Tight, Unaffordable Housing Threatens the Rocky Mountain Lifestyle

Most of us at Rocky Mountain Living and Real Estate have enjoyed living in Denver for several years now. We love the natural beauty, the weather, the lifestyle, and all the trappings of the metro area itself as it transforms in front of our eyes into a truly international city. But we’ve also noticed what’s happened to the cost of living, and home prices in particular, and we wonder if the next generation will be able to find and afford their own little piece of the Mile High City.


Still, there are some signs that the housing market may be turning a corner. In the latest Real Estate Market Trends Report from the Denver Metro Association of Realtors, there was a 5.34% year-over-year increase in active inventory for single-family home and condo units. However, a modest uptick in active inventory for Denver housing doesn’t exactly mean the end of a tight real estate market. The price and condition of available homes don’t always match what buyers are looking for. Even as there are homes available to choose from, the number of homes sold is still lower than it was a year ago. Moreover, it’s not clear how sharp of a corner we may be taking. After half a decade of double-digit percentage increases, residential property values have “only” increased between 7-9% across much of metro area.


The story of Denver’s housing market is a complicated one to tell, and it’s easy to Cherry-Creek-pick information. (Get it? For out-of-towners, Cherry Creek is one Denver’s top retail, dining, and entertainment districts.) That’s we encourage interested parties to take the time to review the DMAR Market Trends Report.


Local Neighborhoods

Denver’s housing problems are the nation’s housing problems, but it’s also true, especially in major metropolitan areas, that real estate is a deeply local phenomenon. Here is our local, on-the-ground view of why we remain concerned about the long-term affordability of housing—both for long-time residents and those who continue to migrate to the Rocky Mountain region and Denver in particular.


Cherry Creek—It’s going to take more than just an uptick in people leaving Colorado to loosen this local housing market—in which one of the most common ways to find a home is to capture one of the few remaining “holdouts.” Holdouts, as this Westword article points out, are long-time residents who refuse to sell their comparatively modest homes so they can be torn down and built into a new vertical urban home build.


Highlands—It’s not just Cherry Creek that continues to remain tight for housing. We also found this piece of real estate data from TRELORA which indicates the neighborhoods of Berkeley, Sunnyside, Highland, and West Highland may remain tighter than expected based on a number of traditional real estate metrics as well as the relative lack of dumpsters at homes that are due to go on the market.


We’re the first to admit that there are no easy solutions for first-time homebuyers in Denver, but one of the things you can do is expand your search into neighborhoods with more available homes on the market. While continuing to sing the praises of living in Denver, Rocky Mountain Living and Real Estate also wants to make this general lifestyle accessible to as many people as possible.