Our annual guide to the hottest 'hoods in town (look closely, there are some surprises in there). PLUS: The changing definition of "location, location, location," four things to do when looking for a Realtor, and why now is (perhaps) the best time to buy in a generation.
Why some typically reliable neighborhoods had a rough year.
When we started to rate Denver's best neighborhoods in 2010, we found the usual suspects in some unusual and unfamiliar situations. Homes in Highland East, Central, and West, for example, dropped in value across the board (from 4 to 11 percent), as did houses in Cheesman Park (down 5 percent from 2009), Country Club (-1 percent), University Park (-15 percent), and Wash Park East (-3 percent). And Cherry Creek, Denver's answer to Beverly Hills, saw its average sale price plummet by 14 percent—with an average DOM of 218, more than twice the citywide rate.
Fear not: This doesn't mean these tony areas are hitting the skids; they're merely going through a more pronounced correction, and their numbers appear more alarming because their prices were so high to begin with and thus have farther to fall. (Even with the downturn, the average sale price in Cherry Creek is $834,000, and the glut of unfinished scrapes is skewing prices all over town.)
The precipitous correction in some parts of Denver belies the more rational one happening in the overall market. Lon Welsh of Your Castle Real Estate cites Hilltop—$803,000 average sale price, down 3 percent from 2009; 198 DOM—as an area where overspeculation warped the numbers. "They have more than 20 houses on the market that are 2,500 square feet or more and cost up to $3 million," he says. "People are buying the smaller homes in the area, but because they're only selling the Chevys instead of the Cadillacs, the average prices come down more steeply."