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Thread summary:

Visiting Colorado: Denver, realtors, housing, agent, real estate.

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Old 06-14-2007, 01:35 PM
 
Location: Nashville, TN
8 posts, read 19,374 times
Reputation: 19

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A few weeks ago, I wrote asking for advice on planning a trip to find a place along the Front Range to move to when my husband retires in a year. The trip went really well and I thought I would share the way we did it in case anyone else is in a similar position.

Since we have a 9-year-old, excellent schools were a top priority. I had already researched all that on the web and knew where I wanted to look. That narrowed the search somewhat although we still had alot to cover in a week. The hoped-for outcome was not to have a house picked out by the time we left, but to have specific information on what's available for the price and neighborhoods we want to focus on.

The trip gave us the information we needed. The pace was more intense than a normal vacation, but that was ok considering the purpose of the trip (admittedly not as much fun for my daughter but she was a trooper--most of the time). A couple weeks before the trip, I planned out the schedule for each day (allowing time to see friends and also for my husband's work commitment) and then contacted realtors in each area who would be willing to spend time with us showing us properties that met our needs/wants. It took quite a bit of email and cell phones to get it all set up, but it was worth it. The areas where we focused (and had different agents for each) were Ft. Collins/Loveland, Boulder County, Western side of Denver area, Douglas County (HR, CR, Larkspur), and Colorado Springs. In a couple areas, we only had a half-day, in the rest we had a full day which was great.

It gave us a chance also to get to know different realtors, each with their own personality and approach, but all knowledgeable and helpful. I would use any of them again. Special thanks to Ben Wolfe and Alisa Hagner (2bindenver) for their help and Micktooth and Mike from back east for their referrals.

The hard part? Deciding on where we liked the best! I could live in any of the five areas we explored. Whether an area is expensive or a bargain depends on where you come from, and the housing prices in Colorado sobered us a bit. We came home to a new appreciation for our beautiful house on our tree-shrouded lot here in Nashville realizing that we are not going to be able to have the same house in Colorado in the price range we are looking. But having also lived in NoVA (which has skyrocketed in recent years), we recognize that Colorado offers great deals for others. We'll still be moving out there, but as retirement looms, we'll have to lower our expectations as far as a house goes.

My overall impression is that houses in Colorado subdivisions are VERY close together. We're not used to sitting on our deck looking down into our neighbor's little patch of backyard (and vice versa). We're thinking about how we'll get used to that. One thing that helped was looking at houses that backed up to open space (not trees, necessarily) and there were actually quite a few. Also, in every area we could find lots of houses in our price range, but in COS and CR the house might be new or nearly new and further north may be 10-12 years old for the same price. Lots of new subdivisions being built in COS. And, we did find the trees we were seeking in Larkspur and Monument...we just have to think about a higher price tag and those winters!

Good luck to others embarking on a quest to find a future home in Colorado!
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Old 06-14-2007, 02:09 PM
 
530 posts, read 2,485,916 times
Reputation: 331
I'm glad your trip went rather well. If we can help you in the future, let us know. Welcome to Colorado!
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Old 06-15-2007, 11:55 PM
 
39 posts, read 148,423 times
Reputation: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by nashville View Post
A few weeks ago, I wrote asking for advice on planning a trip to find a place along the Front Range to move to when my husband retires in a year. The trip went really well and I thought I would share the way we did it in case anyone else is in a similar position.

Since we have a 9-year-old, excellent schools were a top priority. I had already researched all that on the web and knew where I wanted to look. That narrowed the search somewhat although we still had alot to cover in a week. The hoped-for outcome was not to have a house picked out by the time we left, but to have specific information on what's available for the price and neighborhoods we want to focus on.

The trip gave us the information we needed. The pace was more intense than a normal vacation, but that was ok considering the purpose of the trip (admittedly not as much fun for my daughter but she was a trooper--most of the time). A couple weeks before the trip, I planned out the schedule for each day (allowing time to see friends and also for my husband's work commitment) and then contacted realtors in each area who would be willing to spend time with us showing us properties that met our needs/wants. It took quite a bit of email and cell phones to get it all set up, but it was worth it. The areas where we focused (and had different agents for each) were Ft. Collins/Loveland, Boulder County, Western side of Denver area, Douglas County (HR, CR, Larkspur), and Colorado Springs. In a couple areas, we only had a half-day, in the rest we had a full day which was great.

