Northern Colorado housing recovery well under way

Housing starts in Northern Colorado are outpacing closings so far in 2012 and the prospect for more good news on the residential real estate front looks good heading into next year.

Those were among the many points made Wednesday morning by Metrostudy’s Jon Covert in a presentation hosted by the Everitt Real Estate Center at the Fort Collins Marriott.

“There are a lot of positive things going on and we’re excited to report that,” Covert said, adding, “Builders are feeling better.”

Covert said that year-to-date in 2012, Larimer and Weld counties have seen 2,047 housing starts, compared with 1,917 closings.

These numbers are yet another indicator of the improving economy in Northern Colorado, Covert said.

In addition to starts outnumbering closings, both statistics have improved over the previous year. Starts are up by 52 percent year-to-date over 2011 and closings are up by 39 percent.

These changes will lead to more home building as new residents move to the Northern Colorado market, Covert said, though local banks are still unlikely to do much lending for speculative building.

Right now, there are 50 model homes available in Northern Colorado, compared with 400 at the peak of the market. According to Covert, for every model home, an average of 36 homes are sold.

The number of finished homes that were vacant at the end of the third quarter was also at the lowest point it has been in 10 years, with just 150 homes waiting for a buyer to move in. This is the lowest number in any submarket on the Front Range, Covert said.

The number of available vacant developed lots is about 9,000 in Larimer and Weld counties, while there are fewer than 12,000 lots available in the Denver area, Covert said, so many Denver developers are looking north for development opportunities.

Looking to the future, Covert said that if the economy continues to improve, the number of housing starts could be up by 35 to 40 percent by the end of 2013, which translates into about 3,000 new homes in Northern Colorado.

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Molly Armbrister covers real estate, banking and health care for the Northern Colorado Business Report. She can be reached at 970-232-3139, or

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