Home on the (Front) Range

Coloradans refer to the urban corridor between Pueblo and the Wyoming state line as the Front Range, where prairie runs headlong into high peaks, and undeveloped land leads to master-planned communities. The landscape of the Front Range may be varied, but its cities’ market trends are similar, says Jay Gupta, owner-broker of Prudential Rocky Mountain Realtors and Colorado Association of Realtors board member. Take the recent economic downturn: the three biggest cities—Fort Collins, Denver and Colorado Springs—didn’t see a huge decline in housing prices, says Gupta. Sure, sales took a hit and inventory skyrocketed between 2007 and 2009, but that had more to do with buyer confidence and distressed properties than actual plunging values. Prices remained relatively stable because the Front Range didn’t see a housing-price bubble like other parts of the county.

And for the really good news: according to the most recent numbers, inventory and transaction numbers across the Front Range are on their way back to 2005 levels, says Gupta. Wondering where to buy? See our quick snapshot of the Front Range’s “big three” cities.

Denver
Population: 566,974 (in the city)
History: Mining town-turned-transportation hub and state capitol, turned oil-boom and -bust town. Today Denver is a vibrant, gentrified-yuppie and young-family outpost.
Draw: State jobs and population center; big city with neighborhood living; proximity to mountains and international airport; variety of housing stock.
Good for: Professionals, young and old, families, empty nesters; the diversity of properties and neighborhoods offers something for everyone.
Realtor’s Forecast: “The Denver housing market’s inventory and prices are stabilizing. We have begun to see more buyers in all price ranges entering the market compared to 2009. We’ve also started to see properties sell in all price ranges. I think we are in for more level pricing in 2010—it’s becoming a more equal market between buyers and sellers.” —Dee Chirafisi, Broker, Kentwood City Properties

Colorado Springs
Population: 372,437
History: Early 1900s vacation
destination and health retreat, turned military center during World War II. Now it’s a high-tech and military center with conservative values.
Draw: Proximity to mountains; stable, defense-based economy (Air Force Academy, NORAD and military bases); smaller-town feel than Denver with low housing prices.
Good for: Families, retirees, students, military employees and more.
Realtor’s Forecast: “Right now we have low interest rates and very attractive prices. The only thing that is missing is consumer confidence. Unless the economy takes a dive or the interest rates go up considerably, my feeling for 2010 is we are going to have steady, incremental increases in the housing market to bring us back to 2007 levels.” —Jay Gupta, Managing Broker, Prudential Rocky Mountain Realtors

Fort Collins
Population: 129,467
History: A late 1800s military outpost-turned-agricultural hub. Today, it’s known primarily as a college town (home to Colorado State University) with microbreweries and bike trails galore, plus plenty of high-tech jobs.
Draw: A small, university-town feel, with easy mountain access and
bigger-city amenities, plus affordable housing prices.
Good for: Working professionals, young families, students and retirees.
Realtor’s Forecast: “Fort Collins real estate has always been slow and steady—stronger sales in the spring and summer, cooling a bit in the fall and winter, with modest gains year over year. Fortunately, our recovery has already begun. I fully expect to see this continue, with sustainable growth in both average sales price and volume.” —Sean Dougherty, President Elect of the Fort Collins Board of Realtors

HOT PROPERTIES: Front Range developments to watch

Union Place
Location: Near downtown Fort Collins
Completion Date: To be determined
Details: A 10-acre site, featuring 75 single-family homes, plus mixed-use lofts and condos. LEED-certified, built with geothermal energy.
Price: $160,000–$250,000
More Info: exploreunionplace.com


Spire
Location: Downtown Denver
Completion Date: Summer 2010
Details: A 41-story, 496-unit residential high-rise with health club, outdoor
terraces, indoor parking, retail and 24-hour concierge.
Price: Starting at $210,000
More Info: spiredenver.com

Flying Horse Ranch
Location: North of Colorado Springs
Completion Date: Ongoing
Details: Master-planned community, featuring seven “villages” (two completed; five in the works), workout club and spa, pools, parks, private golf course and K-12 school system.
Price: $100,000–$1,000,000
More Info: flyinghorsecolorado.com

Categories: Colorado, Colorado Springs, Denver, Denver Metropolitan Area, Fort Collins, Real Estate