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The Most Vulnerable Housing Markets in Denver and Colorado Right Now

A new report identifies the housing market in Adams County as the most vulnerable in Colorado right now.
A new report identifies the housing market in Adams County as the most vulnerable in Colorado right now. YouTube
The housing market in Denver and Colorado as a whole has been scorching hot in recent years. But a new report reveals growing vulnerability in numerous counties, including several along the urban corridor, when it comes to underwater properties, which are worth less than the money owed on the loan used to purchase them.

According to figures supplied to Westword by ATTOM Data Solutions, more than 40,000 properties were underwater in the eleven counties analyzed by the site for the first quarter of 2022. And in several of the counties, buyers who want to buy a house at current prices must devote more than 40 percent of their income to this goal.

ATTOM's latest housing risk report analyzed 586 counties across the country, using a methodology that considered first-quarter residential foreclosures, home affordability and underwater property totals, as well as March unemployment figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The counties were ranked based on the first-quarter percentage of residential properties with foreclosure filings, the percentage of average local wages needed to afford what are termed "the major expenses of owning a median-priced home," and the percentage of underwater properties.

By these standards, New Jersey, Illinois and California had the highest concentration of vulnerable housing markets during early 2022. Atop the roster was Passaic, New Jersey, where 6,096 properties, or 7.3 percent of the total, were considered underwater.

In Colorado, the highest-ranking location was Weld County, which landed at 96 on the rundown. There, 3,393 properties, or 4.3 percent of the total, were underwater during the first quarter of the year; the amount of income needed to buy a home for $455,590, the median price during that period, was 41.0 percent.

The Adams County housing market is considered the most vulnerable in greater Denver; its national ranking was 118. Following closely behind were Pueblo and Mesa counties. In contrast, Denver proper finished at 437, in part because buyers had to earmark less money for housing: 30.7 percent of their income. But the Mile High City still had 6,355 underwater properties at the end of March, or 4.2 percent overall.

Continue to see data for the eleven Colorado counties surveyed in the new report. Information includes median sales price, the percent of income needed to buy, the number and percentage of underwater properties, and the national ranking.

Weld County
Metropolitan statistical area: Greeley
Median sales price: $455,590
Percent of income to buy: 41.0 percent
Underwater properties, Q1 2022: 3,393
Percent of underwater properties, Q1 2022: 4.3 percent
National ranking: 96

Adams County
Metropolitan statistical area: Denver-Aurora-Lakewood
Median sales price: $487,200
Percent of income to buy: 40.7 percent
Underwater properties, Q1 2022: 3,749
Percent of underwater properties, Q1 2022: 3.3 percent
National ranking: 118

Pueblo County
Metropolitan statistical area: Pueblo
Median sales price: $255,000
Percent of income to buy: 25.6 percent
Underwater properties, Q1 2022: 1,951
Percent of underwater properties, Q1 2022: 5.2 percent
National ranking: 124

Mesa County
Metropolitan statistical area: Grand Junction
Median sales price: $350,000
Percent of income to buy: 35.3 percent
Underwater properties, Q1 2022: 1,716
Percent of underwater properties, Q1 2022: 4.6 percent
National ranking: 137

El Paso County
Metropolitan statistical area: Colorado Springs
Median sales price: $453,000
Percent of income to buy: 38.2 percent
Underwater properties, Q1 2022: 5,650
Percent of underwater properties, Q1 2022: 4.3 percent
National ranking: 277

Arapahoe County
Metropolitan statistical area: Denver-Aurora-Lakewood
Median sales price: $490,000
Percent of income to buy: 32.4 percent
Underwater properties, Q1 2022: 5,038
Percent of underwater properties, Q1 2022: 3.3 percent
National ranking: 361

Larimer County
Metropolitan statistical area: Fort Collins
Median sales price: $507,145
Percent of income to buy: 42.8 percent
Underwater properties, Q1 2022: 3,651
Percent of underwater properties, Q1 2022: 4.1 percent
National ranking: 413

Denver County
Metropolitan statistical area: Denver-Aurora-Lakewood
Median sales price: $530,000
Percent of income to buy: 30.7 percent
Underwater properties, Q1 2022: 6,355
Percent of underwater properties, Q1 2022: 4.2 percent
National ranking: 437

Jefferson County
Metropolitan statistical area: Denver-Aurora-Lakewood
Median sales price: $549,900
Percent of income to buy: 40.5 percent
Underwater properties, Q1 2022: 4,574
Percent of underwater properties, Q1 2022: 2.8 percent
National ranking: 463

Douglas County
Metropolitan statistical area: Denver-Aurora-Lakewood
Median sales price: $675,000
Percent of income to buy: 45.8 percent
Underwater properties, Q1 2022: 2,739
Percent of underwater properties, Q1 2022: 2.9 percent
National ranking: 502

Boulder County
Metropolitan statistical area: Boulder
Median sales price: $675,000
Percent of income to buy: 41.5 percent
Underwater properties, Q1 2022: 2,707
Percent of underwater properties, Q1 2022: 3.5 percent
National ranking: 525
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts