We’ve only lived in our “new” house for two years, so I’m jumping the gun a little. But the plan, when we bought, was to live here for 5-10 years. We bought low and, assuming the market doesn’t crash again, that shouldn’t change. The house has already appreciated at least $100,000 in the 24 months we’ve owned it. Maybe closer to $150,000. Current tax laws allow you to have tax free capital gains up to $500,000 (for a couple; $250,000 for one person) on the sale of your primary residence if you’ve lived in it for at least two of the last five years. Hopefully, by the time we sell, we’ll be close to that limit! 😉
Anyway, the “plan” is that in the next 3-7 years Jay will be ready to retire, one or two of the kids will be fully launched and won’t need a room to come home to, and we’ll be ready to downsize and no longer have a mortgage. And I think I’ve found the neighborhood to transition to. It’s a little further south than I would have considered a few years ago, but having lived in this area for two years, I’ve become familiar with the “environs”.
The neighborhood I’ve found is close to the canal, which we love and regularly bike and walk. It’s close to my wonderful library. It’s close to my rec center. It’s close to the best King Soopers in the Denver metro area. It’s a mixture of detached single family homes and attached, 2-unit, all brick ranch style townhomes with above ground basements, and decent sized decks. I’m leaning towards these. They are four bedroom, four bathroom units, averaging 1900 sq ft on the main floor, and 3300 finished sq ft. I think they have main floor offices. And it appears the master bedroom/bathrooms are big enough to suit our needs. I’m spoiled and have to have a soaking tub.
There’s a small swimming pool (which I would dearly love) and gorgeous landscaping, which more than makes up for the lack of yards.
The HOA dues are $485 which, at first glance, appear outrageous. That’s almost $6,000 in dues/year! But it’s worth diving into the details. The dues cover exterior maintenance including roof, insurance, pool, snow removal, trash removal, water, sewer and grounds maintenance. Our current home insurance is $2,377, trash removal is $188, water is about $500, and sewer is $650, for a total of $3,715/yr – more than half of the cost of the HOA. Considering the costs of exterior maintenance, as well as the expense or hassle of snow removal and yardwork, the dues start to look reasonable.
The next thing to consider is property taxes. We currently pay a hefty $7,320/year because we are in one of the best zip codes in Denver, with a very good school district. The property taxes on the townhomes are half that, around $3,250/year. The difference more than makes up for the expense of the HOA dues.
Finally, the cost of the townhomes is approximately half of what we’d sell our current home for. Assuming the ratio stays that way in the foreseeable future, we’ll be able to sell our house and buy one of the townhomes with cash. No mortgage. Just like our plan! And I would predict that this cozy, little area will be much more neighborly. We rarely see our neighbors where we are now. We joke that we’re the Clampetts. Jay does our yardwork. When we first moved in, some of our neighbors actually thought he was our gardener. And I’m not joking. Also, we don’t summer in Europe or Aspen or the Hamptons like our neighbors. Again, I’m not joking. We love our house. We love the area. We love the local amenities. And the people we’ve met are very nice, but we don’t really fit in. In the new area we would. The upside is huge.
We’re not ready to move right now. But we will be in a few years. And it might take that long to snag one of these townhomes. I’m betting they’ll be in high demand! (Keep in mind, too, that I actually haven’t been inside any of them, so we’ll see what I think when I get the chance.) I’ll be keeping my eye out for any that come on the market and will schedule showings with our realtor for each and every one.