Special Features

Cheaper than renting? 'Absolutely,' says David Weekley at Midtown, 10 minutes from downtown Denver, Highlands

By Mark Samuelson

David Weekley s Michelle Wood (left), Allison Glover and Ashley Hargrove show off their model, across from Midtown s newly completed retail center and community garden.
A year ago it took a little imagination to see what was coming to Midtown, the new-urban master planned community where David Weekley Homes has sold 80 new single-family homes, ten minutes from Highlands, LoDo, and downtown. Today and tomorrow you can not only tour David Weekley's fast selling models, but see some attractions that were only on the drawing board before: a 12,000-square-foot retail space, amphitheater/pavilion, and a community garden that's already brimming with produce planted by Midtown residents.

"This is not Highlands Ranch," says David Weekley's Michelle Wood, who'll join Allison Glover and Ashley Hargrove in showing you a new home neighborhood that has much better access to downtown attractions than typical suburban areas. More diverse, too, she says; and definitely less expensive.

So much so, adds Glover, that many of David Weekley's sales are going to newlyweds, about-to-be-marrieds and other buyers that were renting before - who have been effectively priced out of the market by rising prices around downtown Denver. Those buyers like the low-maintenance yard size, as do many of the older 'downsizing' buyers that have been purchasing at Midtown from David Weekley.

"We see people who were paying preposterous amounts to rent downtown," Glover says. Their purchase choices are limited to smaller, older homes, or condos and townhomes that have high HOA fees; as opposed to single-family homes they're seeing here - more space, a 2-car garage, a basement (more than 50% of David Weekley buyers are choosing to order even more finished space in the basement up front), and new features and energy performance. The monthly metro district fee, for community upkeep, trash and snow removal, is only $65 a month.

Meanwhile, this is ten minutes from Highlands, ten minutes from downtown. "Many of our residents are going to the same places to hang out; while it cuts their commuting time into downtown," notes Glover. More than a few have one spouse headed for work downtown via I-76 just south, and a second headed up U.S. 36, just north, to Boulder. All of them, she says, like the quick getaway to the mountains from this site.

You can also see some homes headed for early completion, three in September - one a 'Bisque' 3-bedroom, 2-1/2 bath plan, 1,511 square feet plus basement at $350,000; also a 'Magenta' with main-floor master, $390,360. Each comes with a 3-year energy performance guarantee by Environments for Living, front landscape with irrigation and rear fence, and a security system that includes a year of monitoring. If you're a Realtor, you can take a 4% co-op on the full price of any home that closes by Sept. 30. David Weekley has refreshments out today; open Labor Day, too. To reach from downtown, take I-25 north to I-76, then west a mile to Pecos, and north to W. 67th.

WHERE: David Weekley Homes at Midtown, master-planned community 10 min. from downtown; 2-to-4-bed single-family homes with full basement, 2-car attached garage; amenities; 2 homes for early move-in; 4% co-op on any sale that closes by Sept. 30; RTD Gold Rail opens 2016; refreshments today. Pecos St. at W. 68th, Denver; from U.S. 36 Tnpk take Pecos south ¾-mi. to W. 68th; or from I-25 take I-76 west 1 mi., exit Pecos, north to 68th

PRICE: From $322,990, early move-in from $350s

PHONE: 720-838-2206

WEB: DavidWeekleyHomes.com

Mark Samuelson writes on real estate and business; you can email him atmark@samuelsonassoc.com. You can see all of Mark Samuelson's columns online atDenverPostHomes.com

  • Metro Denver’s housing market developing a split personality, sending rents down and home prices up

