What $300,000 to $400,000 Buys You in Northwest Denver
Just spent my morning looking at homes in Northwest Denver/Highlands. Partly for clients; partly for my own keeping-up-with-the-market commitment. As regular readers of my blog know, I've been away from town for two years, so it's really important to me to get back up to speed on the market in my beloved Charming Old Northwest Denver neighborhood.
Because I worked this neighborhood for so many years (from 1996 to 2006), it's an easy task to pick back up on the nuances of the different sub-areas (Highlands Square, West Highlands, Berkeley, Sloan's Lake, etc). Prices have gone up significantly since I left, but I believe that the recently added amenities in the neighborhood support the price increase. In years past, Northwest Denver was cute and charming, but not exactly a mecca of shopping and other lifestyle conveniences. Now, we have a Sunflower Organic Market, a Vitamin Cottage, a 24-hour Fitness, several coffee shops, fantastic restaurants, a yoga studio, and of course, all the long-standing shops & services we NW Denver-ites have enjoyed for years.
Anyway, back to real estate. For the low $300's, you'll get a modestly remodeled ranch-style home, built sometime between 1910 and 1950. The location will be decent, but not primo. You probably won't get a garage, but it's not out of the question. You'll get two bedrooms and one bath on the main floor, with another bedroom and possibly a bath in the basement. The basement finish probably won't be anything to write home about. Your main floor square footage will range from 700 sqft to 1100 sqft, depending on location and condition.
In the mid $300's, your options open up a bit and the condition of the properties improves significantly. You'll have a better location, perhaps even an excellent one. You'll see the same basic floor plans as we saw in the low $300's - 2 bed/1 bath up with more bedrooms and a bath in the basement, but the finishes on both levels will be much higher quality. You can get a garage in this price range, although it might only be a one-car.
I was a little dismayed by what I saw closer to $400,000. I didn't see a significant improvement over the homes in the mid-$300's; perhaps a marginally better location and a bit more square footage. But overall, I felt that the homes priced near $400,000 were simply overpriced. If I were a homebuyer in that range, I would have been disappointed in my options.
The best house for the money I saw was a 1922 Bungalow on West Moncrieff, priced at $365,000. It had a livable floor plan - wide open with plenty of room for furniture - a nice open kitchen and two nice-sized bedrooms and a remodeled bath on the main floor. The basement was finished with a living area, two bedrooms and a bath. The back yard was professionally landscaped and had a great patio for partying. The only downside was the lack of a garage, although there was off-street parking.
Well, my beloved Northwest Denver is coming into its own. And I am LOVING living here again.