Well, maybe not everything. But thanks to scant housing inventory, massive population growth, and still-low interest rates, buying or selling a home in—or even near—the Mile High City means stepping into a fierce game with ever-changing rules. Here’s how to play the market right now.
Let’s start with the good news: If you own a house in Denver, its value probably has gone up in the past year. If you sell that home, you’ll likely pocket some cash. And if you’re looking to buy here…well, at least you’re investing in an appreciating market. (Median home-sale prices are increasing more than 30 percent year over year in some areas.) Plus, the market is so hot that real estate agents can make solid arguments for why purchasing a property in nearly any Denver neighborhood is a good idea.
But all that buying and selling means the metro area’s housing market is a different beast today than it was a decade ago. Denver once was known as a place where you could buy a stand-alone home with a yard, in a central neighborhood, for less than $350,000. Today, that house is real estate’s version of a pink unicorn. When one is spotted, there’s a frenzy of offers—many above asking price—with cash-only options, rent-back promises, appraisal waivers, and sometimes more bizarro proposals, like the buyer who suggested adopting a seller’s cat because the seller was moving out of the country (the buyer still didn’t win the bid).
To make sense of these changes, we asked more than a dozen real estate experts—with over 200 years of collective experience—for the new rules of surviving (or even thriving) in Denver’s real estate market. Along the way, we discovered a must-have app for house searching; compiled top neighborhoods for a variety of buyers; and gleaned advice on learning to love the home you can afford. Because, in this climate, the most difficult part might simply be getting into the game.
Median sale prices for attached single-family and detached single-family homes, percentage changes in those prices (year over year), and median days on market (DOM) are through January 2017 and were provided by REColorado, via agent Jill Schafer, with Kentwood Real Estate; neighborhood boundaries were determined by Schafer.