This article was originally published on Jan. 3, 2018
It was updated on September 4, 2019.
No one can deny that the Denver Real Estate market has changed a lot during the last decade. In a drastic example of this, the median sale price of a home in Metro Denver (the counties of Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Elbert and Jefferson) in January of 2007 was $157,000. Ten years later, in January 2017, this number jumped to $348,000 (REColorado). In January 2019, this number increased yet again to $395,000.
In this look back at the past 10 years of the Denver Real Estate Market, we wanted to examine a few particular questions:
- What has been the trend on housing prices in Denver over the past 10 years?
- What has home appreciation looked like over the last few decades?
- It's been 10 years since the housing crisis, are we due for another one soon?
- What is the story behind the low inventory in Denver?
- What are the seasonal trends in the Denver housing market?
Median Sale Price in Denver for the Last 10 Years
For the last 12 years, January has been the month with the lowest median sales price for each year, with the exception of 2008 when the lowest price was in December. The highest price was during May three times (2008, 2015, 2018), June six times (2008, 2009, 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2017), and July three times (2010, 2011, and 2013). (Note: 2015 had a tie for highest price by month at $325,000 for both May and June). So far in 2019, the highest sale prices were seen in July.
What has caused this increase in home prices? Well, for one, there is an extremely low supply of inventory. The Denver metro area has also had very low vacancy rates the past several years. Out of the 75 largest metro areas in the U.S., Denver-Aurora-Lakewood was ranked 11th for vacancy in 2015, 8th in 2016, 18th in 2017, and 26th in 2018 (U.S. Census Bureau). Historically low interest rates have also encouraged many buyers to get into the game.
Lastly, low unemployment, Denver's desirability, and a strong economy have also contributed to the rise in home prices. Many new companies are also coming to Denver, bringing along relocated employees and attracting new ones. Colorado offers tax incentives to attract large employers, plus Denver is a great place to live thanks to its plentiful sunshine, invigorating outdoor activities, strong neighborhood character, and myriad of independent businesses, including tons of coffee shops, restaurants, and breweries.
Home Price Appreciation since 1991
According to the Federal Housing Association, Colorado ranks 2nd for home appreciation since 1991 (only behind Washington D.C.) with a 380.24 percent house price appreciation from Q1 1991 until Q2 2019. Over a 5 year period, Colorado ranks 4th with a 55.87 percent appreciation.
Denver metro experienced a 58.6 percent appreciation change in house prices over the last five years.
The pace does appear to be slowing as Colorado ranks 21st in the change from the last four quarters (Q2 2018 - Q2 2019) with a 5.36 percent change.
According to Housing Wire's Q3 2018 update, Colorado homes saw an average of $18,000 increase in value. See the chart below for Housing Wire's visual depiction of the nation's home appreciation:
The Denver-Aurora-Lakewood areas had an even higher increase in appreciation since 1991 at 425.7 percent and a 58.6 percent increase in the last 5 years, and a 3.48 percent in the last year (FHA).
The Bubble Question
This particular 10-year review on our real estate market is an interesting one. After all, it's been over 10 years since the housing market collapsed and the Great Recession began. We do see factors today in the national market that are similar to what preceded the crash: rising prices, buyers aggressively pursuing homes, and yes, lots of flipping. However, there are notable differences as well.
What Caused the Housing Crash?
As cited by a Realtor.com, analysis on housing and economic data indicate prices are not rising due to the expansion of mortgages to high-risk borrowers like in 2007. During the housing crisis, there was an influx of home buyers on the market in a short amount of time and this increase in demand synchronously increased prices. Thanks to readily available subprime mortgages, the number of homeowners shot up at an unusually high rate. Before 2007, "home ownership fluctuated around 65 percent, mortgage foreclosure rates were low, and home construction and house prices mainly reflected swings in mortgage interest rates and income." (Federal Reserve History).
