The Boulder area is known as an expensive market for home buyers in the Denver Metro. With the exception of 2019 when things stalled out a bit with only single digit growth, the market for properties priced $1 million and over has grown approximately 12% to 30% every year since 2015 until 2021. In 2021, the number of residential properties sold over $1 million in Boulder and Broomfield Counties increased an unprecedented 71% year over year.
WK Real Estate in Boulder has been a local leader in distinctive home sales since the company was founded in 1976. WK is a 15-plus year member of Luxury Portfolio International® (LPI), the luxury marketing division of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE).
We recently held an informative panel discussion with Elaine Collins, Jim Green, John Hoeffler, Sibyl Liedtke and Barry Remington, some of WK’s top broker associates, about Boulder’s ongoing luxury real estate boom. Here are a few key conversations from this knowledgeable group of real estate professionals.
The luxury market in Boulder and Broomfield Counties saw unprecedented growth in sales and price appreciation in 2021. What do you attribute this to?
John Hoeffler: This trend is not unique to Boulder, it’s a national trend in many desirable markets that have limited supply. The economy is good, wealth has increased for many people, especially given that the stock market has been on a run for 10 years now.
Sibyl Liedtke: Some baby boomers are finally getting rid of their large family homes. There is an influx of highly compensated people moving to the area for jobs and lifestyle. Also, many people that would normally be moving up/or down to their next property are stuck because of lack of inventory and highly competitive multiple offer situations. For many, there is just nowhere to go right now.
How do you feel this marked change in our market has affected, or will affect, our community?
John: Our community is definitely becoming more affluent. And it’s getting tougher for younger people to purchase if they have low down payment funds. Boulder shifted about 15 years ago. Previously demand for real estate came with job growth. Then in the 1990s Boulder became more of a lifestyle destination, not dependent on job growth, for people who can afford to move here. This accelerated with the pandemic. Things just exploded when people realized they could live and work from anywhere.
Do you expect demand to continue in 2022?
Sibyl: For buyers I don’t see demand changing much in 2022. Some buyers will tire and step out of the market for a bit, but they’ll be back!
Jim Green: We may not have record-breaking price increases in 2022, but they will go up. Inventory will be limited, even at the highest levels. Mortgage rates are creeping up, but that doesn’t really affect anyone in a luxury price range.
Did you notice any trends in the demographics of your clients?
Barry Remington: Our sellers are people that might be moving out of the area, downsizing to a smaller, but still luxury home, and looking to increase their wealth. We’ve seen quite a few buyers in their late 30s and our sellers seem to be in the 40s to 50s range.
Sibyl: These are not the same buyers or sellers that they used to be. My clients are younger, and very well educated when it comes to real estate. They watch the market enough to really understand the numbers.
Jim: Some are grandparents relocating to be near grandchildren. Like other agents I see empty nesters moving because their home is now too big for them.
What subdivisions or communities in particular have you seen the most growth or change in?
Barry: There seems to be a land rush basically anywhere west of I-25. But people still want to be in Boulder for lots, or down in the Cherry Creek or Parker areas. The recent Marshall Fire put this in overdrive. Every area is increasing and prices and costs will continue to go up with inflation. The sentiment is “get in now”.
Jim: Niwot and Somerset saw more activity this past year. I do also see Windsor growing, with the influence of neighboring Fort Collins.
What home features and amenities are buyers prioritizing?
John: Turnkey homes seem to be the priority, and these are selling with multiple offers. Buyers are very sophisticated now – they want the best locations, exceptional design, green features, and the highest-level finishes. They also want better outdoor spaces that might include a fireplace, terrace and a heated pool, all for entertaining outside which became important during the pandemic.
Elaine Collins: Our high-end clients are now thinking about homes in a very different way. Everyone wants a great kitchen to cook and gather in. Adults in the home want separate home office work space. And swimming pools have become very popular; it’s one feature that allows you to have entertainment at your own home for your children and guests.
Barry: Views are really important too. If people are relocating to Colorado, they want to be able to see the mountains, especially in the upper price ranges. Due to COVID our clients looked for more space and bigger has become the “new” better.
What do buyers and sellers in luxury price ranges expect from real estate professionals now?
Elaine: For our sellers it’s important to mutually agree on a plan that meets their needs. Right now, exceptional photos are so important, including drone photography, as well as immersive tours, and special shots staged to highlight unique features of the home.
Jim: Internet marketing is also important right now. Through our LeadingRE and Luxury Portfolio connections I’ve received online inquiries from international buyers. As Elaine said, sellers also expect exceptional photography, including drones for larger properties, and also floor plans. Staging is really important, especially for that front entry presentation, so that the home is show ready and we can put our best foot forward before that first person comes through the door.
Did your luxury sellers do anything different in the last year that affected their days on market or the sale price they realized?
Elaine: Buyers make decisions in the blink of an eye about what they like and don’t like, and we want to make sure the home is “parade ready” – as Jim said, “wow” people from the minute they walk in. Cleaning, staging… it’s all important so that our sellers realize the highest dollar with the least amount of time on market.
Sibyl: When sellers allow for “Coming Soon” marketing it can be really effective in generating excitement about the property with prospective buyers. However, I think “Exclusive” listings are a disservice to both sellers and buyers because no one agency knows the pool of buyers that are out in the market and may result in a lower price being accepted by the seller.
What types of luxury properties are NOT selling right now?
John: During the first 12 months of the pandemic, I noticed a drop in the luxury market for attached homes. Many of these homes are 2nd homes for people who temporarily stopped flying here for visits. But now that market has completely rebounded.
Jim: There is a point at which even the most spectacular property won’t find a buyer. The pricing has to make
> To read the full discussion, go to wkre.com/blog.
Photo/charts courtesy: WK Real Estate