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2018-07-31 12:01:48
What are metro Denver’s hottest neighborhoods for home buyers? Think south Denver, north Aurora and Lowry, among others Home price appreciation

What are metro Denver’s hottest neighborhoods for home buyers? Think south Denver, North Aurora, and Lowry, among others

Home price appreciation approaching 40 percent in three ZIP codes


Metro Denver’s housing market has run hot for about six years, and while signs nationally point to the residential real estate market running out of fuel, some areas in metro Denver remain on fire, with rates of annual home price appreciation approaching 40 percent this year.

The Denver Post asked the Denver Metro Association of Realtors, Zillow, Trulia, Redfin and a Boulder firm, Zavvie, to rank the most robust ZIP codes and neighborhoods for home price and sales gains this year. The areas that showed up the most often on the various rankings were included on the list below of the hottest neighborhoods.

Price gains were a big determinant but so too were the volume of sales and the number of days on the market. Higher mortgage rates, the limited inventory of homes for sale and higher prices are all weighing on home sales this year. But these eight ZIP codes remain popular with buyers.

Wider streets, bigger lots and more square footage, in short suburbia in the city, are what the homes in southeast Denver’s Hampden South and Southmoor Park neighborhoods have to offer. And while that might not appeal to young buyers wanting a hip address, attitudes can change as kids start showing up.

“Once they have that second child, the Washington Park bungalow doesn’t work as much anymore,” said Adam Haman, a real estate investor and broker associate with HomeSmart Cherry Creek.

Younger adults who made well-timed purchases in older neighborhoods like Platte Park are among those searching the area for larger four- and five-bedroom homes. Investors are active too, buying homes built in the 1960s and 1970s from the original owners or their heirs and rehabilitating them.

Through April, the annual price gains are the highest of any Zip code in the metro area at just shy of 40 percent. Despite that, the homes are still priced below the median for the overall market.

Properties in this former military base on Denver’s east side carry the heftiest price tags of any hot neighborhood at $729,402. Despite that, the number of sales isn’t slowing, as is the case in most areas, but accelerating — by nearly half. That’s due to a surge in new high-end homes hitting the market.

Lowry is developing its last parcel on the former site of the Air Force Accounting Building under the name Boulevard One. Condos in the mixed product community start in the $500,000 to $600,000 range, townhomes go in the $700,000 range and single-family homes command $1.2 million to $1.4 million, said Derek Camunez, owner of Re/Max Avenues in Denver.

Lowry residents have shown a tendency to stay put or relocate within the neighborhood, which gives new home sales a disproportionate impact and contributed to a whopping 39.7 percent gain in the median price and a 47.4 percent jump in sales versus last year.

“These (new) properties are pulling up Lowry in general,” said Camunez, a long-time Lowry resident.

Buyers searching for a mix of affordability on larger lots continue to flock to Denver’s southwest neighborhoods. That has pushed up home prices nearly 40 percent year-over-year in the 80223 ZIP code, up 24.3 percent in 80236, which covers Fort Logan and Harvey Park South and 14.1 percent in 80219, which includes Westwood, Harvey Park, and Mar Lee.

In 80223, the median price of a home sold, which was still under $300,000 early last year, is now at $411,000. Valverde, Overland, and Athmar Park are full of smaller ranch homes built in the 1940s to 1960s.

Don’t expect the walkability and charm offered in Denver’s oldest neighborhoods, but the trade-off is relative affordability.

“Most of my clients are first-time homebuyers. We can still manage to get them in at under $400,000. And it takes five days to get a home under contract if it is priced correctly,” said Graeme Nistler, an agent with Redfin.

The area is home to several parks and rolling hills that provide for unparalleled views. More cultural amenities are showing up, chief among them the Levitt Pavilion Denver, a 7,500-capacity nonprofit outdoor amphitheater in Ruby Hill.