    Metro Denver’s housing market could diverge in a big way this year, with apartment rent increases slowing to a crawl or even reversing, while home prices continue to race higher.
    Signs of cooling are strongest on the multifamily side, where a large number of high-end units are expected to hit the market this year.
    ApartmentList estimates Colorado apartment rents rose 1.8 percent year-over-year in December, while metro Denver apartment rents are up 0.8 percent, both down from annual rent increases in the 4 percent range in July.
    Axiometrics estimates that metro Denver apartment rents were rising at an annual pace of 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter, down sharply from the 6.4 percent pace they moved into 2016 with.
    Abodo, in its annual rent report, puts metro Denver in the category of declining markets, recording a 6.7 percent drop in one-bedroom apartment rents in January compared with a year earlier, the seventh steepest decline among the cities it tracked.
    “We anticipate that, starting with luxury developments, the rent for apartments in Denver should remain pretty consistent in 2017,” said Sam Radbil, a spokesman for the Wisconsin-based online apartment listing firm.
    Seattle-based Zillow, whose rental index includes single-family homes, puts metro Denver rent increases around 2.8 percent last year and is projecting an increase of 2.5 percent this year.
    One of the more upbeat reports comes from RealPage in Texas, which estimates metro Denver rents are rising at a 4.4 percent pace, down from gains in the 8 percent to 10 percent range a year ago.
    “It has been a meaningful slowdown,” RealPage chief economist Greg Willett said. “But it is still a good number.”
    In metro Denver’s favor are the large number of young adults moving in to take relatively higher-paying jobs which can support the higher-priced units hitting the market, he said.
    “Denver is pretty much viewed as the perfect rental market,” he said. “The demand numbers are very solid.”
    RealPage estimates about 11,000 apartments came onto the market last year and that another 13,000 should become available this year out of a construction pipeline of around 21,000 units.
    So far, the Denver market has managed to absorb the new supply, but landlords, eager to fill their projects, are offering more concessions — including a month or two of free rent — to win over tenants, a key reason why rent increases have slowed.
    Willett said apartment developers, initially focused almost exclusively on downtown areas, are casting a wider net, although the economics have them still focused on higher-rent or luxury units.
    Whether the metro Denver apartment market holds up or rolls over will depend mostly on continued job growth and in-migration, given that developers can’t easily put the brakes on projects launched years earlier.
    Abodo notes that Denver, while still enjoying strong population gains, ranked second among the country’s 50 largest cities for the percentage of the population moving out.
    Home prices
    If too much supply is an issue with apartments, the opposite is the case with single-family homes and condos, where new construction has failed to keep pace with gains in population and employment.
    The Colorado Association of Realtors estimates the median price of a home sold in Colorado last year rose 10 percent, with both new listings and the inventory of homes available for sale in December at historic lows.
    The Denver Metro Association of Realtors puts the gain of the median price of a home sold last year at 11.4 percent, down from 14.2 percent in 2015.
    “We are looking at a 2017 that looks a lot like 2016, with some of the froth off the market,” said Mark Trenka, chairman of the Colorado Association of Realtors.
    Stable or falling rents could leave more tenants comfortable with not making a move, while also persuading some investors to take their chips off the table and sell their rental homes.
    Rising mortgage rates could also prove a headwind to future price increases by reducing the ability of buyers to qualify.
    “Each rate increase takes a small percentage of buyers out of the market,” Trenka said.
    But a slowing in home price gains from the double-digit pace of the past two years could actually be health for the market.
    Zillow predicts metro Denver will rank as the country’s ninth hottest real estate market this year, with home prices rising 3.6 percent. That is down from a 9.7 percent increase last year that made the city the country’s hottest housing market.
    Among metro Denver’s hottest neighborhoods, with home-price appreciation rates of 7.6 percent or higher, are Aurora’s City Center North and Centretech neighborhoods and Denver’s Elyria-Swansea, Globeville and Westwood neighborhoods, Zillow said.
    Clear Capital is calling for a 7.3 percent increase in metro Denver home prices this year, down from the 10.7 percent increase last year. That places Denver second in its rankings after Dallas.
    Not every forecast expects metro Denver to come off its double-digit pace. VeroForecast places five Colorado cities among its list of the 25 top performers for home price gains in 2017, led by metro Denver with a 10.2 percent gain that will rank second only to Seattle at 10.6 percent.
    Other top performers among Colorado cities include Fort Collins at No. 11 with an 8.5 percent gain; Boulder at 14th with an 8.2 percent gain; Greeley at 18th with a 7.6 percent gain; and Colorado Springs at 24th with a 7.2 percent gain.
    Across the state, foreclosures, a measure of distress in the for-sale housing market, continue to drop. Colorado foreclosure starts were down 18.4 percent last year and they are down 83.05 percent from the peak hit in 2010, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.
    CoreLogic found that Colorado and metro Denver had some of the lowest rates of homeowners in a negative equity positions, meaning they owed more on their mortgage than their homes were worth, which is a big contributor to foreclosures when a market softens.

