Denver Mortgage Rates

Living in Denver

The “Mile High City” sits 5,280 feet above sea level, an altitude that helps bring plenty of sunshine and blue skies. In addition to great weather, Denver boasts a thriving arts scene, what the city purports to be the largest city park system in the country and Colfax Avenue, the longest commercial street in the United States. Just a short drive outside of this former gold rush town, the mountains offer a wealth of outdoor activities. No wonder the American College of Sports Medicine ranks Denver as one of America’s fittest cities.

If you’re hunting for a home in Denver, you’ll be happy to know U.S. News & World Report has ranked the city as one of the best places in the country to live. The Denver housing market has been hot for a while and is still considered a seller’s market, even though prices have leveled out over the past year. New listings and median sales prices rose in the Denver metro region, which includes Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson counties. New listings in the metro area increased by nearly 16% for single-family homes and by 20% for condos and townhouses from May 2018 to May 2019. Over that time period, the median sales price went up 3.7% for single-family homes and 3.3% for townhouses and condos.

In early 2019, record snowfall kept the housing market from heating up as quickly as it normally does in spring. But that storm has passed, and you may want to act quickly if you find a Denver area home you love. Days on the market (from the date of listing to the date an offer is accepted) for single-family homes have increased only slightly over the past year, from 25 days in May 2018 to 26 days in May 2019, according to the Colorado Association of Realtors. The number of days on the market for condos and townhouses increased more, from 21 to 30. The good news is buyers have more choices than they did a year ago; the inventory of active listings rose by 6.3% for single-family homes and 27.7% for condos and townhomes.

The rules and costs of buying a home in Denver

If you’re planning to buy a home in Denver, it’s a good idea to learn more about the Colorado state laws that may affect the homebuying process. Here’s a summary of important Colorado homebuying laws.

Home seller and buyer laws

Home sellers in the Denver metro area must comply with Colorado residential property sale disclosure laws. For example, sellers have to disclose any structural damage, moisture problems and damage from insects, rodents and weather events.

Sellers also must disclose whether a home sits in a special taxing district or within a homeowners association (HOA), whether the property has ever been used as a methamphetamine lab and not remediated to state standards and whether any proposed transportation projects could affect the home. For more details, check these Colorado seller disclosure forms.

There’s also a separate “ Colorado green disclosure form” to inform the buyer about air quality, energy-efficient features, such as low-flow toilets, and sustainable materials, such as reclaimed flooring.

Colorado is considered a non-judicial foreclosure state because a lender is not required to file a lawsuit in order to foreclose. Most foreclosures in Colorado are non-judicial foreclosures. However, foreclosures in Colorado may also be handled through the courts. In a non-judicial foreclosure, the lender must file a demand-for-sale notice with the public trustee in the county where the home is located. The public trustee then sends the homeowner a notice that includes the time and date of the sale and their rights. The homeowner should also get a notice of hearing from the lender’s attorney. The homeowner may file a response objecting to the foreclosure no later than seven days before the hearing.

The laws on dividing property after a divorce can affect the homebuying process for a married couple. Colorado is an equitable distribution state, which means property is divided “equitably” but not necessarily equally based on a number of factors. Colorado is not a community property state in which marital property must be divided by a 50/50 split.

Colorado is an escrow state, which means that title companies, brokers and attorneys may all handle home closings. It is therefore not necessary to hire an attorney to represent you at the closing, although you may do so if you wish.

Taxes

Denver homebuyers, like all buyers across Colorado, must pay a recording fee to cover the cost of recording the home sale into the public record. This fee is $.01 for every $100 of the home purchase price. For example, a buyer who paid the $451,000 median price for a single-family home in the Denver metro area would pay a fee of $45.

There is no statewide real estate transfer tax in Colorado, but some local municipalities do charge transfer taxes. Denver and some other Colorado cities do not charge transfer taxes due to Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1992 that prohibits certain kinds of new taxes. Your mortgage lender must properly disclose the exact amount of transfer taxes due when you buy the home.

Qualifying residents of Denver are eligible for a property tax exemption offered by the state of Colorado. The exemption applies to eligible citizens age 65 or older, as well as surviving spouses of senior citizens and disabled veterans who have owned and lived in their home as a primary residence for at least 10 years. This program exempts from property taxation 50% of the first $200,000 in actual property value. Residents who have questions about the program may contact the Denver Assessor’s Office.

Colorado collects a median property tax of $1,437 per year for a home valued at $237,800, according to Tax-Rates.org. In Denver County, the median is slightly lower at $1,305 per year. However, homeowners in other parts of the Denver metro area may pay significantly more in property tax. For example, Douglas County has the highest median property tax in the Denver metro region, at $2,590 per year. Boulder County has the second highest, at $2,014 per year.

