a Down Payment?

Here’s Your Guide to Appealing the Assessor’s Valuation of Your Home

What’s Your Home’s Value?  Assessor, Zillow & Others Differ Widely

A Seller’s Market Is the Worst Time to Try “For Sale by Owner”

How Should a Seller (and Listing Agent) Handle Multiple Competing Offers?

It Takes Courage (and a Good Realtor) to Sell One House & Buy Another

Fifty Shades of Green: Big & Small Ways for You to “Go Green”

Explaining the Inspection Objection and Resolution Process

Mortgage Lending Gets More Challenging All the Time; Here’s the Latest

The Senior Property Tax Exemption Explained

More Than Ever, Overpriced Homes Sell for Less Than Underpriced Ones

Realtor Association Moves to Increase Realtors’ Professionalism and Skills

Sellers Risk Losing Out If They Sell Without Putting Home on MLS

Buyers Often Pay More Than They Should (in fees) When Buying a Home

Did You Know? You Don’t Need a Roof to Benefit from Solar Power

Buying That First Home May Not Be as Impossible as You Might Believe

Negotiating Multiple Offers Can & Probably Should Resemble an Auction

How Much Does Landscaping Help to Sell a Home?

Pros & Cons of Listing Your Home for Sale During the Holiday Season

Have You Wondered Why Some Homes Don’t Sell, Even in a Seller’s Market?

The Press, With Limited Understanding of Real Estate, Is Easily Manipulated

Did You Have a Bad Real Estate Experience? Here Are Some Actions You Can Take

What Owners of Pre-1978 Homes Need to Know About Lead Based Paint

What You Can & Should Accomplish From Inspecting the Home You Buy

 The Top 5 Reasons Homes Don’t Sell, Even in Today’s Seller’s Market

Should You Remodel Your Home or Buy a New One?

“Why Isn’t My House Selling”  Consider Your Selection of Listing Agent

“All My Agent Did Was Put a Sign in the Ground and Wait for It to Sell.”

Buyers Can Now Get Email Alerts About New Listings Within 15 Minutes

Fear of Homelessness Continues to Keep Sellers From Listing Their Homes

Sellers Often Ignore Their Own Self-Interest in Selecting a Listing Agent

Remodeling? Let Habitat for Humanity Do the Demolition

Here Are Some Ways Real Estate Agents Can Save Money — at Your Expense

HDR Imaging—Raising the Bar on Real Estate’s #1 Tool, Photography

Sellers Ask Themselves: Should I Sell Now, or Wait for the “Selling Season”?

Sure, You Can Sell Your Current Home, But Can You Find a New One?

Do Pocket Listings Make Sense in the Current Real Estate Market?

Your Home’s Under Contract — Now What Should Your Do & Expect?

‘Credit Repair’ Services Can Actually Lower Your Credit Score, Not Raise It

18 Questions to Ask When Interviewing an Agent to List Your Home

New to Colorado? Most Real Estate Transactions Here Are Lawyer-Free

Trulia & Zillow Are Great, But Not for Finding Homes Actually for Sale

Metropolitan Tax Districts Add Hidden Cost to the Price of Many Homes

Here Are Some Questions That Buyers and Sellers Have About Closings

Think Real Estate Agents Are Overpaid? Much of the Time We Work for Free

You Can’t Underprice a Home, But You Can Still Overprice It in This Market

Mold – The Hidden Danger in Homes and What You Need to Know About It

How Buyers Can Make Their Offers More Attractive Than Competing Offers

An Unwary Buyer Could Be Blindsided at Closing and Lose Earnest Money

The #1 Mistake of Sellers: Not Checking Their Home’s Online Presence

Homeowner Associations: Good or Bad? Here Are Some Points to Ponder

What Are the Buyer & Seller Costs Associated With Buying or Selling a Home?

What Happens at a Real Estate Closing? Answers to Common Questions

Here Are My Favorite Easy Improvements When Moving Into a New Home

Look at How Much the Cost of Installing Solar PV on Your Home Has Dropped

Here’s My Take on Radon Gas in Your Home, Its Risks, and Its Mitigation

How to Respond to Agents Who Send You Letters or Ring Your Doorbell

National Press Reports Continue to Mislead & Confuse Local Buyers & Sellers

Yes, Virginia, You Can Buy a Home with Less Than 20% Down Payment

 

Golden Real Estate Receives National Recognition

GRE_2c_logo     San Juan Capistrano – America’s Top 35 real estate firms based on service excellence are being honored for exceptional customer service satisfaction with an industry first, a QE Award (pronounced “Quie”) “that measures and independently verifies excellence in the delivery of the highest levels of customer satisfaction and service quality in real estate in North America,” according to Quality Service Certification, Inc. (QSC), creators of the award.