The subprime mortgage problem was exacerbated when lenders began to repackage the high-risk mortgages into private label securitizations and sell them in high volume to investors. For example, "Before the financial crisis, Wells Fargo packaged over $1 trillion of mortgages into private label securitizations, however since the crisis, investors lost interest as large volumes of risky loans went bad." (Housing Wire).
What is Different Today?
Loan Standards Have Changed
For one, we have much more stringent mortgage criteria today than back in 2007. Sustainable income and stable employment history are just two of the measures required to obtain a home loan today. The Dodd-Frank Act, passed with the intention of protecting consumers, has "rules like keeping borrowers from abusive lending and mortgage practices by banks." (CNBC). The median 2017 home loan FICO score was 734, significantly up from 700 in 2006. The low end of the range has pulled up as well. The bottom 10% of borrowers have an average FICO of 649 in 2017, up from 602 in 2006. Licensing is also a wide-spread state requirement now for loan originators, officers, directors and servicers, and those in the loan industry receive furthering education and can be audited by the state regulators (Housing Wire).
According to Realtor.com, "In 2006, the share of flipped homes reached 8.6% of all sales, exceeding 20% in some metros such as Washington, DC, and Chicago. Some of those flippers took out multiple loans to afford their properties. With today’s tight lending environment limiting borrowing power, however, flipping accounted for a more reasonable 5% of sales in 2016."
Demand and a Lack of Inventory
Substantial improvement in the national economy has caused low unemployment, resulting in more steady jobs. However, construction has not been able to keep up. As the median age of millennials rises into the 30s, it is estimated that 32 to 35 percent of millennials are now homeowners and that half of today's homeowners are under the age of 36 (Robb Report).
In 2006, there was an oversupply of homes. According to Realtor.com, 1.4 homes were built for every one new household. Today, we only have 0.7 homes being started for every one new household, causing an undersupply. According to a study by ApartmentList, Denver created 2.9 jobs for every one new housing unit between 2010 and 2015. This housing shortage is felt around the nation, but is particularly high here in Denver.
"Construction of new units nationally hit a low point after the Great Recession, with the number of permits issued hitting a record low in May of 2009. While the industry has recovered, it still isn’t keeping pace with economic growth. The construction labor shortage—the number of companies building homes dropped by half between 2007 and 2012—has only exacerbated the problem," (Curbed). Furthermore, rent rose 52 percent in Denver between 2005 and 2015, increasing the number of people wanting to buy a home.
A balanced market in Denver would be a six month supply of homes for sale. That number would be 23,868 active units (Land Title Guarantee Company). In August of 2019, Denver metro had 8,607 (REcolorado). The last time Denver had over 23,000 listings was December 2011 (REColorado). See the chart below on trends:
Seasonal Trends Occurring Like Clockwork
Just over half a million homes (condos and single family) have closed in Metro Denver ( the counties of Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Elbert and Jefferson) since 2008. The month with the highest closings in the last 10 years was June 2015 at 5,901. For 2017, the highest month was also June with 5,737 closings. For 2018, the highest month was also June with 5,590 homes sold. For 2019 (as of early September anyway), it was July with 5,414 closings. You can see from the chart below there is a seasonal trend in the number of sales experienced in Denver:
Since 2008, June and July have seen the highest volume of transactions (in 2010, May had the highest). January typically sees the fewest. From 2008 - 2016, January had the fewest transactions all year long. We have seen an uptick in March each year since 2008, and this lasts typically until July when the market begins to slowly cool and remains so for the rest of the year.
While there are fewer listings available in the winter months, there is also less competition and can be a decent time for buyers to find a home. Summer, year after year, reigns as king for the hottest time for the market.
2019 Prices (so far)
A Look Back at 2018
A Look Back at 2017
Median home sale prices for 2017:
As a seller or a buyer, it can be to your benefit to look at these trends in the market. Our Usaj Realty brokers are committed to adding value to our clients' lives and provide the highest level of service. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us if we can be of any service.
Our charts' data are sourced from information by REcolorado®. REcolorado® does not guarantee nor is it in any way responsible for its accuracy. Content maintained by REcolorado® may not reflect all real estate activity in the market.