Over the years, Rita and I have bounced around from cable TV to DirecTV to Dish Network because of the astounding increases in monthly fees. Add some premium channels and the cost can approach $200/month, which is $2,400 per year, just for TV! Perhaps your story is similar.
A year ago, when Rita and I moved into a 55+ rental that only offers Comcast TV and doesn’t allow satellite dishes, we finally did what so many have done before us: we abandoned both cable and satellite TV, or “cut the cord,” as it’s called.
So now we only stream, and our primary TV provider now is YouTube TV, not to be confused with YouTube. And I recommend it as an affordable solution. We get all the channels we were getting before, both local and cable.
We have Comcast/Xfinity for our home internet, which is a business expense for me, and their basic internet speed is fast enough for streaming YouTube TV (which is $64.99/mo.) and Netflix.
I love two things about YouTube TV. First, it has unlimited cloud DVR storage. (No equipment for us; just connect to our WiFi signal.) Second, like Netflix, I can watch it on my laptop, phone or iPad, such as at the office or when I’m traveling anywhere in the U.S. (I watched some Denver programs while I was in Hawaii recently.) Rita can watch one program while I’m watching another.
We don’t watch any programs live anymore, because we want to fast forward through commercials. We preferred Dish and DirecTV over Comcast because they have a 30-second fast forward button. Comcast has no such button. YouTube TV has a 15-second button, which is good enough. Here’s a screenshot of from logging in to YouTube TV just now:
Each of those programs (and countless others) are recorded online and we never have to worry about running out of DVR space.
This solar-powered home at 359 Canyon Point Circle was a model home for the Village at Mountain Ridge, the subdivision west of Highway 93 backing to the Mt. Galbraith Park. (There’s a trailhead to the park’s 5 miles of hiking trails within the subdivision.) The seller has made many improvements to the home since buying it in 2002, including a total renovation of the gourmet kitchen and master bathroom, plus adding 11.5 kW of solar panels which meet all the electrical needs of the home. The main-floor deck was also completely rebuilt with composite decking, metal railings and a breakfast bar for enjoying the sunrises over South Table Mountain and the City of Golden, which are visible even from the walk-out basement. A walking path near this home allows children to walk safely to Mitchell Elementary School via a pedestrian bridge that crosses the highway. The listing price was just reduced to $1,545,000. To appreciate all the features of this 4,106-sq.ft. home, take the narrated video tour at www.MountainRidgeHome.com, then come to the open house this Saturday, March 18, noon to 2pm.
I have known Austin for over a decade. He’s one of the hardest working Realtors I know, and he has been very successful, especially in finding and listing development sites which he recognizes as having great potential. Previously self-employed under the name Mountain Opportunities Real Estate, he has now joined Golden Real Estate, bringing with him a new development listing which you’ll be reading about in a coming column. He is also a licensed drone pilot, and you’ll be impressed as I was by the aerial photos and videos which you can view on his website, www.MountainDrone.com.
Austin’s politics also align with my own, and I am really impressed by his commitment to the banning of assault rifles, as evidenced by his website, www.KidsLivesMatter.org. I look forward to a great relationship with Austin. You can reach him anytime on his cell phone, 970-281-9071, or by email at Austin@GoldenRealEstate.com. Welcome aboard, Austin!
Below is the “Market Overview” for February as published by the Market Trends Committee of the Denver Metro Association of Realtors (DMAR). It is for the 11-county “metro” area, which includes Elbert, Gilpin and Park counties.
One statistic omitted from the DMAR infographic is the median days in MLS, which fell dramatically compared to the average days in MLS. Defining metro Denver as a 23-mile radius of downtown Denver (not how DMAR chooses to define it), I find the average days-in-MLS for February to be 47 (up from 46 days in January) and the median days-in-MLS to be 24 (down from 34 days from January).
(Notably, the days-in-MLS statistics for the first several days of March are 39 and 13 respectively. We’ll check back in April to see how those statistics for March end up.)
That’s an important distinction, because what it tells us is that while there continue to be lots of overpriced homes sitting on the MLS, there are now enough right-priced homes on the MLS which are selling quickly to bring down the median days-on-MLS statistic.
This is a lesson which all sellers should take to heart — that if you price your home at or slightly below the market, you will sell your home quickly, but if you put it on the MLS at a hoped-for price that is above the market, it will sit on the MLS for a long time.
