1. Your Budget
Finding a Colorado home that’s perfect for your family would be easy if you had unlimited time and resources. But for most families, the first thing you need to consider is your budget.
For first-time home buyers, saving for a down payment can seem like a huge challenge. Talk to your REALTOR about your options, like setting up a First-time Homebuyer Savings Account.
Even if your mortgage broker surprises you with the size of your loan, don't overlook all the costs that go beyond your monthly mortgage payment. Property taxes, utilities, HOA fees, and ongoing maintenance can be steeper than you realize.
While you’re thinking about how much you want to spend on your Colorado home, it’s a good idea to consider how well the real estate market is preforming and if home values are trending upward. The Colorado housing market is competitive and fast paced. Find updates on the housing market each month with the REcolorado Market Watch.
2. Home Age
Do you prefer old luster or new sparkle? To choose between a new home or a vintage home, look at the pros and cons.
New construction homes allow you to choose between many different amenities and usually come with lower maintenance costs. Newer Colorado neighborhoods also tend to fill up with younger families, which can be a big bonus if you have little children.
With older Colorado homes, though, it’s easier to gauge if you’ll like the neighborhood in the long term because it is already established. Older neighborhoods benefit from mature trees, trails, and parks that are already in full swing. On the other hand, older homes often need more maintenance. You’ll need to take a close look at the condition of the roof, foundation, and heating and cooling systems. Things that seem minor on first inspection may prove to be large expenses down the road.
3. Size and Adaptability
A home is likely one of the biggest purchases you will make, so it pays to ask yourself some key questions before you buy.
Do you expect your family to grow? Are the bedrooms big enough? Does the home have a good layout? Do you want your kitchen to open to the family room or living room? Is there enough storage to hold all the stuff you’re sure to accumulate over the years?
Whether you plan to purchase a starter home or a long term home can make a big difference in your home search. Fast-rising prices in the housing market lead to more home flips. But for those who would rather keep their Colorado family home for 10 to 15 years, or even longer, make sure the house will fit your needs for the long term.
Finding good schools is a key factor for families with school-aged children searching for a new home. For others, school districts can give you a sense of the community in a neighborhood. That’s why REcolorado provides helpful information on the schools near your prospective home. Home buyers can find details about homes for sale under "school information."
You may also want to visit local schools and talk to other parents in the school district. Consider things like classroom sizes, technology capabilities, after-school programs, and the level of parent involvement.
A home’s distance from schools is also an important factor to consider, especially if kids will need to ride a bus or be driven each way. Create custom searches based on proximity to your school of choice, work, or relatives - talk with your REALTOR for tips on setting up these searches.
5. Room to Play
Before making an offer, consider the features that fit your lifestyle. Outdoor space, floor plan, and community amenities can all impact your happiness in your new home.
If you can’t live without exercise equipment or a home cinema setup, make sure you have the rooms for them. If you like to keep an eye on the kids while you cook, look for an open kitchen. If you like to entertain lots of guests, make sure your layout will accommodate them.
REcolorado offers innovative and impactful tools to help you find a home that fits your lifestyle. Walk score calculates how walk-friendly a property is based on distance to grocery stores, errands, and transit. You can also search for mountain views, travel time to work and play, pet friendliness, and more!
6. The Yards
With so many sunny days in Colorado, it pays to have an outdoor space that fits your needs. If a yard is too small, there may not be enough space to relax and play (especially if you have children or pets). If it’s too big, you might feel like you spend too much time mowing lawns and tending flower beds.
Before you buy, take a look outside and ask yourself if the yard meets your needs. While you’re at it, try to look for hidden opportunities and landscaping inspiration. Does the yard have space to build out a deck or a patio for summer barbecue parties? Is there room for that swing set or trampoline your kids would love? Compared to indoor renovations, improvements like these can pay huge dividends in property value for a relatively modest investment.
7. Proximity to Work
Although you might dream of a big acreage or a home in the mountains, a long commute to downtown Denver can be a grim reality. If you’re moving further from the job, it’s a good idea to try out the commute to your prospective neighborhood in rush hour before you buy. Use the INRIX drive time tool on REcolorado.com to estimate commute time from the home to your office.
If you travel a lot, it might also be worth factoring in frequent trips to the airport. Then again, maybe you don’t want to commute by car at all. If you’d like to be within walking or biking distance to work, you might find that a downtown Denver condo or a Tech Center townhouse are the perfect way to go for your family. Check a property's walk score and transit score to see if these are feasible options.
8. Neighborhood Amenities
It's easy to overlook home imperfections if you love your location. That’s why it’s critical to consider things like the charm of the neighborhood and access to what makes you happy – friends, parks, trails, shops, nightlife, gyms... you name it. On the other hand, you should also pay attention to a home’s proximity to less desirable things like jails, heavy industry, or busy roads.
Before you make an offer, be sure to check out the whole neighborhood. Are houses and yards kept in good shape? Are the sidewalks and crosswalks well maintained? Do you see kids out on bikes or families hiking on trails? The neighborhood you choose should reflect your priorities and preferred activities. Find a home that fits your lifestyle!
9. Home Improvements
While many home buyers prefer a home that is move-in ready, compromises may need to be made. Before you buy, get a good sense of what home projects need to be done to make the house exactly what you want. Minor improvements like painting, swapping out tile, or adding new light fixtures are to be expected. Major renovations, however, can take a long time to complete and may not be a wise investment.
Big improvements like kitchen and bathroom remodels, laying hardwood floors, or restructuring whole sections of the house require skill sets that are beyond those of most DIY homeowners. Consider the cost to have a contractor complete these projects. You’ll also need to consider how much these investments will affect your Colorado home’s value. A home may have good bones and a great school district, but if it’s due for an extreme makeover, you might be best advised to continue your search.
10. Does it feel like home?
Don't ignore your emotions. The feeling you get when you first walk in the door of your Colorado home can set you up for a happy home. Finding yourself saying things like ‘our living room set would go perfectly here,’ is a clear indicator that you’ve found a good match for your family. Visiting open houses are a great way to get a sense of different neighborhoods and homes.
In all likelihood, your new home won’t meet every single item on your checklist. But if the price is right, your biggest needs are met, and you bubble with excitement at the thought of moving in, you may just have found your new Colorado home!