It gave us a chance also to get to know different realtors, each with their own personality and approach, but all knowledgeable and helpful. I would use any of them again. Special thanks to Ben Wolfe and Alisa Hagner (2bindenver) for their help and Micktooth and Mike from back east for their referrals.

The hard part? Deciding on where we liked the best! I could live in any of the five areas we explored. Whether an area is expensive or a bargain depends on where you come from, and the housing prices in Colorado sobered us a bit. We came home to a new appreciation for our beautiful house on our tree-shrouded lot here in Nashville realizing that we are not going to be able to have the same house in Colorado in the price range we are looking. But having also lived in NoVA (which has skyrocketed in recent years), we recognize that Colorado offers great deals for others. We'll still be moving out there, but as retirement looms, we'll have to lower our expectations as far as a house goes.

My overall impression is that houses in Colorado subdivisions are VERY close together. We're not used to sitting on our deck looking down into our neighbor's little patch of backyard (and vice versa). We're thinking about how we'll get used to that. One thing that helped was looking at houses that backed up to open space (not trees, necessarily) and there were actually quite a few. Also, in every area we could find lots of houses in our price range, but in COS and CR the house might be new or nearly new and further north may be 10-12 years old for the same price. Lots of new subdivisions being built in COS. And, we did find the trees we were seeking in Larkspur and Monument...we just have to think about a higher price tag and those winters!

Good luck to others embarking on a quest to find a future home in Colorado!

Yeah, I will be going out on a simialr trip next week. The areas I am most interested in is been narrowed down from areas in the south to now exclusivelty interested in north of the city outside Boulder. I am also going to have to try really hard to adapt to the close house feel as well and a possibly annoying commute to DTC 2-3 days a week from Louisville or Erie. But in the end I am sure it will be a great move. Anyways, good luck with your search.
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Old 06-16-2007, 08:42 AM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
90,377 posts, read 109,321,825 times
Reputation: 35920
It is good to get some feedback from someone visitingthe area. Some of us have been here so long, we forget that each area of the country has its own little "culture". My family from the east and midwest think the houses are close together here, too.

This forum gets lots of posts from people wanting to move here who ask where can they get a large lot, possibly acreage, wooded, secluded, etc for $300,000, within commuting distance of metro Denver. These places simply do not exist. Don't get me wrong, I love Colorado, but it's unique.
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Old 06-16-2007, 11:19 AM
 
Location: Colorado
431 posts, read 2,652,538 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pittnurse70 View Post
It is good to get some feedback from someone visitingthe area. Some of us have been here so long, we forget that each area of the country has its own little "culture". My family from the east and midwest think the houses are close together here, too.

This forum gets lots of posts from people wanting to move here who ask where can they get a large lot, possibly acreage, wooded, secluded, etc for $300,000, within commuting distance of metro Denver. These places simply do not exist. Don't get me wrong, I love Colorado, but it's unique.
But not all areas are like the northern part of Colorado. There is acerage to be had in other areas. Don't judge all of Colorado by the Denver area. In and around the mts close too. But why so many homes are built so close together, I am not sure. Unless the builders want to get as many homes as they can on prime land. Anyway that is my theory. I really would have a hard time learning to live where your neighbors are in your hip pocket. They are closing in on us here too.

Last edited by Nadine; 06-16-2007 at 11:30 AM..
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Old 06-16-2007, 11:08 PM
 
7 posts, read 20,346 times
Reputation: 10
Thanks for posting information about your trip. My husband and I are making the same type of trip soon. We were primarily focusing on Fort Collins but I have since been researching and want to look at Colorado Springs, Castle Rock and ???. We have children so the schools are a priority, what did you find out about the schools in the areas you looked at?

