I want to live in a high rise; what should I look for?
When you're looking for a new home, especially in downtown Denver, you have a lot of decisions to make. A common building type is a high rise condominium building, and there are many things you should keep in mind when you start the home shopping process.
Dependent on the age and height of the building, there can be a wide range of ceiling heights that can affect the feel and livability of the condominium. Some of the older buildings have ceiling heights of 8 feet, which can make an already smaller unit feel cramped. Buildings like the Glass House, which have floor to ceiling windows, have certain floors with 12 foot ceilings. Ceiling height can make a floor plan with less square footage seem expansive compared to condos with less headroom.
While more and more people are shunning vehicle use when they move downtown and relying on car share programs like car2go and the ease of Uber, some people still enjoy the reliability and convenience of a personal vehicle. Parking spaces in high rise buildings downtown give people the opportunity to have a car in a secure building while not having to worry about finding a parking space on the street. These parking spaces do come at a premium, with a recent deeded space selling for over $60,000. If you can find a condo that already has one or two spaces included with the unit, it's an amenity you'll find come to appreciate.
Sometimes an 800 square foot condo just isn't enough when it comes to needing to store all of your outdoor equipment. Coloradans need to enjoy our magnificent state and that often includes having the necessary "toys." When you're shopping for your new home, check to see if there are any storage spaces that come deeded with the home. An extra 25-75 Square feet goes a long way when you need to store your bicycles, ski and snowboard equipment, golf clubs, etc.
While living in a high rise can give you access to amazing views and make you seem high above it all, it's nice to be able to have some outdoor space to step out to and grab some fresh air. Most units in downtown Denver have balconies upon which you can set a small table and chairs, while some of the most desirable Denver condos have over 600 square foot patios. Additionally, many condominium buildings have outdoor community areas that feature patios, gardens or lawns.
Many people don't think of window treatments when buying a condo in downtown Denver. While most buildings allow many different types of shades and blinds, some buildings are very strict as to what types of window coverings you can have over your windows. The reasoning behind this is the building homeowners want to have a uniform and aesthetically pleasing look from the outside in an attempt to keep property values up. Make sure to check with the building if your European inspired window dressings are allowed to be displayed over your windows in the building.
Flooring can come in many different types and textures: carpeting, laminate, hardwood and cork to name a few. Be careful to check which type of flooring is allowed in the building. For example, some buildings don't allow anything other than carpet in the bedrooms due to the noise transfer to your downstairs neighbors. Other buildings solve for this by creating strict guidelines for the types of flooring and padding required in order to create enough sound deadening to the condo units below. Other people get around the whole issue entirely by citing reasons such as allergies with a doctor's note that they physically cannot have carpet in their condos. Check with each individual building on the rules and regulations when it comes to flooring.
A great tool that professional real estate agents use to sell condos in Denver is a technique called staging. This entails placing furniture and items around a home to make it appear larger and more inviting. Most of the time the furniture used in staging is an unrealistic way to live on a day-to-day basis even though it looks amazing. Make sure to take into account your own furnishings and if and how they will fit into the new space.
Square footage is once again the name of the game when it comes to shopping for a condo. Closet space can be a little sparse in some floor plans due to the placement of mechanical rooms and utilities. Make sure to open all the closet doors and evaluate whether the space is going to be able to accommodate your clothes and accessories.
Security and safety
Feeling safe and secure is one of those non-negotiable items when it comes to living in your home. Making sure that the building you select has a secure entry and access point is very important. Check to see if the building has electronic fob access. Does the building have a 24 hour concierge desk? Is there security on site? Living downtown is a lot of fun, but having someone wander off the streets who has had a little bit too much fun and make noise outside your door at 2 a.m. is not.
Front desk or no front desk
We touched a little on this above of the importance of having a staffed front desk for safety reasons. Other benefits include the ability for someone to sign for packages, dry cleaning and grocery delivery. In this day and age of online shopping, it's nice to be able to order your dinner and a new pair of shoes from work and then come home to find them waiting for you. Buildings in downtown Denver like The Glass House and The Spire have 24 hour staffed front desks.
What's included in the HOA fees
"HOA" stands for Homeowners Association and all condo buildings will have one. Each owner will pay dues to the homeowners association to maintain and clean the common areas, and cover the costs associated with sewer, trash and other utilities. Some HOA's have a common boiler or water system or even shared electricity and WiFi. This is something to consider when budgeting your monthly costs. If the HOA covers water and internet, you'll find that you're saving potentially over $100 a month in costs.
When shopping for a condo in Denver, one of the key things to consider is what type of amenities the building has to offer. You're moving into a managed building for a reason, usually because of convenience and proximity to work. Does the building have a workout facility? Is there a year round or seasonal pool? Does the building have a guest suite that owners can access for guests? Is there available parking for overnight visitors? All of these extra features can contribute significantly to the overall living quality of your new condo.
Happy shopping for your next home in a high rise!
There are many things to consider at the end of the day when it comes to finding the condo or loft of your dreams in Denver. The overall convenience and benefits of this type of home make it a very attractive option for buyers in today's market. Condo living goes beyond selecting the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need; amenities play a key role making your Denver urban lifestyle enjoyable. Happy house hunting!
(Editor's note: This blog was originally published in February of 2017. It has been updated with new information and current trends).
Posted by Anton Usaj
Anton Usaj is owner of Usaj Realty, and retired Downtown Firefighter. From courageously battling fires, to volunteering in the community, to his commitment to offer exceptional real estate services to those exploring the Denver market, he is praised for his heart-felt service to his community.Facebook LinkedIn Twitter