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Many Potential buyers find Denver price tags far beyond reach

Many Potentioal buyers find Denver price tags far beyond reach

by Aldo Svaldi - February 7, 2017

Many Front Range home shoppers can afford ground chuck, but are finding store shelves stocked with filet mignon, according to a study from Trulia.

Each quarter, Trulia divides housing markets of 100 metro areas into three price tiers — starter, trade-up and premium — and then compares what people searched for online to the listings available for sale to determine a market’s “balance.”

“Denver and Colorado Springs fit within the larger national image of Americans looking for starter and trade-up homes and finding listings for luxury homes,” said Felipe Chacon, a housing data analyst with Trulia.

In Colorado Springs, 31.9 percent of searches were for starter homes, while only 18.9 percent of the listings were in that price range in the fourth quarter of 2016. In metro Denver, 29.9 percent of searches were for starter homes, and only 17 percent of listings were in that range.

The percentage point gaps of 13.1 and 12.9 were the second and third largest in the country in the starter home segment. The most “unbalanced” market was Raleigh, N.C., where 24 percent of buyers were searching for starter homes, while only 10 percent of the listings fit in that category.

Nationally, 26.9 percent of home searches were for starter homes, while 21.2 percent of listings were in that segment.

One contributor to the mismatch is that most new homes are targeted toward premium and trade-up markets, where builders can make a higher profit margin. The construction of condos, historically more affordable than single-family homes, is also down sharply in Colorado compared to before the recession, which builders blame on construction defects litigation.

Home price gains have also outstripped income gains, leaving more buyers able to qualify for only the lowest-price tier, where homes sell more quickly. The Front Range has also drawn many young adults, a demographic that skews toward the starter-home market.

Overall, the metro Denver housing market was more balanced. Across all three price tiers Denver had the 12th-highest mismatch score at 11.6 percentage points in the fourth quarter. That compares to 14 percentage points in the same quarter of 2015 and 18.6 percentage points in the fourth quarter of 2014.

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