Boulder, CO Real Estate Market Trends & Analysis [Updated 2020]

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Boulder, Colorado is frequently recognized as one of the best places to live concerning health, well-being, quality of life, education and art. However, in a more recent turn of events, Boulder has established itself among the best of something else: real estate markets. In fact, most of Colorado is experiencing a real estate boom, and Boulder is no exception. Having benefited from its close proximity to Denver, the progress made by the Boulder real estate market appears to be real.

It is worth noting, however, that expectations should be tempered. While the future still appears bright, real estate in Boulder will be impacted by the latest “shelter in place” orders issued by the government. In lieu of the Coronavirus, activity will most likely decline for a short period of time. Prices may drop in response to social distancing and its impact on the economy, but pent-up demand should prevail. Therefore, the upcoming temperance should be relatively short lived. Once the dust settles, it’s entirely possible the Boulder real estate market makes a full return to one of the hottest markets in the country.

In the meantime, the Boulder real estate investing community may be able to turn the current market into a strategic advantage. With appreciation rates expected to dip into the negative, and many suspecting foreclosures to increase over the next 12 months, now is a great time to raise capital and perhaps even acquire another deal. At the very least, the impending turbulence could represent a great opportunity to buy.

Boulder Real Estate Market 2020 Overview

  • Median Home Value: $800,706

  • 1-Year Appreciation Rate: +1.5%

  • Median Home Value (1-Year Forecast): -2.6%

  • Average Days On Market (Zillow): 104

  • Median Rent Price: $2,500

  • Price-To-Rent Ratio: 26.69

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (latest estimate by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics)

  • Population: 326,196 (latest estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau)

  • Median Household Income: $78,642 (latest estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau)

  • Percentage Of Vacant Homes: 6.47%

  • Foreclosure Rate: 1 in every 4,983 (2.0%)


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Boulder real estate

2020 Boulder Real Estate Investing

The Boulder real estate market was the beneficiary of several years of unprecedented economic growth. Few markets across the country, for that matter, have had a better recovery than Boulder. Nearly a decades worth of year-over-year appreciation have elevated home prices to their highest point ever. That said, the same appreciation which has served as the foundation of the local housing market for eight years has already begun to temper. In fact, real estate in Boulder appears to have reached a tipping point.

Prices have gotten so high that they were bound to slow down at some point, and now the introduction of the Coronavirus appears as if it will speed up the process. Specifically, appreciation rates in Boulder look as if they will take more of a hit than the national average. While Zillow expects a 1.5% drop in appreciation rates across the country, Boulder may see as big as a 2.6% decline. The difference is most likely attributed to the city’s most recent success. Price gains had inflated the market, and the recent forecast appears to be more of a return to normalcy than an indictment on the Boulder housing market.

If anything, a reduction in appreciation rates may be a good thing. A temporary lull in appreciation may represent the perfect buying opportunity for local investors. Rental property owners, in particular, may be in a great position. In addition to a slight price drop, interest rates are historically low, which should make today’s acquisitor costs slightly more bearable. However, the real benefit working in favor of buy-and-hold investors is the city’s price-to-rent ratio. At 26.69, it is unequivocally more affordable to rent a home in Boulder than to buy one.

For years, low inventory levels have increased home prices and competition in Boulder, and the introduction of the Coronavirus will only compound the issue. Moving forward, it will be harder to find affordable housing for sale. A great deal of people will be forced to rent—even those intent on buying in the near future will be relegated to renters as long as inventory remains tight. As a result, rental property investors should see demand for living spaces increase, and perhaps even the amount they are able to charge in rent.

With a median rent price of $2,500 and a healthy amount of demand, the Boulder real estate market looks like a great opportunity for real estate investors. While prices are certainly high at the moment, acquisition costs may be offset by years of cash flow. It is entirely possible to collect rent for several years in an attempt to justify today’s high prices.

Investors looking to flip and rehab properties, on the other hand, aren’t necessarily out of luck. While today’s high prices make it hard to find deals with attractive profit margins, there’s a good chance we’ll see an influx of foreclosures hit the market after the dust has settled from the Coronavirus. Now it isn’t necessarily the optimal time to make acquisitions, but it could be a great opportunity to line up funding and resources. The chances of more foreclosures hitting the market sooner rather than later are increasing, and those who prepare now could find themselves in a great position to make acquisitions when the time comes.

