Special Features

As 70 million baby boomers reach retirement, will just any ranch do? Introducing easyHouse by Boulder Creek

By Mark Samuelson

Boulder Creek s David Sinkey joins Teri Winchester (left) and Connie Archer in front of the easyHouse ranch model at Outlook in Castle Rock.
With 70 million baby boomers headed for retirement across the country, including many empty-nest types searching here in Colorado for ranch style homes, will just any single-level plan work okay for an aging buyer? Builders all over offer ranch plans - but the builder that led the field in single-level living believes that being a ranch isn't enough - that a home designed to work for those buyers needs to go way beyond traditional ranch design.Boulder Creek Neighborhoods has been talking with its hundreds of buyers - combing their needs and experiences to find out what a ranch really needs in order for a buyer to live life to the fullest. The result is easyHouse - single level designs that have dozens of features that buyers headed into those post-50 years are going to need.

"We knew lots of competition would be coming," says Boulder Creek president David Sinkey during a quick preview. "We see other builders trying to design for this market, and while they get two or three things right, they often make compromises on the rest." In easyHouse you'll see virtually NO steps - not from the garage, the deck, nor into the shower. Doors are 3-foot-width - even closet doors and pantry doors. Kitchen islands are set well back from surrounding counters.

Stairwells are wider (Boulder Creek includes large finished lower level space standard in these); and every plan has flexible spaces - say, an office, or morning room, or for a grand piano. Homes each have at least two full bedroom suites on the main-level (some three) - situations that can work for a 'cross-generational' buyer that may have a parent coming home, or a kid moving back in. "I like the openness," said Doug Carnahan of Larkspur, who with wife Patricia got in for a look last week, after exploring alternatives to their older house for some time.

Meanwhile, whether or not you're part of the 50-plus set, you'll see considerations designed to appeal to any experienced buyer: "People who have owned homes for years have artwork, and we're showing places to put that," says Teri Winchester, who along with Connie Archer will be on hand at the Castle Rock community.

easyHouse is set to open Saturday, Sept. 6 at Outlook in Castle Rock, in the Plum Creek golf course community; and at The Lakes at Centerra, a new Loveland master plan taking shape near the Centerra shopping center. Both will feature Boulder Creek's signature low-maintenance services such as lawn care and snow removal - along with two dozen features that may be less visible, but that make easyHouse work better for fifty-plus buyers than many other ranches.

This weekend you can visit EasyHouseforLife.com to join the VIP list for upcoming easyHouse Grand Openings and information (Boulder Creek expects to bring easyHouse to from five to seven Front Range communities over the coming year).

WHERE: VIP interest list for easyHouse single-level homes designed to age-in-place, by Boulder Creek Neighborhoods; models open Sept. 6 at Outlook at Plum Creek in Castle Rock, and at The Lakes at Centerra in Loveland. Visit the web site now for advance information, and to receive details on future grand openings.

PRICE: $450,000 - $600,000, varying by location

WEB: easyHouseforLife.com

Mark Samuelson writes on real estate and business; you can email him at mark@samuelsonassoc.com.You can see all of Mark Samuelson's columns at DenverPost.com/RealEstate. Follow Mark Samuelson on Twitter: @marksamuelson

  • Down payment assistance is out there, but does it matter in Denver’s housing market?

    John Leyba, The Denver PostMolly DuBois at her home August 22, 2016. The story is about down payment assistance programs — CHFA, for one, offers 3 percent of the total sale price in the form of a grant to eligible homebuyers — and whether having that type of assistance even matters in a red-hot real estate market like Denver’s.
    Saving for a down payment can be a challenge, so challenging, in fact, that 25 percent of first-time buyers told the National Association of Realtors last year it was the most difficult part of the entire homebuying process.
    After all, as the standard wisdom goes, you’re supposed to put down 20 percent of your home’s purchase price. In a market such as Denver, where the median sale price in July was $354,000, that can easily exceed $60,000.
    “There are plenty of borrowers out there with good credit quality and the desire to be homeowners,” said Cris A. White, CEO of the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority. “They generally have the cash flow, the ability to make monthly loan payments, but it’s the down payment portion that has been tougher.”
    But before you throw in the towel and resign yourself to renting forever, there is help out there — to the tune of 3 to 4 percent of the purchase price — and many people may be surprised to learn they qualify.
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  • Development opportunities emerge around Northglenn RTD rail station

