An influx of residents and scarcity of housing inventory is forcing people to get creative when house hunting in Denver. As a result, many neighborhoods that once flew under buyers' radars are gaining new attention, accommodating newcomers and those who've been priced out of the pricier areas. Savvy real estate investors are viewing these up-and-coming neighborhoods as golden opportunities to get in on the action without breaking the bank, and potential homebuyers should take note.

"Established neighborhoods continue to evolve, but for those who see themselves as early adopters of a cultural movement, it's worth having a look at [up-and-coming neighborhoods]," advises Adam Moore, a real estate broker with Mile Hi Modern and LIV Sotheby's International Realty. "Buyers shouldn't be afraid to try something that isn't necessarily the hot topic."

Unlike other major metropolises such as New York City and Chicago, Denver still has a lot of room to grow within its city limits. Meanwhile, the ongoing expansion of the Regional Transportation District (RTD) bus and light rail system is sure to contribute to the development of popular residential areas, and the anticipated development of retail and commercial developments will also add value to the area's real estate.

"Typically, planned retail will drive housing development," says Deviree Vallejo, a real estate agent with Kentwood City Properties.

To weigh in on which neighborhoods will become the next hot spots for home buyers, we consulted with some of Denver's top real estate agents. Here's what they had to say.

Sunnyside. Sunnyside is no secret to Denverites, but its full potential has yet to be realized. Although it's home to many popular eateries, coffee shops, bars, boutiques and parks, Sunnyside is primarily a quiet residential area. However, the area is bound to get busier in the coming years with the construction of the Gold Line, or "G Line," extension on the light rail. One of the future stations will be located at 41st and Fox Street – on the eastern edge of Sunnyside's border.

[Read: How to Get the Best Price on a Downtown Denver Condo]

"I don't believe Sunnyside is anywhere near its peak," says Jeff Plous, a real estate agent with ONE Realty. "If I were an investor I'd be looking at East Sunnyside because the zoning is good, it's affordable and you can get to the Fox Street station easily."

Sunnyside offers a mix of residential housing options that range from charming, historic bungalows and mid-century ranch homes to modern townhomes – most of which are more affordable than similar structures in nearby Berkeley and Highlands neighborhoods.

Cole. The Cole neighborhood is getting noticed because it shares a border with the River North Art District (RiNo), an area chock-full of trendy restaurants and shops, and with limited residential opportunities. To the north, outside of Cole, sits the Denver Coliseum and National Western Complex, which recently got approved for a massive overhaul to become a major events center which will likely increase traffic and visitors to the area. This neighborhood also offers proximity to downtown amenities and attractions as well as the expansive City Park, where plans for a revitalized golf course are getting underway.

"Cole is an emerging [neighborhood]," Vallejo says. "RiNo has so much commercial development that the land is so expensive, so people who want to live in that area are pushing into Cole, where the land is more affordable."

The median price for a single-family home in Cole is around $350,000. Homebuyers will also see that there is a variety of reasonable priced row houses, attached single-family homes, in this area.

Mayfair. Another area anticipating a major revitalization is Mayfair, located within the larger neighborhood of Montclair. Mayfair will benefit from the nearby redevelopment of the former campus of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center at 9th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. The area will feature a number of parks, plazas, residential buildings, offices, shops, hotels and restaurants – all within walking distance of the Mayfair area. The project is expected to help significantly raise home values in the area upon completion in 2018.

[Read: How to Get the Most for Your Money in Denver Real Estate]

Other neighborhoods near this area include Cherry Creek and Hilltop, both of which have median home prices around the $1 million mark. "Mayfair is going to be very popular in years to come and the number one reason is its accessibility to Cherry Creek, which is just five minutes away," Vallejo says.

What's more, homes in Mayfair – which include a mix of historic single family homes, mid-century ranch-style homes and condominiums – generally sell for under $500,000.

Villa Park. Just south of Sloan's Lake, Villa Park is a gem for outdoor lovers and one of Denver's several new in-demand "pocket" neighborhoods. Villa Park's northern border runs along Dry Gulch Park (a popular jogging and biking spot), while its southern border runs along 6th Avenue, which gives commuting residents a 15-minute head start on morning traffic. There are also three light rail stations in the neighborhood.

"[Villa Park] has slowly gained a lot of desirability," Plous says. "Right now there's not much in the way of commercial, but it's coming. There's a lot of win-win in that area now for home buyers."

Most of the homes in Villa Park are mid-century ranch-style homes with a median listing price of around $250,000. Other surrounding neighborhoods that are considered to be affordable up-and-comers include Barnum, Barnum West, Valverde and Villa West.

Arvada. Although it's not technically a neighborhood in Denver, the city of Arvada is within easy commuting distance, and it offers plenty of its own draws. Arvada's Olde Town is a historic and pleasant district that gives residents access to shops, restaurants and breweries.

[Read: A Buyer's Guide to Denver's Highlands Neighborhood]

According to Plous, "Olde Town Arvada is still affordable. You can walk and hang out in Old Town and get on the light rail and go to work. You get that suburban feel with easy access to downtown."

In Arvada's residential areas, there are a mixture of home styles – including 1980s split-levels, mid-century ranches and new builds – many of which are located on lots that are larger than ones found within Denver's city limits, but with significantly lower listing prices. But buyers should act fast. This fall, the RTD's new "G Line" is expected to open, providing residents direct service between Olde Town and downtown.

Looking for a real estate agent in Denver? U.S. News' Find an Agent tool can match you to the person who's most qualified for the job.

Tags: Denver, real estate, housing market, home prices, housing, new home sales, existing home sales


Katie Hearsum is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado, and uses local knowledge to write about life in the Mile High City for U.S. News & World Report. After time spent backpacking across the globe and working on a dude ranch, Katie realized a passion for all things outdoors and hopes to inspire others to expand their horizons by sharing stories about her adventures. She now writes about outdoor sports, travel and lifestyle in Colorado and the West for Snowshoe Magazine, Inspirato, the Matador Network and 5280 Magazine. You can connect with Katie and read more of her work at katiehearsum.com.