Denver home prices improve in June

Denver home prices rose 4 percent in June compared to the same period a year ago, according to a report released today.

That lands it 4th in the rankings of 20 housing markets surveyed in the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

“I’m extremely happy that even though we dropped one position, we’re still up in the top five,” said independent housing analyst Gary Bauer. “It just shows the strength of the Denver market. Denver was the first to go into this economic recession and we’re the first to come out and we’re holding our own.”

Nationally, home prices were up 0.5 percent in June, with only six cities showing declines. Atlanta was down 12.1 percent; Chicago, 1.7 percent; Las Vegas, 1.8 percent; Las Angeles, 0.6 percent; New York, 2.1 percent; and San Diego, 0.2 percent.




Whole Foods wants to open store in downtown Denver

Whole Foods is scouting downtown Denver for a new location.

But finding a site that works economically and has ample parking is challenging, said Phil Hicks of David Hicks Lampert who is working with the company.

“Downtown is tough,” Hicks said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do yet.”

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods plans open nearly 100 stores over the next three years. Over the long term, it plans to triple its store count to 1,000, according to its third-quarter filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It also is considering expanding in Canada and the United Kingdom.

There currently are no major grocery stores in Denver’s central business district. The closest is a King Soopers at 13th and Krameria streets.

Denver developer Randy Nichols recently reached an agreement with Kroger to open a King Soopers Fresh Fare store at the apartment project he is planning at Chestnut and 20th streets. He said he expects to break ground on the project in October.

“King Soopers Fresh Fare will come whether Whole Foods does or not,” Nichols said. “King Soopers is not particularly concerned about the presence of Whole Foods.”




New-home sales on the rise

Rising sales of new homes indicate consumers are more confident in the housing market.

Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 3.6 percent nationally in July to an annually adjusted rate of 372,000 units, according to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The three-month moving average of new-home sales has been rising consistently since September, said David Crow, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders.

“Today’s good report is the latest indicator of a gradual, upward trend that we expect to continue through the remainder of this year,” Crowe said. “However, the fact that the inventory of new homes for sale reached an all-time low in July is a worrisome signal that ongoing, unnecessarily tight credit conditions are keeping builders from being able to replenish supplies as consumer demand improves.”

Regionally, the Northeast posted the biggest gain in new-home sales with a 76.5 percent increase from July. The Midwest posted a 7.7 percent gain, while the South and the West recorded declines of 1.6 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.




Finding an apartment is tough

It’s harder and more expensive to rent an apartment in metro Denver than it was a year ago, even though new complexes are popping up all over the region, according to a report released Thursday.

The vacancy rate in six metro areas across Colorado dropped to 4.9 percent during the second quarter — the lowest since the first quarter of 2001, when it was 4.3 percent, according to the report by the Colorado Division of Housing. The vacancy rate was 5.2 percent during the second quarter last year.

Rents have increased with the demand for rentals, rising to an all-time high of $942. That’s up 7.4 percent from the same period a year ago, when average rents stood at $877.

“In spite of some relatively week job growth in some metros, household formation continues in Colorado and people are looking to rent apartments,” said Ron Throupe, a professor of real estate at the University of Denver’s Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management. “In those areas with the most job growth, like Larimer County, the apartment market has become very tight.”

Vacancy rates in the six metro areas tracked are: Colorado Springs, 6 percent; Fort Collins/Loveland, 3.5 percent; Grand Junction, 5.5 percent; Greeley, 5.4 percent and Pueblo, 4.3 percent. The metro Denver vacancy rate, released last month in a separate survey, was flat year-over-year at 4.8 percent.

Average rents for the metro areas are: Colorado Springs, $776; Fort Collins/Loveland, $996; Grand Junction, $674; Greeley, $662; and Pueblo, $602. The average metro Denver rent was $992 during the second quarter.

“We’re now seeing signs of the kind of general rent growth across all metros that we haven’t seen since 2008,” said Ryan McMaken, spokesman for the Colorado Division of Housing. “Limited supply is an issue. New units are on the way, but there’s a lag on that and some metros aren’t seeing much new construction at all.”




SpringHill Suites opens at Metro

Visitors to Denver looking for that home away from home now have a new choice downtown.

SpringHill Suites by Marriott Denver Downtown at Metro State is open for business. The 150-room hotel, features 150 spacious guest suites, each with flexible work space and separate sleeping area. The suites also offer microwaves and mini-fridge, a seating area with a pull-out sofa bed and a spa-like bathroom.

Rates start at $219 during the week and $149 on weekends.

The hotel is part of Metropolitan State University’s new Hotel and Hospitality learning center, designed to give students hands-on experience in the hospitality industry.

The lobby of the new SpringHill Suites on the Metropolitan State University campus.

The contemporary hotel is one of just 10 nationwide to be located on a college campus.

The 28,000-square-foot educational facility combines classrooms with interactive laboratories so students can blend theory with practice at the hotel. Classrooms include a sensory analysis laboratory for wine and food tastings and a cellar management laboratory, which boasts a 3,100-bottle wine storage cellar.





Boulder housing market improves

The number of housing permits issued in Boulder is up 11.6 percent from November 2009, placing the city at No. 7 on an index of improving housing markets nationwide.

A total of 80 metropolitan statistical areas across 32 states and the District of Columbia were listed as improving housing markets on the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index for August.

Five metro areas were added to the list, while nine markets, including Grand Junction, were dropped.

“The fact that we continue to see a strong core of metros showing up on the improving list each month adds to the growing evidence that the emerging housing recovery has a solid foundation on which to build as housing returns to its traditional role of driving economic growth,” saiid David Crowe, the home builders’ chief economist.




Architect’s oasis in Boulder County features stunning views

Ever wonder what the homes architects design for themselves are like? Check out Kevin Scott’s Boulder County house.

The 4,000-square-foot Panorama Park Residence, built in 2009, sits on 0.8 of an acre adjacent to municipal open space at the end of a cul-de-sac.

One of the four-bedroom home’s most important design features is its entry, said Scott, principal of Denver-based Davis Partnership. The entry boasts views from a quarter-mile across the open space ¬†through 20-foot-tall glass walls on both the east and west side of the narrow foyer, giving visitors the sense of feeling as though they are still outside as they enter the house.

“The Panorama Park Residence is really about taking advantage of the Boulder Mountain views to the west and the high-plans desert open space to the east from a contemporary structure,” Scott said.