Turning the page
After several years of challenges, it appears that a new chapter is being written — or at least that the current chapter is coming to a close: The local housing market appears to be bottoming out.
No, it's not there yet. Foreclosures remain high in Boulder County, but less than their peak in late 2010. And Broomfield County appears to be recovering even faster.
But we've come a long way. For years, parts of the Boulder Valley and neighboring markets have been beset by foreclosure problems. Neighboring Weld County attracted national attention in 2006 and 2007 for an exploding foreclosure problem (although the problem began years before that. Remember national news programs with reporters in the Tri-Towns, tumbleweeds billowing across abandoned cul-de-sacs?)
National media were asking, "What's happening in Weld County, Colorado?" They didn't understand that the wave of defaults would soon spread nationwide, and that a national financial crisis would only exacerbate the problem, driving the entire country into the Great Recession.
The Boulder Valley, although weathering the storm better than many areas, has not been immune. Buying or selling a home here has faced significant challenges. Buyers have found it difficult or impossible to obtain financing, and banks have had difficulty lending. Sellers have been stymied by both of those problems, along with competition from an onslaught of foreclosures.
Longmont has been especially hard-hit. Boulder, protected by a greenbelt that prevented overbuilding, has fared better in terms of foreclosures but still has experienced years' worth of inventory in high-end homes.
Some sellers have attempted to wait out the market, expecting that demand will pick up.
And, in certain price ranges, and in certain neighborhoods, it is.
Last month, Distinctive Homes of the Boulder Valley, produced by the Boulder County Business Report, began to tell the tale of a shift in the market, relating that what some perceived as purely a buyer's market is, in fact, a market in which both buyers and sellers have the upper hand, depending on the price range and the location.
We expand on that idea in this edition, with writer Jeff Thomas identifying specific neighborhoods that are selling well — and some that are not. Jeff provides further insights with an article analyzing the "shadow inventory" — homes that are at some stage of the foreclosure process.
What Jeff has found is that inventories are decreasing, a position supported by mortgage broker Louis Barnes, who offers an analysis of the present market.
This edition also discusses a community that managed to realize, for the most part, appreciation in housing values, during the recent difficult years. That community is Louisville, where my wife and I used to live. Michelle LeJeune chronicles why that community has done so well.
Michelle also offers tips from area real estate professionals on selling a high-end home. Face it: There are still a lot of higher-priced homes on the market, and getting an advantage over the competition should be at the top of sellers' minds.
Look also at Jules Marie's exploration of The Walnut, a loft project in the heart of Boulder. Lofts in Boulder tend to be new construction, and The Walnut is an example of a newer building that offers modern amenities in an urban setting.
For something completely different, check out Residential Spotlight, a photo feature of a local residence. This issue provides a glimpse of 5225 Niwot Road, situated in the country near Haystack Mountain.
That's just a taste of what readers will find in Distinctive Homes of the Boulder Valley, which is not only inserted in the Business Report but also dropped at real estate offices, coffee shops and many other locations throughout the Boulder Valley.
In the issues to come, we'll continue to report on what's happening in residential real estate — good and bad — with stories of interest to buyers, sellers and home owners.
But looking at the first two issues of Distinctive Homes, we can see the beginning — just the beginning — of a bottoming out of the market. And when a market bottoms out, it by default enters a rebound.
Now that would be a happy ending.
Christopher Wood can be reached at 303-440-4950 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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