Buying a home in metro Denver can be a frustrating experience. With the influx of people to the state, limited number of homes for sale, and investors gobbling up properties to convert to rentals, it's not uncommon for a home to receive dozens of offers as soon as it hits the market.
Kevin Risen, executive vice president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage of Colorado, one of the biggest real estate companies in the state, has a few tips. He's been selling homes in Denver since 1978. Risen spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.
Try paying both commissions
According to Risen, offering to pay both the buyer's and seller's commissions, but only offering the asking price on the home, can be a successful strategy. That may be more comforting to a seller than an artificially high bid.
Try an emotional appeal
Writing a sincere note to the sellers can make your offer stand out. Recently, people have even started to make short videos to connect with sellers. These are especially effective if the other offers are coming from investors, rather than individuals or families.
"The truth of the matter is real estate is a very emotional business," says Risen. "Sometimes that sweet letter or that sweet video can affect the homeowner who may say, ‘I’d rather sell this to a couple with a family that’ll fit into the neighborhood, rather than dealing with an ongoing tenant situation where my old neighbors are now mad at me because I sold to an investor.'"
Many people begin looking for one type of home -- a single family unit, for instance -- but find a condominium or townhome that is a better fit. It's often a choice between changing the type of property they're looking for or moving away from their desired neighborhood.
If you can afford a $300,000 home, you should probably be looking at homes closer to $250,000 in price. In such a competitive market, you'll likely have to bid above the asking price, so it makes sense to create this buffer to allow for that.
It's not uncommon for homes to sell within a few days of being listed, so you want to be prepared to move quickly. While a sizeable down payment may be helpful, "more important than that is getting preapproved from a lender," says Risen. "You want to be able to pull that trigger."
Don't skip the essentials
Buyers are sometimes tempted to grease the wheels for sellers by opting out of things like the appraisal, inspection, or warranty on a home. That's dangerous, Risen says, because there can be serious problems that are not immediately obvious.
Do your homework
Risen says that these days, nearly every buyer starts their search online using sites like REColorado, Realtor.com, Trulia, or Zillow. It seems as though the days of driving around and looking for houses are over.
Risen thinks that it will remain this way in Denver for the foreseeable future, saying "with my experience, I expect this market to continue at this pace at least for another 24 months, and possibly as long as 36 months because the inventory is so severely low." But while buyers have to be patient and flexible, sellers are quite pleased, Risen says.