2020 Foreclosure Statistics In Boulder

According to RealtyTrac, a nationally trusted real estate information company, the Boulder real estate market is home to a relatively modest amount of foreclosures. With a foreclosure rate of 2.0%, only one in every 4,983 homes is considered default, auction or bank owned. Despite the city’s already low foreclosure rate, Boulder has managed to detract from the distribution of distressed homes being added to the market over the last year. As recently as March, in fact, “the number of properties that received a foreclosure filing in Boulder County, CO was 40% higher than the previous month and 12% lower than the same time last year,” according to RealtyTrac.

To put things into perspective, the foreclosure rate in the United States is 3.4%. At that rate, one in every 2,893 homes is considered distressed. That said, the country (as a whole) has been able to reduce year-over-year foreclosure filings at a larger rate than the Boulder housing market. “In March, the number of properties that received a foreclosure filing in U.S. was 3% lower than the previous month and 20% lower than the same time last year,” according to RealtyTrac.

For context, the overwhelming majority of Boulder’s distressed homes is auction inventory. While auction inventory has dropped 13.3% from this time last year, auction homes still make up 92.9% of the city’s foreclosures. The remaining foreclosures are all bank owned, which would suggest they failed to sell at auction and are now in possession of the original lenders.

The Boulder real estate investing community should pay special considerations to the city’s auctions. At the very least, they are currently home to the highest distributions of foreclosed properties. Therefore, an investor looking to secure a deal below market value may greatly increase their odds of finding attractive profit margins by simply attending a local auction. For a better idea of where to look, however, investors should go to the neighborhoods with the highest distributions of distressed homes:

  • Nederland: 1 in every 1,961 homes is currently distressed

  • Erie: 1 in every 2,204 homes is currently distressed

  • Lyons: 1 in every 2,581 homes is currently distressed

  • Lafayette: 1 in every 4,112 homes is currently distressed

  • Longmont: 1 in every 7,755 homes is currently distressed

Looking for auctions in the neighborhoods with the highest distributions of foreclosures will greatly increase investors’ odds of finding a deal with good profit margins.

It should be noted, however, that the “shelter in place” orders issued to combat the Coronavirus will most likely impact foreclosures moving forward. While government programs and mortgage forbearance initiatives will keep people in their homes for the foreseeable future, they are more of a temporary fix than a solution.

Once the allotted forbearance periods expire, those who weren’t able to keep up with their mortgage obligations may be expected to pay all of their missed payments in one lump sum, a feat that may prove impossible for those who were hit the hardest. As a result, the Boulder housing market will most likely see an influx of foreclosures over the course of the next 12 months. In turn, local investors may want to start lining up financing now, as to be able to capitalize on the potential increase of foreclosures in the future.

2020 Median Home Prices In Boulder

The Boulder real estate market has benefited immensely from several years of economic expansion and a wave of out-of-town buyers. In lieu of increasing demand, and the city’s close proximity to Denver, Boulder now has a median home value of $800,706. It is worth noting, however, that real estate in Boulder wasn’t always this expensive. While consistently higher than the national average, the median home value in Boulder was approximately $462,000 about eight years ago. Since then (May 2012), when the recovery really started to take hold, the median home value in Boulder has increased 73.3%. To put things into perspective, the median home value in the United States has increased about 54.5% over the same period of time.

A great deal of Boulder’s price increases can be found in the following neighborhoods, which have appreciated the most over the last 20 years (according to NeighborhoodScout):

  • Broadway St / Forest Ave

  • Darley Ave / S Foothills Hwy

  • Table Mesa Dr / S Lashley Ln

  • Moorhead Ave / Martin Dr

  • Gunbarrel

  • Flagstaff Rd / Bison Dr

  • Broadway St / Spruce St

  • N 95th St / Lookout Rd

  • Eldorado Springs

  • Iris Ave / Folsom St

It is important to note that while prices in Boulder have increased at a much faster pace than the national average for the better part of a decade, the last 12 months saw the tables start to turn. Again, prices in Boulder have appreciated to a tipping point; they were bound to retrace a bit. As a result, the median home value in Boulder has only appreciated 1.5% over the last year. The median home value across the United States has jumped 4.1% in the same time.

