Home Buying in 80205>Question Details

Rg, Home Buyer in Denver, CO

Need Help/Advice about first time buyer in Denver - Downtown Area

Asked by Rg, Denver, CO Sun Apr 27, 2008

Don't want to rent anymore. Want to be nearish or close to Downtown or near I-25 for easy commuting etc. Impossible feat in today's market to find a single fam house or condo in a price range of about $150K? Interested only in Downtown, Cap Hill, Baker, Highlands surrounding area. Close to i-25. Is a condo not a good investment in this market? Should i consider houses more instead?

Help the community by answering this question:


I am going to attempt to answer all three of your questions, but will do so in reverse order:

1. Should I consider houses more instead? Historically, single family homes have held their values better than condos and townhomes. This is particularly true during market downturns. However, recent data suggests that may be changing as the 'baby boomer' generation is starting to retire and condos and townhomes typically offer maintenance free living that is becoming very desirable.

2. Is a condo not a good investment in this market? The answer above speaks to part of this question, but the reality is that any home: single family, condo, townhome, patio home, etc. can be a good investment. You just have to buy it right. Consider this example: you buy a 2 bedroom condo that you paid $200,000 cash for, but with a little updating that property is actually worth $230,000. Then you rent it out for $1500/month for 3 years. Let's say property values go up 5% a year over that 3 year period. That home is now worth $266,253 so you sell it. So right off the top you're up $66,253 in equity gain. But you've also rented it out for three years and generated another $54,000 in rental income. Of course you will have expenses, and HOA fees that have to come off the top. Let's call that $20,000 in expenses over three years. The gross upside in that situation is still about $100,000. Does a 50% ROI sound like a good investment to you?

3. Impossible feat in today's market to find a single fam house or condo in a price range of about $150K? Not impossible, but your options will be very limited at that price point. Baker and Highlands are some of the hottest areas in Denver right now. Depending on what you consider as downtown or Cap Hill, you might finf some inventory there.

Let me know if you'd be interested in getting more info about available listings in those areas.

Best of luck,

Larry Brake
HomeSmart Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 30, 2014
If buying a condo you have to look at how many units are available in the development vs. how many are sold. If there are only a few units available financing should not be a problem. Ultimately the decision should come down to where you are at in life. If you want more time and less responsibility a condo may be for you. If you are still hand on and like to take care of things yourself then perhaps a single family is best for you
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 22, 2014
I actually ended up spending about $340,000 to find what I wanted and the market has gone up a lot. There are still some 1BR condos in the area for around 200k but if you go below that mark it is pretty thin.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 4, 2014
As a mortgage banker, I'm working with a 1st time buyer right now who's at the 150k mark as well, looking to be in the areas that you are, unfortunately she cannot find what she's needing, which is a single family home in these neighborhoods without hitting $200k or over, and that's for atleast 2bd/1bath homes, that need almost nothing.
Right now she's had to scale back the search and go townhome, which a bunch of them are just out of reach, otherwise settle for the 2 bdrm condos. Many times, that's what you get for location and convenience, unfortunately.
Pretty much most properties are hold their values in this market. You may not necessarily see the inflation in value that you'd like in the timing you're expecting, but you're not going to see depreciation, in these parts of town.

Commonsense says, if that's what you can afford and that's all that's available, are multi-dwelling unit-type condos, apartments, and select small town homes, then take the plunge and go for it. otherwise keep waiting.....
Otherwise you can try to search for HUD homes (deeply discounted homes), but too many cash investors these days outbidding and jumping on all the deals faster than the first time buyer could ever act. In a sense, it's unfair that we're seeing it this way.

The biggest problem right now, is that we're in one of the lowest inventory periods - actual numbers of homes for sale and are turning over - than we've seen in several years. Some of the biggest factors to blame are the interest rates - as everything took a point to point and a quarter hit, across the board for all loan types. That has directly correlated to the amounts of people being able to do things financially, had upped the cost of the loans, and now people's money cannot go further as it once did 8+ months ago. The result, more people are holding on, and not selling, and people buying today can't get what they could dollar wise back then. It's that simple.

Single family homes these days (that aren't significantly over priced or needing massive renovations) sit on the market sometimes for 30 days or much less, or slightly more. Almost All of them getting multiple bids. My last buyer had to bid on 11 homes over a 3 month period before finally having one accepted - and each bid WAS for the asking/sales price. It wasn't the realtor's fault at all. just too many people want the same homes. It's a very competitive market right now. What's also hurting is that there are not many builders building new homes either. Denver is continuing to grow, less people selling, the rental market is completely maxed out. I don't mean to be debbie downer, but these are the realties of where we stand right now. IT COULD change in the months to come, but right now, you have to move and act quick and decisively when you see something that seem right.

