Once upon a time in a land called Denver, there lived thousands of people who just wanted to buy a damn house.
These days, the story of purchasing a home in the Mile High City follows a familiar narrative: In Act One, preapproved hopefuls are full of optimism, imagining their growing family thriving inside a charming Denver Square or bungalow. Then comes Act Two, when the wannabe buyers’ fantasies implode after visiting open house after open house, their above-asking-price bids tossed aside by sellers receiving cash offers. Act Three finds our desperate protagonists resigning themselves to paying more than expected for a house that—because it’s smaller, or in a dicier zip code, or less quaint than they’d envisioned—definitely isn’t the home of their dreams.
We’ve all heard this tragic account. And many of us can empathize with our friends, colleagues, and neighbors. But it’s time we reconcile with our real estate reality.
That’s not to say we have to like the ballooning cost of homeownership in Denver. Housing prices here have risen between 9.5 and 11 percent annually for the past six years, and there’s no correction in sight. However, accepting the fact that we live in a tight market in one of the costliest cities in the country (13th, according to the National Association of Realtors) means we need to let go of the fairy tale and get real about finding a desirable house in a suitable neighborhood and molding it to fit our needs—without having to hock a kidney to afford it.
To that end, we spoke with brokers, interior designers, and market specialists to uncover the secrets to surviving Denver’s buyer-hostile housing bazaar. Their insider tips and tricks should ease transplants’ stress as they house hunt in a more expensive city than they’re accustomed to; help new homeowners expand storage space with ingenious design moves; and encourage would-be buyers to widen their search parameters to include neighborhoods and housing options they may not have otherwise considered. Because while griping about the Denver housing market to friends, family, and random strangers may be cathartic, wouldn’t you rather relate the story of how you overcame the city’s housing hurdles to land a perfectly imperfect place to call home?