Boulder, CO #1 Strongest Housing Market in the US, Few Foreclosures

Boulder has received LOTS of great press lately, and for that we are always thankful. If any of you read my blog entries you know that I love it when Boulder or any of our surrounding communities makes it into a ranking or national survey. But I just read a local competitor’s blog that stated “What recession? Move to Boulder! Living here is simply the best!” Not to be a “negative Nellie” here, but the recession IS still alive and well here in Boulder. Enough propoganda! Although we have definitely fared better than many other parts of the country, our economy does seem to have lagged behind the rest of the country by 12-24 months, going into the downturn, and it will be in the recovery too.

A very recent and much twittered and blogged about Business Week article touted Boulder for its strong housing market. Boulder is the #1 Strongest Housing Market in the US! 60% of the homes in our market have increased in value during the past year, and the city of Boulder’s median home price rose 2.12%. Reasons? Big limits on development and growth within city limits (thus constriction of the housing supply), the University of Colorado providing a constant source of jobs and new energy to the town, and of course the area’s incredible natural beauty.

What people aren’t buzzing about on blogs, Twitter, etc… is mention in the same article that our local economy HAS slowed, and that while our housing marketing is STRONG, it isn’t necessarily affordable. I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, but I am trying to be honest. I am grateful every day that I live in the Boulder area, but I have lived here long enough (15+ years) to be congizant of its drawbacks as well as its attributes.

Two things have been tough to find in Boulder in the last 12-24 months – foreclosure properties, and jobs. I get referrals for out of the area buyers frequently, and everyone I speak to believes they can find a foreclosure property in Boulder and get a screaming deal. You certainly CAN in other parts of the country (Florida, Michigan, California, etc…) so why not Boulder? If you are looking in one of the outlying areas like Longmont, Lafayatte, Erie you may indeed be in luck. But if you are looking in Boulder proper … think again. That cute single family Victorian style home, walking distance to downtown and nearby trails, with a gourmet kitchen and spacious yard simply doesn’t exist in Boulder for even $450,000 in most areas, and certainly not for $250,000, which is the number buyers tend to throw out at me when I get their initial call. However the Daily Camera reported Friday that foreclosure filings are on the rise in Boulder County – 17% in the second quarter and foreclosure sales increased 33%. We still have the lowest foreclosure rate in the Denver metrol areas at 1 per 540 households, compared to 1 per 169 households in Denver County and 1 per 197 households in Douglas County. But that being said, the Boulder County public trustee’s office figure’s show that the county’s foreclosure filings don’t seem to be slowing down, so attention bargain hunters – don’t give up yet!

As for jobs, as of June 2009 the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment was reporting an unemployment rate of 6.6% in Boulder County. While you might say “Well what’s wrong with that? That’s fantastic!” remember that a significant population living in Boulder works elsewhere. Unemployment rates in other surrounding counties aren’t so good – 7.5% in Broomfield, 8.5% in Denver, 7.5% in Jefferson, 9.0% in Adams, 7.7% in Arapahoe counties and 7.8% statewide. And these figures are about 2-3% points above where they were 2 years ago.

So my answer to my competitors who blow sunshine all over the place and say “What recession?” – I answer with THIS recession – it is still affecting Boulder County and may continue to do so for the foreseeable near future. Is Boulder still a phenomenal place to live – DARN RIGHT! Is real estate in the Boulder area still a wise investment – ABSOLUTELY! As long as you aren’t expecting to buy and flip over the short term, real estate in Boulder is as close to a “sure thing” as you can get, especially if you look at it from the perspective of housing, and not the source of a quick turnaround buck. No brainer alert!
So it’s a great time to buy, but what does this mean for home sellers? Do not under any circumstances overprice your home – price it competitively and fairly, or even better than fairly, and don’t think you will be able to squeeze every last dime out of it in this market, or it will sit, and sit, and sit on the market. When it finally sells it will sell for LESS than it would have if you have priced it correctly to begin with. We may not see full market recovery until 2012, so if you do not need to sell then wait. If you do need to sell, price it right to begin with. Consult a reputable real estate professional with experience and success listing and selling homes in YOUR neighborhood who can provide analysis (key word here) and recommendations for pricing. Price it to sell within 90 days – you don’t want it to sit.
Do you want the propoganda, or do you want the facts? I never promised anyone that I would be “glass half full” all the time. But I have promised that I will always be honest and straightforward about our community and our market, and that I will try to provide our clients with the best information possible to assist in their decision making. And really, isn’t that what you want in a real estate company?

Pam Metzger
Director of Relocation and Business Development
Colorado Landmark, Realtors
303-302-8839 (direct)