Forum Speaker Also Says Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Have Boosted Commercial Market
The national and local real estate market is showing signs of improvement, but a full recovery will depend on restoring consumer confidence, housing experts said at a Boulder forum Thursday.
Boulder remains somewhat insulated from the national economic struggles, Scot Smith, a broker with The Colorado Group, told the crowd at the second annual Boulder Valley Real Estate Conference and Forecast at Boulder's Millennium Harvest House.
"This is a good place to be," Smith said. "When the full recovery begins, it will probably begin here."
Smith said that the presence of large local companies and continued strength in the energy industry and others will continue to help stabilize the Boulder economy.
Commercial occupancy should increase slightly throughout Boulder Valley in 2010, while the area should remain relatively insulated from the national wave of foreclosures, Smith said. Office vacancies fell to low of 12 percent in 2009, not as high as some predicted.
Smith noted that in addition to governmental agencies -- which were the largest purchasers of commercial property this year -- the Boulder commercial real estate sector has been boosted by an unlikely industry: medical marijuana dispensaries.
"We can only hope marijuana never gets regulated, so it can lead us out of this recession," he joked.
D.B. Wilson, managing broker of ReMax, said the residential housing market through the beginning of 2010 will continue to favor buyers, with affordability at an all-time high.
But prices, interest rates and mortgages are still likely to fluctuate through next year, and true market stability won't come until consumer confidence is restored, several speakers said.
Sharp declines in wealth and increases in unemployment have dropped consumer confidence to near-historic lows, said Patti Silverstein, the chief economist of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation.
Confidence should improve as the economy does in 2010, but the improvement will be slow, Silverstein said.
"The recession from a technical standpoint probably ended in the third quarter of the last fiscal year," she said. "We will keep moving out of the recession but at an anemic pace."
November 19, 2009