Sean McIllwain, Mod Boulder Real Estate

Sean McIllwain, Mod Boulder Real Estate

BOULDER – There was a time in Boulder real estate history when just-out-of-reach buyers were ushered by reassuring real estate agents to the surrounding L-towns – Louisville, Lafayette, Longmont and Lyons – when Boulder’s astronomical real estate prices were beyond what the buyers could afford. With ever-increasing demand and tight inventory, those reassuring days are a sweet (and affordable) memory; Boulder’s surrounding L-towns have now joined the out-of-reach ranks.

A recent Daily Camera article reported that the last L-town holdout, Longmont, has doubled its real estate value since 2008, moving the city’s average home price into the $400,000 notch as of September 2016.

And the L-town increase doesn’t stop there. Louisville’s real estate value has gained sixty-two percent since 2008, and Lafayette’s almost fifty-seven percent since 2009.

The harsh reality is, if you don’t have a truckload of cash or enough of a down payment to convince a lender to invest in you and your purchase, all of Boulder County is as much of a pipe dream as that beachfront Barbie Dreamhouse you pined away for as a kid.

Perhaps this predicament reminds you of 2008’s mortgage crisis and the resulting housing bubble. Well, yes kinda – and no, not really. This time around, the dramatic upswing in real estate prices is primarily due to more people wanting in and less people willing to leave – if you weren’t sleeping in freshman business class, you’d know this as
“supply and demand.”

And the proverbial icing atop the cut-throat cake is that many of these new buyers mean serious business: boasting hefty down payments and making more cash purchases (even in the luxury market), these new, ambitious buyers leave nothing but bitter cake crumbs behind.

But hang on there, hasty homebuyer. Before you go packing your bags and posting your resume on LinkedIn (is that still a thing?), let me offer you some advice on how to strategically plant your long-term roots. What it all boils down to: expectations.

In order to be a competitive buyer in today’s hot market, it’s time to rework your real estate wishlist. You won’t find your dream home with an affordable price tag, and that’s OK. A lower-square-footage ranch or a cute condo is a great option for both young families and empty nesters, and it’s also a fantastic
long-term investment.

As a potential buyer, it’s important to define what makes you tick. Location? School district? Walkability? Once you’ve set your sights, set your budget. Know what you can afford and get ready to compete with other buyers in a similar situation to yours.

Last year was Boulder’s seventh consecutive year to see a decline in real estate inventory. This low inventory combined with a market that encourages fierce competition, cash offers and ruthless contingency opt-outs, you’ve got yourself one tough cookie. Wait. One big pickle. No. One hot potato. You get my drift: it’s time to rework your real estate expectations in order to compete with your fellow buyers.

Sean McIllwain is the founding broker at Mod Boulder Real Estate. Call 720.252.6051, e-mail [email protected] or visit