Buying

Buying



Looking for a home in the Winston Downs/Lee Downs area?  Brick ranches, 2-stories, and split-level homes just minutes from Cherry Creek and Downtown Denver . . . see the current list here.



2016 crime stats for Winston Downs

Posted by on Feb 19, 2016 in Crime | 2 comments

Here are crime statistics, including the addresses, for Winston Downs in 2016 (year-to-date).  These are only property/person offenses (no traffic offenses), sorted by date reported. Winston Downs 2016 Crime Stats (YTD) Crime stats for this neighborhood can also be accessed this way: The Denver Police Department page at www.denvergov.org has a “Crime Information” tab where you can find monthly crime data sorted by Statistical Neighborhoods.  Note that Winston Downs is one of several subdivisions within the “Washington Virginia Vale” statistical neighborhood. There is also an interactive map which can be sorted by date and neighborhood, plotting the crime locations on a...

read more

The Appraisal: 10 things your broker should do

Posted by on Sep 11, 2014 in Featured, For Sale, Sell, Tips for Sellers, Working with Brokers | 0 comments

The Appraisal:  10 things your broker should do

Appraisals are sometimes a source of confusion for both Buyers and Sellers, but usually for different reasons. Review:  an appraisal is an opinion of value prepared by an authorized person.  In Colorado, Appraisers are licensed and regulated by the State. There are different levels of licensure, depending on the qualifications of the Appraiser. Buyers sometimes think that the appraisal will “protect” them from overpaying.  There is a clause in the contract, after all, that says in effect: “if the appraisal doesn’t come in at contract price, you don’t have to buy the house.”  While there may be an element of truth in that kind of protection (today, anyway), you should stop thinking that.  If you need a reason, please Google “the role of appraisals and appraisers in the Global Financial Collapse of 2006-2008” or something similar.  There was nothing protective of Buyers for a long time leading up to the disaster, and you’ll be better off being a little more skeptical. Sellers sometimes think that the Broker’s price opinion was an appraisal, or that having multiple offers (or even one offer) is some kind of assurance that the appraisal will come back at contract price.  Actually, there is some truth in the latter – competing offers should have a positive effect on value – but it’s not a given. Why Appraisals are done.  In residential real estate, they are done to protect the lender’s interest in the property (the mortgage).  To learn more about what can go wrong I this scenario, Google  “the role of appraisals and appraisers in the Global Financial Collapse of 2006-2008”. The appraisal is ordered by the lender and paid for by the Buyer. What can you do to make sure the appraisal goes the best way possible?  Answer: treat the appraisal just like you would a “showing:”  home is spotless, lights on, curtains open, staging in place (if applicable), etc. Beyond that, there are several things you should expect your agent to do. The following list is advice from an appraiser to your broker; it’s adapted from “10 Things to Guarantee a Perfect Appraisal”, by Kerry Dunn, founder/chief appraiser at Dunn Appraisals, www.dunnappraisals.com 1)   Show up Having you, the realtor, at the appraisal really helps everything run better for the appraiser. 2)   Call/Email If you can’t show up, please make a phone call or send an email of introduction to the appraiser. 3)   Pricing Show the appraiser the documentation that you were relying on in pricing the property. 4)   Contract Email or hardcopy contracts are always appreciated as appraisers don’t always get them from the lender. This will ensure that the appraiser has the most recent copy/latest amend-extend of the contract. 5)   Hope for the best, plan for the worst As with realtors, appraisers come with varied levels of experience. Keep in mind that even the most experienced of appraisers may not be intimate with the market nuances of your property or neighborhood. Educate them with what you know, in 60 seconds or less. If it takes longer than that, put it in writing and give it to the appraiser. 6)   Comps Don’t assume that the appraiser will identify and consider the same sales/listings as you did. The appraiser may, or may not, consider the same properties in the appraisal, but at least you have disclosed them. 7)   Detail sheet Give the appraiser a list...