Moving forward, the Boulder real estate market appears more susceptible to price drops than the national average. Nonetheless, prices are expected to make a full recovery, and perhaps even elevate higher than today’s prices. If for nothing else, the city’s unique combination of demand and a lack of inventory should see completion drive up prices sooner rather than later.

Boulder Real Estate Market: 2016 Summary

  • Median Home Price: $549,600

  • 1-Year Appreciation Rate: 18.5%

  • 3-Year Appreciation Rate: 27.5%

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.4%

  • 1-Year Job Growth Rate: 3.7%

  • Population: 103,166

  • Median Household Income: $57,112

Boulder Real Estate Investing 2016

Boulder real estate news was extremely positive in 2016, specifically the first half. Home prices and appreciation rates flourished, growing relative to the previous year, and well beyond the national average. Gains in the previous three years extended the trend of positive price growth since the recession, revealing a housing market ripe for investment. Total home equity gains for Boulder real estate during the first-half were among the highest in the country, with homeowners and investors reaping the rewards.

Home prices for Boulder real estate blossomed in 2016, with median home prices reaching $549,600, compared to the national average of $239,167. Moreover, appreciation rates remained on an upward trajectory, as one-year and three-year rates climbed 18.5% and 27.5% respectively. In fact, the Boulder real estate market was one of the 20 hottest housing markets during the spring selling season at the time. Homes in Boulder sold within 40 days, among the highest in the country.

The Boulder housing market was driven by a collection of factors in the second quarter, but none more so than the local economy. Low unemployment rates, which remained well below the national average, combined with growth in jobs helped to prop up the city in the first half of 2016. One-year job growth in Boulder reached 3.7% during the second quarter, higher than the 1.9% achieved by the rest of the country.  Furthermore, employment held up and help the local economy become what it is today.

Boulder Real Estate Market: 2016 Summary

  • Median Home Price: $442,200

  • 1-Year Appreciation Rate: 5.6%

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.6%

  • 1-Year Job Growth Rate: 1.7%

  • Population: 96,431

  • Median Household Income: $83,765

Boulder Real Estate Investing 2015

In 2015, the median home value in the Boulder housing market was about $442,200. Even then, Boulder real estate was well ahead of the national average. Rising approximately 5.6% from the previous year, 2015 was when boulder started taking off. In a three-year period leading up to 2015, prices had risen as much as 18.3%.

With an unemployment rate of 3.6%, the city was well below the national average. The city’s unemployment rate reflected an impressive 1.4% improvement over the previous year. The 1-year job growth rate, however, could have been better for the time. Five years ago it stood at 1.7%, below the national average.

After the economy expanded and equity grew, new housing construction increased almost exponentially. Overall, the level of construction was about 65.8% above its long-term average at the time. Single-family housing permits increased by as much as 18.5% from the previous year; that was nearly six times the national average.

Boulder County Map:

Map of Boulder, CO neighborhoods

Boulder Real Estate Market Summary

The Boulder real estate market has certainly cooled off from the blistering pace it exercised in years past. However, as inventory begins to increase alongside growing demand, it’s reasonable to suspect the local housing market to heat up just in time for summer. As a result, prices should continue to increase for the foreseeable future. Those who get in now may be able to capitalize on both demand and appreciation for the foreseeable future.

Have you thought about investing in the Boulder real estate market? If so, what are you waiting for? We would love to know your thoughts on real estate in Boulder in the comments below.

*The information contained herein was pulled from third party sites. Although this information was found from sources believed to be reliable, FortuneBuilders Inc. makes no representations, warranties, or guarantees, either expressed or implied, as to whether the information presented is accurate, reliable, or current. Any reliance on this information is at your own risk. All information presented should be independently verified. FortuneBuilders Inc. assumes no liability for any damages whatsoever, including any direct, indirect, punitive, exemplary, incidental, special, or consequential damages arising out of or in any way connected with your use of the information presented.
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