Arvada Ranch Has Tons of Natural Light

5194 Bristol Street.JPGThis ranch-style home at  5194 Bristol Street is in the Blue Hills Estates subdivision west of Drake Middle School. Built in 1979, the seller is the original owner, and the pride of ownership is evident throughout. The original cedar siding has been replaced with fiber cement siding and freshly painted. Five large skylights bring sunlight into the family room, kitchen and the interior bathroom. The large family room has a vaulted ceiling with 3 skylights and a wood-burning fireplace with brick hearth and chimney. The covered front porch has a rich brick floor. The backyard features mature blue spruce, ponderosa pine and other evergreens. The high-efficiency furnace has both an electronic air filter and high-end Aprilaire steam humidifier. See more photographs and take a narrated video tour at I’m holding it open on Sunday, July 15th, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Listed at $448,000.


What Are the Implications When a Buyer Waives Appraisal in a Bidding War?

Real_Estate_Today_bylineWhen a home is priced at or below its likely selling price based on recent sales of comparable homes, there’s a good chance in this seller’s market that multiple offers could bid it up, possibly above the value an appraiser might give it. So what happens then?

Fortunately, I can report that the homes I have sold above the value suggested by comparable sales have not, as a rule, had trouble appraising for the contract price. Showing the appraiser the multiple offers that were received can demonstrate real-world market value. Without seeing those competing offers, the appraiser might determine that the buyer paid more than they should have. The presence of multiple, nearly equal offers gives appraisers an important tool for justifying value in our rising market.

Whenever a purchase is financed by a lender, there will be an appraisal. Lenders require them to make sure they’re not lending based on an overstated valuation. That doesn’t mean that the buyer can’t waive appraisal objection and bring additional funds to cover the discrepancy between appraised value and contract price. The contract may or may not specify a limit to the size of discrepancy the buyer will cover. Regardless, it is important for the seller’s agent to ascertain that the buyer is able to bring that additional cash to the closing table.

If the buyer is borrowing 95% or more of the purchase price, one might ask whether bringing several thousand extra dollars to the closing table is possible. This is where it is advisable for the listing agent to interview the buyer’s lender — something we do regardless of the size of the down payment. Typically, a buyer who is putting down 20% or more of the purchase price is more likely to have available cash to cover an appraisal discrepancy.

With Golden Real Estate’s auction approach, which maximizes the purchase price for our sellers, it is not unusual for the final price to be well above what comparable sales might support.  And because one can never be certain that the appraiser will be impressed enough by the existence of those other competing offers to justify the contract price, it’s a good idea to ask that buyers cover some or all of any appraisal discrepancy and that they provide evidence of their ability to bring extra funds to closing for that purpose.

Few buyers start out offering to waive appraisal, but once the bidding enters a range that is considerably above an appraisal based solely on recent sales of comparable homes, the listing agent can and should encourage waiving of the appraisal objection by the highest bidders.

One should remember, however, that an offer to waive appraisal objection is not iron clad when a lender is involved, because the buyer can still terminate based on loan objection if the appraisal ordered by the lender comes in too low for the buyer’s comfort. I’ve witnessed the scenario where a buyer who has agreed to waive appraisal objection still threatens to terminate because of the low appraisal, at which point the seller offers to lower the price to keep the contract from falling (assuming he doesn’t have a backup contract).

This is not unlike when a buyer agrees to purchase a home “as is” and use the inspection deadline only to terminate, not to demand any repairs. That can be a hollow promise.  If, for example, the buyer decides to terminate because the furnace needs to be replaced, the seller is likely to say, “Wait! I’ll replace the furnace!” Why?  Because the seller now knows the furnace needs to be replaced and would have to disclose that fact to the next buyer. Indeed, when I’m representing a buyer in what appears to be a bidding war, I will suggest making our offer “as is” while advising the buyer that it doesn’t mean we can’t get serious items repaired. The only time this doesn’t work is when the seller has received a backup contract that’s more attractive than ours. I point out to my buyer that the seller might be happy to have him or her terminate so that back-up offer can become the primary contract.

These two areas — appraisal and inspection — require deft skill in order to navigate the negotiation process effectively — a good reason to employ an experienced listing agent like one of us at Golden Real Estate instead of trying the for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) approach. A good listing broker can definitely justify his or her commission both in getting a higher selling price and saving money through effective negotiation.


When Will Colorado Finally License Home Inspectors?

As I have mentioned before (in an article about ending regulation of HOA managers), Colorado is a “regulation-light” state, meaning that it will avoid regulating an industry without solid evidence that regulation benefits the public.

That attitude is, in part, why Colorado was the 49th state to regulate mortgage brokers when it did so in  2007, and is why the state still doesn’t regulate home inspectors. Currently, only 19 states do not license inspectors.

If it weren’t for the certification programs of two national trade associations, we would have no reasonable assurance of competence from the men and women who present themselves as “home inspectors.”

It’s amazing, given the value of the investment at risk, that anyone can offer their services as a home inspector without any experience and without taking even a single examination to determine their level competence. The inspector you hire could even be a felon, fresh out of prison, because there is no criminal background check required.

In addition, without regulation there is no requirement that home inspectors have the kind of “errors and omissions” (E&O) insurance that other professionals — including real estate agents — must carry. Without regulation there can be no requirement for continuing education classes, just as there is no requirement for training to become a home inspector.


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.