read more

Schools: What Buyers Want

Posted by on Dec 11, 2013 in Living, Schools, Tips for Sellers | 0 comments

Schools: What Buyers Want

A house is a collection of desirable characteristics: shelter, comfort, and location. School quality is a locational characteristic that influences home values. Research shows us that homebuyers are not only aware of differences in school quality but also have revealed their preferences for higher quality schools by paying a premium for their home. This premium for school quality is among the most imp0rtant factors in determining home prices. (Neighborhood School Characteristics: What Signals Quality to Homebuyers? Kathy J. Hayes, Research Associate Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and Professor of Economics Southern Methodist University, and Lori L. Taylor, Senior Economist and Policy Advisor Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, 1996) Buyers agree with Economists. So we know that buyers will pay more for a house in a neighborhood with a “good” school, but not all school characteristics appear to be indicators of school quality. Buyers aren’t willing to pay more for things like school expenditures or student body characteristics.  Instead , researchers find evidence that the school characteristic for which homebuyers pay a premium is the same characteristic that economists associate with school quality, namely, the “marginal effect” of the school on student performance.  (The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools, Eric A. Hanushek, Journal of Economic Literature, Volume 24, Issue 3, Sep. 1986) What are the “Marginal Effects” of Schools? Economists who study schools talk about Educational “Production.”  The concept of production is an important teaching and research tool, and applies to all kinds of industries – including education.  For all industries, output depends on input:  more materials, labor, automation, etc. equals more widgets produced.  For schools, the inputs are things like teacher quality, school characteristics, curricula, etc.  These are mostly controlled by school administrators and policy-makers (the School Board).  The output of the educational process is the achievement of individual students. The theory is that more and better schooling makes people more productive in the labor market, better able to participate in society, better consumers, etc.   Economists, sociologists, and political scientists have conducted hundreds of investigations into post-schooling outcomes. In general, empirical studies confirm the correlation between higher levels of schooling and positive attributes after graduation. Good Schools and The Good Life Although the relationship of a good education and a good job is apparent to homebuyers, there are plenty of other “marginal effects” that have been studied.  Individual academic achievement has also been linked to: increasing job satisfaction (Robert Michael 1982, and Robert Haveman and Barbara Wolfe 1984) maintaining personal health (Michael Grossman 1975) increasing the productivity of mothers working at home, and the effects of the mother’s education on the learning of young children(Arleen Leibowitz 1974) the effect of education on political socialization and voting behavior (Richard Niemi and Barbara Sobieszek 1977) the relationship between education and criminality (Isaac Ehrlich 1975) the contribution of education to economic growth (Edward Denison 1974) the effect of education on marriage and divorce (Gary Becker, Elizabeth Landes, and Robert Michael 1977) A number of studies have shown how differences in the attractiveness of a particular school or school district come to be capitalized into the price of houses. Most of these studies look at the differences in the “provision of public services,” of which schooling is the most important one.  ...

read more

DGS: New Boundaries along class lines

Posted by on Nov 19, 2013 in Schools | 2 comments

DGS: New Boundaries along class lines

Boundaries: Denver Green School, Lowry, and Equity in Education Last night, the Denver School Board had a meeting to hear public comment on a proposed addition to Lowry Elementary School along with changes to the boundaries for the Denver Green School (DGS).  I spoke briefly (3 min.) in opposition to the boundary changes emphasizing that 1) changing the DGS boundaries serves to further “segregate” low Socio-Economic Status (SES) students from high SES students, and 2) isolating students at poverty is harmful to their learning, brain development, post-secondary options and economic opportunities.  A couple of people have asked me to summarize my comments along with supporting data.  Here we go: The Issues In answer to a perceived need for additional “capacity” at Lowry Elementary (due to the impending redevelopment of Buckley Annex), Denver Public Schools (DPS) proposes the following*: Add physical addition to Lowry Elementary, creating space for 100-150 more students to be funded by 2012 Bond (est. cost = $2.2M) Design & planning began Sept/Oct 2013 Construction likely to begin in Winter 2013-14 new addition targeted for completion in August 2013 Re-assign portion of Denver Green School’s boundary (including Buckley Annex) to Lowry Elementary No impact to students currently attending either school New boundary to be finalized prior to December 2013, when School Choice period begins *from DPS presentation at the Lowry Elementary Community Meeting (Oct. 10, 2013) Interestingly, DPS accepts as a given that there is (or will be) a capacity issue, but many disagree. Choicing In/Choicing Out How is a “Neighborhood School” different from any other school?  Let me suggest that “% of in-boundary use” is a good metric to start with.  There is wide agreement that, all things being equal, a parent would rather send a student to the school nearest their home.  There is also a good argument to be made that neighborhood schools enhance both the stability and vibrancy of residential communities.  DGS claims “Place-based Education” as a core value. Note that only 71% of families within the Lowry boundary currently elect to send their school-age children to Lowry Elementary.  In other words, 29% choose NOT to attend Lowry and that’s not exactly a vote of confidence for their program – and, IMO, I’m not sure it even qualifies as a true “neighborhood” school with those numbers.   At Denver Green School, the numbers are even less “neighborhood” driven, with only 64% coming from in-boundary.  59% of all students qualify for free or reduced lunch.  Here’s a blurb from their 2013 re-application: Why school “Choice” isn’t equitable either . . . “Schools should not be deciding which students will be granted a seat, and which will not.  Schools should not be manipulating capacity by enrolling students via undocumented processes. Schools should have nothing whatsoever to do with the processing and assigning of students. Yet in Denver right now, schools do all of those things and there is no accountability regarding their conduct in these operations. Schools should no longer have the operational ability to enroll students on site – all enrollment manipulations should be centrally processed, and all students wishing to attend schools other than their home schools should participate in Round 1 and/or Round 2. ” (from An Assessment of Enrollment and Choice in Denver Public Schools, Prepared for The Denver Enrollment Study Group...

