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Why It's Hard to Find an Affordable House Anywhere in Colorado Now

This five-bedroom, four-bath, 3,332-square-foot home at 3250 Jasmine Street in Denver is listed at $699,999, just over the average price for a detached home in the Mile High City as of November 2020.
This five-bedroom, four-bath, 3,332-square-foot home at 3250 Jasmine Street in Denver is listed at $699,999, just over the average price for a detached home in the Mile High City as of November 2020.
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In recent months, we've documented the increasing challenges facing average house hunters in Denver, thanks to one of the most unexpected and unpredictable boom markets in local real estate history. But the struggle doesn't stop at city limits. Across Colorado, high demand that continues to outstrip inventory has increased the difficulty of finding a home to call your own without breaking the bank — or robbing one.

That's one of the takeaways from a new overview by the Colorado Association of Realtors. The organization reached out to members across the state to get their take on the 2020 market where they live and work, and the story is the same almost everywhere: more buyers than there are houses, resulting in a seller's market that continues to drive prices up, up, up, with no end in sight.

According to the association, the 7,235 single-family homes and 3,266 townhomes and condos for sale across Colorado in November represent totals down more than 60 percent and approximately 46 percent, respectively, from the same month in 2019. And the stats are even more extreme in metro Denver: Last month there were under 3,000 single-family home listings, a decline of 70 percent from last year at the same time, and under 2,000 townhomes or condos on the block, a 48 percent reduction.

Below, ten agents look at various Colorado markets, beginning with the greater Denver area:

DENVER COUNTY
Agent: Matthew Leprino

"If you’ve ever seen a flower growing through concrete, then you’ll understand what Denver’s real estate market looks like. Despite the overwhelming surface evidence that things should not only be rough but also floundering, the truth is absolutely anything but.

"The latest data from the Colorado Association of REALTORS® shows not only a 15.6 percent median price increase over last year but also all-time record low inventory; just 0.6 months. Contributing heavily to that median increase is the ‘list to sold-price’ ratio, which crosses over 100% for the first time in our recorded Novembers.

"Despite many obstacles and the time of year, a flower emerges. Also occurring during November 2020, we saw 38 percent more homes sell than in November 2019 and 42 percent more than 2018 — all while a staggering eighteen days on market better resembles spring marketing than the typical winter lull."

AURORA
Agent: Sunny Banka

"The Aurora and Centennial real estate markets both have more amazing, local news to tell. In the 80010 zip code, year over year inventory is down 76 percent while prices are up 17.5 percent to a median $342,000. In 80013, a more central and south-Aurora location, shows inventory down 92.6 percent with a median price of $399,000. Turning to south Aurora and the 80015, inventory is down 87 percent with a median price of $445,000, up 9.6 percent over November 2019. Overall, Aurora inventory is down 75 percent, single-family home prices are up 11 percent and the median price is $422,000.

"The City of Centennial is showing similar numbers with inventory down 81percent, an 11.5 percent rise in median price to $535,000. Days on market sits at eighteen with a continuation of very strong demand."

GOLDEN/ARVADA — JEFFERSON COUNTY
Agent: Barb Ecker

"Jefferson County remains an incredibly hot market for sellers as buyers grapple with an inventory that is down nearly 74 percent from a year ago. New listings for single-family homes increased 21.7 percent as the median sale price slipped slightly in November to $540,000 and average days on market falling to seventeen days, a 50 percent decrease from this time last year. The Applewood community has become one of the hottest markets in Jefferson County where for sale homes are getting multiple offers well over asking price and covering differences between appraisal and sale price. With very little inventory, buyers must view homes and make aggressive offers quickly to win the bidding competition.

"For condo/townhomes, new listings increased 6.8 percent as the median sales price hit $313,900. Days on market fell 37.5 percent year over year to an average of 20 days. With price consistently ticking up, it is becoming increasingly difficult for first-time homebuyers to find a home they can afford."

BOULDER/BROOMFIELD
Agent: Kelly Moye

"How can this be? It’s a question often asked by buyers and sellers when told how the market has fared this year. For those who have been avoiding the news, the strength of the real estate market has come as a surprise. But when you consider how essential our home life is at this point, it actually makes sense. People need their home to be everything to them; work, play, and family.

"Boulder and Broomfield counties have experienced a strong but steady appreciation this year, averaging about a 5 percent increase in median prices since January. With days on market hovering around thirty, we are still in a seller’s market, with demand outpacing supply.

"Denver and other counties have seen more dramatic numbers. The elevated home prices of Boulder and Broomfield counties do not attract as many first-time buyers as the Denver market. The Boulder and Broomfield markets are holding strong, but the millennials are focusing on more affordable locations. Our numbers show a seller’s market, but one that is tempered and fairly reasonable considering the extremely low inventory."

COLORADO SPRINGS/PIKES PEAK AREA
Agent: Jay Gupta

"Yes, there is something new under the sun. We are not observing the real estate market collapsing because of the inflated prices, but we may be approaching a collapse because of the empty shelves. Last month, the inventory of single-family/patio homes in the Colorado Springs market shrank to 635 properties compared to 1,667 in November 2019, 2,153 in November 2018, and always above 3,000 in any November up until 2014. While the inventory sank to a new record low, sales skyrocketed to a new high of 1,482 homes.

