Residential housing in the mountain states of Colorado, Utah and New Mexico is looking stronger than many others, but that's partly because the comeback hasn't been as steep.
Simply put, homes in the region didn’t appreciate in value over the last decade as much as in the coastal regions, Arizona or Nevada. What didn’t go up much before the bubble burst in 2008 didn’t go down much once it did.
Homes certainly lost value, but owners don’t have to regain as much ground to attain their earlier equity.
“We didn’t experience the bubble that California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada did,” said Thomas Thibodeau, a residential real estate expert at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business. "Prices in Denver came down about 14 percent, peak to trough, and it now looks like the decline has come to an end.”
In 2008, Thibodeauco-authored a studyexamining 84 U.S. metro areas for signs of a speculative housing bubble. Twenty-five cities showed housing prices 30 percent over the expected increase, the study concluded. But with the exception of Las Vegas, all were within 75 miles of the Pacific or Atlantic coast.
“Extreme speculative activity, so prominently publicized, was extraordinarily localized,” the study concluded.
The 2012 story of residential real estate in the so-called Intermountain West can be told in a tale of three cities — Salt Lake City, Albuquerque and Denver — where its population is most concentrated.
Salt Lake City Picking Up
Home sales in Salt Lake City climbed for the eighth-consecutive month in January, up more than 30 percent from a year ago, according to a recent report by the Utah Association of Realtors. Meanwhile, Utah reported its best January in five years, with nearly 2,000 residential closings.