NEWS

Denver home prices rise for sixth straight month

Date: Oct. 29th, 2009
Contact: Margaret Jackson

Denver-area home prices rose for the sixth consecutive month in August but were still lower than the same period a year ago.

Area housing prices were up 1 percent compared with July but down 1.9 percent compared with August last year, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home-price index.

Home prices in the 20 U.S. cities Case-Shiller tracks rose in August for a third straight month. The index increased 1 percent from July but was down 11.3 percent compared with the same period a year ago.

"Obviously, it's one more concrete sign of stabilization in the American housing market," said economist Jeff Thredgold of Vectra Bank Colorado. "A few months ago, they were down 18 or 19 percent."

The Denver area's numbers are better than the national numbers because the region didn't have the huge run-up in prices from 2003 to 2006 that some other areas did, Thredgold said.

"You're getting a very modest decline year-over-year," he said. "I suspect the Denver numbers are as good as any in the country."

But Charles Roberts, a broker with Your Castle Real Estate, said there is a vast difference between higher- and lower-priced homes.

"Above $400,000 is still a disaster, but under $250,000 is selling fast," he said. "At least some of that is driven by the $8,000 (first-time-buyer) tax credit. That spigot might have just turned off, and now we're going to have to live with the consequences of what's going to happen."

Economists have predicted the U.S. economy would return to growth during the second half of this year, Thredgold said. He expects the U.S. Commerce Department to make it official with its announcement Thursday of gross-domestic-product growth.

But with housing prices still tied to short sales and foreclosures, Jon Terry of Realty Professionals of America Inc. expects to see flat or slightly declining prices over the next months.