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Downtown Denver Residential Real Estate Outlook

Posted at 01/25/2021 09:00 AM by Jenny Usaj

Downtown Denver Real Estate Report

As I reflect back on 2020, the frontline workers and essential workers will be a part of what I always remember. Their sacrifice and bravery will never be forgotten. I am forever grateful. To those workers and their families — the spouses and children of doctors, nurses, police, firefighters and first responders, thank you. Their courage, day in and day out, made so many other parts of daily life able to continue to function. As I saw first hand, real estate was able to continue on, as strong as ever, as people will always need a place to call home. Whether relocated due to the coronavirus or leases being up, it was an honor to help many home buyers and sellers in 2020 make those big life moves.

Downtown Denver streets were on the “front lines” of the action last year, and as a result, these city streets have a story of quiet resiliency and patience. The zip code 80202 is romantic to me.  I know, the city grit is a lot to handle some days.  Walking my dog through broken glass, needles and sleeping bags can be a lot for any heart to handle day in and out — the counterbalance is where the magic begins. No one is alone downtown. This is why hearts have always been magnetized to the city core. The lights of the city breed opportunity and connectedness, and it’s that energy that makes the city whole and broken at the same time.

So now, down to the details ...

Lower Downtown real estate took a hit this year. We had protests, broken windows, limited access to professional sports, and some of our favorite stores and restaurants have closed forever. As an entrepreneur and a former board member of The District as well as The Lower Downtown Neighborhood Association,  I empathize with those who have decided to close. I know these decisions were not made lightly. My hope is that the worst is behind us and that the numbers I share will give owners of businesses and condos a bit of hope. The city buzz that faded will return this spring — it will. 

Just like the 1918 Spanish flu, there was a roaring 20’s to follow; the best is yet to come for 80202. If you are thinking about buying downtown - today is your chance to make a move.

I am left-handed (used to it not working my way), red-headed (stubborn but passionate), half introvert and half extrovert; tell me to go out and I will have fun — tell me to stay home and I will enjoy a book, make some calls, take Chief (our Great Dane) for a walk and the day will still go by before I know it.  That said, the key is that I am always connected if I want to be.  On a “slow” day downtown, I saw people’s eyes, smiles, and heard laughter. Going for a walk with my dog still included light conversation and an occasional hug from a neighbor. Downtown has maybe suffered the most when comparing Denver neighborhoods in 2020. The lifestyle we all loved has been masked and closed. It has been a hard shift into isolation. The very “thing” that people purchased when they moved downtown was removed from the equation.

Just like the 1918 Spanish flu, there was a roaring 20’s to follow; the best is yet to come for 80202. If you are thinking about buying downtown - today is your chance to make a move.

Great News For Buyers: Prices in 80202 Are Down Year Over Year

The median price in 80202 took a 4.2% decline last year.

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Great News For Buyers: Inventory is up in 80202 Year Over Year

Currently, the number of condos on the market in zip code 80202 affords a buyer a six-plus month supply of inventory. This is a substantial departure from the last few years and likely to change by the end of this year. While I do not have a clear crystal ball, being able to walk to professional sports venues whether it’s a MLB, NFL, NBA or NHL game, to incredible culinary experiences, or head to the symphony, ballet, and art museums will still be desirable amenities and something that makes Downtown Denver unique.

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Home Sales are Down 80202 Year Over Year

Downtown condo sales in 2020 slowed, there are no two ways about it. This is the only segment of residential real estate in metro Denver that took a hit in this category. While inventory is higher, the untold story is the resiliency of sellers. Of the condos that did sell in 2020, the closed to list price ratio was 98.2% to be exact. This means that buyers were only negotiating 1.8% on average in 80202. The median purchase price did go down year over year with the high inventory however sellers were not willing to “give it all away”. I am sure there are a few outliers out there. Real estate can be emotional and when you have to sell - everyone sees it and negotiates accordingly.

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The bottom line is that downtown is not going anywhere. Our showing data per listing is in lockstep with the virus spikes. The large drop illustrates the lack of showings in April 2020. The uncertainty caused by the virus in April parallels the number of showings for downtown condos. When the virus spikes, our showings plummet. It makes sense; sharing elevators and door handles, who wants to? This leads me to conclude that once this pandemic is over, downtown will be back and the connectedness, inspiration, and magnetism of the city will return.

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These Opportunities May Not Last Long in Downtown Denver

For me, the unknown demographic for Lower Downtown is the office commuter. For those who lived downtown to be able to work 90 hour work weeks or just wanted to live in the city for the week and return to the mountains on the weekends - will you come back? Will we all elect to work from home for years to come? To be honest, I like having options but I am not ready to give up my desk at the office. While grateful for Zoom, I really do not want to talk about the mute button anymore.

So what’s next for 80202? The advice from this capitalist is to buy now. If living under the city lights has been on your bucket list make 2021 your year. We have more inventory today in 80202 than at any time in the last three years. While the data is not yet available to confirm this, from my personal experience I have seen a huge uptick already in Downtown. I have done more deals in 80202 in the first 20 days of 2021 than I did in the last 6 months of 2020. This inventory advantage will not be a secret for long. 

Yes, the convention center is still closed, restaurants are still at low capacity, some windows of retail stores are still boarded, and more Denverites face eviction and housing insecurity. However, historically low-interest rates help affordability, allowing buyers to afford higher-priced homes. And better days are coming -- get local takeout, donate to community non-profits, volunteer with housing advocacy groups, and call your family and friends. Help where you can. The Denver urban core is resilient and patient. We will all be connected again soon under our city lights.

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Posted by Jenny Usaj

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Topics: Denver Real Estate Market