As I write this on Monday evening, these are the numbers of active Denver metro listings on www.REcolorado.com listed by days-on-market:
Over 90 Days—743
We agents refer to listings that have been on the MLS over 30 or 60 days as “stale,” and those are good prospects for getting a low-ball offer accepted. Buyers can certainly be confident that they won’t encounter a bidding war for any listing that has been on the market more than a couple weeks — unless there was a recent price reduction. If you want to avoid bidding wars and get a good deal, ask your agent to send you only listings which have been on the MLS over 10 days.
Meanwhile, sellers need to recognize that if they overprice a home and later reduce the price to make it sell, they typically get less than if they had priced the home correctly.
For Jefferson County residents, here is the above analysis as it relates to Jeffco:
These are the numbers of active Jeffco listings on REcolorado by days-on-market:
Over 90 Days—141
Here are the charts adapting that DMAR graphic to Jefferson County:
This solar-powered home at 359 Canyon Point Circle was a model home for the Village at Mountain Ridge, the subdivision west of Highway 93 backing to the Mt. Galbraith Park. (There’s a trailhead to the park’s 5 miles of hiking trails within the subdivision.) It was just listed for $1,595,000. The seller has made many improvements to the home since buying it in 2002, including a total renovation of the gourmet kitchen and master bathroom, plus adding 11.5 kW of solar panels which meet all the electrical needs of the home. The main-floor deck was also completely rebuilt with composite decking, metal railings and a breakfast bar for enjoying the sunrises over South Table Mountain and the City of Golden, which are visible even from the walk-out basement. A walking path near this home allows children to walk safely to Mitchell Elementary School via a pedestrian bridge that crosses the highway. To appreciate all the features of this 5-BR/4½-bath home, take the narrated video tour (with drone video) at www.MountainRidgeHome.com, then come to the open house this Saturday, March 11, 11 am to 1 pm.
The Washington Post’s “Climate Coach” recently wrote his column about Connecticut’s program which, like War Bonds (which raised billions of dollars to fight World War II), aims to create a pool of millions of dollars to finance small solar energy systems. Here’s a link to that column. It links to another such program, “Raise Green.”
By now, most home sellers and buyers should be aware that radon, a naturally occurring carcinogenic gas, is prevalent in Colorado. Every buyer’s agent should be advising their client to hire an inspector who, in addition to inspecting the home for hidden defects, can perform a radon test.
Radon, at any level, can cause lung cancer, and the EPA has established an “action level” of 4 picocuries per liter (4 pCi/l) above which mitigation is recommended. According to www.cdc.gov, the EPA estimates that radon gas is responsible for 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, about one-sixth of the annual lung cancer deaths (cancer.org). However, if the radon level is above 4.0 pCi/l using any testing device other than a CRM (Continuous Radon Monitor), such as charcoal or E-perms, a second test is required immediately after, and those results are averaged with the first set of results to determine if mitigation is recommended.
Radon is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas which is a decay product from Uranium U235. It further decays into polonium, which is what’s harmful to your health. The final decay product is lead.
Home inspectors are still not licensed or regulated in Colorado (something I have argued for), but as of July 1, 2022, only a licensed radon professional can install an approved radon testing device as part of a home inspection, and must follow explicit and detailed instructions for doing so.
Prior to licensing, any inspector could install the 48-hour testing equipment in a home and leave behind a flyer requesting “closed house conditions.” The device makes hourly measurements, so any violation of those rules would be obvious from looking at hourly variations in the measurements. Only the CRM has hourly results of the concentration levels along with temperature, barometric pressure and relative humidity reading.
But now there are several specific procedures that must be followed, including getting signed approval from the client to conduct the test, and providing advance notice of the test to the owner or occupant. The latter form states that closed house conditions must be initiated at least 12 hours prior to testing, not just throughout the 48-hour testing period.
Another rule is that if the basement footprint exceeds 2,000 square feet, two radon measuring devices must be installed. There are detailed instructions about where a testing device can and cannot be positioned.
Any air exchange systems, such as whole house fans, moisture mitigation systems for homes with structural wood or concrete floors, window air conditioners and box fans must be turned off. In addition, the garage overhead door must remain closed along with the windows and exterior doors including the passage door to an attached garage. An existing radon mitigation system can remain on during the test.
