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

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 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 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 Call David for more information. 303-908-4835. Open Sat. & Sun., July 15 & 16, 1-3 pm.  LISTED AT $290,000.


Tune in to Golden Real Estate’s Show on KHOW Starting Saturday

As an exteJim at KHOW microphonension of Jim Smith’s YourHub real estate column, Golden Real Estate is launching its own weekly radio program every Saturday at 3 p.m. on KHOW (AM 630), starting July 15th. It was supposed to start last Saturday, July 8th, but a programming glitch caused the one-week delay. 

Jim Smith will be the host of this program, which will typically consist of two or three segments, at least one of which will be an extension of that Thursday’s column topics. Typically, he’ll be joined by one or more of our broker associates plus relevant guests. This week’s guests are Denis Hayes, the co-founder of Earth Day, Bill Lucas-Brown of GB3 Energy, and Andrew Sams of Alpine Building Performance LLC speaking about how to make your home more energy efficient. It will be a live program, and we’ll take phone calls from listeners. Information and links for speakers and topics is at


Join Us in Celebrating Golden Real Estate’s 10th Anniversary!

Golden Real Estate was incorporated on July 7, 2007, which means that this is our 10th Anniversary. Mark your calendar for Friday, July 14th, 5-8 pm, when we’ll be throwing a party for clients, supporters and you, our readers, in our South Golden Road parking lot with live music and free food. Broker associate Jim Swanson and his Lakeside Doublewide band will entertain us. Tequila’s Mexican Family Restaurant will cater the event.  I hope you’ll join us!


Golden Real Estate Has a Phone-In Show Saturday at 3pm on KHOW

By JIM SMITH, Realtor®

As an extension of my YourHub column, Golden Real Estate is launching its own weekly radio prKHOW logoogram, “Real Estate Today,” every Saturday at 3 p.m. on KHOW (AM 630), starting July 8th.  I’ll be the host of this program, which will typically consist of two or three segments, at least one of which will be an extension of the previous Thursday’s column topic. Typically, I’ll be joined by one or more of our broker associates plus relevant guests such as inspectors, lenders, appraisers, etc.

On AM 760 with Barry & RobinIt will be a live program, and we’ll take phone calls from listeners. In the picture, I’m shown on Barry Miller’s program a couple years ago (before I lost 25 pounds!) talking about real estate and answering listeners’ questions.

For our inaugural program, I’ll have one or more guests who were present at the founding of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 1977, when it was called the Solar Research Institute.  We’ll discuss not only NREL’s contribution to the “New Energy Economy” but also about how homeowners (or tenants) can make their own homes more energy efficient, saving money while reducing their “carbon footprint.”

Close-up of yard signAs you may know, Golden Real Estate has been honored for its sustainable practices and commitment to energy efficiency.  Indeed, our “for sale” signs (left) have two slogans on them, one of which is “Promoting and Modeling Environmental Responsibility.”  We have done that by installing 20 kilowatts of solar capacity at our South Golden Road office, by installing Velux sun tunnels to bring daylight into our office, and by super-insulating our building so that it costs far less to heat and cool than it did when we bought it 10 years ago.  With all the excess electricity from our solar panels, we are able to charge our own electric cars as well as offer free charging to the public at two ChargePoint stations in our parking lot.

Styrofoam_corralWe also accept block white polystyrene (aka “Styrofoam”) for recycling, keeping over 200 cubic yards of that material out of landfills every year.  Drop off yours 24/7 at the “Styrofoam Corral” located behind our South Golden Road office.