We are coming from California where I can sit in my back yard and look up into 5 homes and vice versa. We are anxious to move where we might not be sitting right on top of each other, but we would be okay with not having a huge lot. Did you find the realtors put pressure on you or were they just helpful? We weren't going to meet up with realtors yet, mostly decide on a city before we actually look at homes specifically. Do you think it made a difference for you?
Thanks!
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Old 06-18-2007, 12:33 PM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,805 posts, read 17,603,618 times
Reputation: 9435
mathgeek

My wife I did the trip last summer. We sold our home in Virginia Beach, put most of our belongings in storage and hit the road heading west in search of our new hometown...final destination unknown.

If you have already narrowed your search to Colorado, you are way ahead of where we were when we set out on our trip. We had a list of places to visit in Arizona, New Mexico, & Colorado. ( for details see Happy Campers in Grand Junction! ).

We met with realtors in most of the places on our list, and each one of them was very helpful. We told each agent right up front that we were just getting an overview of real estate in the area and that chances were slim that we'd be making a purchase at the time. I think our honesty put everyone at ease. There was never any pressure to sell us anything, nor reluctance to show us some homes.

Unless something ( like ugly mining scars for example ) turns your stomach in regard to a specific place, may I suggest that you DO take the time to meet with a realtor, because that will definitely color your overall impression of the place if you are planning on buying a house. It will be well worth your time to visit with a realtor on your initial visit. If not, you'll be left wondering, What about real estate?

regards......Franco
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Old 06-18-2007, 01:44 PM
 
2,755 posts, read 12,158,949 times
Reputation: 1496
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nadine View Post
But why so many homes are built so close together, I am not sure.
Several reasons:

- The price of land is a much higher percentage of the average house's value in Metro Denver than most other places.
- The price of land and property in rural Colorado is generally not cheaper than urban Colorado, so there's little to no cheap land on the fringes of metro Denver on which to build. This is in contrast to most other states.
- Much of the sprawling new-growth is BYOW (Bring Your Own Water), in which the developers had to spend lots of money to acquire water rights. After that kind of expense, the developers need to make the lots small enough to ensure that they get are able to pay back their expenses.
- Metro Denver's counties have invested heavily in open space, particularly in the foothills. What is left over are small pockets of privately owned land. There's not enough land to go around to make large lots, except out east.

Personally, I'm very happy about the relative lack of large-lot development in Metro Denver. I hope this trend continues. Our Metro Area already have an obnoxiously large footprint and our VMT (Vehicle Miles Travelled) is unacceptably high. These standards are the enemies of proper urban planning. Since we don't want to have price run-ups in housing, nor do we want to give up our open space, nor do we want to attempt to stop population growth, the only answer is increase housing density. Large lots work against that goal and provide no community benefits. Therefore, from a planning perspective, I think it's a good thing we have few large lots in metro Denver and I'm anxious to see this trend continue and accelerate.
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Old 06-18-2007, 02:10 PM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,805 posts, read 17,603,618 times
Reputation: 9435
tfox

Well said! As much as I don't really care for it, housing denstity is the way to go. I can understand not wanting to have the neighbors looking into my / your / their back yards....but...I think it is a more responsible way to live as opposed to gobbling up open space with bigger lots. Until we get a handle on population growth greater housing density is just common sense and common responsibility. Unfortunately, the folks with the big bucks are not likely to see things this way and they will continue to buy their own open spaces, keeping everyone else off of their property which could be better used for common open spaces.

regards....Franco
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Old 06-18-2007, 03:18 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 27,156,575 times
Reputation: 9224
$6.00-$8.00 gas will probably take care of sprawl. No one wants to admit that this is coming, but it will. Along the way, it will "re-order" the real estate market and a whole lot of people will find that their "investment" in sprawling real estate was a "turkey." Whether you call it "densification," "cluster development," or "new urbanisn," the future is going to belong to sustainable development--not sprawling development. Suburbia has no future. We need to get over it, and get ready to move on to a new paradigm. Otherwise, squandering land and oil like there is no tomorrow will assure that there IS NO tomorrow--we need to wise up before it's too late.
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