Joni Renee Zalk, Steps Real Estate

Joni Renee Zalk, Steps Real Estate

BOULDER – Similar to looking at the growth rings of a tree, cities develop out organically from certain economic stimulants. When a stimulant hits an area, it radiates out like waves, like a rock that hits the still surface of a pond. When you know the economic stimulants, you can better predict – or forecast – a market. The following are key triggers:

Recreational entertainment
In Colorado, our mountains are our main source of recreational entertainment. In other places it will be the lakes or oceans. The closer you are to the ‘entertainment,’ the higher the price point will be.  

There has been much expansion and redevelopment of the University of Colorado (CU) in Boulder. As the University expanded, the real estate market exploded. Between CU and Naropa University, it’s safe to say any property you buy in Boulder is likely to stay fully rented.

New Transportation routes are not only interstate highways, but can be an access road or an airport or a new port (i.e. a coastal port). A new type of transportation route that has been introduced here in Colorado is the Light Rail. If you’ve been tracking it, areas around the light rail have risen in value at an exponential rate.  

The reverse can also happen; a lack of access roads can destroy property values. Shea Homes is one of the largest homebuilders in the country – they even built the Golden Gate Bridge. While the company usually invests wisely, they built a neighborhood called “Reunion” near the airport. Unfortunately there is no direct route in or out of this neighborhood. As a result, in 2008, Reunion led the nation in foreclosures
per capita.

Employment is probably the most important of them all. Jobs bring money and prosperity. Jobs drive spending; demand. Increased employment generally drives wage inflation, migration (population) and increased cash flows through the ecosystem, which often lead to higher rental yields.

A major red flag would be any single employment markets, which are areas with just one major job or industry. Think of North Dakota: with the oil industry on its knees in a myopic market, prices of homes are receding rapidly. Denver and Boulder are heavily invested in both Tech and Aerospace. If those two industries collapse, we would normally be in trouble, except that the marijuana industry has helped Colorado communities with jobs and tourism.

Word of the day
Echo Market: An area that is booming rapidly due to another market’s stimulus.  

Longmont and Louisville are reflecting off of Boulder’s popularity. Similarly, Colorado Springs’ real estate market is booming because of Denver. People who move from expensive areas towards the more affordable areas tend to move back as soon as another recession hits. Thus, these submarkets will look like a really good investment (and it might be true), but it’s only as good as the surrounding markets grow without hitting a recession.

Investment seminar series are held biweekly at Steps Real Estate, LLC. For details on future seminars, contact Joni Renee Zalk at 720.365.7302 or at

By Joni Renee Zalk, Steps Real Estate