The Changing State of Front Range Housing
For those paying attention to real estate in Colorado, it’s no surprise that the housing market continues to evolve. The frenetic pace that became the new norm over the last several years has relaxed into a more balanced state of affairs.
We sat down with David Sinkey, President and Founder of Louisville’s award-winning homebuilder, Boulder Creek Neighborhoods, to get a local perspective on Front Range housing.
Boulder Creek Neighborhoods was founded in 2006, in the months leading up to the beginning of the Great Recession. Though perhaps not the ideal time to start a homebuilding company, Boulder Creek has prevailed in the years since its inception through a clarity of purpose.
“Since the beginning, it has been a goal of Boulder Creek to create a broader diversity of housing solutions to the Colorado market,” says Sinkey. “The market is continually changing, and it is our job to be ahead of that.”
Fast forward to 2019, and we find ourselves in one of the longest housing recovery periods in history. Demand for homes has increased, and prices have risen steadily. “I spend a lot of time thinking about the longevity of our current economic run and doing my best to understand what that means for Colorado housing moving forward,” says Sinkey. “I look at all the indicators in our local market. We have some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, steady wage growth, and continued low mortgage rates.” While those are healthy figures for the local economy in general, Sinkey adds a key component for housing, “The indicator that brings me the most excitement is that Colorado continues to be in high demand for housing.”
It’s a well-known economic principal that as demand increases, prices often follow. The ongoing unmet demand for housing in Colorado has continued to drive the price of homes. The median cost of a home in the Denver Metro area is in the neighborhood of $450,000; for new homes it’s significantly higher at almost $550,000. Sinkey says “everything from costs associated with land, materials, and labor, to the increasing municipal fees create challenges for homebuilders across Colorado.”
While the rise in prices can be a boon for home sellers, it creates discomfort for some home buyers. “There’s no doubt that affordability is the elephant in the room,” says Sinkey,”but we view the affordability hurdle as an opportunity to reevaluate ‘standard’ housing formulas.” Indeed, Boulder Creek is on the forefront of innovation, rethinking housing sizes and neighborhood layouts, and bringing new, non-traditional floorplans to the market. “I do not believe that we have hit the peak of the market,” says Sinkey, “but what I am interested in today is not just bringing more homes to the market, but instead the ‘right’ kind of homes to Colorado.”
What does Sinkey see as the ‘right’ types of homes? He goes on to explain that he believes gaps exist in a few areas: senior-focused housing, designed for the aging population seeking to downsize, and housing opportunities that allow homebuyers to build equity. “Boulder Creek is uniquely poised to evaluate these types of housing. We have always been a lifestyle focused builder,” says Sinkey. True, the Company has made a name for itself delivering a signature-style of low-maintenance living across the Front Range, in communities featuring patio homes and townhomes. “We know that many homebuyers have dreams and aspirations for their lives that don’t include outdoor maintenance chores, and we’ve been organized around that idea from the start,” Sinkey says.
“As we consider the many hurdles to home ownership, one of our answers is our wee-Cottage home series,” says Sinkey. By Sinkey’s definition, the wee-Cottages are a “non-traditional” type of housing. “They’re not what immediately comes to mind when you think of a single family home,” he says. The wee-Cottages are smaller floorplans designed to be incredibly functional and extremely economical in comparison to many ‘typical’ new homes.
“The wee-Cottages were designed with efficiency in mind from the very start,” says Sinkey. The attention to efficiency is clear in the floorplans, the smallest of the six is just under 900 sq ft, the largest scales to right around 1400 sq ft. It’s also clear in the price. Currently offered at Blue Vista in Longmont, and at Riverdale Ranch in Thornton, wee-Cottages are priced in the low- to mid- $300s, a rarity in the Front Range new home market.
The appeal of wee-Cottage spreads wide. From downsizers to first time home buyers, the home collection speaks to those who seek to maintain less square feet, who desire to make less of an impact on our environment, or the busy professional that does not have time to maintain a large yard. “We work with many folks interested in owning a home who are currently living in a condo or apartment,” says Sinkey.“They enjoy living a lower maintenance environment, but crave the ability to be in a single-family home where building equity is an option, and we believe wee-Cottage is a very attainable alternative.”
Lifestyle First, Home Second to None
“We continually see an absence in the senior focused, main floor living home collections across the Front Range,” says Sinkey. “This type of housing has been part of our vision since the inception of Boulder Creek, and it continues to be a relevant segment in the market today.”
Many of Boulder Creek’s floorplans introduced 10+ years ago are still being built today, simply because they are continuing to be relevant and functional for home buyers seeking to downsize and take their free time back with a low maintenance lifestyle. “It’s pretty amazing to see how our legacy home collections have evolved with the times, but still remain true to what we originally set out to accomplish,” comments Sinkey. “We certainly could not have done it without a great cast of employees, always willing to innovate and make these homes relevant throughout the years.”
Of course, Boulder Creek has also introduced new plans in that timeframe as well. Sinkey highlights the main-floor focused “easyHouse” series, currently available at Denio West in Longmont. “The patio homes in Longmont have been a great solution,” he says. “So many homebuyers want to stay in the neighborhood they love, but are simply ready to downsize to an easier way of living. A smaller home, main floor living, a maintained yard are core elements of our patio home communities.”
“During Boulder Creek’s early years, I attended every home closing. It was a way for me to listen and understand the motivations of people who were buying our homes. I would often hear a similar story; these homeowners were buying something very different than what they thought they wanted, or very different than what they had initially set out to purchase. But they ended up being very comforted to know this was what they were truly after,” says Sinkey.
“If I had to give a word of advice for the folks concerned about making a buying decision, it would be this: regardless of your personal interpretation of today’s market conditions, there’s not enough evidence or a compelling reason to stay on the sidelines and let that stand in the way of having the lifestyle that you’re seeking,” says Sinkey. Whether that’s downsizing, main-floor living, or purchasing a home with the intention of building equity, we continue to seek innovative housing solutions that meet the ever-changing needs of today’s market.
Boulder Creek Neighborhoods is currently building homes across the Front Range – Longmont, Louisville, Superior, Thornton, Stapleton, and Littleton with prices from the $300s to $1 Million and up. For more information, to see floorplans, photos, and more, visit www.LiveBoulderCreek.com, or contact 303-309-0088.