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I hear the question “Is it still a good time to buy a house in Denver?” quite often, as potential home buyers wonder whether they’ve missed the market. My answer is that yes, it’s still a good time to buy a house in Denver, though it’s going to take resilience, and let me tell you why. Even though the dream of getting a screaming deal on a foreclosure got on the bus and left the depot, the strength of today’s market and home affordability show that buying a house in Denver is still a great idea.

It looked for a moment that the Denver Real Estate Market was slowing down toward the end of the summer and into fall, but what I’m seeing now, we still have a very strong market! Showing activity is high meaning that buyers are out there looking, and inventory as of January 1 was still very, very low at one month of inventory  [meaning if no other homes came on the market it would only take a month to sell them ALL].

Buyers will need to be prepared to pull the trigger in this tight market; pre-qualified, well qualified and ready to present a strong offer to win in the ever-so-common bidding wars.  This can mean a number of things I’d be glad to go over with you specifically. Many Buyers will conduct a home inspection solely for informational purposes without asking the Seller to repair or credit for inspection items. This relieves the Seller of the anxiety of a major or costly issue coming up and being asked to pay for it, and though the Buyer may feel similar anxiety over having to assume a house “AS-IS” they can, if done properly, still terminate the contract should the home prove unsatisfactory. Reasonable buyers, sellers and their agents would rather work out a fair negotiation than lose a good contract, even with this stipulation. Another strategy I’ve seen applied is for the buyer to offer to make up some or all of any difference between the contract purchase price and the appraised value of the home should it come in low. As bidding wars force prices up, last month’s comps may not provide the appraiser with enough information to value at contract price, or the home might have exceeded current market value. The market is moving so fast, many buyers would rather kick in some extra cash than go back out looking once they’ve found and been accepted on a home they love. Of course, you’ll have to have the cash to do this so a bit of planning might be in order if you decide to employ this.

The good news for you Buyers is that real estate still offers great wealth building potential. Using standard assumptions (5% annual appreciation), a home purchased today for $250,000 with a 10% down payment and a 4.5% interest rate can produce about $200,000 in equity in a decade! Those of you who are renting may want to think seriously about investing in yourselves.  Even if you don’t have a full 10% for the down, there’s still $$$ to be made.

There are two myths in real estate that are not holding up in today’s Denver market. One is that real estate runs in seven year cycles; statistics show the last up-swing lasted for seventeen, plenty of time to build equity.  The second myth is that condos are the last to rise in value and the first to tank. Right now we are seeing condominium values appreciating similarly to single homes. Overall home affordability remains attractive when you factor in interest rates, home prices and average rents (up 40% over the past five years). A very good time to buy, but before you do I advise investing in some good running shoes.

Sitting in a real estate marketing seminar in a downtown Denver hotel, fluorescent lighting, those stiff, stacking chairs…The peppy presenter popped off a proposition. “What if you are more than their agent? What if you become their ‘Realtor for Life’? Still new to the whole real estate thing, I pondered this process and then…Matt and Kelly at home
I met Kelly on a late summer Denver day. We discovered, as we played in the park, that her eldest daughter would be joining my first son at an elementary school come fall. What we didn’t know was that we’d spend our lives together.
Then I met Felipe. He was Kelly’s husband. Of an autumn afternoon at the schoolyard, we chatted to the strains of swings on metal. He learned I was in real estate, I learned he was a hairdresser. We met a few weeks later to talk about selling their rental property, which I did. It was my first listing appointment, and he became my hairstylist.
The kids moved up a grade or two, we’d had some backyard barbecues, another child was born… ya know… life. I was offered a seat at their kitchen table. It was time to move along down romance road, time to sell the family home. Which I did.
Felipe met Molly. Molly need to sell her home. So I did. Kelly moved in to a rental, Molly and Felipe moved into a rental. We changed schools, I changed hairdressers—not for any particular reason, just because that’s what women do— we exchanged numbers and kept in contact. No… we kept in touch.
And where were we then, a pool, maybe? I remember Kelly in the sunshine, loading the kids into the van and waving from the carpool lane. “Call me” she motioned. And I did. It was time to buy a place of her own, where she could build a home and some equity. We found it.
Then Kelly met Matt. He was a software developer and you could see by the look in her eyes that something extraordinary was developing. (You know what’s coming don’t you?) They weren’t really looking when the called me, but they saw this home… 1391459_10202143854259316_2076064518_n (1)She has her three, Matt has two of his own, so it had to be roomy. And special. And it is.
So special, in fact, that they got married on the steps of their City Park South home and threw a block party reception that people are still talking about! The evening was magical; Matt and Kelly dancing in the marquee-lit street to the Trubelos, the young ones are rapt by the aerial ballet, the teenagers wrapped in one another, and the Governor chatting with the townsfolk.
Sitting at a table, Molly and Felipe hold hands as he catches up with his past life and the people who people it. Three days later we closed on their new home together.
Ah, you can’t beat love.

all about eve
Working as a professional actress has taught me many things: tenacity and humility for one. (Ha!). Along with the starring roles and the smaller roles come the understudying gigs. They’ve kept me on my toes, fully insured and employed. Largely the experience hasn’t been in the glamorous, deceitful, clamoring-for-fame vein portrayed in the 1950 film classic, All About Eve, mine have had been more in line with the Girl Scout motto.
Three decades in the industry has kept me ambitious, created a strong work ethic and instilled a somewhat healthy insecurity that feeds my drive. Pounding the pavement, perpetually prospecting and practicing persistence is the perfect training ground for a career in the real estate business, but nothing could have prepared me for spring of ’13.
After Romeo & Juliet, my first foray into the First Folio, I was looking forward to a seasonal ramp up in the real estate world and my end of season gig at the Denver Center Theatre as understudy in “Other Desert Cities”. Shoulda been a cakewalk, it was not.
The rapid acceleration of the Denver housing market coincided with my ascension from understudy to starring role and the first audience in just eight days. (Actually it was a 5 character ensemble play, but ‘starring role’ does sound, well… more dramatic). Time to drill down and focus on my lines; stringing together the beads of this complex and demanding character would come later. I was hitting the wall as we hit our “10 out of 12”, theatre speak for long-ass day, when an offer came in on my hot Congress Park listing. Negotiating a deal and my way around the stage, I had to find my clients a replacement home. Dinner breaks became showing appointments, opening doors as my lines streamed through my headphones, I existed on chocolate bars and power naps until… “You’re on, Eve.”eve harrington
The show opened, the clients closed on their new house and the actress/Realtor spent a week in Vail recuperating, which is important as the pace has not slowed. The message of my Girl Scout leader, BE PREPARED, has a whole new meaning with the real estate market at a break neck pace. “Prepared” to drop what you’re doing to snap up a showing on a snappy place, “prepared” with a purchase contract ever-ready on the tablet, “prepared” to list a home on Thursday, hold it open on Saturday and present offers on Sunday. “Prepared” went from having snacks and water in your ditty bag to performing the above tasks for multiple clients, sleeping very little, and loving it. If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, or both, I still have some treats in the ditty bag. Mostly chocolate.