Boulder high end home sales led the way in 2009

Date: Jan. 22nd, 2010
Contact: Denver Business Journal by Paula Moore
Boulder County neighborhoods had several of the highest average selling prices for Denver-area houses in 2009, with the city of Boulder reporting the highest at $639,750.

The county had the only increases in average selling price among the best-selling high-priced neighborhoods — in Boulder and Louisville — largely because of the area’s continuing desirability as a place to live, according to residential real estate brokers.

But most high-end metro-area neighborhoods experienced drops in the number of single-family home resales and average selling price last year compared to 2008, because of the recession’s effect on buyers of expensive houses. Such buyers were too worried about their jobs and investments to buy a house, brokers said.

Those neighborhoods included the southeast Denver area, with Washington Park, University Hills and Lowry; the southeastern suburbs, including Cherry Hills Village and parts of Greenwood Village and Centennial; and western Douglas County areas such as Castle Rock and Castle Pines Village.

Denver-area neighborhoods with lower-priced homes attracted investors and first-time homebuyers, and had most of this market’s existing-home sales in 2009 — and had several areas with increases in average selling price, according to data from Metrolist Inc. Half of the 10 neighborhoods with lowest average sales prices alone reported increases in those prices year over year.

Low mortgage rates in the 4 percent-5 percent range, availability of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans and the $8,000 federal first-time homebuyer tax credit contributed to higher sales of affordable homes, brokers said.

Last year’s housing market “shows you can afford to buy something,” said Joe DeVito, broker associate at Re/Max Alliance in Arvada. “You just have to know what your house is worth and what you’re looking for.”

Metrolist is the Denver area’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS), providing sales information to residential real estate brokers and agents.

Data in this story is only for existing single-family homes sales, also called resales. Existing homes are those that have been sold at least once.

Boulder’s highest average home-selling price last year was up from $597,588 in ’08. But the city was among neighborhoods with the lowest number of sales for ’09, at 136, down from 178 year over year, according to Metrolist.

The average home-sale price in Louisville climbed to $398,474 in ’09 from $390,885 for the previous year. The city was one of the few markets with high selling prices to have an increase in sales as well — to 94 last year from 87 in ’08.

Boulder and Louisville home prices climbed during a largely poor market for existing home sales last year largely because of Boulder County’s growth limits, according to residential brokers.

“Boulder particularly is a contained market where people want to live. … They’ve basically put a wall around it,” said Larry McGee, managing broker at The Berkshire Group Inc. in Denver. “And Louisville is close to Boulder; it’s basically a Boulder suburb.”

A total of four Boulder County neighborhoods had some of the highest average sales prices last year, also including the plains area ($566,519) and mountains ($391,552).

Other relatively pricey neighborhoods with high ’09 home-sale prices last year included southeastern Denver, western Douglas County and the Highlands Ranch area, at $391,671 to $490,787. But those prices were down year over year. Those neighborhoods also had some of the metro area’s highest sales — 2,377, 1,414 and 1,535, respectively — but those sales were down as well.

“The most popular price point is $200,000 to $300,000,” said Rhonda Knop, broker owner at Distinctive Properties Ltd. in Denver. “That’s where the most activity is.”

So far this year, brokers, including Knop, are buoyed by increased showings of high-end homes. “Jan. 15 was the busiest day we’ve had for showings since Aug. 21 of last year,” she said.

In metro Denver as a whole, existing single-family home sales dropped 13 percent to 33,114 from 37,988 in ’08, according to Metrolist data.

Average total sold price dipped 2 percent to $264,800 from $270,260 — after dropping 8 percent from 2007 to ’08.

In the metro area’s more affordable neighborhoods, houses in the northern part of Aurora had the lowest average selling price in ’09, at $102,522. That price was up from $99,029 the previous year.