Purchasing a Pied-à-Terre

Purchasing a pied-à-terre or second home in the city can be challenging given the complexities of condo living downtown but with a little forethought and planning, the process can be easily managed.

Before walking too far down the path to homeownership there are a few factors I recommend considering:

  1. Residential Characteristics
  2. Building Dynamics
  3. HOAs
  4. Lifestyle
  5. Location
  6. Goals

Residential Characteristics

What qualities are important to you in a downtown property? Identifying bedroom and bathroom configurations can immediately narrow your search to a smaller, more manageable subset of options.

In the same vein, it’s worth considering the architectural style you most identify with as certain neighborhoods and buildings possess different architectural styles.

The most notable styles are:

  • Industrial Lofts – Exposed HVAC duct work and plumbing lines with exposed concrete ceilings
  • Traditional Lofts – Exposed HVAC duct work and plumbing lines with exposed wood beam ceilings and brick walls
  • Contemporary Condos – Clean, sleek lines with minimal architectural detail
  • Traditional Condos – Crown molding with ornate baseboards and cabinetry

Building Dynamics

One of the more frequent requests I hear from buyers looking to purchase downtown is a desire for outdoor living space. Some buildings offer large terraces while others have little to no private outdoor living space.

Parking and storage are other elements I frequently receive questions about. Not all buildings offer on-site parking and those that do may have restrictions.

What characteristics are important to you?

Homeowners Associations

Amenities come with a price tag and it's important for consumers to consider how much they’re willing to pay for the lifestyle on an annual basis.

While we often think of monthly dues as the sole factor in determining the favorability of an HOA one should also understand the dynamics of the board, community rules and regulations, maintenance programs, past events and the financial health of the community.

A small, aging building with deferred maintenance and a depleted reserve account may ultimately cost more than a new, high amenity building with a robust reserve account.


Downtown Denver has a diverse collection of residential buildings.

Some buyers prefer traditional high-rise living that offers extensive amenity lists that read like lavish hotel perks: year-round swimming pools, hot tubs, fire pits, fitness studios and on-site front desk staff.

Other consumers, however, prefer quiet, boutique buildings that are light on amenities and big on privacy.


If you travel by plane extensively and your downtown residence is a drop-zone between business trips you'll likely want to reside within close proximity to Union Station. Conversely, if you're a season ticket holder to the Denver Center of Performing Arts you may want to be closer to the Theatre District. Of course, you can never discount the premium placed on greenspace and trail access.


Beyond personal enjoyment, how do you plan to use the residence? In addition to local laws, rules and regulations regarding short-term and long-term rentals exist in many of the residential buildings throughout the city. If you plan on renting the residence part-time or full-time you should understand the limitations.

It's also worth determining how long you plan to own the property and what your exit strategy will be as some buildings are more desirable than others. Being diligent during the purchase can save a lot of headache when it comes time to sell.

Closing Thoughts

Before starting your search it's important to establish a relationship with a broker who is experienced in the downtown market.

The urban market is nuanced and working with a broker who knows the buildings and the neighborhoods will ensure a stress-free buying process and long-term happiness.

If you're thinking of purchasing a residence in Denver, give me a call, I'm happy to help guide you toward your new urban home.

Meet Adam