Anyone looking to buy real estate in the Boulder Valley knows that inventory is tight and prices are increasing, but there are significant differences among cities, and knowing them could provide an edge in any home search. I took a snapshot on April 5, 2017, of each of the major markets (IRES listings only) in the Boulder Valley, and the results are very revealing.
Getting your foot in the door
If you are in the market for your first house, then Longmont is your best bet. The least-expensive single-family home there is under $300,000, and there are almost 100 homes in the city available on the market. Broomfield comes in second, with the least-expensive home being listed at $329,000 and 75 available homes on the market. As you might expect, Boulder is the priciest place in the Boulder Valley, with the least-expensive home on the market listed at $559,900.
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If you are looking for an inexpensive condo, then you have slightly more choice (but not Superior, where the most-affordable condo is $625,000). Lafayette currently has the least-expensive condo on the market at $185,000, followed by Boulder ($249,500) and Longmont ($250,000). While Boulder and Longmont appear comparable in entry points, the amount of space you get for the money is dramatically different, with Boulder’s sub-$250,000 condos having 621 and 592 square feet, while Longmont’s $250,000 condo has 1,138 square feet.
This brings up the question…
How far does your dollar go?
Another way to look at affordability is to compare how much home you get for a given amount of money, which we measure by looking at the price-per-square foot of homes. Each city has a range from most square feet for your dollar to the least, and some cities have a much bigger range than others.
Where to get the most square footage for your dollar
On the single-family side, Longmont is the only city that had property available for less than $100 per square foot (it came in at $96), meaning you could find a 4,000 square-foot home for less than $400,000. The next most affordable city was Lafayette, starting at $114 per square foot, and third was Broomfield, coming in at $129/square foot. No surprise, Boulder will net you the least square feet for the money, with its most-affordable home costing $196 per square foot. Louisville was the next most expensive at $166 per square foot to enter the market.
If you are looking more toward the luxury end of the market, Boulder has homes that range up to $1,511 per square foot where you can expect excellent locations, stunning views and high-end finishes. This is three times more per square foot than the next most-expensive market, Louisville, where homes top out around $400 per square foot.
Which city has the most affordable listings?
If your budget is under $500,000 and you are looking for a single-family home, Longmont is far and away your best option, with 61 percent of its 98 homes on the market under $500,000. Lafayette is a distant second, with 19 percent of its 21 homes under $500,000. For attached units, Lafayette, Broomfield and Longmont all have more than 75 percent or more of their condos priced under $500,000.
If you are able to spend between $500,000 and $1,000,000 on a home, then Broomfield, Louisville and Superior all have 70 percent of their single-family homes in that price range. Superior, Louisville and Boulder all have a good percentage of condos in this range.
Finally, and this comes as no surprise, if you are looking for homes above $1,000,000, then Boulder is your market. In fact, 72 percent of all single-family homes on the market in Boulder are priced over $1,000,000.
The bottom line is that knowing which cities have the most of what you’re looking for can increase your chances of finding (and getting) the right place.
Jay Kalinski is broker/owner of Re/Max of Boulder.