2-BR Arvada Condo Just Listed by Debbi Hysmith

Be sure to check out this 2-bed/2-bath condo at 5585 W. 76th Ave. #102. This 1,104-sq.-ft. condo is on the first floor, with a kitchen that opens to a private patio. A gas fireplace is the focal point of the living room. The master bedroom includes a walk-in closet & master bath. The second bedroom is large enough to add a sitting area and has its own entrance to a full bath. Add your own washer and dryer to the laundry room and forget about having to leave your home to do laundry ever again! By following the private walkway through the Wood Creek community, you will find the gated pool. Visit www.ArvadaCondo.org for more pictures and a narrated video tour — just like an actual showing. Buyers, you will love this condo!

It was just listed at $250,000.  No open house. Call your agent or Debbi Hysmith at 720-936-2443 to set a showing.

Security Devices Could Allow Sellers to Eavesdrop on Buyers During Showings

The increasing prevalence of smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and security cameras inside and outside of homes, has introduced the possibility that sellers could be watching buyers and their agents and listening to what they say during showings.

The Colorado Real Estate Commission considers the privacy implications serious enough that this year’s annual update class for real estate brokers includes a section on legal jeopardy and practical advice.

Imagine, for example, that a buyer is overheard by a seller telling his/her broker, “I must have this home. I’ll pay whatever I have to!” The seller would immediately have an unfair negotiating advantage over the buyer.

The next time you are being shown a home, consider the very real possibility that the seller is parked nearby, watching and listening on his smartphone as you walk through the home, monitoring everything you and your agent say.

Although Colorado is a “one-party consent state,” meaning that only one party to a conversation needs to know it is being recorded, the implications of such technology are serious.

Given that people have rapidly embraced the use of internet-connected video and audio devices, enabling homeowners to monitor the goings-on in their homes, buyers and their agents would be well advised to minimize talk about the property and their level of interest during showings. Don’t count on being able to spot the devices. 

Also, to avoid possible breach-of-privacy litigation, sellers should consider disabling such devices when putting their homes on the market or, at a minimum, placing a notice on the front door advising visitors of the presence of monitoring devices that might be active.

Rita and I have a Ring video doorbell on our house, and we love it. It rings on Rita’s cell phone, enabling her to see and speak with the visitor. Chances are, the person at the front door would think we are home, even if we are not, which is advantageous from a security standpoint. This feature accounts for the rapid adoption of Ring and other brands of internet-connected video doorbells and security cameras.  Not everyone is a fan of these devices, as some believe that if your doorbell faces the street you could be violating the privacy of someone walking or driving beyond your front property line. (That was a point made during the annual update class which our agents took last month.)

In the update class our agents were advised both to warn buyers that sellers could be watching and listening, and to ask sellers during listing appointments whether they have video and audio recording devices in their home and, if so, to advise them of the implications of their use.

What are the legal arguments? A buyer’s lawyer would argue that a buyer, alone in an unoccupied house with his broker, has a “reasonable expectation of privacy.”  A seller, on the other hand, can claim a legitimate interest in monitoring – and even recording — the activities and conversations of strangers in his home, as the possibility exists that someone could be casing the home for a subsequent burglary.

It’s likely that these arguments will play out in front of judges in the not-too-distant future, at which point we’ll have case law to guide us. Until then, both buyers and sellers should understand that the issue of privacy is real and that the use of eavesdropping equipment could put sellers in legal jeopardy.

Environmental Film Festival Is Next Weekend

Every February, Golden Real Estate is proud to co-sponsor this nationally-recognized festival featuring short and feature-length films about the environment and the all-important issue of climate change.

Recently I attended a preview of this festival — a celebration of the inspirational, educational, and motivational power of film to engage people in the protection of their environment —  and  came away looking forward to seeing as many of the films as I can during this year’s festival.

Featuring over 50 films, including several world and Colorado premieres, this important event will be held Feb. 21-23 at the American Mountaineering Center in downtown Golden.

Both local and international, short and feature length films will be shown.  Films that explore the undeniable and inescapable interconnection of our planet’s ecology, societies and economies. Award winning pictures, such as Elephant Path, winner of the Best Feature Film Award at the Portland EcoFilm Festival in 2018, will be screened, as will newer films, including ones made by youth filmmakers.

Another film, Hearts of Glass, documents an ambitious experiment to provide year-round produce to a mountain town, while employing community members with disabilities.

Audiences will be entertained and will leave inspired, surprised, motivated and transformed through events that will involve audience members and filmmakers in thought-provoking dialogues and forums about the films.

In addition, there are children’s films, festival celebrations, and an Eco-Expo (where Golden Real Estate will have a booth) highlighting local efforts to address environmental issues. The festival’s web site, www.CEFF.net, provides a schedule, a description of the various films and ticket-purchase info.

Just Listed: 3-BR, 2½-Bath Home on Quiet Jeffco Cul-de-Sac

Welcome to the “Cottages on Fairmount Lane” in unincorporated Jefferson County. The satellite picture at left shows the entire 22-home subdivision north of 50th Avenue, east of Indiana Street, with the red dot showing the location of 5055 Gladiola Way, (below) just listed for $575,000.  You won’t find a quieter location or a better home. The seller is the original owner of this quality home built by Remington in 2013. Hardwood floors, slab granite countertops, stainless appliances (all included), open floor plan with vaulted ceiling, huge stamped concrete patio with pergola, included hot tub, main-floor study are just some of the features you’ll love about this home. See the magazine-quality photos and narrated video tour at www.FairmountHome.info, then call your agent or Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 to set a private showing.  Open this Saturday, Feb. 16th, 1-4.

