You’ve seen it by now. Every media outlet in the metro area has certified the 2017 Denver housing market as an official s*** show. Buyers are trying just about anything to get a contract to buy an entry level home—ranging from renting the house to the seller after closing for free to offering free pizza for a year. Before they even start shopping, many squeamish would-be buyers choose to sign another year’s lease on their rental after hearing friends’ tales of writing eleventy offers, a mazillion dollars over asking price, before finally lucking into a place. The market is a jungle for new buyers, but we have some clever tips and tricks to help you navigate.
- Ditch the apps with dated inventory.
Yeah, we know…millennials love technology and scores of beautiful home search apps put a wealth of information at your fingertips. However, some apps (we won’t mention names, but one sounds like Trillow and the other Zulia) take up to 48 hours to syndicate from the MLS database, which means that sweet home that just popped up on your feed may already be under contract. Further compounding the confusion, these apps have under contract and sold listings live on their site for weeks before updating, which gives them more opportunity capture your contact info, which is sold to participating real estate agents. The best website for searches is www.recolorado.com, which is the consumer-side website of the Denver MLS. The best option is receiving real-time updates via the MLS client portal, a service your real estate agent can provide. We must also add that www.bluebirddenver.com is fantastic and we have a great phone app with real-time updates available to our clients here.
- Shop new listings on weekends, old listings on weekdays
Most listings hit the market late in the week (Thursday and Friday), with showings Friday-Sunday and an acceptance decision on Monday. Most buyers are out during the weekend, creating intense competition for these new listings. By Monday, most of the MLS is a farty dirt patch of listings about to switch over to “under contract.” On Mondays and Tuesdays, we like our buyers to come back around and look for listings that have been on the market for two weekends or more. Many times, these listings are overlooked because they may be overpriced. The time on the market without an offer opens the door for our buyers to offer below the list price.
- Be the first one there and get your offer in fast
Seriously, don’t wait. While some sellers say they’ll wait until the end of the weekend before reviewing offers, we’ve seen enough sellers get so overwhelmed that they end up taking an offer after one day on market. If you think the home you see online is the perfect fit, do what you can to get in the door as soon as possible.
- Do your due diligence ahead of time
Find out what matters to the seller outside of money. Do they need a rent back? Are they worried about appraisal? Do they want a buyer that is going to love the house the way they have?
- Your lender matters
Not only can a good lender get you a better rate and offer better service, they can make or break your offer. Some sellers won’t even consider your offer if you are getting your loan from the big bank because they know that the bank won’t pick up the phone on the weekend and if anything goes awry with the loan, no one in the bureaucracy will step up and take responsibility. Our preferred lenders pick up the phone seven days a week, answer questions at any hour, and will personally call the listing agent to vouch for our qualified buyers.
- Let someone else pay your mortgage
You’ve probably heard of car sharing by now. Have you considered sharing your home? Services like AirBnB connect homeowners with people looking for a place to crash. Savvy homebuyers are finding homes with additional space that can be rented out. Consider a home with a mother-in-law unit, a carriage home, a duplex, or even a spare bedroom and have renters subsidize your mortgage. Recently, one of our first-time homebuyers bought a duplex near a new commuter rail station. He lives in one unit and rents the other unit out on AirBnB, grossing roughly $2,000 a month. With a mortgage payment of $2,200, renters cover almost the entirety of his mortgage.
- Surfaces are easy to change
Nothing is sexier than an old home with a new roof, new furnace, new windows and a new sewer. These repairs are costly when buying a new home. More importantly, these are indicators of whether the home has been properly maintained. You want easy to tackle? New surfaces. Old green shag carpeting is easy to remove and walls can be painted. The dated kitchen—you can design it exactly however you like rather than settling for the flippers’ clearance special finishes. Move-in ready is nice to have—but it can pay off in the long run to see past the old surfaces.
- Look toward future transit stations
Did you know that homes near new transit stations have increased in value up to 150%? Did you know that Denver is still expanding its growing network of commuter rail lines? New opportunities for appreciation are available near the just opened B and R Lines and the soon to open G Line. If you are looking for a longer term investment, check out future stations along the N Line, which will open near the end of this decade.
- Create the community you want to live in
Are you considering a home that is outside of the neighborhood you love with all the amenities? Do something about it. If there isn’t a daycare you like, get on NextDoor and form a childcare group. If there are not any coffee shops or breweries, try recruiting those businesses to your area. If there isn’t a nearby natural grocer, get involved in a food co-op. Neighborhoods change over time and if you aren’t completely satisfied with everything your new hood offers, consider it an opportunity to make a difference and make a change.
- Appreciate the charms of your new community
Don’t fear the unknown — you will be surprised with what you discover. It won’t be long before today’s up and coming community becomes tomorrow’s hottest hood.
- Maintain a positive attitude and keep you eyes on the prize
Chances are you won’t snag the first great house that you find. It’s not the end of the world. New listings hit the market every day. Before you know it, you’ll be the owner of a home that you love. It is a challenging time for first-time homebuyers and it is okay to get frustrated. Yet, these are also distinctly first-world problems. Maintaining a positive attitude throughout the process is the best way to keep your sanity and keep yourself focused on landing a great home.