A Buyer’s Guide to Denver’s Highlands Neighborhood

July 07, 2016 / Posted in Condos, Denver, Developments, Real Estate

Here are some tips to know before buy a home in one of Denver’s most popular neighborhoods.

Located northwest of downtown Denver, the Highland neighborhood is one of the city’s hottest residential areas. In recent years, the area’s popularity has sprouted a number of new services, retail shops, restaurants and housing within the neighboring communities of Berkeley, Sunnyside, Edgewater and Sloan’s Lake which, combined with Highland and West Highland, are collectively known as “the Highlands.”

As is the case with most central Denver neighborhoods, the demand for housing in the Highlands is high and the real estate market is quite competitive.

To help you navigate through the area’s housing market with ease, we’ve turned to some of Denver’s top real estate agents according to OpenHouse Realty, an agent referral company (and a U.S. News partner). Here’s the advice those agents had for those looking to buy a home in the Highlands.

There’s something for everyone. The Highlands offers an array of housing styles – the majority of which are single-family homes ranging from mid-century ranch homes to Victorians to bungalows.

“Architecture in the Highlands is diverse,” says Susie Best, with PorchLight Real Estate Group (who refers to her area of expertise as the “Greater Highlands”). “There’s something for everyone.” However, “There is a shortage of condos, with the majority located in newer construction buildings in LoHi,” she notes, referring to the southernmost part of the area, known as the Lower Highlands.

Many agree that this diversity is what makes the Highlands so popular. “Any type of home you want you can find it in Northwest Denver,” Jeff Plous, a Highlands resident and broker associate with ONE Realty, explains. “Part of the charm of the neighborhood is you can have an uber-modern new build next door to a craftsman bungalow, and I think that’s what gives our neighborhood flavor.”

Going, going, gone. The Highlands are constrained by the South Platte River and the western and northern city limits, and therefore don’t have much room to grow. Tight borders mean housing is in short supply, an issue that will become more problematic for buyers (and more beneficial for sellers) in the future. According to OpenHouse, the median listing price in the Highlands neighborhood has jumped from more than $150,000 in the last month alone, a trend that’s likely to continue over time.

“This is one of the fastest appreciating markets in the city, so expect to pay what may seem like a premium,” Best warns. “The good news about investing in this neighborhood is that the values are expected to remain high for years to come.”

Buyers are experiencing serious sticker shock all over Denver right now, and the Highlands is no exception. Still, it’s not impossible to find a deal in this northwest Denver region. “If someone’s looking for good value in Northwest Denver they should look at Sunnyside because the prices are still lower than the rest of the area,” Plous advises. “It’s a little bit of a sleeping dragon. You can get a lot of value for buying in Sunnyside right now while you can.”

Convenience is king. Thanks to the many different “main square” areas at the heart of a variety of smaller neighborhoods like Edgewater, Berkeley and LoHi, the Highlands as a whole is known for its supreme walkability and accessibility. Being aware of where these retail centers are located will help buyers with their search regardless of whether their goal is to get the best price or the best investment.

“We are a lifestyle neighborhood,” Jennifer Apel, with Nostalgic Homes, explains. “Foot-friendly is really important here, and those homes that sit closer to commercial districts in high-demand will sell fast and for more money.”

Apel mentions that Tennyson Street and Highlands Square are some of the hippest commercial areas.

Hire good help. Agents agree that in a real estate climate as competitive as Denver’s, it’s important to hire a good real estate agent to help navigate challenges like contract negotiations and bidding wars.

“Find a local expert,” advises Rachel Gallegos, a real estate agent with LIV Sotheby’s International Realty. “Many deals are happening off market and you need to work with someone who knows not just the neighborhood, but who has the relationships to get things done.”

Also, because the Highlands is separated from other central Denver neighborhoods by the river and Interstate 25, not all agents are equally familiar with this part of town. Many brokerages specialize solely in the Highlands due to its unique location and size.

Gallegos notes that the right agent can help buyers identify a great deal in the competitive climate. “The lack of inventory requires buyers to practice more patience, and choosing the right real estate broker is more critical in this climate than ever.”

Plous agrees and advises buyers to trust their agent when home searching in the Highlands. “It’s important that they don’t get stuck in a home they don’t love just because it’s so competitive, especially in a neighborhood as hot as the Highlands.”