Value Plays: Triplexes and Detached Secondary Dwellings [Fresh Listings, Get 'Em Hot]

50+ properties hit the boulder real estate market this week - everything from affordable housing to one luxury downtown condo with a wishful thinking asking price of $3MM.   

Only 9 made this week's cut.

Buyers - be cautious in the current market. It's not only an election year, unlike any other, but we're nearing the end of the real estate cycle. Intelligent selection and negotiation can reduce the risk of capital loss if you're forced to liquidate in the coming downturn. During the last down market, the high-end saw prices fall as much as 40% from the peak value. Yes, here in Boulder. If someone tells you different, they either don't know what they're talking about or they're trying to sell you something.

Remember: intelligent real estate decisions are based on deep market knowledge. If your broker can't provide that, find one who can.

So, what's worth seeing? As usual, I've culled the egregiously overpriced and the locations with a poor track record of appreciation. Here's the list:

To schedule a private showing, which includes a discussion of valuation and price trends, call Osman at 303.746.6896.

Fresh Listings

650 Hawthorne Avenue | Asking: $1.65MM | More Details 
A turnkey completely remodeled Newlands "modern farmhouse," a few blocks from open space. The original structure was from the 1940s but supposedly the seller took it down to the studs and rebuilt it. The Nobo Rec Center and bike paths are just down the street. This location is not a quick walk to retail, but it's not bad either and downtown is only a 10 minute bike ride away. Three bedrooms are on the upper level, one is in the basement.

If you've had the pleasure of pricing contractors recently, you know that a fixed cost and not having to manage the project is the value proposition. Due diligence: The higher end market is characterized by higher inventory and more buyer leverage. At this price point, if your agent is pressuring you to go into the negotiation with guns blazing, get one that understands the market

930 Lincoln | Asking: $1.6MM | More Details 
The Civil War named streets (Lincoln and Grant) are one of my favorite parts of Boulder. Sure, Boulderites in Wonderland Lake and Newlands like to talk about their open space, but this house is only a few short blocks from Chautauqua. With a packed calendar of musical events (and other programming), Dining Hall, excellent trail system, and iconic views - it's superior. The interesting thing about this house in particular is that it's a legally licensed triplex. The new owner will likely join the two front units but the detached unit in the back could provide a nice supplemental income or mother-in-law apartment. 

805 13th Street | Asking: $1.2MM | More Details 
With that nasty overgrown pine in the front, this house at first doesn't quite grab the eye but look closer. Plenty of charming details from the 1920's are still there. No doubt, the new owner will likely want to modernize the kitchen and many of the other rooms, but I recommend keeping your plans to the interior. The lot size is larger than average but a portion is in the right of way, which will likely constrain any future expansion to the existing footprint. 

3090 8th| Asking: $989K | More Details 
Although the listing description crows about the expansion potential, I'm going to push back on that a little. Newlands is ground zero for angry residents protesting to limit their neighbors expansion projects, which resulted in a set of ordinances called Compatible Development. 6,200 SQFT (the lot size) is not very large and the home was built just after the end of WWII. By age alone, it's historic and subject to additional layers of review before permits will be granted.   

Now for the good news: It's got a great 2 car detached garage with a studio apartment above it. For an enterprising buyer seeking a way to make Newlands more affordable, the extra income could serve to subsidize a mortgage payment. 

2448 Pine| Asking $950K | More Details 
Expect a bidding war. This lovely little gem is also zoned RMX-1 which allows for a detached garage with rentable secondary dwellings. The one big downside is that it's adjacent to Folsom but since the politically contentious "right sizing," traffic noise has been considerably reduced. If I were a betting man, I'd expect traffic noise to drop even further in coming years as self driving electric cars take over the streets.  

The right buyer should be willing to invest another $300K to $400K to maximize the property value by building the detached garage and studio. Due diligence: Once under contract, your Realtor should take you to the planning department for a one on one discussion of what's possible with a City of Boulder project specialist. If your Realtor "doesn't do that sort of thing," find one who will.  

2900 Marine | Asking: $800K | More Details 
3 unit triplex build in the 1960's. Upgrade the interiors and bump the rent from the current submarket level of $1250. Or expand the individual units to capitalize on the giant lot size. Due diligence: Too long for a blog post. See this one with me and I'll bring my architect to give you the rundown. 

1053 Albion | Asking $750K | More Details 
A mildly updated ranch with a full basement, stumbling distance from Southern Sun and SoBo Lucky's. South Boulder remains a value play for intelligent buyers. It has the best schools, the easiest access to commuting to southern job centers, and a rapidly improving retail mix. This one would make my short list of livable investments. It has the right layout to attract a diversity of tenants and the walkable factor is hard to beat. It will likely go for more than asking. The key is knowing how much it's worth. Before you write that offer, ask your agent for a detailed analysis of negotiations for recent comparable sales, including property yet to close but under contract. If they can't provide it, find one who will. Due diligence: Traffic noise from Broadway.  

940 Quinn | Asking $462K | More Details 
Under market by at least $50K. It's a small student rental/entry level house with no garage but rents at $2200/month. The area is very attractive to students and young couples. If you can swing it, this should be a better investment than a 2 bedroom kiddie condo for your CU student. Expect this to go well over asking - assuming no major defects are found on inspection. No picture because it really doesn't matter.  

2920 Bluff #224 | Asking $349K | More Details
Goose Creek condos remind me of upscale hotel rooms but hey, you're right on the bike path and minutes from your tread desk at the Google Campus. That should help it hold value in the long run. They also don't come on market often, don't wait to go see it. 


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The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate.  image:

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This document contains forward-looking statements. You are strongly cautioned that investment results are subject to business, economic and other uncertainties. There are no guarantees associated with any forecast and the opinions stated here are subject to change at any time. Always consult your financial advisor before making an investment decision.