In this rapidly growing and appreciating market, it is essential that Denver has a solid plan in place to manage urban housing. The Denver Five Year Housing Plan,3 currently in development by the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED), is the primary document that will inform the city’s housing policies and resource allocations over the next five years.
To ensure balanced growth and the development of sustainable neighborhoods, the OED has drafted eight priorities they feel are critical to the plan. The overarching strategy is to be innovative in a real estate market that is appreciating rapidly. The recommendations address challenges in acquiring affordable housing (i.e., the basic cost of ground), district rezoning (e.g., mixed income and mixed use developments)
As this plan takes shape, many present and future homeowners may wonder about how it may affect the value of their homes.
Five Year Housing Plan will positively impact Denver home values
Mixed income housing
One of the OED’s recommendations is to increase housing diversity through mixed income neighborhoods, a suggestion often met with fear about declining property values. However, these fears are unfounded. Ingrid Ellen, an urban planning expert who has been studying this issue for more than 15 years, sums it up like this: “We can say generally that there is very little evidence—no evidence—of the significant reductions in property values that communities fear. What almost all the research is showing is that there is a range from no impact to a positive impact.” 4
Mixed use zoning
Mixed use zoning (i.e., mixed residential and commercial land use) represents another strategy for increasing housing diversity. Studies suggest that mixed use zoning positively impacts property values. For example, researchers recently analyzed the effect of mixed use zoning in Seattle,5 a city to which Denver is often compared, and found that both home values and neighborhood quality were higher in areas with denser development. Property values were also benefited by mixed zoning and neighborhood walkability.
The OED proposes to increase homeownership by providing more counseling and services to homebuyers. A solid body of research supports a positive relationship between homeownership rates and neighborhood stability, which is a key factor affecting home values.
Finally, the OED seeks to encourage more sustainable housing development. Denver’s designation as a top green city is one of its defining characteristics. A recent study of the California real estate market found that homes with a label of Energy Star, LEED, or Greenpoint Rated sold for about 9% higher than comparable, non-green-labeled homes.6 An increase in sustainable housing and LEED-based construction will have a positive impact on all involved by decreasing long-term management costs, and creating a healthier environment in which to live and work.
The Denver Five Year Housing Plan will be an important tool in supporting Denver’s continued economic prosperity. Visit the Denver Office of Economic Development website (http://www.denvergov.org/
1The Denver Business Post. Home values at or near high in 29 metro communities;
2Denver Business Journal. Denver 12th for population growth
3Denver Office of Economic Development. DRAFT—Denver Five Year Housing Plan
4The Center for Housing Policy. “Don’t put it here!” Does affordable housing cause nearby property values to decline? (http://www.nhc.org/
5ScienceDaily. Denser development is good for single-family home values
6UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. The value of green labels in the California housing market