What's also very important to consider, speed of closing and your money source being able to fund you that loan - this is not talked about as much as it should be, because a good portion of some realtors don't quite seem to get it as being a valid factor.
This is becoming increasingly more prevelant in today's market where some home owners want out as soon as possible. Not always the highest bidder anymore, like it used to be.

One of the reason why I am a loan officer for a mortgage company and not a traditional bank or a broker, is that I can get my loans funded in 1/3rd less time or in half the time, on occasion. Thus borrowers going with mortgage companies often have a huge advantage, if capiltalized on correctly, because these institutions often have a more cohesive infrastructure to fund a loan quickly - that means having the in-house operations to get it done quicker.
I've seen these borrowers/buyers get their offers honored over those who went to their bank, and have a few examples in my past where I have proven this to be the case. This is because some banks take up to 30-45 days to close on their loans, and some sellers don't want to wait 2-3 extra weeks to get out.
Not mention, the level of competency and skill on your Realtor, along with the relationship with the lender who is funding the loan is key. Work with a good team who know the work flow and habits of each, this way you'll maximize your ability to get you offer in the best position for consideration.
This is what I found to be true recently.

If you'd like more advice and important considerations like this, give me a call anytime.
720 362 2600 I'm happy to help any time.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 4, 2014
It can be done. For example, in the Whittier neighborhood, which is just 2.5 miles away from LoDo, I have a client right now who is under contract for a cute little 1 bed 1 bath rowhome for 145,000. You just need to keep an eye out and be ready when something pops up, because in the
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 11, 2014
Way to go off on a tangeant Mr. Hindes
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 23, 2012
The best thing you can do is contact a local housing authority for assistance. Save a Child Housing Authority is a good place to start. They help with financing, down payment, closing costs, credit repair, finding quality homes at a discount that you can't get through the Broker community.

YOu can use a Broker with the Housing Authority or you can do it on your own. Save a Child is an excellent resource for first time home buyers and persons with credit or housing issues. They are a non profit so how much money they make helping you is not their concern.

contact arscorp@comcast.net, Save a Child has a great website as well.

Craig Hindes
Broker-Save a Child Housing Authority
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 23, 2012
Homepath has a great deal listed at 249k with a large balcony at 2441 broadway. One of the gems in that building (very few balconies)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 23, 2012
1777 e 39th. Saw it on zillow. One at 147k. I have no affiliation to it. I just bought in the area...2 years away from the new light rail stations! Great price per sq ft there. Lots of options near ballpark if you want to go over 200k
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 23, 2012
If you do consider houses, there are several fix me ups that might be right up your alley! Feel free to contact me with your questions.


Bret Weinstein
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 23, 2012

Congratulations on making up your mind to purchase a home. It is a good time for 1st time homebuyers. There are several programs available that even have downpayments as low as $1000. Why pay someone else's mortgage payment and not your own. In the areas you are considering there may be some possibilities for homes in decent shape for $150,000. It will depend on size, condition, etc. to find the right home. There is also the option of condos, townhomes, and half duplexes to consider. You wil have more options in that realm. Let me know if I can help you further. Just contact me and we can discuss your options. We are here to assist you with your real estate needs.

Robert McGuire ASR
Your Castle Real Estate
1776 S. Jackson St. #412
Denver CO 80210
Direct – 303-669-1246
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 28, 2012
Contact Save a Child Housing Authority for huge discounts on quality housing. rsullins@comcast.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 28, 2012
Condo is the best option. I would start your search in the Platte River District and if that market is too highly priced move to the lower Broadway area.
Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 26, 2012
I've got a great condo in Congress park/Capitol Hill not even listed yet in your price range. Cross streets are 13th&Grafield. They are also willing to rent initially. Let me know if interested.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 19, 2008
Hi there,

I actually have had friends buy in the capital hill area and were able to find condos under that price point. It would always be a good rental later on if you had it for some time. Though you mightwant to talk a an agent who specializes in Capital Hill to see what is going on there. There are many condos on the market currently, but finding a single family in that neighborhood will probably not be likely. Though you could look over in the sunnyside neighborhood. I bought a HUD home over there that I have as a rental for $150 , but it did need fix up, so keep that in mind. Sunnyside is located super close to downtown and is right off Highlands but closer to I-25 and I-70 interchange. My rental is 5 minutes from downtown but I have a nice yard.

