Out of the Ashes

A Colorado practitioner made the best of a bad situation by turning a disaster into a marketing opportunity.

January 1, 2011

Location: Parker, Colo.
Square footage: 11,281
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 6
Lot size: 1.07 acres
Year built: 2005
Extras: Guest house. Hot tub.

“Gearhead’s paradise” with a rotating turntable that allows home owners to showcase their latest ride through the windows of the detached, four-car garage while enjoying a meal in the main house’s dining terrace.


Shon Kokoszka, managing partner of Lakewood, Colo.–based Sonoran Custom Homes, had a good feeling about showing the Dolce Vita (Italian for the “good life” or the “sweet life”) residence in Parker, Colo., during the annual Parade of Homes public tour event on July 30, 2005.

With a hot tub big enough for 14, a guest house for the in-laws, a stunning Nana glass door system that opened along the entire back of the 11,281-square-foot home and a four-car garage, the home was Parade ready.

But when an accidental fire, during the interior trim stage, leveled the home and its foundation on April 21, 2005, Kokoszka knew it would take a miracle to rebuild the house in time for the popular public home-tour event and a summer sale.

“Nothing was able to be salvaged,” Kokoszka, now a buyer's agent with Lakewood-based Keller Williams Realty's Kokoszka Group, recalls.

“With a normal production schedule, it took 14 days to pour the foundation, 60 days to frame the house, 45 days to finish the stone work and exterior stucco, and 30 days to lay the tile and finish the flooring,” Kokoszka notes.

“We had 79 days until the Parade event,” he adds.

What approach did you take to overcome the challenge?

Kokoszka: It was all about attitude. I think this sale illustrates that the fine line between success and failure often is defined by how people react to a challenge. In this case, we focused on the expediting the rebuild and working as a team.

What happened was terrible. The fire devastated the house. There was nothing left, not even the foundation. But instead of standing in ashes and wringing our hands, we focused on solid solutions.

We got to work and got the subcontractors and building officials to rebuild the 11,000-square-foot home within the timeline. By adopting a 24/7 rebuild schedule, we finished the foundation in four days, framed the home in 16 days, finished the exterior and stone work in 25 days and laid the flooring and tile in about a week.

As a result, we were able to show the house in the Parade of Homes and garnered a lot of attention. In fact, by the end of the build, I don’t think there was a single person in Denver who didn’t know about this home.

We became a real story of hope — the average Joe who managed to succeed despite the odds. And because of our positive attitude toward adversity, we were able to sell this home with few marketing efforts.

How long did the sale take? What was the selling price?

Kokoszka: The sale took less than 30 days, and the home sold for $2.4 million.

How and when did you get the listing?

Kokoszka: When this sale happened, I was a principal of Sonoran Custom Homes and in charge of marketing, sales, and acquisitions.

I joined the Kokoszka Group in 1991 and have been with Keller Williams Realty since November 2004.

How much did you spend marketing the property?

Kokoszka: I spent about $300 on a virtual tour. That was about it.

How many times did you show the property?

Kokoszka: We had three serious buyers. And I showed the home three times.

Can you tell me about the buyer?

Kokoszka: The buyer owns a window manufacturing company. When we were rebuilding the house, we had new windows shipped in from Germany. And the buyer, being in the business, was very impressed with that feature of the home.

What do you attribute to closing the deal?

Kokoszka: Our desire to move beyond the obstacles and problems and roll up our sleeves and get to work on the business of sincere and realistic solutions really captured the attention of our team and the local community. That winning attitude created a wellspring of support that encouraged us.

All this positive reinforcement helped keep up focused and really helped see us through some difficult days and sleepless nights.

What was your closed sales volume last year?

Kokoszka: I closed $15.5 million last year.

How did you get started in real estate?

Kokoszka: I think in many respects, real estate is in my blood. My mother has been in real estate since I was three. I bought my first home when I was 19 and sold it within six months for a $40,000 profit. The following year, at 20, I got my real estate license. So it was pretty easy for me to decide between going on to school or starting a career in real estate. Looking back, I can honestly say I made the right decision.

Do you have a specialty or niche?

Kokoszka: I love to inspire people. Currently, I’m a speaker and coach for Keller Williams’ MAPS Institute (Mega Achievement Productivity Systems) training program. I train and coach real estate brokers across the nation and throughout Canada. I also present the KW BOLD (Business Objective: A Life by Design) program, which was created by Diana Kokoszka, my mother.

What lessons did you learn from this transaction?

Kokoszka: People love a good cause and will rally behind you to be part of that success story. Additionally, I learned that nobody succeeds alone.