Conforming loan limits

Conforming loan limits are the maximum amounts that can be borrowed in order for a mortgage loan to be acquired and insured by government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Each year, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) sets conforming loan limits. In most of the U.S., the conforming loan limit for a one-unit property is $484,350. This is also the limit for most Colorado counties outside of the Denver area. Conforming loan limits are higher in more expensive areas, including the Denver metro.

The conforming loan limits for all counties in the Denver metro area, except for Boulder County, are: $561,200 for a one-unit home, $718,450 for a two-unit home, $868,400 for a three-unit home and $1,079,250 for a four-unit home. The conforming loan limits for Boulder County are higher at $626,750 for a one-unit home, $802,350 for a two-unit home, $969,850 for a three-unit home and $1,205,300 for a four-unit home.

Programs for homebuyers in Denver

The high cost of the Denver housing market doesn’t mean your dream home is out of reach. Denver offers several homebuyer programs designed to help make a home more affordable for residents. Here are three Denver homebuyer programs that may be a fit for you.

Affordable Housing Ownership Program

The Affordable Housing Ownership Program helps qualified, moderate-income residents purchase affordable condos and houses.

In order to qualify for Denver’s Affordable Housing Ownership Program, you must:

  • Show that your household earns more than 50% but less than 80% of the area median income (2018 limits for a one-income household were between $31,500 and $50,350)
  • Have a new housing payment that does not exceed 30% of your total household monthly gross income
  • Meet asset limits set by the program
  • Qualify for a mortgage
  • Complete a homebuyer counseling program
  • Buy an existing property, not new construction

Learn more.

MetroDPA

The MetroDPA program provides down payment assistance for low-to-moderate-income homebuyers as a zero-interest, forgivable second mortgage. The program offers down payment and closing cost assistance for up to 5% of the loan.

To qualify for the MetroDPA program, you must:

  • Have a household income no higher than $139,200
  • Have a FICO score of 640 or higher
  • Have a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 45%
  • Complete a HUD-approved homebuyer education course
  • Provide the required cash payment at closing
  • Be purchasing a detached, single-family home, duplex, condominium or townhome
  • Be purchasing a home located in an approved location, which includes homes within Denver and surrounding cities; in addition, the counties of Arapahoe, Boulder and Jefferson allow for purchase in unincorporated areas
  • Live in the home as your primary residence

Learn more.

Mortgage credit certificate

The mortgage credit certificate provides qualifying homebuyers a tax credit equal to 25% of the annual interest paid, at a maximum of $2,000 per year on their mortgage. This program is set to continue through Dec. 31, 2019, as long as funds are available.

In order to qualify for the mortgage credit certificate, you must:

  • Be a first-time homebuyer, meaning you have not owned a home in the past three years, unless you are a qualified veteran or purchasing in a targeted area
  • Be a qualifying borrower in the city and county of Denver
  • Complete a homebuyer education course
  • Meet maximum income limits of $111,360 for families of two or fewer, or $129,920 for families of three or more
  • Be purchasing a property with a maximum purchase price for a single-family residence of $505,088, or $617,329 if the property is in a targeted area

Learn more.

Rate shopping tips

Ready to shop for a mortgage in Denver? Follow these rate shopping tips to make sure you’re getting your best possible mortgage rate:

Contact at least three lenders on the same day. Mortgage rates fluctuate constantly, so it’s key to contact lenders on the same day for the fairest, most accurate rate comparisons. Fortunately, if you do contact multiple lenders within a narrow timeframe (14 to 45 days depending on the FICO score formula), your multiple credit inquiries will be treated as one, which means less of a ding to your credit score.

Give each lender the same information. Write down the necessary information before you contact lenders to make sure you have all the correct data in hand. You’ll need to provide your name, income, Social Security number, address of property and desired loan amount. Giving lenders the same data will help you to more accurately compare mortgage rates when buying a home in Denver.

Add up all the lender fees to confirm the costs. Lenders are required to list all fees on a loan estimate, which you will receive after you apply for a mortgage. These fees can include an application fee, origination fee, processing fee and other costs.

Know when to lock in the rate. Ask your lender about their rate-lock options. Locking the rate allows you to “lock in” the offered interest rate for a specific amount of time, preventing a rate increase if the market fluctuates. Timing is important in the rate-lock process because the lock will come with an expiration date. The window is typically 30 days, although the range could start as low as 15 days and go as high as 60 days. You may be able to get a rate-lock extension, although that might come with a fee. If the rate decreases after you lock it in, ask your lender about the “float down” option.

The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.