I’m writing this column in the immediate aftermath of attending the Colorado Environmental Film Festival. I was only able to watch 20 or so of the 90-plus films featured during the sixteen 2-hour sessions, but I plan to watch others this week. (You can access all the films at www.CEFF.netfor $75, which gives you seven days to view any collection you log into by Sunday, March 5.)
Many of these films raised my consciousness regarding different issues facing humanity and America, which got me thinking about the term “Woke,” which is applied negatively against those of us with similar awareness of certain issues. In the parlance of the MAGA folks, I’m part of the “Woke mob.”
Obviously, the term is adapted from “awake” or “awakened.” One thing for which we can thank the previous administration is that the division it spawned awakened people like me to portions of our history (and our present) of which we may have been less aware. I’m thinking of books like The 1619 Projectand Caste, which taught me things I did not know about our nation’s sad legacy of enslavement and racism, which are at the heart of America’s “great experiment.” For example, I didn’t realize that the 13th amendment abolished slavery, “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,” an exception that was exploited throughout the former confederate states by convicting Blacks of petty or false crimes and imprisoning them so that the prisons could lease them to plantation owners to continue their enslavement.
Yes, I’m awake to many aspects of our history to which the MAGA mob is (and would like to remain) unconscious. I’m awake to the environmental injustice suffered by the minority communities close to the Suncor plant in north Denver, which was the topic of a CEFF film. I’m awake to the broken promise of “40 Acres and a Mule” which underlies the calls for reparations to descendants of the enslaved.
In a February 14 release, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that the experience of Covid-19 and mortgage interest rate fluctuations has resulted in homebuyers sacrificing features for affordability. Buyers have also changed the features which they prioritize.
The NAHB reported that the size of new homes increased in 2021 as a reflection of the pandemic’s increase in work-at-home and remote schooling space requirements, but that house sizes fell slightly in 2022, as did the demand for three or more full bathrooms and 3-car or larger garages.
The organization predicts that home sizes will increase this year because of a predominance of wealthy buyers less affected than other buyers by the increase in mortgage rates, but that will change in 2024, if mortgage rates moderate and more buyers reenter the market.
“Home buyers are looking more and more to their homes to provide a sense of well-being,” observed Donald Ruthroff, AIA, founding principal at Design Story Spaces LLC. “They want their homes to support their day- to-day health — physically, emotionally, and mentally,” as quoted in the NAHB release.
Below is a chart showing the results of an October 2020 survey of 1,240 respondents by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, LLC. The answers were in response to the question, “Which of the following would you require of a home for you to consider it a healthy home.”
Given that the survey was done only six months into the pandemic, it’s not surprising how many responses related to a healthy environment and lifestyle. The survey was done long before the recent brouhaha over the health effects of natural gas cooking and heating, or I would expect “all-electric home” or “no natural gas” to have been among the choices offered to respondents.
The survey results were included in a research report from the New Home Trends Institute.
The release also described a trend toward “biophilic design,” a term that I had not seen previously. Basically, it refers to a preference for natural materials and environment. Lots of natural light and real wood finishes would contribute to such a feeling. It has been demonstrated that exposure to nature and natural home design reduces stress.
1) Good indoor air quality. This is especially needed in a well-insulated/air tight home, where a suitable appliance would be a Conditioned Energy Recovery Ventilator (CERV), which I wrote about in my Feb. 9, 2023, column.
2) Quiet, soothing bedrooms. The report suggested “thoughtful lighting, better soundproofing” and a nearby “snore room” for the offending or the suffering partner.
3) Easy-to-clean surfaces.
4) Outdoor recreation areas. Over three-quarters of survey respondents said they were focusing more on their physical health, and nearly as many (69%) said they’re focusing on their mental health. Exercise addresses both needs.
A September 2022 article on the same website featured a Mississippi company called Modern Mill which uses discarded rice husks to create a wood-alternative building material called “Acre” because one pallet of the product reportedly saves one acre of rainforest. Rice is a major agricultural product in the South, and rice husks would otherwise go to a landfill. Here are a few pictures of the Acre product from https://modern-mill.com/decking/ used as decking and siding, which, like real wood, can be stained:
NAHB reports a big jump this year in the demand for exterior amenities such as patios, decks and porches. Outdoor kitchens weren’t mentioned but could have been, from my own observation.
