Boulder’s real estate market has lately been explained in the press with headlines such as; “Cost of Average Home Surpasses $1 Million” and “What Bubble? Boulder County Ranked As Most Stable Housing Market In U.S.”. At first these seem contradictory. How can a market that has appreciated by 308% be the most stable? The personal finance company SmartAsset analyzed sales data since 1991 and found that Boulder County had steady appreciation without any significant periods of depreciation. In other words, the Boulder real estate market has reaped the rewards without the risk. Since the 1980’s our area has had three periods of rapid appreciation (frenzied market) and we are currently in the midst of the fourth. During the past cycles we have seen four years of rapid price growth followed by a evening of the market. We have not seen a time where we have had a price correction. We have had both strength and stability.
During our current appreciation cycle we have seen between 10% and 15% appreciation each year. For the one year period ended on March 31, 2016 our annual appreciation was 14.4% which ranks our area 2nd in the nation out of 263 areas for that time frame. (FHFA.gov) I recently finished compiling my statistics through the second quarter and I found that a particular graph that shows the sales mix across price ranges compared over the past three years illustrates the price appreciation we have experienced well. What I find most interesting is the rapid disappearance of the starter house/condo under $250,000. In the charts below the most recent quarter is shown on top and is compared to one year ago and two years ago below. In each of the areas (Boulder County, Boulder, East County, and Longmont) the sales mix shift to the right is dramatic.
In Boulder County as a whole the entry level price range has dropped from 29% to 10% over the past two years and sales over $1 million have increased from 5% to 10% of the market.
In the City of Boulder these trends are even more dramatic. The entry level has decreased from 22% of the sales to just 3%. There are just a few one bedroom condos left under $250,000. At the same time, homes with a sales price of $750,000 or more have increased from 21% of the market just two years ago to 49% of the market sales.
Longmont is still the most affordable area in the County with a median price of just under $340,000 and has very few homes that sell above $750,000. However, over the past two years the number of entry level sales has dropped from 48% to 14%.
The sales mix in Louisville, Lafayette, Erie and Superior has changed as dramatically as other parts of the county. There has been a shift to the right but prices in those areas are consistently more in the middle.
The pressure of a frenzied market has relieved a bit as of late, but at the moment it’s unclear whether it’s a pause or a shift in the market. Since it’s normal for activity to slow down this time of year we won’t really know until September. Stay tuned!