Denver homes appreciate 30% from 2000


Single-family homes in the Denver area, overall, appreciated 30.07 percent from January 2000 to the end of August 2009, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released today.

That trails the overall composite percentage gain of 46 percent for the 20 markets tracked in the closely watched index.

Denver-area homes slightly appreciated more than the inflation rate from 2000 to 2009 of about 25.4 percent. During the same period, the S&P 500 stock index fell about 13 percent, while gold rose about 250 percent. Of course, beyond being investments, homes also provide a place to live. Also, Uncle Sam provides a tax benefit to owning homes and they tend to be highly leveraged compared to other investments, so it is not easy to make an apples to apples comparison with other investment vehicles.

“That is extremely OK with me,”  independent Denver-area real estate broker Gary Bauer said about Denver-area homes only slightly bettering the inflation rate. “I do not want to be at either ends of that bell curve. One of the things about Denver is that we are never on either ends of the curve.

“It sounds like a cliche, but we are a market on to ourselves,” Bauer continued. “We enjoy some nice appreciation and a little depreciation from time to time. We have not had the huge swings, up and down, as other markets experienced.”

Overall, 11 markets showed greater long-term appreciation than Denver and seven saw less. Washington, D.C., performed the best, gaining 78.84 percent. Detroit was the only market not to appreciate at all, losing 28.41 percent of its value. Some markets, such as Las Vegas and Phoenix, which had been showing higher long-term appreciation than Denver because of prices that rocketed into the stratosphere before plummeting, now are trailing Denver.

“It’s as if we have returned to the more normal order of things,” Patty Silverstein, chief economist for the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., said earlier this week.

Jim Nussbaum, a long-time broker at the Kentwood Co., said that dips in the market help people buy homes who might have been priced out in the past.  And in today’s market, it allows people shopping for ultra-expensive homes to buy them for in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars less than at the peak.

“I think people have to understand that just like the stock market, homes prices do not keep going up and up,” Nussbaum said. “Although people got used to prices only rising, there are some corrections. In the long-run, I think that is healthy.”

Byron Koste, head of the CU Real Estate Center in Boulder, said that out-of-control rising prices, followed by equally large slumps, is nothing to covet.

A case in point is Las Vegas.

Not long ago, Las Vegas, was showing far greater longer-term appreciation than Denver, because of a flurry of bursts in housing prices, while Denver prices moved little.

Now, the long-term appreciation in Las Vegas is less than 6 percent. Only Detroit has shown less appreciation of the 20 cities in the index.

“As it should be,” Koste quipped. “Who wants to live in Las Vegas, anyway?”

Metropolitan AreaPercentage change from January 2000 to August 2008
Las Vegas05.78%
Los Angeles66.52%
New York74.89%
San Diego53.34%
San Francisco32.47%
Washington, D.C.78.84%
Composite - 2046.0%

Contact John Rebchook at or 303-945-6865.

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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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