By Kelly Werthmann

DENVER (CBS4)– When it comes to buying a home in the Denver metro area, the struggle is real. Not only are home prices continuing to rise, the inventory is reaching record lows.

“It’s around 4,000 to start the year of total housing inventory in the Denver metro area,” said Zac Nelson, a realtor with Coldwell Banker.

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While Winter is typically a slower real estate season, Nelson said there is high demand right now. He saw that first-hand when he listed a home for sale one week ago.

“In a span of 36 hours, we ended up with 73 showings and 17 offers on it,” Nelson told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.

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Zac Nelson, a realtor with Coldwell Banker (credit: CBS)

It’s an uphill battle for prospective buyers like Yvonne and Steve Hall. They’ve been searching for a new home for their family of four since November, but with little luck.

“Finding things in our price point, under $500,000, for us specifically under $475,000, that’s been a challenge,” Yvonne said.

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According to the Colorado Association of Realtors, the average cost of a single-family home in Denver in 2017 was $465,818 – up nearly 11 percent from a year ago.

In the Denver metro area, active listings were down 30 percent from December 2016 to 2017, and record low inventory is expected to continue into spring 2018. Demand is expected to outpace supply in the area again this year, with home prices continuing their upward trend.

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(credit: CBS)

Some hopeful buyers may be waiting for a price “bubble” to burst before starting their house hunt, but Nelson advises against that strategy.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a bubble like we had about eight or nine years ago,” he said. “It’s probably going to be more of a leveling off in home appreciation.”

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Nelson said some reports indicate the fourth quarter of 2019 is when Denver could start to see some leveling off. He acknowledged the difficulty to afford buying a home in the metro area, but said that is part of living in such an amazing place.

“The might have to rent for a while,” Nelson said of people struggling to come up with the funds to buy a home. “That’s the hard reality of it that people might have to rent. But even that is difficulty because rent rates are so high.”

As far as advice for those hoping to buy a home one day – Nelson offered these tips:

  • Get credit approved with a lender. “That gives them greater buying power,” Nelson said. “Not just getting prequalified, but actually getting credit approved.”
  •  Avoid large purchases on credit cards. “Try not to do that between now and until they actually buy a home,” he said. “It can have a real negative impact.”
  •  Work with an experienced real estate professional. “They know what’s out there and can help find what’s most important to the buyer,” Nelson explained. “That will help you make the best offer possible.”
  • Be flexible. “Expectations are important, but be willing to be flexible on those,” he said, “especially with the low inventory.”

Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.

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