    The acres of empty fields that now surround the construction of a commuter rail line station platform at East 112th Avenue in Northglenn may soon be full of housing and commercial development options.
    The Northglenn station is the penultimate stop on the Regional Transportation District’s currently funded section of the North Metro Rail line — the N line — from Denver’s  Union Station to Eastlake at East 124th Avenue — eventually ending at Colorado 7, depending on funds. The stop itself is just north of East 112th Avenue, off York Street.
    “The market is saying that there are more opportunities for housing there than for some of the other uses that we’ve looked at,” said Becky Smith, a city planner and project manager for Northglenn.  “So commercial areas have been identified, but they’re mostly optional and encouraged.”
    She said the city’s preliminary development guide so far foresees a mix of medium- and high-density residential closer to the station, transitioning to medium and lower single-family homes west of the site, toward existing residential.
    The vacant corner of York Street and East 112th Avenue could provide commercial opportunities, but that’s entirely up to three private landholders whom the city is continuing to meet with to discuss development options.
    Thornton city planners are working with Northglenn on the development guide, because two of those landowners control property in Thornton, directly east of the station across York Street.
    “The landowners are definitely excited,” said Karen Widomski, senior planner in Thornton. “We’re hoping that it will be more of a unique residential type that we haven’t seen in other parts of the city.”
    At the Northglenn stop, there are more than 100 acres of open land that could be transformed into new neighborhoods. Today, the station platform is surrounded by hundreds of homes to the west and southeast, mostly vacant fields directly north and east and a small industrial business park to the southwest.
    Anya Semenoff, The Denver Post)Construction continues at the North Metro Rail line station at 112th Avenue and York Street in Northglenn, Colorado.
    “Our working vision is to create a station that serves the surrounding neighborhoods as a vital and vibrant community hub, that provides enhanced connectivity to the station and surrounding neighborhoods and that strengthens and sustains the diverse industrial uses to the south,” Smith said.
    Among the city’s plans for the arrival of the commuter line in 2018 are new pedestrian connections such as bike lanes and crosswalks around the neighborhoods and into the adjacent industrial business park.
    Vance Sabbe, co-owner of Northglenn’s only craft brewery, Beer By Design at 2100 E. 112th Ave., said that access from the station, across 112th Avenue would be ideal.
    “It would be great if they could help people get to us since we’re still a couple blocks away from the stop,” Sabbe said. “I’ve thought about maybe doing advertising in the car itself to make sure people know we’re at the stop, and we’ve talked about starting a shuttle service to maybe attract more customers over.”
    This first phase of the planned 18.5-mile electric commuter rail line is supposed to be finished and through with testing  at the end of 2017, opening early 2018. The Northglenn station includes an open parking lot with 316 spaces.
    “What’s good about this station is the walkability that people are going to have from the neighborhoods and the commercial district nearby,” said Hadley Trent, spokeswoman for Regional Rail Partners, the company building out the line. “During peak travel times (from 6-9 a.m. and about 4-6 p.m.) the trains will be at this station approximately every 20 minutes.”
    Construction on the Northglenn station is moving quickly. Workers will create a raised platform that commuters can access with walk-up ramps and stairs from the parking lot and install the canopies over the platform in the coming months, just before the track is installed.
    The total cost of the project, from Denver Union Station to 124th Avenue, is $764 million. That includes design and construction, purchase of all necessary properties and purchase of the commuter rail vehicles.
    “We’re really excited about that station coming in,” Smith said. “We see it as a great opportunity for the city and that area. Most of the new development opportunity is on the Thornton side, but we do believe there are great opportunities to create vibrancy in that area.”

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  • Inventory shortage drives U.S. home sales down

    WASHINGTON — US homebuyers pulled back in July, as sales declined amid a shortage of available properties and steadily rising prices.
    Sales of existing homes fell 3.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. The decline marks a reversal from rising demand that pushed sales in June to their highest level since February 2007.
    Fewer homes are coming onto the market, putting a cap on the sales growth enjoyed earlier this year thanks in part to a low mortgage rate and brightening job market. Rising demand for homes is a positive. But the dwindling supply of listings has pushed up prices, which suggests a market not yet at full health.
    This mismatch between supply and demand creates an environment of limited sales growth and escalating home values.
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  • Inventory shortage drives U.S. home sales down — except in the West

    WASHINGTON — US homebuyers pulled back in July, as sales declined amid a shortage of available properties and steadily rising prices.
    Sales of existing homes fell 3.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. The decline marks a reversal from rising demand that pushed sales in June to their highest level since February 2007.
    Fewer homes are coming onto the market, putting a cap on the sales growth enjoyed earlier this year thanks in part to a low mortgage rate and brightening job market. Rising demand for homes is a positive. But the dwindling supply of listings has pushed up prices, which suggests a market not yet at full health.
    This mismatch between supply and demand creates an environment of limited sales growth and escalating home values.
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