New Construction

Denver Real Estate News Recap: August 2021

Here’s a quick digest of what happened in Denver real estate last month:

+ Downtown Denver has been starving for new condos over the last decade. Its hunger pains will begin to subside when the the largest condo project since 2009 breaks ground soon at 18th & Glenarm.

+ Median home prices fell for a second month in August. Buyers, don’t be relieved yet — inventory is tightening again, as active listings fell 11.7% between July and August.

+ Relief for Denver renters has dissipated in the Denver metro area. Front Range rents increased 14.4% year-over-year in August and are up 12.8% since March 2020.

+ A San Francisco-based developer has purchased an entire block of RiNo for $27.5M. Plans are still in the early stages, but may include a 500-unit apartment project, stretching 12-stories.



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U.S. Real Estate News Recap: May 2021

Here’s a quick digest of what happened in U.S. real estate last month:

+ Even with a housing shortage fueling high demand, builders are reluctant to sign sales contracts for houses as increasing costs are eroding profits.

+ Could home prices could reach unhealthy levels? Logan Mohtashami of Housing Wire believes that without more inventory or higher mortgage rates, we may be heading in this direction.

+ Love cooking on a gas stove or having an alternate source of energy when the power goes out? Stay in the loop about the battle that’s brewing over banning natural gas to homes.


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Questions about the Denver real estate bubble that keep us up at night

How long will our fierce, low-inventory, deep seller’s market last? Will it slowly ramp down or will it crash overnight? Are we keeping up with new construction? These are the questions that keep real estate professionals and home buyers up at night!

How is inventory looking?

Every day I look over new homes that hit the market for our clients, a task that used to take up the length of a nice cup of coffee. Now, I can’t even finish my coffee before I run out of properties to view! Over the last seven days, there have only been 204 new listings in Denver and 411 have gone pending. Typically, we measure inventory in months, but we are just shy of 40 days of inventory — days! Denver had 318,445 households as of 2019. An average of 29 homes hit the market each day, which means that only .002% of Denver households are hitting the market each month. Things are certainly tightening up.

How are rising interest rates affecting the market?

As interest rates go up, buyers in the lowest price ranges find themselves forced out of the market. As more of a monthly payment goes toward higher interest rates and not towards purchase power, everyone is shuffled down the totem pole. This reshuffling will reduce buyer demand, but not enough to reshape inventory and get us to a balanced housing market. To significantly increase inventory levels to quell increasing prices, work must be done on the supply side of the equation.

(P.S. We’ll be keeping an eye on the 10-year treasury rate, which mortgage rates have historically been tied to. Glen Weinberg at Fairview Commercial Lending recently published a great write up on the recent inflation jump reported on this month’s CPI Index report and what that means for real estate.)

Can we turn to new construction?

This is where Denver has a severe disadvantage to other cities where “urban sprawl” is an option. Denver is locked in by other municipalities and unable to develop large tracts of land. We aren’t the only city with this problem; as a nation, home building has dropped significantly over the last decade, from an average of 26.3 million homes built per decade from 1970-2010, to only 5.8 million new homes built from 2010-2019. That’s a 77.8% change in the wrong direction! Denver needs new homes to add to the inventory to supplement existing home sales. The city can’t build out, so we have to build up. Increasing density via high- to medium-rise condominium development and finding a compromise to construction defect laws must happen.

Will the market crash?

Lending practices have been corrected since the great housing crash of 2008 and those buying homes are now generally well-qualified. As interest rates increase, I do believe things will start to slow down, but not crash. I mean, we are living through a pandemic that has rocked the world and our housing market is still going straight up! Now, we just need homes to build upwards as well.

U.S. Real Estate News Recap: February 2021

Here’s a quick digest of what happened in U.S. real estate last month:

+ While inventory has remained low, 5.64 million homes sold in 2020, the most in the last 13 years.

+ New-home construction activity soars to its highest level in over a decade, as single-family homes drove the growth in both housing starts and building permits.

+ The America at Home Study found that COVID-19 has shifted the motivation to buy a home as well as the trade-offs renters are willing to make to buy a home.



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As metro Denver home prices continue to rise, one builder’s answer is to go smaller

Source: Aldo Svaldi of the Denver Post

Anyone with a “Native” bumper sticker can tell you how fast home prices have risen in the past decade. The median price is now over five times the median household income, a new record which has economists scratching their heads. This article touches on a frequently overlooked contributor to our current home prices: the size of new homes. With new homes going bigger and bigger in scale, some developers are focusing on building smaller homes to be able to reach the “median” Denver residents.

Read more about the reasons for the rise in Denver home prices and how one developer, Mission Homes, is thinking small in the full article below!

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U.S. New Home Construction Expected to Fall 300,000 Units Short of Demand This Year, More Pressure for Home-starved Markets Like Denver

Source: Joe Rubino of the Denver Post

U.S. new home construction expected to fall 300,000 units short of demand this year, more pressure for home-starved markets like Denver

The National Association of Home Builders forecast new construction at 909,000 homes in the U.S. — a whopping 300,000 homes short of their projected demand, based on data gathered from Redfin. In Denver, median home prices have been hovering around $500K, with homes still flying off the market soon after being listed. Labeling Denver as a “seller’s market” in today’s environment is quite the understatement.

The biggest factors behind the housing shortage:
Lumbar costs

The cost of lumbar has risen 62% since the start of last year. Why? Tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber have driven the costs of new construction up by roughly $9,000.

Local Regulations

Another factor behind the supply/demand gap are local regulations, such as the banning of slot-homes in Denver. These types of structures previously allowed developers to maximize the number of units on a lot by turning them sideways. 


People, especially Millennials, love Denver. And they’re coming here in droves. Although there are signs that Denver’s popularity is waning, is it enough to ease the demand and close the gap in the housing shortage?

In the meantime, developers are focusing on attached developments, namely town homes. Last August in Denver, around 30% of new residential construction on the market were attached homes. With a changing demographic, economic, and regulatory environment in Denver, it appears that town homes and new urbanism will increasingly become the norm.

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Expect Construction Costs in Denver to Continue to Rise

Source: Travis Hodge and Craig Kalman of JLL Multifamily Capital Markets

Expect construction costs in Denver to continue to rise

Every aspect of the cost of living is rising in Denver, including the costs of labor and material to build. Within the next year, we have almost $5.5 billion in projects that are set to start, including the DIA project and I-70 expansion. Because of the scarcity of subcontractors, framers, and builders, the cost of labor alone has doubled. There is good news for developers and investors though: most projects are still under today’s replacement cost. And surprisingly, a labor shortage is what could keep the market in equilibrium.

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