As one of the best places to live in the United States, Denver, Colorado can be an attractive city for many new homebuyers. Situated at the base of the majestic Rocky Mountains, Denver has a thriving cultural scene and a steady job market. On top of that, Denver is a beautiful destination year-round. It’s no wonder why the demand for Denver homes has increased. But where do you start as first-time homebuyer or someone looking to purchase their next new home in Denver?
Jennifer Fairbanks, Shea Homes Colorado's Web and Marketing Manager, with several years of Denver real estate experience, sat down with us to talk about her learnings in this industry and some tips for people considering buying a home in the Denver area. Whether you are a first-time homebuyer, a new homebuyer, or looking to upgrade to your Denver dream home, there are four questions that you should be asking yourself to ensure you're making an investment that is right for you. Check out the list below to help answer these tough homebuying questions.
1. NEW HOME VS. RESALE: WHICH HOME IS THE RIGHT FIT FOR YOU?
While there is a strong housing market for both new homes and resale homes, each housing option varies in terms of inventory, cost, and personalization. Jennifer Fairbanks noted that currently, Denver has a low inventory of resale homes, as more homeowners are choosing to remodel or refinance their existing homes. She encourages people to consider buying new homes over resale, especially for those looking to lock in a certain price range. Other advantages Jennifer notes about buying a new home is the potential for greater flexibility in personalizing the home, as well as the financial benefit of potentially paying less in mortgage payments than some people pay in rent. For example, in the Denver Tech area, Jennifer knows of residents paying upwards of $3,000 per month for a 2-bed/2-bath apartment.
Check out our New vs. Resale blog for a more detailed download on the benefits of these two homebuying options. If you are still deciding on the benefits of owning a home vs. renting, check out our resources that break down the pros and cons.
2. DOWNTOWN VS. SUBURBS: WHICH AREA FITS YOUR NEEDS?
What is the biggest piece of advice Jennifer would give to homebuyers? Conduct as much research as possible around where you want to live in Denver. Housing is typically divided into two main areas - downtown and southern suburbs. Before searching for homes in either area, it is important to reflect on your current and future lifestyle, as well as your budget.
Jennifer clued us in that homes in downtown Denver tend to be priced higher and are better suited for couples without kids or for those looking to live close to the Denver metro area. On the other hand, the southern suburbs, which include Highlands Ranch, Parker, Castle Pines, Lone Tree, and Castle Rock, are better suited for millennial couples who are thinking about starting a family.
Shea Homes has some exciting new communities located in the Denver area. The Canyons, located in Castle Pines, is a master-planned community featuring 1-story and 2-story single-family detached homes with dedicated spaces for recreation, such as a resort-style pool, fitness center, and kid zone. Neighboring The Canyons is our other master-planned community, Stargaze at Solstice, located near Littleton. Featuring 2-story and ranch-style homes and easy access to nearby trails and fishing make this community ideal for those wanting an adventure right at their footsteps.
3. WHAT MAKES DENVER DIFFERENT THAN MOST OTHER REGIONS?
One of the perks of living in Colorado is that homeowners get to experience leaves changing in the fall, hot summer days spent by the lakes, and fresh snowfall in the winter months. One thing to keep in mind, especially for those looking to build their dream home from the ground up, is that the weather in Denver can sometimes affect the timeline in the home building process. Jennifer Fairbanks let us know that homebuilders cannot give homebuyers an exact closing date until the home is in the drywall stage.
The weather can also be a major factor when it comes to moving into your new home. While it's fun to get outdoors and play in the snow, it can also pose some unique challenges for homeowners, especially for those not used to dealing with colder climates. Luckily, if you find yourself moving to Denver in the winter months, we have a Moving In The Winter Survival Checklist to make the task less daunting!
Basements might be rare to find in other states, but in Denver, roughly 60% of all homes have some sort of basement. Jennifer notes that because of the soil conditions in Denver and the fact that some basements require structural wood floors, basements can often increase the overall price of the home. When you're shopping for a home in Denver, make sure to weigh your wants versus your needs. If a basement is a must-have, make sure to ask the right questions to understand what is required for safety and upkeep.
Check out our Want vs. Need Checklist that you can use when shopping for your dream home.
Need ideas for what to do with your basement space? We’ve put together some ideas for how to customize a flex room to fit your lifestyle.
4. DO YOU KNOW WHICH FINANCING OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE TO YOU AND WHAT THEY MEAN?
There are a variety of home loan programs, loan rates, and loan options available for financing your home. Our Shea Mortgage team can help guide you through this process to find a loan option that best fits your needs. To help you get started in the loan education process, check out our mortgage process and loan guide that explain the most common loan types and their benefits.
One mortgage term that can be confusing is the term 'pre-qualification'. This is the step in which a mortgage lender will assess your debt to income ratio to give an estimation of the loan amount you qualify for. This step will help you also determine how much home you can afford. As a tip, to make this process as streamlined and as stress-free as possible, we suggest keeping digital copies of your pay stubs, tax returns and bank statements. You can also download our pre-qualification checklist to have handy when you meet with your mortgage lender.
We hope you feel more confident about buying a home in Denver after tackling these difficult homebuying questions. If not, don't fret! At Shea Homes, we have a qualified sales team and mortgage team that are ready to help you find your Denver dream home! Explore all of our Shea Home Denver communities on our website and contact us with any home questions you may have!