Years ago, pundits predicted the Anschutz Medical Campus would transform the struggling north Aurora neighborhoods surrounding it, and it is finally happening.

Jaryd Takushi, a broker associate with Kentwood City Properties, picked up a “gross” foreclosure near 20th Avenue and Joliet St. for $90,000 during the housing crash in 2009. After major upgrades and strong price appreciation, he estimates it could sell for $340,000.

The area is populated with smaller ranch-style homes, some with basements, some without. Many are in disrepair due to neglect or heavy wear as rentals. But a transformation is underway. The blocks to the east of Peoria Street have attracted medical residents, interns, nurses and other healthcare workers.

“They can walk across the street,” Takushi said.

The Stanley Marketplace, about three miles to the west of Anschutz, is driving interest in the homes surrounding in that area as Stapleton to the north and west gets built out. Light rail links to downtown and the airport in the area are another draw, said Takushi, who personally takes advantage of those connections.

Gentrification is scouring the Denver side of the 80216 ZIP code like a tsunami.

“It is a weird area,” concedes Michael Steffen, an agent with Generation Property Group with Exit Realty Cherry Creek.

Dilapidated homes available for under $200,000 in Globeville list alongside $1 million condos in River North, both surrounded by warehouses and heavy industry. Steffen said it is one of the few places where he advises clients to test the soil before they buy, given the legacy of contamination. And yet buyers can’t seem to resist the hot mess.

“They are very old homes and not many of them were well built, to begin with,” Steffen said of the small properties originally crafted for factory workers.

Investors banking on future price appreciation are active in the area. The National Western complex will undergo a $1.1 billion rebuild and expansion. River North has become the place to hang out. And the rebuild of Interstate 70 promises to remove viaducts and open the area up.

Still, Steffen laments the fate of the original families, some with roots across generations, as one of Denver’s last remaining pockets of affordability gets bulldozed.

Baby Boomers, who constitute a disproportionate share of Denver’s population, may be young at heart, but not necessarily in age. That might help explain why a ZIP code with a dense concentration of senior housing made the hottest list.

Windsor Gardens is full of age-restricted condos and townhomes, and nearby areas are heavy with attached housing, which more buyers are seeking as they try to leave renting behind. The median price in the area is still a relatively low $234,750, even after a 21.9 percent run-up.

The 80210 ZIP code includes several neighborhoods built around parks, and homes range from the rough-edged student rentals around the University of Denver to stately manses that top $1 million at Observatory Park, which has seen a wave of scrapes.

Home prices are up 13.3 percent year-over-year, not the biggest jump, but still impressive for a ZIP code where the median price is $680,000.

“More people are working from home, or telecommuting. People want to be able to walk out their front door and have a great place to go to for lunch or breakfast. The area has become more walkable. You have all of these neighborhood charms while still being close to the city,” said Libby Levinson, a broker with Kentwood-Cherry Creek.

She has also noticed another trend, residents from even wealthier parts of the metro area “downsizing” to smaller homes in the area.

Homes in the 80125 ZIP code, nestled up against the foothills in the far southwest corner of the metro area in Jefferson County, don’t come cheap. But they offer more bang for the buck than Denver’s pricier neighborhoods.

“For $1.5 million up here, you would spend $2 million to $3 million in the city,” said Todd Cole, a Re/Max Professionals agent, who together with his wife Tracy, has sold homes in the area for nearly three decades.

The trade-off: Longer drives into the city and less commercial development. The payoff: Being closer to nature and the foothills and golf courses.

On the high-end is Ravenna, a newer community where homes start at $1.5 million and up. Existing custom homes in the older Roxborough area come in at around $700,000. Joining the two gated golf course communities is Sterling Ranch, which some as Highlands Ranch in the foothills.

As the once-isolated area develops, and as prices rise across Denver, the popularity of 80126 is starting to grow.

“That is part of that push that is driving prices out there. People know we aren’t that far anymore,” Tracy Cole said.

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