Sellers Who Value Their Privacy & Security Can Make Their Home Visible Only to Agents

A recent email newsletter from our Denver MLS, REcolorado, to us members explained how sellers, through their listing agents, can literally sell their homes without their neighbors knowing about it — although your neighbors may ask why so many people are visiting your home, one after another!

To quote that newsletter article, “Whether they are a celebrity, in witness protection, or simply concerned for their safety, protecting the seller’s privacy is the primary concern.”

Although not mentioned in that article, it starts with the yard sign. There’s no requirement that you have a real estate sign in your front yard.

As you probably know, Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, NextDoor and virtually every real estate website downloads its listings from the MLS, but your listing agent can opt out of such syndication, which also keeps it off REcolorado.com except for its logged-in members. However, the listing will still be emailed to buyers who have alerts set up by their agent.

There are lesser degrees of privacy available.  For example, a seller may be okay with displaying their home on public-facing websites, but only allow logged-in agents to see their address. That’s another option available to agents when they enter a listing on REcolorado.

Sellers also, of course, can dictate what interior pictures are shown of their home — or ask their agent to have no interior pictures at all.

As you probably know, it is recommended that sellers leave their home during showings and inspections, but I’ve had sellers who insisted on staying home during showings.

Recently, I had a husband and wife who insisted on being present for my open house. That’s okay, although unusual. The husband worked from home and insisted on keeping his home office locked to all visitors. We had a picture of his office on the MLS, and it was included in my video tour, but during showings a picture of the room’s interior was posted on the locked door to his office.

If you have video cameras installed inside and outside your home, that’s okay, too. To comply with privacy laws, you only need to post a warning sign visible to all visitors that video and audio surveillance is in use at this property. Adding that warning to the “broker remarks” on the MLS provides proof that you did notify all visitors, through their agent, of the video and audio monitoring present in your home. (The MLS system keeps a record of each and every change to the MLS listing, allowing you to prove that the warning was there from the beginning and not added later.)

If you don’t want your agent to install a lockbox containing the key to your home, that can be arranged. Just have the showing instructions say, “Seller will let you in and then step outside during the showing.”

Speaking of lockboxes, I recommend against the kind of lockboxes with dials, because anyone can look at the lockbox while it is open and see what the code is. That’s why we only use lockboxes with push buttons.

Electronic lockboxes are becoming more common in our market. The most common brand is SentriLock. Electronic lockboxes record the time when each agent enters and leaves the home, and showing agents can only use their access code for the approved date, not come back a second time without asking for a second showing.

Normally, we don’t tell the seller the code to the lockbox, because we don’t want the seller to give that code to a friend or cleaning person without our knowledge. However, I have on occasion given that code to a seller who wants to remove the key overnight.

I don’t want readers to get the impression that security is a big problem in our market. In two decades of listing homes, I have never had an incident where a visitor (including at open houses) stole something from one of my listings. Every licensed real estate agent has been fingerprinted and had a criminal background check done on them when they were licensed. They could lose their license and livelihood if they were later convicted of a felony. They would also put their license in jeopardy if they were to give a lockbox code to a buyer.

It should be noted that our showing service, ShowingTime, makes sure that no unlicensed person is able to get showing instructions for our listings. When an agent calls to set a showing using their own phone, ShowingTime knows from Caller ID which agent it is so they don’t have to check if they’re licensed. (They greet me by name when answering my calls.)

ShowingTime offers several options for allowing showings of your home. You can specify what hours you want to block showings, and these rule can vary by date or day of the week. 

You can also specify lead time for showing requests. One hour is a common lead time requirement, but some listings require prior day notice. In other words, your listing agent can pretty much set any rule you want regarding showings, and that rule is computer enforced, meaning the rules will not be violated due to human error.

Do you have other concerns?

Beautiful Arvada Ranch Listed by Chuck Brown

Are you looking for a move-in ready home in Arvada?  Be sure to check out this 1,764-sq-ft., 4-bedroom, 3-bath fully remodeled brick ranch with finished basement at 6679 Quay St. in the Lamar Heights neighborhood. It was just listed for $525,000. This home has beautiful finishes throughout! The main floor features an open concept kitchen that makes entertaining a joy, a master bedroom with a 4-piece en suite bathroom that includes dual sinks and a large walk-in shower, barn doors and a walk-in closet, and a guest room that can easily be used as an office. Downstairs you’ll be wowed by the fully finished basement with a large family/rec room and wet bar with fridge, 2 bedrooms, a 3/4 bath, and a closed off laundry room. The backyard is an oasis with multiple zones to entertain: enjoy the patio with shaded pergola, relax in the hot tub, roast marshmallows over the fire pit, or meditate by the water fountain. To top it off, there’s a large 2-car detached garage to store your toys! Take a narrated video tour at www.ArvadaRanch.info or by clicking on the photo thumbnail below. Open house this Saturday, Aug. 21, 11am-3pm. Call your agent or Chuck at 303-885-7855 for a showing.