The 2017 QE Award recognizes the Top 5 Large Companies, the Top 10 Midsize Companies and the Top 20 Small Companies, spanning 22 states, from Florida to California and Minnesota to Texas, and includes some of the most respected independent and well-known national and regional brand names.

The 2017 QE Award is based upon the results of an independent survey limited solely to buyers and sellers who were in a real estate transaction that actually closed with participating real estate companies from January through December 2016. Quality Service Certification, Inc. and Leading Research Corporation administer the survey process to ensure that every past customer is surveyed, preventing agents or the company from interference or influence in any way.

Golden Real Estate, Inc. was named one of the top 20 small companies — one of only four in the state of Colorado.

“At a time when consumers seek transparency, greater accountability, and trusted information to help them make better, more informed decisions and choices, tens of thousands of service professionals are electing to participate in service assessment and feedback following every transaction, which is setting a better standard for excellence,” said Kevin C. Romito, President, Quality Service Certification, Inc.

 

How to Check Out Any Denver Real Estate Agent

Nowadays, you can learn a lot about an individual real estate professional simply by Googling his or her name, but one thing you may not know how to do is to check out their level of success. How many active listings do they have, and how many homes have they sold as either listing or buyer’s agent?

Well, I have made it a little easier for you by creating a shortcut to that information on Denver’s MLS, REcolorado.

Find_an_agent

Go to www.FindDenverRealtors.com, where you can enter the agent’s first and last name. Remember, the first name may be a nickname. For instance, I’m “Jim” on the REcolorado, but I’m “James” on my Colorado real estate license. You only need to enter their name, then “Enter.” The search defaults to agents who are Realtors (that is, members of the National Association of Realtors), but you can change it to search for “All Agents.”

Once you find your agent, you can click on “View My LiView_My_Listingsstings.”  If that doesn’t appear, then the agent has no listings, either active or sold.

Properties_I'm_SellingIt defaults to active and under contract listings, but you can click on “Properties I’ve Sold” which is a great way of seeing how experienced that agent is.

Map_ViewThen click on “Map View” so see the geographic distribution of that agent’s transactions. Have they sold any in your area?

Courtesy_GREHow many of their transactions were their own listings, and how many were buyer sides? Each sale displays the listing brokerage.  If the name of the brokerage is not the same as the agent’s brokerage, you know that agent was representing the buyer in that transaction.

View_My_ProfileLastly, be sure to click on “View My Profile,” too. You may learn a lot about the agent and their background. If there is no profile, that tells you something, too — that he or she isn’t diligent in managing their online presence.

 

Many Insurance Companies Have Raised Their Deductible for Hail Damage

Perhaps you werReal_Estate_Today_bylinee surprised, as I was, following the May 8th hail storm, to discover that your deductible for hail damage was higher than in the past. The last time I had a claim, the same insurance deductible ($1,000) was applied to all losses, but now I’m finding that a different deductible applies to hail claims.  My insurer is Liberty Mutual, and the deductible for hail is calculated at 0.5% of the replacement value of my home, capped at $2,500. Other insurers have even higher deductibles for hail.

For example, Belmar Commons, a community of 45 townhomes, has a master policy with a 2% deductible for hail losses, and the HOA had to impose a special “loss assessment” of over $5,600 per unit to cover their quarter-million-dollar insurance deductible. (Note: If you live in a condo or townhome community with a master insurance policy and purchase a “condo” policy, consider paying for a rider that covers such loss assessments — with its own deductible, of course!)

I’m told that “split deductibles” have been introduced over the past several years, with some companies applying different fixed deductibles for wind/hail losses vs. other losses, and others applying deductibles of up to 5% of the home’s valuation on such claims. If you’ve been with the same company for over 10 years, you probably have a policy without a higher deductible for hail, but if you change insurers thinking you’ll save on insurance, you may end up losing more than you save if you suffer a wind or hail loss in the future.

Many Coloradans saw an increase in their insurance premiums following the 2013 floods and the more recent wildfires, and we’ll quite likely see more increases because of this hail storm and other severe weather events, both past and projected.

It’s the nature of the insurance industry that the risk and cost of weather-related losses is spread out among all policy holders. So, just because you were not affected directly by the May 8th hail storm does not mean that you won’t pay a price for it and for other weather-related losses when your policy renews.

