The housing market in the Metro Denver area is fueled by simple economics: a lot of demand and not much supply. The homes that are for sale average close to $400,000, pushing many buyers away from the Mile High City.
When Nathan Pyle was looking for a new home, the proximity of parks and playgrounds was a big factor.
“We can just step right out of our garage and walk down to one of, there’s probably four parks within a 15 minute walk,” he said as he pushed his young son Graham in a children’s buggy.
He moved to the Reunion community in Commerce City in January 2015. He was living with his wife in their 850 sq. ft. Aurora home and it wasn’t big enough when his son came along.
But a bigger house in Aurora put him over his budget. His family decided that moving further away from the city and closer to the airport was the answer.
“This was as close as I could get in an affordable range,” Pyle said.
He now has a 3,400 sq. ft. home with a big back yard and close open spaces. It’s something he said he would be able to get closer to Denver.
Pyle isn't alone. More people are deciding to buy in the suburbs and commute as the housing market keeps booming.
"Only about 6 percent of all of the homes on the market are at $300,000 or less,” said Molly Armbrister, real estate reporter for the Denver Business Journal.
If a buyer is looking for a home in that price range, she suggests being prepared to act quickly. Get pre-qualified for a loan, have cash on-hand and get ready for a bidding war which might push the amount above asking price.
For new homes, land, labor and materials cost are rising. Armbrister said Colorado businesses are hiring people from outside the state which is also causing the average home price to go up.
"So they're bringing in people who are used to paying half a million, $750,000 for a home from San Francisco, Boston, places like that. So they come here and they're more than willing to do it,” she said.
Rent isn’t much better. The average price tips the scales at more than $1,300 a month in the metro area.
“It's kind of a catch-22,” she said.
Tracy Vidmar also lives in Reunion. She said she is glad she bought her home in Commerce City three years ago, but even then, home prices close to Denver were too high for her family.
“I’m a stay-at-home mom, so on one income, we really wanted to stay within something that was affordable for us,” she said.
The Vidmar’s enjoys suburban living like her neighbor Pyle. For him, the extra drive time to work is worth coming home to a bigger house yard and he couldn't find closer to Denver.
“If that means commuting a little bit further for a job, I’m fine with that,” he said.
The “starter home” price used to be thought of costing $200,000 to $250,000. With the average cost for a home in the metro area approaching $400,000, it’s pushing many people out of the market.
Real estate website Movado.com compiled a list of the most affordable Denver suburbs for those looking for a home on a budget.
10 Most Affordable Denver Suburbs
1. Commerce City