Monday, January 11, 2010


All things considered, Colorado's real estate market is among the strongest in the country today. Case-Shiller just identified Denver as the top market in the country, the nation's largest insurer of mortgages recently tabbed Denver as the only "improving" market in its 50-city survey, and many homes below $200,000 have seen double-digit appreciation in the past year.

But flash back to 2007, and it was hardly the best of times. Colorado was coming off of two consecutive years where we led the nation in foreclosures (hardly a prestigous honor!), dead inventory littered the market and cautious buyers were armed and ready to chop the legs off of any seller who dared list their home at a retail price.

In August of 2007, there were 30,827 homes for sale in the Denver MLS. Interest rates were in the high 6s, the economy was just starting to wobble, and Denver was showing up near the bottom of most reports on "Where to Buy Now". (In fact, it was a GREAT time to be buying real estate, at least at the entry-level)

Flash forward 30 months, and the picture is markedly different. At the end of December, there were just 16,456 homes for sale in the Denver MLS, a 46% decrease from the August 2007 highs and a 16% decrease from December of 2008.

While foreclosures continue to be a problem, the reality is that Denver went into the foreclosure trough long before most cities. While homeowners in California, Arizona, Nevada and Florida were still engaged in serial refinancings and pulling cash out their "ever appreciating" homes in 2006, Denver values were in full retreat, especially at the lower price points.

But because we took our medicine first, we're also getting healthier before anyone else.

This isn't to downplay the difficulties in the economy, or the widespread job losses, or the credit crunch that has made financing so difficult. It's just to say that, all things considered, we're ahead of the curve in terms of recovery. And with just 16,000 homes on the market and two large and attractive tax credits in play for the next three months, I would expect our values to hold up very well through the spring in the sub-$400k price range.