This should be a wake-up call for homeowners regarding the impact of climate change, and that impact goes beyond increases in insurance premiums. Earlier this month the Union of Concerned Scientists released a study concluding that within 20 years almost 200 coastal American cities may become unlivable due to chronic flooding caused by rising sea levels. Chronic flooding is defined as 26 or more flooding events per year — or one every two weeks.  When that becomes the norm, people start thinking about moving to higher, safer ground.

Climate change is also responsible for the increase in severe weather events such as tornadoes. I watch national news programs each night and am struck by how places like New England are now experiencing tornadoes and other weather events which I don’t recall happening when I lived there.

Yes, the premiums on homeowner’s insurance will increase, but consider for a moment the possible impact of more people moving to Colorado from cities which experience more flooding or other severe weather. People looking to move out of areas impacted by flooding, tornadoes or other weather-related catastrophes will be looking at the map for states with less flooding and severe weather. Fortunately, Colorado is blessed — for now — with fewer severe weather events than many other areas of the country.

I’ve always wondered why insurance companies “gave” us a new roof after a hail storm, even if the roof was already quite old.  This is different, say, from car insurance, where an insurer will “total” a car when the cost to repair the car exceeds a certain percentage of the book value of the car.

Insurers are already “depreciating” the value of wood shake roofs, meaning that they assign a certain “life span” to a wood shake roof — say, 15 years. If that roof is totaled, they will allow only its depreciated value instead of applying a deductible to the total cost of replacing it. If the roof is 15 years old, you might get very little — even though you’ve been paying a premium for having a roof that is considered a fire hazard.

Liberty Mutual paid an additional $7,000 to remove and reinstall the solar panels on my roof, even though I don’t pay a higher premium for those panels.  I hesitate to say it, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see insurance companies begin charging more for homes with solar panels to cover that cost.

We’ll be diving deeper into this subject on the “Golden Real Estate” show this Saturday at 3pm on AM 630 KHOW.  All our shows are streamed on Facebook Live, where they are also archived. Find them at Facebook.com/GoldenRealEstate1.

We’ll have insurance experts as guests and will also take your phone calls.

We’re Having a 10th Anniversary Party This Friday & You’re Invited!

By JIM SMITH, Broker/Owner

10th Anniversary bannerGolden Real Estate was incorporated in July 2007, which means that this is our 10th Anniversary. Join us this Friday, July 14th, 5-8 pm, when we’ll be throwing a party in our South Golden parking lot with live music and free food.

SONY DSCBroker associate Jim Swanson and his “Lakeside Doublewide“ band will entertain us, with three sets of your rock n roll favorites.

Over the past decade, Golden Real Estate has earned a well-deserved reputation for our commitment to energy efficiency, solar power, electric cars and sustainability in general. In 2010, the City of Golden honored us with their “Sustainability for Business Award.”  When you come on Friday, bring your white block Styrofoam for recycling!

Because of this reputation, our 10th Anniversary party will also be a mini-expo.  We’ve invited three of our favorite vendors to promote their services in front of our 20-kilowatt solar array.

Don Parker, the owner of Golden Solar, which installed our solar array, will be there to answer your questions about solar power and offer a free estimate on installing solar PV for you!

Bill Lucas-Brown, the owner of GB3 Energy, which did the super-insulation of our office, will explain that process and offer a free estimate on doing the same for your home or office.

Andrew Sams, the owner of Alpine Building Performance, LLC, is a home inspector with special training on energy efficiency. He also performs energy audits which we give to our buyers as a closing gift. He will be there to explain why you might want to have an energy audit of your home.

Lastly, John Avenson will be manning an informational table for the Metro Denver Green Homes Tour taking place on Oct. 7, 2017. It will be your chance to visit over a dozen “green” homes!

Model_XIn addition to those information tables, we’ll have a Car Show! On display will be four leading electric cars — 2017 models of the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt, Chevy Volt, and Tesla Model X, all open for you to touch, sit in and inspect!  Steve Stevens’ Model X will even put on a music-and-light show that you won’t believe!

Tequilas logoCome hungry, because Tequila’s Mexican Family Restaurant, will cater the event. And we’ll have carrot cake for dessert, with 10 candles on it!

Our thanks to another neighbor, First Presbyterian Church, located just north of our office, for providing the tables and chairs for this event and for opening their own parking lot for you to park in.

The Golden Chamber of Commerce will honor us with a 10th anniversary ribbon cutting at 5:30.  All in all, it should be a fun time, and we hope you’ll want to join us for it!

