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Denver’s Real Estate Market Tells a Tale of Two Cities

The market's hot everywhere—but by notably different degrees. A local agent explains why.

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Denver’s real estate market continues to cool—relatively speaking—with the average days a residential listing spends on the market up 26 percent over the last month, and now at an average of 24 days across Denver’s 11 metro-area counties, according to the latest report from the Denver Metro Association of Realtors. That means the real estate market is still highly competitive overall and favors sellers, but thanks to a growing supply of listings, buyers have more choices than they did last month or this time last year (and thus, are taking their time to buy).

But Kentwood real estate agent Jill Schafer cautions buyers and sellers from reading too much into the latest report’s findings. Depending on where in the Denver metro area you want to buy or sell, the “micro market” could be a world unto itself. 

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In Denver’s urban core, like Washington Park, for example, supply is low and demand is high—and so are prices. Listings move quickly and get top dollar. Suburban homes, meanwhile, are not moving as quickly—especially if their floor plans are dated or they haven’t been remodeled in the last 15 or so years . Listings are also moving more slowly in areas with less walkability (like golf course communities) or where the supply is mainly two-story homes that are 15 or more years old. “Certain neighborhoods are so hot, and other neighborhoods may not be,” Schafer says. “We really feel completely different markets [across the metro area].”

Highlands Ranch, Schafer says, is an example of a less competitive market in the Denver metro area, because the homes are generally older and larger than modern Colorado buyers prefer.

“A lot of the stock has a formal living room, formal dining rooms, and those just aren’t the way people are living today,” Schafer says. “A lot of people are opting for smaller footprints but more open and much higher-end finishes.” They also like floor plans that prioritize livability, Schafer says, features like walk-in master closets and mudrooms help move properties faster—nice, but practically useless, sitting rooms at the front of the house do not.

Buyers are also not willing (or able) to invest in fixer-uppers. With the median single-family home price now at $555,000, up 3.35 percent from last year, buyers want a livable space that doesn’t need any more work. “People are paying a lot to get into these homes. They don’t often have a lot left over to do updates,” Schafer says.

To snag the best deal or sell at the best price, Schafer recommends finding an agent who knows your particular neighborhood well. After all, it could be a world apart from a few blocks over.

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What are the best places to live in Denver right now? Check out our list of the 25 Best Neighborhoods.

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