Boulder Valley RE/Con: Rising COVID cases threatens BV residential hot streak

BOULDER — As the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically alters the way Americans live and work, the residential real estate market in the Boulder Valley remains as strong as ever — but the spike in cases and increasing government restrictions point toward a winter of uncertainty. 

That was the message from a panel of real estate industry, health care, and municipal experts in a panel Thursday morning at BizWest’s Boulder Valley Real Estate Conference.

The panel featured Lauren Hansen, CEO of local multiple listing service IRES; Scott Peterson, general counsel for the Colorado Association of Realtors; Dr. Ben Keidan, vice president and chief medical officer for Boulder Community Health; and Mark Woulf, senior manager for economic vitality and business services for the city of Boulder. The panel was moderated by Lisa Wade, broker associate for ReMax of Boulder. 

“The impact of COVID on residential real estate has been fascinating to observe,” Hansen said.

After stay-at-home orders at the start of the pandemic drastically slowed deal flow, the Boulder Valley saw a surge of new listings in May and a surge of sales throughout the summer. June was a record month, and new listings are up 23.1% as of October, Hansen said. 

What is causing this surge?

“Those of us lucky enough to live here already know why,” Hansen said. 

In its list of the best places to live in 2020, U.S. News & World Report listed four Colorado cities — Boulder, Denver, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins — in the top five. With the rise of working from home and the decline of commuting and office work, population growth in those areas should continue to increase as people become more free to live where they want and work remotely, Hansen said. 

That trend is also affecting the Boulder economy in less positive ways. Boulder has always had an imbalance of in-commuters and out-commuters, Woulf said, with more people commuting in than out. With most former in-commuters now working from home, the city is facing a substantial loss of sales tax and parking revenue. Boulder has already eliminated nearly 150 jobs and furloughed more than 700 workers, Woulf said. 

The Boulder metropolitan statistical area has also seen a 12% decline in construction value, Woulf said. 

“We’re not seeing it trend well against the state,” he said. 

Also not trending well are Boulder’s coronavirus numbers. Although the city is doing better than some other areas of Colorado, hospitalizations are ticking upward.

“To be hospitalized, you have to be at least moderately ill,” Keidan said. “When hospitalizations spike, that is a real phenomenon. That is concerning.”

Keidan said that Boulder’s mortality rate remains low and its outcomes remain good. Eighty percent of hospitalized patients are discharged quickly; the readmission rate is just 5.8%, compared to around 9% for pneumonia; and testing remains widely available. However, Keidan cautioned that things may get worse.

“Recently, I’m a little more nervous,” he said. “Our hospitals are starting to heat up.”

As cases increase, so do government-imposed restrictions.

“We got some additional curveballs this week,” said Peterson about the new public health orders issued by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. 

Boulder County is under the second-most severe level of restriction. Fortunately for residential real estate professionals, buyers and sellers, these limits only preclude open houses, not showings. Peterson, as general counsel to the Colorado Association of Realtors, has been working with state lawmakers to ensure that “marketing activities that need to take place to get a property under contract can take place,” and avoid another total shutdown of the market.

If cases continue to increase to the point where Boulder is placed under the harshest restrictions, which would stop showings, “that will be a new analysis we hope to not to have to undertake,” Peterson said. 

“Real estate has been as viable as any of our industries in terms of doing things to keep our economy afloat,” Peterson said. 

© 2020 BizWest Media LLC

BOULDER — As the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically alters the way Americans live and work, the residential real estate market in the Boulder Valley remains as strong as ever — but the spike in cases and increasing government restrictions point toward a winter of uncertainty. 

That was the message from a panel of real estate industry, health care, and municipal experts in a panel Thursday morning at BizWest’s Boulder Valley Real Estate Conference.

The panel featured Lauren Hansen, CEO of local multiple listing service IRES; Scott Peterson, general counsel for the Colorado Association of Realtors; Dr. Ben Keidan, vice president and chief medical officer for Boulder Community Health; and Mark Woulf, senior manager for economic vitality and business services for the city of Boulder. The panel was moderated by Lisa Wade, broker associate for ReMax of Boulder. 

“The impact of COVID on residential real estate has been fascinating to observe,” Hansen said.

After stay-at-home orders at the start of the pandemic drastically slowed deal flow, the Boulder Valley saw a surge of new listings in May and a surge of sales throughout the summer. June was a record month, and new listings are up 23.1% as of October, Hansen said. 

What is causing this surge?

“Those of us lucky enough to live here already know why,” Hansen said. 

In its list of the best places to live in 2020, U.S. News & World Report listed four Colorado cities — Boulder, Denver, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins — in the top five. With the rise…