Rotary-Peaches-Poster-2017-FINAL-1As members of Golden Rotary, we’ll be taking orders for peaches at $37 per 20-lb. box, to be picked up at the Jeffco Fairgrounds on Aug. 19th. If you can’t come to our party, order them at www.GoldenRotaryPeaches.org/ This is a major annual fundraiser for Golden Rotary, netting funds for many charitable activities.

 

How Might You Respond to an Offer to Buy Your Home Off-Market?

Real_Estate_Today_bylineBecause of the low inventory of homes for sale, it’s not unusual for homeowners to receive offers to buy their home without putting it on the market. Sometimes it’s from a real estate broker, but other times it might be from an investor or an unrepresented buyer offering to save you the cost of paying a real estate commission.

Or perhaps you saw a sign like the one below offering to buy your home for cash.

Here’s some advice on handling these types of offers.

First, the real estate broker: It could be a ploy for getting a listing. Don’t fall for it! If interested, offer to allow a showing and pay only 2.8% commission, which is the typical co-op commission offered to buyer’s agents. If the agent produces a buyer and submits an offer, call me or another broker to ask our help. I can’t speak for other brokers, but I will give you a free opinion about the offered price and whether you might do better paying for your own representation. If you still want to accept the offer without listing your home, talk to me about helping you with the transaction for a reduced fee.

We_buy_house_signSecond, the investor: Whether the investor approaches you or you respond to his sign, just remember that he (or she) is not going to offer you market value. They’re in this business to make a profit — a big profit! On average they’re going to pay you 65% of what they expect to get when they “flip” your home with little or no improvement. Again, I’m available to help you determine the true market value of your home..

Third: the unrepresented buyer: This is a buyer who might actually be willing to pay fair market value or higher, but has been frustrated by the lack of inventory and is taking direct action to find a good home in a neighborhood they like. They are also thinking they can pay less for your home by saving you the expense of listing your home with an agent. Nevertheless, you do need professional representation. Real estate transactions are not as simple as you may think, with the state-mandated contract heavily weighted in favor of the buyer, not you. An agent can negotiate not only the price, but also inspection issues, appraisal issues, and more. My approach is to treat any offer to buy your home as the “opening bid” for your home. Even if you’re happy with the offered price, wouldn’t you like to get more?  If I can show you that you can net more by listing your home, I can, based on an analysis of comparable sales, help you counter that one buyer. If they don’t come up to what you and I agree is a reasonable offer, I might then suggest listing your home on the MLS using their offer as the listing price. If doing so doesn’t net you more money, you can then proceed with the original buyer’s best offer and I won’t charge you the higher commission for having put it on the MLS.

Although I have described how I personally might serve you in such scenarios, I suspect that a preferred broker, including one of our broker associates, would agree to similar arrangements with you.  Ask!

Two Arvada Homes Just Listed by Golden Real Estate

12039 W 52nd PlTired of shoveling snow and mowing the lawn? This large townhome at 12039 W. 52nd Pl. is located on a quiet street just two blocks from the soon-to-open Ward Road light rail station and half way between downtown Golden and Olde Town Arvada. The 2,802 square foot, 2-story layout with finished basement includes 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, and a 2-car garage. The entire top floor is a master suite which includes a fireplace, 5-piece master bath, and walk-in closet. The main floor consists of a large open-concept kitchen, living room with gas fireplace, dining area with a huge bay window, guest bedroom, laundry room and private outdoor patio. The basement features a family room, full bath, bedroom and storage area. Major updates include a new furnace, water heater, refrigerator, dishwasher and microwave. The HOA dues are $300 per month. Be sure to check out the narrated video tour at www.ArvadaHome.info or call Chuck Brown at 303-885-7855. Open Sat., July 15th, 1-4 pm.  LISTED AT $410,000.

Snapshot from videoThis is a beautiful and bright second-floor end unit with fabulous views of the mountains. Located at 5537 Lewis Court (unit 201) in the desirable Skyline Estates Condos, it has 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. It has a one-car attached garage plus abundant outdoor parking. The kitchen has granite counters, and the deck has a retractable awning. The living room has a fireplace, and this home is move-in ready. It is within walking distance of Stenger Soccer Complex, Apex Fieldhouse, Van Bibber trail, and Lutz baseball fields. It’s convenient to I-70 with easy access to Denver and the mountains. Take a narrated video tour at www.ArvadaHome.info. Call David for more information. 303-908-4835. Open Sat. & Sun., July 15 & 16, 1-3 pm.  LISTED AT $290,000.