"In November 2020, we recorded the highest level of monthly and year-to-date sales, monthly and year-to-date sales volumes, as well as record high average and median sales prices compared to any month of November ever. The year-over-year single-family home sales activity saw a 25 percent increase in monthly sales, an 8% increase in the year-to-date sales, a 47 percent increase in the months’ sales volume, a 22 percent increase in the year-to-date sales volume, an 18% increase in the average sale price, ascending to $429,163, and a 17 percent increase in the median sale price rising to $380,000, with a devastating 60 percent decline in active listings.

"Unequivocally, pathetically low inventory and affordability challenges due to ever-soaring prices continue to be the most problematic aspect of the Colorado Springs area housing market."

FORT COLLINS
Agent: Chris Hardy

"Looking at the latest set of housing numbers for the Fort Collins area, one thing is abundantly clear — shift happens. Homebuyers in northern Colorado have had to shift their perspectives to enjoy the benefits of home ownership.

"This shift is best illustrated by two very different market segments: entry level single family on one end of the spectrum and luxury homes on the other. Homes sold in the $300,000-$399,000 price point are down 15 percent year-to-date. Given how competitive it is to buy in that price point demonstrates that the number of homes sold is limited by the number of homes available. The corresponding inventory number shows that homes for sale in that price point are down by nearly 90%. There were 115 homes for sale in November 2019 and just thirteen  available in November 2020. Where’s the shift? Look at townhomes and condos — in that same price point, condos and townhome sales are up 37.5 percent year-to-date. Buyers have to either shift to a higher price point or shift to a different type of property altogether.

"With the median sale price still climbing ($443,750 in November), to make sense of these prices, consumers need to shift their perspective as to what a low interest rate means to their buying buyer. Yes, it is competitive and prices are at historic highs — but interest rates are offsetting some of that price increase."

ESTES PARK
Agent: Abbey Pontius

"With winter on the horizon and temps falling, Larimer County’s real estate market remains hot. COVID undoubtedly has put a crimp on the ease of showings, open houses, daily field work, and how we can close transactions, but these are just small speed bumps in the big picture. As we spend more time in our homes this year the desire and awareness of where we live and its total satisfaction has become front and center. Our homes have evolved for everything from work, school, athletics and beyond. Buyers are looking to capitalize on great mortgage rates and search out the ‘new perfect’ home for our changing needs.

"However, this doesn’t come without some cost. Inventory is extremely low, and demand is high. New listings are down 13.2 percent for single-family homes, with a median sales price of $435,000. Townhouse/condos have added to the new listings in November with an increase of 36.5 percent helping ease the tension. Inventory overall is down even with the increase in townhouse/condos, -55.2 percent for single-family homes and -34.9 percent in townhouse/condos. This equates to just 142 townhouse/condos and a total of 350 single-family homes on the market throughout all of Larimer County. Townhouse/condos are fetching an average of $327,945, an increase of 4.8 percent from November last year. Single-family homes are reaching an average sales price of $498,047 an increase of 6.8 percent from November 2019. Days on market has been slashed with single-family homes closing in an average of 53 days, a 22.1 percent decrease from last year. Townhouse/condos are getting to close much faster as well at 80 days on the market compared to 93 in November 2019. It will be interesting to see how the typically slower time of the year pans out with this continued momentum carrying into 2021."

SUMMIT, PARK AND LAKE COUNTY
Agent: Dana Cottrell

"The siren song of the mountains sings strong for real estate. The chief economist for the National Association of Realtors speaks of a new real estate demand from people who can work remotely. Where better to work remotely than from the mountains and our statistics bear this out. Comparing this November to last November, Summit County has had 27 percent more sales, yet active inventory is 56.8 percent lower as properties are going under contract quickly. The good news is there have actually been more properties available to buy. Buying a residential home in Summit ranged in price from a single-family home for $4 million to a condo for $227,000. We saw the average price of a single-family home rise 30.9 percent to $1.8 million and condos rose 16.3 percent to $629,971.

"Economic indicators predict real estate will remain strong, especially with the chairman of the Federal Reserve saying he expects to maintain low interest rates through 2023."

DURANGO/LA PLATA COUNTY
Agent: Jarrod Nixon

"Like last month, we continue to see record sales, appreciation, and low inventory. Since this time last year, the number of sold listings increased 65 percent, and the median price jumped 40 percent for single-family homes and almost 60 percent for townhomes and condos. It is easier to find the newest gaming console for Christmas than it is to find a suitable home in La Plata County. The current supply of affordable (under $300,000) homes in the county is about ten days, while the overall supply is 2.2 months. Active listings are down more than 65% compared to last year. Land sales have escalated to record levels, depleting existing inventory levels. Buyers frustrated by the lack of available homes are turning to building as an option. Unfortunately, most architects, general contractors, and tradespeople are booked until 2022 and are not taking new clients. The big question on everyone's mind is how the lack of inventory will affect the 2021 market. Fasten your seatbelt and have your ducks in a row if you plan on buying in 2021. It will surely be an interesting and challenging adventure."

GRAND JUNCTION/MESA COUNTY
Agent: Ann Hayes

"Lagging in inventory, Mesa County closed out November with just 369 available single-family homes, a 1.3-month supply, and 29 available townhomes or condos, a 0.8-month supply. Both median and average sales prices are up, 14.8 percent and 11.1 percent, respectively. For the first time ever, the Mesa County median price hit $372,235. Average days on market was down to 74 days as demand remains strong with multiple offers and back-up offers being made on properties. The low interest rates are giving buyers the opportunity to buy more house than they might have qualified for previously, resulting in a greater number of higher inventory properties being sold."

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