From the loan aspect, being a mortgage banker for 5 years I can give you a rundown on what has changed pretty quickly. If you have a score less then 680 you will need 5% down if you go conventional. If your score is greater then 680 you can put down 3%, and it actually can come as a gift directly from a family member (sorry Matthew). Also, Matthew is correct about not all of the buildings being FHA approved, not all of them are. That is not to say you can't get FHA financing in those buildings. We do what is called a spot approval, actually not that uncommon. If the building is listed as approved by HUD then you don't need a spot approval. You can do thge 3% down with FHA and actually given the number of condos on the market up ther you might be able to get the seller to particiapate in a down payment assistance program that could grant you the 3% required for down payment. From there on either conventional or FHA the seller can contribute 3% towards your closing costs. Structuring the loan right, this could eliminate you from bringing any additional monies to closing aside from that initial earnest money deposit you made when you wrote your real estate contract. However, you would also be eligible to potentially receive up to what you put into the transaction (earnest money) back on an FHA loan. On a conventional loan you may find they would want you to have at least $500 of your own money into the transaction. Bear in mind with all the changes FHA is going to have more competitive rates and lower mortgage insurance then a conventional loan. I hope this helps.


Ray Williams
Branch Manager
Summit Mortgage Denver
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 14, 2008
I've been helping another first time home buyer in that exact same are the past few weeks. He was limited to under 100K so we only found 7 or 8 to look at. You mention being pre-approved. Are you going FHA or conventional? Conventional will require 5% down payment and it cannot be gifted. FHA requires 3% down payment that can be gifted. The reason that I ask is because only certain buildings are FHA approved. There are some nice apartments that have recently been converted to lofts and condos but are not FHA approved. I just found a nice single family home for a couple off Fillmore but that is a little out of the area you are looking. I believe from an investment standpoint you will do better with a single family home. You may have to adjust your criteria a little. There are some up and coming neighborhoods that you can get into now at that price. Cole for instance. the link below is to search HUD approved condo buildings.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 30, 2008
I think the best advice is to interview a couple of realtors, and hire one to help you with your search and the whole process. There's so much information and misinformation out there, that working with someone who you trust, one-on-one is really the best way to find your perfect home, and get all of your real estate questions answered. And the best part...as a buyer, you do not pay for our services.
Web Reference: http://www.IreneGlazer.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 30, 2008
You'll be hard pressed to stay in your price range, but condos/townhomes are not a bad option. Berkeley is not far away and that's up and coming. I could provide a search if you'd like, but it's just a matter of seeing what's on the market.

Don Nelson - 303-506-0211
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 30, 2008
I don't really do this so I am answering the question I posted. I'm already pre-approved for up to about $150K Max for what i want to spend on my monthly payments including HOA. My credit is 780, so I know my options as far as loans I think - unless anyone has any creative suggestions. I just want to find something that is finished, and a good value. Other advice or suggestions welcome. Thanks, RG.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 28, 2008
Definitely not impossible to find a great condo in that price range. There are a lot out there. Houses will be more difficult, but not undoable. I've been in the business since 2001, specialize in the central Denver neighborhoods, and have helped many a first time homebuyer.
Would be happy to give you some great info. Please call or write me at your convenience.
Irene Glazer
Live Urban Real Estate
Web Reference: http://www.IreneGlazer.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 28, 2008
A condo or townhome would probably get you your best buy now. Even though condos are the most market sensitive of properties, you can find some good buys now. Most real estate appreciates over time, even in a more down market, so buy your best place now, keeping location and condition very much in mind. You also need to know the strength of the homeowners associations. A single family home for $150K would be hard to find in those areas, and I would be leery of the condition.

Good advice on getting your mortgage in place now. That way, when you find "the place" you can put an offer in immediately!

Let me know if I can help you. Even though I office in Castle Rock, I am very familiar with the Denver market and have past and current clients there. jamie@kimbroughproperties.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 28, 2008
Hi Rg,

A tip from the financing side -- you'll want to get pre-approved before you go looking at houses. A pre-approval empowers you with a clear understanding of what a lender is willing to finance for you and you won't find yourself falling in love with a home that you are later unable to buy. For a free, no-obligation pre-approval, e-mail me at ben@bythebrookemortgage.com.

Take care!

Ben Edgson
Mortgage Broker
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 28, 2008

Great decision not to rent any more. With the way home prices and interest rates are right now it costs about the same to own as rent, and as a first time home buyer you will be able to take advantage of some really excellent loan products.

To answer your question, it's not impossible to find what you are looking for. But keep in mind that your purchasing power is less when you buy a condo because you have to figure HOA fees into your monthly payments when qualifying.

I did find you a nice single family home a few blocks from the Auraria campus and a minute to the Colfax ramp to I-25, in your price range. If you don't like the looks of this one I'd love to work with you to find a home that suits your needs.


John Keene, EcoBroker
Keller Williams
* call to find out how you can live carbon free for the next three years!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 27, 2008
Hi Rg,
In the $150,000 price range your very best bet will be a condo or townhouse. Houses in the locations you listed will likely not be very appealing. More difficult to fix up and sell again one day than a condo/townhouse will be.

You can click on the yellow star on my web site to find all listed townhouses, condos and homes.

Let me know if I can assist you further.

Bill Kosena, ABR, CRS, SRES
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 27, 2008
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