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  • Colorado homeowners will get a tax break, thanks to TABOR’s lesser-known cousin. But local governments will be squeezed.

    A little-understood provision of the state constitution will provide property-tax relief for homeowners across the state next year, but it could have cascading financial consequences for virtually all levels of Colorado government.
    Gov. John Hickenlooper in his State of the State address on Thursday highlighted the immediate problem for Colorado’s budget: a projected $170 million cut to school districts across the state in 2018, which the state is required by law to replenish from its own coffers.
    “The constitutional budget constraints for school finance are the thorniest part of our fiscal thicket,” Hickenlooper said, urging lawmakers in both parties to come together to find a solution.

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  • Climbing mortgage rates take bigger bites from budget, but the news is worse in some places than others

    Mortgage rates have shot up since the last election, requiring home buyers pay more each month today than if they had borrowed in October. But location matters in terms of how much more comes out of pocket.
    The National Association of Realtors took the median home sold price for U.S. every county and looked at the monthly payment on a 30-year loan with 10 percent down at various interest rates.
    Those rates included 3.5 percent, available before the election, 4.2 percent, around where they were in early January, and 5 percent, where NAR predicts they might reach next year.
    In percentage terms, a loan at 4.2 percent will cost a borrower 8.9 percent more a month than one snagged at 3.5 percent, while a loan at 5 percent will cost 19.6 percent more a month, assuming everything else stays the same.
    “Nationwide, it is estimated that the rise of mortgage rates from 3.5 to 4.2 percent increased the monthly payment by $75 while a rise from 4.2 to 5 percent will increase the monthly payments by $90,” Nadia Evangelou, a research economist with the NAR, wrote in her blog post.
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  • Luxury homes sales in Vail on the rise as $23 million house sets new record

    Sometime in the fall, buyers began snapping up more luxury homes in the Vail Valley.
    Luxury housing specialist Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate said it had 16 houses in Vail that are priced at $3 million or more are under contract as of Friday. And that doesn’t include a Rockledge Road home, which just sold for a record-setting $23 million.
    Last year at this time? “It was very quiet last January,” said Julie Bergsten, vice president of operations and finance for Slifer Smith & Frampton.
    A lull hit the luxury housing market last year in many of Colorado’s ski towns. In the summer, real estate brokers in Aspen called it a nosedive as Pitkin County’s sales volume fell 42 percent from the prior year. But post election, activity appears to be ramping up.
    “Hangover from the recession maybe? I do think the election had something to do with it. Whenever there is instability, those buyers wait to see what’s going to happen,” said Bergsten, who categorizes homes as “luxury” if they are least $3 million. “If it feels uncertain, they’ll hold onto their cash and see what happens.”
    Courtesy of Donna CaynoskiThe record-breaking sale of the 11,509-square foot, seven bedroom, eight bath ski-in, ski-out property on the site of an original 1962 Vail homestead, closed in January.
    Evidence that certainty is back in Eagle County, which includes Vail and Beaver Creek, is evident in the Multiple Listing Service, which is used by Realtors. Approximately 38 Eagle County homes priced at $3 million and higher sold between Sept. 1 and now, according to the MLS. During the same period the year before, 34 sold. While the volume was near the same, price tags bumped the total up 33 percent to $227 million, from $171 million the same period of 2016.
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