Just Listed: 5-BR Lakewood Ranch Between Belmar and Addenbrooke Parks

689 S. Dudley Street – Listed at $570,000

This lovely brick ranch is on a 8,930-sq.-ft. lot. It has a new kitchen with granite counter tops, bar seating, stainless steel appliances, and a gas range. The family room has refinished hardwood floors, a gas fireplace and sun tunnel lighting. The living room and dining room are carpeted, and the dining room has a ceiling fan. This great floor plan has the master suite on one side and two guest bedrooms on the opposite side of the home. The main floor full bathroom has been remodeled and there is a large laundry room on the main level. From the family room, walk out to a covered deck that is plumbed for a gas grill. The basement has a huge family/game room, wood-burning fireplace, 3/4 bathroom, and a kitchenette with a stainless steel refrigerator. There are two large non-conforming bedrooms with double closets and carpeting. Another room can be used as an office, gym or for storage. At one side of the yard is a raised gazebo that overlooks a water feature. There is an 8’x12’ greenhouse with electricity, and a large raised bed garden box. An added bonus is the 6’x13’ storage shed. Great location, walking distance to Addenbrooke and Belmar parks as well as shopping and restaurants in nearby Belmar. Take a narrated video tour at www.LakewoodHome.info, then call your agent or David Dlugasch at 303-908-4835 to set a showing.  Open house this Saturday, April 17th, 11am to 2pm.

Gazebo and deck in side yard
Updated kitchen with stainless appliances and slab granite countertops
Greenhouse and fire pit in huge backyard

Covered Deck outside Family Room
Raised garden beds

Arvada Ranch-Syle Home Backs to Open Space

    This 4-bedroom, 3-bath ranch home at 19019 W. 88th Drive was a model home with over $240,000 in upgrades. The main level features an open floor plan with hardwood floors, a 14-ft ceiling, and floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning views of the Flatirons. The walk-out basement has a family room, custom full bath, and two bedrooms. In addition to the 2-car garage visible above, there’s a 1-car garage to its right. Take a video tour at www.LeydenRockHome.info. Open Saturday, Nov. 21st, 11-2.  Listed by Chuck Brown, 303-885-7855

Just Listed: 4-Bedroom, 2-Bath Brick Ranch in Arvada

12082 W. 60th Place — Just listed for $400,000

This 1963 brick ranch has been lovingly maintained, although not particularly updated, since it was purchased by the seller in 1973. Most of the hardwood flooring throughout the main floor has been covered over the years by wall-to-wall carpeting, but the carpet has been removed from the main-floor bedrooms so buyers can see it. The full basement has a non-conforming 4th bedroom, 3/4 bathroom and laundry, plus a full-width family room. The name of the subdivision is Allendale, which is located east of Ward Road and south of 64th Avenue, making it super convenient to shopping as well as Interstate 70, while being an extra quiet neighborhood. You’ll hear no highway noise from your front or back yard! You can take a narrated video tour of this home, inside and out, and see all the interior photos at www.ArvadaRanch.info, then come to our open house this Saturday, October 24th, 11am to 2pm.

Price Reduced on a Foothills Home on 11 Acres

This spectacular retreat at 26202 Golden Gate Canyon Road is located just 6 miles or 13 minutes from Downtown Golden! The price was just reduced by over $25,000 to $949,900. As you walk through the front door you will be impressed with the vaulted ceilings, open floor plan, stone fireplaces, gourmet kitchen, modern lighting and amazing views out of every window. Enjoy the spacious master suite, complete with gas fireplace as well as the living room shown at left and a second living with fireplace currently utilized as a study  The gourmet kitchen features a six-burner gas stove, granite countertops and 12-ft ceilings. The finished basement is a great place to watch a movie in surround sound or walk out to enjoy the expansive views after fixing your bike in the workshop. Exterior features include a shooting range (could also be a great area for horses), multiple outbuildings and an old building site with two wells (not permitted). Words cannot describe this wonderful 11-acre property. Book a showing today and come take a look, you won’t be disappointed. Take a narrated video tour (with drone video) at www.FoothillsHome.info. Listing agent Kristi Brunel (303-525-2520) will be holding it open this Saturday, Oct. 26th, 11am to 2pm.  Special offer through November: Free one-year home warranty!

3 Open Houses this Saturday from Golden Real Estate

Andrew Lesko will be holding open his listing at 916 Homestake Drive in the Kinney Run townhome community this Saturday, noon to 2pm.  A narrated video tour with drone footage is at www.GoldenTownhome.info. This is a great property! Listed at $537,000.      

I’ll be holding open my 4-bedroom ranch-style listing at 9379 S. Jellison Way in Trailmark this Saturday, 11am to 1pm. A narrated video tour with drone footage is online at www.TrailmarkHome.info.  Listed at $598,900.

Chuck Brown will be holding his listing at 6404 Benton St. in Arvada open this Saturday, 11am to 2pm.  More than just a 3-bedroom, 2-bath home on a 2/3-acre lot (which could be subdivided), it also includes two detached 2-car garages, one of which is part of a 1,900-sq.-ft. workshop/studio! See the video tour at www.ArvadaMasterpiece.info.  Listed at $725,000.      

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.