Home offices also appeared on the list of most wanted features for the first time this year, again a result of the pandemic.
Donald Ruthroff (mentioned above) noted that by making homes smaller, more money can be spent on details and finishes such as a luxurious bathroom, laundry rooms, walk-in pantries and hardwood flooring.
Manufactured housing started before most of us were born, if you include mobile homes. Modular housing, in which components of a building are put together in a factory and then assembled onsite, is also a part of early housing history. I remember attending Expo 67 in Montreal, where one of the exhibits (but not an attraction to be toured) was “Habitat 67,” a funny looking 148-unit apartment complex adjacent to the 1967 World’s Fair site in which concrete apartment modules were held together by cables.
Then, in 1997, I purchased a home in Golden’s Mesa Meadows subdivision which I learned later from a neighbor was built in a Ft. Morgan factory and assembled in one day on the foundation in Golden. Knowing that, I noticed the tell-tale beam in the ceiling which was where the two halves of the one-story home were attached to each other. Here’s the MLS picture of that home (798 Cressman Ct.) which sold last June for over $1 million.
It was explained to me that manufactured homes are often of higher quality and better insulated, because they are done on a factory floor where there is better supervision, resulting, for example, in better insulation. The exterior walls were all made from 2×6 lumber instead of 2×4 lumber to better withstand the stresses of being loaded, unloaded and moved on the building site. Indeed, my Mesa Meadows house was a good one, although I expect the current owners (the third since I sold it) don’t even know that it was not stick-built on site over several months, like its neighboring homes.
Next came the “tiny home” movement in which complete homes were often built on a factory floor, wheeled on a trailer to someone’s lot, and then put onto a foundation. Some tiny homes were put into service as temporary homes for our unhoused population, formerly referred to as “homeless,” on vacant land or in church parking lots — a good idea, but without a conventional connection to a sewer line. Here are three tiny homes displayed for sale on https://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/:
About that time the ADU movement took off, with many if not most cities and counties changing their single-family zoning laws to allow the creation of “accessory dwelling units.” These could be walk-out basements converted to an apartment, but often they were apartments created above detached garages or stand-alone buildings in backyards. The typical ADU ordinance requires three things: 1) the ADU cannot exceed a certain size, 2) it has to have its own off-street parking space, and 3) the property owner has to live in either the main house or the ADU and not rent out both units. Some jurisdictions are considering loosening these rules. Here’s the City of Golden’s web page about their ADU rules: https://www.cityofgolden.net/city-services/accessory-dwelling-units/
Several local businesses were created to cater to this new construction opportunity, including Verdant Living, 303-717-1962, owned by John Phillips. His “backyard bungalows” are manufactured in Nebraska and meet local code requirements. You can visit www.VerdantLiving.us for more information.
A company called Villa started building ADUs in a factory southeast of Los Angeles, after California legalized ADUs in 2020. This company delivers and installs its units across the state, with prices starting at $105,000 plus as much as $200,000 for delivery, infrastructure costs, foundation, and installation. Here’s Villa’s website: https://villahomes.com/units/
There’s a Las Vegas startup called Boxabl, whose competitive advantage is that its ADUs fit on a standard flatbed trailer and then unfold into the simple unit shown here or to larger homes, such as the 3-bedroom, 2½-bath, 2-story home (assembled from three units) shown below.
It’s a father-son company which has not yet gone public. It was clearly inspired by the factory concept of Tesla, not surprising since the son drives a Tesla. Notice the Tesla wall charger and the Tesla battery unit above it on the exterior of the 2-story building below. That picture is from the International Builders Show last month in Las Vegas. It drew a lot of attention, and the company now has a waiting list over 100,000, even though it can’t deliver more units until regulators approve its construction.
The company did deliver 156 of its 400-square-foot “casitas” to the Federal government for use in Guantanamo Bay, which helped it build its factory and develop its technology. The company received that multi-million-dollar contract based on its proposal, even though the government knew they hadn’t built anything yet.
After completing that contract, Boxabl got a contract from an Arizona company to build workforce housing. Currently the firm is only building and, presumably, stockpiling its 400-square-foot casitas as it perfects its current factory and equips a second factory next door.