Feb. 21st Sustainability Session Focuses on Home Heating Methods

The second  session of Golden Real Estate’s sustainability series is next Thursday, Feb. 21st, 5-6 pm, in our South Golden Road office. Some seats are still available. Reserve yours by emailing  Jim@GoldenRealEstate.com.

At this session you’ll learn about the alternative energy-saving systems for heating and cooling homes and offices including our favorite method, heat pump mini-splits.

Our lead presenter will be Bill Lucas-Brown of GB3 Energy, who installed our mini-split system.

Some Home-Selling Advice Is No Longer Valid; Let’s Review the Literature…

On January 30th, Realtor.com published an article with the catchy headline, “That’s So 2018!  The Most Outdated Home Selling Advice You Should Now Ignore.”  I found it interesting to compare the author’s conclusions with my own opinions, many of which I have shared here before. Here is the author’s list of outdated home-selling advice that should be ignored, along with my response to what she wrote:

1) Wait for spring to sell your house.  I have written numerous times that winter can be the best time to sell a home, and it’s nice to see how other real estate writers have reached the same conclusion, albeit only recently. The writer for realtor.com made the same arguments I’ve been making for years — that there are fewer competing listings at this time of year, yet there are still many active buyers.

2) Price your home high and leave room to negotiate.  This, for sure, is not your best strategy in a seller’s market and even less so in a balanced market like we’re beginning to see in many areas. One agent she quoted in her article said it well: “If you’re not priced at the market, or at least very close, you’re not going to get that many people in the door to begin with. Price your property to sell.”

3) Sell your home as is.  The writer said this may have been true in the now-fading seller’s market, but argues that today’s millennial buyers in particular want a home that doesn’t need any work done on it.  I addressed the topic of what you should and should not do in last week’s column. Read it at www.JimSmithColumns.com or at www.GoldenREblog.com.

4) Amateur photos of your home are fine. The writer states that your smartphone pictures may have been all you needed during the seller’s market, but that you now need to invest in professional pictures. When it comes to high quality images, Golden Real Estate agents used magazine-quality HDR photos on all listings throughout the seller’s market, so this comment doesn’t apply to us.  However, the writer also promoted 3D tours of the home such as those using Matterport equipment, but I’m not a fan.  At Golden Real Estate, we believe it’s much more useful to produce a narrated video tour of a property. We’ve been doing narrated video tours for a decade or more and continue to be surprised how few other brokers have adopted the practice. And the Osmo camera we recently purchased makes those videos even more professional-looking. It’s equivalent to using a movie-quality Steadicam!

5) Holding an open house is a must. The writer says open houses only serve the broker and not the seller, but I disagree. You’ll notice that almost every listing we feature in this weekly ad mentions an open house. Since we price our listings to sell, these open houses serve to magnify buyer interest in our listings. (Indeed, the listing I closed last Friday was to a buyer who came to our open house.)  Open houses also fit into our strategy of not selling listings in less than 4 days. Our time-tested process is to put a listing on the MLS on Wednesday, advertise it on Thursday (with an open house), and to advise agents and buyers who submit early offers that the seller will wait until after the open house to choose the buyer.  Using this strategy, prospective buyers typically bid up the price, which is an obvious benefit to our sellers.  An example is last week’s sale of our Wheat Ridge listing for $561,000, which sold on that 4-day schedule for $36,000 over its listing price.  

Holding open houses also fits into our belief that you never know what will sell a house, so you should try everything.

You Can ‘Sell High/Buy Low’ and Stay in Colorado

We Coloradans love where we live, and few of us would ever leave it for another place. Our climate appears to be responding less quickly than elsewhere to global climate change, which is, like it or not, yet another reason people are drawn here from other states.  This steady influx of new residents inevitably has the effect of raising local real estate prices.

But there are other beautiful places in Colorado which remain affordable and which are drawing metro area residents. Last fall, a client sold their Arvada home for $385,000 and bought a bigger home on two acres in Cedaredge for only $230,500. A colleague of mine bought a 6-acre parcel with a home and two outbuildings in that same town for $270,000.  If you don’t have to be in the metro area and like living in a quiet (and beautiful) rural community on the western slope, Cedaredge sounds like a great alternative.

I have a client who sold their Lakewood home for almost $600,000 and are currently renting. They’re looking at lower-priced homes around the state and are ready to pounce when the right one pops up. Now that our MLS (REcolorado) serves much of Colorado (including Cedaredge), I set up a search for this client based on price per square foot under $200, and they are considering quite a few properties outside our metro area.

As more and more out-of-staters find the Denver metro area to be a desirable (and more climate-friendly) alternative to their current home, more and more current residents are looking to leave for greener and more affordable locales. This is a trend that is likely to increase over the coming months and years.

For years I have explained to metro area homeowners that they shouldn’t be afraid of high prices if they are buying and selling in the same market. If prices are high, they’ll probably sell high and buy high. If they’re low, they’ll sell low and buy low. (That was my experience in 2012 when I sold a home for less than I had paid for it but also bought my current home for a fraction of what it is worth now). Ideally of course, you’d like to sell in a high market and buy in a low one, something that is certainly possible for those who are willing to relocate. It’s nice to know you can find that lower market within Colorado.