If you’re interested in becoming a Denver homeowner, you need to take your time researching the market and options for buying. It’s a big city, with incredible surrounding suburb options. But, a home is an investment, so you need to make sure you love more than just the house you are buying. Here are a few things to consider before making your big move.

Understand the Denver real estate market

Understanding the Denver real estate market is essential when buying a home. You want to ensure your property choice will grow in equity so that you can experience the highest return on your investment. 

As of Summer 2019, Denver-area home prices are holding steady year-over-year and inventory is increasing. According to Zillow, Denver is a neutral real estate market with a median home value of $427,300. Denver home values have gone up 5.0% over the past year, and Zillow predicts that the prices will rise 3.6% in 2020.

If you’re on the fence about buying, don’t be. Mortgage rates are currently near all-time lows, making it more affordable to finance a home; and home inventory is up. However, you’re likely going to be up against a lot of buyers, and that type of competition can make it feel like there are not enough properties around.

Get to know the best Denver suburbs

If you’re looking for a suburb that has low unemployment, high home values, low poverty, and a lot of things to do, you may want to consider Castle Pines, Parker, Lone Tree, or Centennial.

Are you raising a family? Then take a look at Louisville, Thornton, Littleton, or Greeley. These suburbs are safe, affordable, and stimulating. According to a 2016 list compiled by The Denver Business Journal, Greeley ranks well for home prices and major scenery (Greeley sits between Rocky Mountain National Park and the Pawnee National Grassland).

Consider Colorado school districts

If you have a family or are thinking about starting a family, you’re going to want to consider Colorado school districts. In the Denver area and surrounding suburbs, there are many schools to choose from. Though, Cherry Creek School District and Douglas County School District tend to be top contenders.

To attend a school within a top-rated school district, you have to live within county limits. Many schools have waiting lists or lotteries to secure a desk, so do your research ahead of time before you settle on a home or neighborhood. And, don’t forget to look into charter schools as Colorado and the Denver area have many top-rated choices.

Know your financial options

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you may lack the funds to make a bid on the home you really want. Fear not. Colorado has down payment assistance programs available that can get you into a home for $1,000 down, or even for a zero dollar down payment. The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) is a great place to start. They’ve helped over 110,000 Coloradans become homeowners.

If you can’t qualify for down payment assistance, try an FHA loan, which requires just 3.5% down. It’s even backed by the federal government. Your monthly payment will include mortgage insurance but the lower deposit and opportunity to start earning equity can make the trade-off worth it.

Calculate your commute

Last but not least, understand your commute to and from work. That’s right, to and from. Sometimes your morning drive can be quicker than your evening drive. The last thing you want is to invest in a stunning new home, but not have the time to enjoy it because you have a two-plus hour commute to and from work.

Interested in learning more? Check out these four bonus tips on buying a house in the Colorado Market.