read more

Density at Buckley Annex Causes Alarm

Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Living, Projects | 0 comments

Density at Buckley Annex Causes Alarm

Neighborhoods around the Buckley Annex Redevelopment project (including Winston Downs) have been increasingly vocal recently about the move toward higher density in the 70-Acre urban development. After raising concerns about density, building heights, and traffic, citizens are looking at the actions of Neighborhood groups like West Highlands and Cherry Creek North which have filed lawsuits against Denver City Council over the approval of development plans.  Some feel that local government is being controlled by developers, and in the case of Buckley Annex, The Cherry Creek Chronicle claims that “Lowry residents were shocked to learn that Monty Force, Director of the Lowry Development Authority, negotiated a contract that awarded him a bonus if high density was approved . . . ” Is City Council serious about it’s obligation to represent it’s constituency?  Are public officials giving lip-service to neighborhood concerns about the same values they envision for new urban communities (e.g., “live, work, play”, multi-modality, and people-oriented places)? Read more . . ....

read more

What’s a Good Comp?

Posted by on Mar 12, 2013 in For Sale, Get Ready, Sell, Sold, Tips for Sellers | 0 comments

What’s a Good Comp?

“Comps” are Comparable When pricing your home, or before making an offer on one, you’ll want to make sure the price is right.  To do that, you and your agent will compare it with similar homes that have sold.  Since no two homes are exactly the same, you’ll make adjustments to arrive at the current value. Here’s what matters most . . . The Ideal Comps: Similar size, model, style, quality of construction and condition. Similar community: proximity to amenities, quality of schools, walk/bike trails, etc. Within a mile of subject property. Sold within the past six monthls. Within 5 years of same age. No more than 20% difference in square footage. After the Challenging, now the Difficult: Have a reliable formula for adjustments:  know the value of a full bath vs. half, full basement vs. partial basement vs. no basement, bedrooms, one-car garage vs. two, frame construction vs. brick, overall condition including remodelling. Have a formula for market appreciation or depreciation – especially for comps outside the preferred six-month window. Adjust as needed for terms of sale (cash vs. new loan), type of Seller (individual, bank, estate, etc.)  ...

read more

Buckley Annex street views

Posted by on Feb 5, 2013 in Living, Projects, Traffic Calming | 0 comments

In her February newsletter, Councilwoman Sussman shows a couple of renderings for street views at 1st Avenue.  There has been some concern from adjacent neighborhoods about how these areas would look after construction. For detailed information about the Buckley Annex redevelopment, click...

read more

After the Cliff . . . taxes on your Home

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in Living | 0 comments

After the Cliff . . . taxes on your Home

One more fiscal cliff was averted . . . so how was real estate affected? Mortgage Interest Deduction Not affected.  There was some debate; the Nat’l Association of Realtors made great efforts to remind lawmakers that the MID benefits primarily middle-income families, and any change to it could harm housing and the economy as a whole. Mortgage Insurance Premiums If you put less than 20% down when you bought a house, you probably still have a mortgage insurance premium attached to your monthly payment.  They’re still deductible:  if you make less than $110,000 you can take the deduction. Energy efficiency tax credits Remain in force.  A 10% tax credit, up to $500, if you make energy efficiency improvements to an existing home is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012. Mortgage cancellation relief Extended for another year.  Households that have mortgage debt “forgiven” by a lender in 2013 as a result of a foreclosure or short-sale will not have to pay tax on the...

read more

George Washington High School

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in Schools | 0 comments

George Washington High School

George Washington High School. George Washington High School is one of the top choices in Denver and in Colorado for public education. Featuring one of Denver’s flagship International Baccalaureate Diploma programs, its goal is to provide its students with an excellent education, while inspiring them to reach their highest potentials. Consistently ranked in the top 100 high schools in America, GW has an international reputation for...

read more

Denver Green School

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in Schools | 0 comments

Denver Green School

Schools The Denver Green School: Our new DPS Innovation School, opened in fall of 2010, and is an exciting addition to Winston Downs. Specializing in project-based learning with a strong core curriculum, DGS was named a “Best Practices” Innovation School by DPS. Place Bridge School: ECE-8th Grade. Visit their website here.    

read more