According to RealtyTrac's 2014 Election Housing Market Scorecard released on Tuesday, 33 out of 35 counties in Colorado with sufficient housing data to score ranked in the "better off" category, meaning that the housing market in those counties is better off than it was two years ago.
The total population of the better off counties was 4.8 million, which accounted for 99 percent of the population in Colorado with sufficient housing data to score. None of the 35 counties in the state ranked in the "worse off" category. Two counties with a population totaling 40,385 ranked in the toss-up category, according to RealtyTrac.
One reason for the overwhelming "better off" rating in Colorado is the fact that unemployment is way down in the state's most populated housing counties, which are El Paso, Denver, and Arapahoe, compared to where it was two years ago in each of those counties. In Denver County, unemployment fell by 3 percentage points from July 2012 to July 2014, while El Paso County and Araphaoe County experienced declines of 2.9 and 2.5 percentage points, respectively, in that same two-year period, RealtyTrac reported.
Another possible reason for the better off rating for most of Colorado is the decreasing number of underwater mortgages. According to RealtyTrac, only 6 percent of homeowners with a mortgage in the three most populated housing counties in Colorado are underwater. Foreclosure starts are down in two of those three counties from August 2012 to August 2014: Denver County and El Paso County saw declines of 67 and 54 percent in foreclosure starts for the two-year period, while Arapahoe County saw a slight increase (3 percent) in foreclosure starts for that same period.
Home prices are up in all three counties compared with where they were two years ago, according to RealtyTrac. Arapahoe County led the way with a 22 percent increase in home prices from two years ago, while home prices jumped by 14 percent in Denver County and by 5 percent in El Paso County. A rise in prices without a corresponding rise in income is hurting the housing affordability in those three counties, however. Denver and Arapahoe Counties reported a 5 percent increase in the percentage of median income needed to purchase a median price home in the last two years, while El Paso County reported a 2 percent jump.
In the polls, Democratic incumbent Mark Udall and Republican challenger Cory Gardner are almost locked in a dead heat with Udall leading in the latest poll by only one percentage point, 48 percent to 47, in a Rasmussen Reports poll on October 1. Obama won Colorado in 2012. This year's election will be on November 4.