With rising interest rates, record low inventory, and the local media pumping out stories about just how wild the real estate market is (including 5280′s May feature “Everything You Know About Denver’s Real Estate Market Is Wrong“), the news that home prices in the city hit a record high in April—the Denver Metro Association of Realtors reported the average sale price of a single-family home at $439,161, up more than 10 percent over the same month last year—was just the latest thing to send would-be first-time homebuyers into panic mode.
“This market is crazy. It’s crazy for me, and I’m working in it every day,” says Chelsea DeHaven, project manager and licensed assistant to Dee and Steve Ciancio at Liv Sotheby’s International Realty Cherry Creek. “People are overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin.”
In response, 27-year-old DeHaven has created an event to educate real estate novices (her fellow millennials in particular). The First-Time Homebuyers Boot Camp will be hosted at Liv Sotheby’s Cherry Creek offices on Wednesday, May 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. Margaritas and tacos will be served following her expert panel session. The goal? Teaching market newbies the basics of the home-buying process before they start searching—knowledge that ultimately strengthens their buying positions.
“Real estate goes up and real estate goes down, but eventually you want to buy something,” she says. “So it’s never too early to understand the process.”
Of the myriad issues facing today’s first-time homebuyers, money is the top concern, according to DeHaven. “I understand that; I have student loans, and I thought, Will anyone lend me more money?” says DeHaven, who’s currently in the process of closing on her first home, a new build near City Park. “These days, who doesn’t have loans?” One of her team’s preferred lenders will be there to talk credit scores, student loans, credit card debt, and the process of receiving financial gifts that can contribute to a down payment.
Millennials are also more likely to have freelance or contract jobs, which can raise questions when it comes to securing a mortgage. DeHaven says her lender is prepared to talk about how members of the gig economy can prepare for the mortgage approval process. “We all hear stories of people who put in four offers and get outbid,” DeHaven says. “My friends say, ‘How can I possibly have enough money?’ But there are ways to strengthen your position in this market.”
Whether these young buyers are dreaming of a midcentury-modern gem or realizing their budgets mean changing course and opting for older homes, there’s fear in the unknown. “My friends are afraid of buying a lemon. And it’s a very real fear: that you’ll buy an older house and it’ll have hidden problems,” DeHaven says. That’s why one of Liv Sotheby’s preferred home inspectors will also participate in the event, walking participants through the many steps of his inspection process.
It’s not all dire news for first-time buyers, DeHaven says. Despite high prices and low inventory, millennials in the market do have a few things going for them. “We are open-minded,” she says. “We’re not looking for that forever home; it doesn’t have to be perfect.” In addition, she says, this group of buyers is rarely out of touch with technology and largely driven by instant gratification. “I don’t like seeing everyone walking around on their phones either,” DeHaven says. “But in this market, you have to be ready to hop on your phone and say ‘yes’ to a contract within minutes. I’d say we’ve got that part covered.”
For more information on the First-Time Homebuyers Boot Camp or to RSVP for the free event, contact Chelsea DeHaven at [email protected] on or before May 17.