Beginning Your Home Search

Deciding Where to buy your home and tips for getting started

Buying a home is a major investment. There are many questions to consider. Where should you begin your search? What should you expect to find in a Denver home? How long should you take? How much will it cost? How much money do you need to purchase a home?

The answers to all these questions begin with an evaluation of your needs. Most people do not know what they want in a home until they know what they can have. You control the purchase, based on your needs, personality, interests and pocketbook.

Other Home Purchase considerations:

  • You want to be assured of value
  • You want to trust that you are getting a fair (if not good) deal
  • You want to gather as much information as possible and get honest answers to your questions
  • You want to be sure the neighborhood is right for you
  • You want to be reasonably sure that you can re sell the home when the time comes to move

The Denver urban lifestyle offers a variety of housing choices.

Lofts – The most trendy type of home that has become very popular in Denver over the past decade. Lofts can be found in historic old brick buildings or brand newly constructed buildings. The older, traditional loft is called a “hard loft” while the new loft is referred to as “soft loft”. Many soft lofts are the equivalent of condos, with extreme features like unfinished ceilings, open spaces and large windows. Home Owner Association fees take care of the common elements in lofts. Parking is not a given when purchasing a loft, so you need to confirm if and where you can park a vehicle.

Town homes – this home style is attached housing where you own the ground on up to the sky. You will have no neighbors above or below you. Most town homes have additional fees called HOA fees that take care of the building exterior, maintenance and security. Town homes can have parking that is attached to the unit, sometimes the parking is outside in a reserved spot.

Condo – this style home is found commonly in the Denver area. In a condo you own and are responsible for the area inside the walls. The HOA typically maintains the exterior. Some condos will have outside areas like a deck or patio. Garages are possible, but usually a condo will share a garage space either in outdoor surface parking or an underground garage.

High Rise – Denver has a variety of High Rise buildings ranging from converted apartment buildings to posh New York Style secure buildings. This is another style of a condo with HOA dues being very typical. Depending on the amount of amenities associated with the building the HOA fees can get very high. Parking if available is usually in a shared underground area. Many parking spaces are deeded and pass ownership with the unit.

Single Family Homes – Single family homes are commonly found all over the Denver metro region, but are not typically found in the downtown Denver area. If you wish to live in a single family home you can be close to the city, but not downtown. Single family homes come in a wide variety of styles; brick bungalows, two story Denver Squares, Victorian mansions and California Contemporary. Neighborhoods tend to have the style of home that was popular when the neighborhood was being developed.

Duplexes – Denver neighborhoods offer quite a few duplexes. This style home comes in more than one footprint. Typically you will see a home that is split down the middle. Each half is a mirror image of the other. Sometimes a two-story home has been converted into a duplex, with each level being an individual home. Not all duplexes are sold as one unit. It is common for a duplex to have a “party wall agreement” and have two separate owners. You should never assume you are getting the “whole” duplex.

Which type of urban environment is right for you?

Considering your needs, personality and interests, the most common place to start is with the budget. How much can you afford to pay for a home? Since urban Denver homes are on the expensive side, this may determine if you can afford to live in downtown or not.

Lofts are popular and the entry level pricing for a loft is going to be in the high $200,000’s. Yes, you may find some less expensive, but to be practical plan on this and you won’t be surprised. Once again please note, parking may be extra, so don’t forget to consider adding that to the price. One important feature to remember about lofts, since the “open nature” of a loft floorplan, you will not find separated rooms. Often times buyers want a 3-4 bedroom loft. Unless you are planning to pay for an enormous loft, you will not find that many bedrooms. We suggest you look for a single family home or townhome where multi-bedrooms are typical.

Condos are the best choice for the budget conscious urban buyer. The entry level price for a small, conservative condo will be in the mid $150’s. The price will increase with size, amenities, view, updating, location etc.

High Rise living will begin in the $200’s. The HOA dues and parking may cause your house payment to escalate, so be sure to count that in. The more amenities a building will have the higher the price will go.

Single Family Homes close to the city will have an average “entry price” in the $300,000’s. Since many homes have had updating these will sell for a premium. If you can find an older home on a nice lot on a good block, it is not unusual for the price to be high, even though the house is in poor condition. Many buyers are scraping homes off the lot and building a new home in it’s place.

© 2005 Reflective Motion Inc.