Buyers must act fast to get dream home. By Steve Raabe The Denver Post.
New advice from the trenches on buying a home: Look early. Think fast. Hone your quick-draw skills with the checkbook.
Metro Denver’s real estate market, not long ago a buyer’s domain, suddenly has shifted to a seller’s paradise, at least in some neighborhoods and price ranges.
Realtors’ offices are rife with fresh anecdotes of sellers happily cherry-picking from multiple offers – some of them above the asking price.
How fast is the market moving? A new report shows that Denver is No. 2 in the nation for the shortest length of time that a home is listed before being sold – 33 days – far below the national median of 89 days.
Until recently, prospective buyer Patty Kupfer had viewed shopping for a home as a weekend diversion. You know, tell your broker that you’re available, say, from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
“There’s no such thing anymore as a weekend home tour,” Kupfer said this week. “Because if you wait till the weekend, nothing’s going to be there. If you’re just looking casually, you’re not really in the market.”
Kupfer, managing director of a non-profit immigration-reform organization, said she has adjusted her approach in the face of vigorous competition from other buyers.
“Every house I’ve looked at has gone under contract within 48 hours,” she said. “This has forced me to be more serious about it. The very next house that seems like a good fit, we’re going to visit it that very day (it’s first listed).”
In recent months, buyer demand has surged and the number of homes for sale in metro Denver has dropped sharply.
Unsold homes on the market totaled 10,325 at the end of March, a 42 percent drop from March 2011.
The result is that for some neighborhoods and some price ranges, homes are in short supply and selling fast.
In particularly high demand are homes priced from $250,000 to $400,000 and in central Denver neighborhoods such as Park Hill, Congress Park, Curtis Park, Mayfair and the Highlands, said Michelle Ackerman, Denver-area manager and broker for Redfin.
Even though metro Denver homes have shown only marginal price appreciation so far this year, realty analysts say strong demand and multiple offers could son push values higher in lower to moderate price ranges.
One factor that makes price predictions difficult is foreclosures.
Lenders hold an estimated 1,650 foreclosed properties in metro Denver that haven’t been put on the market, according to data compiled by Redfin. As the market strengthens, more foreclosures will be listed for sale, which in turn could slow down price appreciation.
Sellers of homes listed for more than $500,000 generally aren’t enjoying the market heat.
“Once you move above $500K, inventory widens dramatically and prices are still down, and arguably falling,” Ackerman said.
Elsewhere, inventories are low and urgency among buyers is high.
Joshua Kurdys and Ileana Sadin, recent arrivals to Denver from State College, Pa., found the Denver market to be an exercise in frustration.
“You’d go out and see five or 10 houses, and the one house that was decent would be snatched up immediately” by other buyers, Kurdys said.
After several failed offers in central Denver neighborhoods, the couple decided to expand their geographic parameters, accelerate their pace and be willing to bid higher.
“It was very apparent that if we didn’t make an offer at very close to asking price, we weren’t going to get it,” Kurdys said.
The strategy worked. They recently targeted a newly listed home in Curtis Park, made a 9 a.m. appointment to see it and submitted an almost full-price offer the same day. They now have it under contract.
What can be a frustrating endeavor for buyers is a pleasant relief for sellers.
Connie Ulrich was anticipating the worst in attempting to sell her three-bedroom home in the Northbrook subdivision of Thornton.
But within a month of listing the home, she’d had 34 showings.
“We had so many showings, it was just insane,” she said. “I never expected it to be so busy.”
Listed at $254,000, the home now is under contact for $256,000.
“There is a shortage of good product,” said broker Rhonda Knop of Distinctive Properties. “If it’s priced right and shows well, it is selling.”
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