Boulder SuZ has hit the nail on the head. Residential prices tend to fluctuate based on local conditions. In fact Boulder saw much price growth during the 1990s, but considerably less in the 2000s when other areas were appreciating rapidly. Since the downturn, Boulder prices have held up relatively well while other areas were being hit hard. To a great extent, I think Boulder's diverse economy with the University, the Federal institutions like NCAR, high tech companies and tourism have helped the city through both good and bad times.
I'm updating earlier comments in case someone comes across this string.
People are fond of saying Boulder is "different" referring to some of the headlines the town captures in the national press. In the case of housing, Boulder has had a steady growing market over the years owing to a slow growth policy.
From a recent Bloomberg piece: Look at the smaller metros where housing bubbles never took shape, and you'll find some of today's strongest markets.
Other factors are stable employment. Though Boulder has a strong high tech, aerospace and entrepreneurial presence (which historically have been more volatile than other industries), these employers are complemented by government agencies, which include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Center for Atmospheric Research and others. Combined with the University of Colorado, the city can boast a strong employment base that has attracted a highly educated work force.
Check the June 14, 2010 Denver Business Journal and you'll find the Denver metro area leading the rest of the nation in price appreciation. Million-dollar home sales skyrocketed in recent data reported by the journal.
You could probably say Boulder is the strongest of the metro area small communities. But, I would put an asterisk next to Fort Collins, Broomfield and maybe Boulder County as a whole. Credit the energy companies and a few others.
Hope that helps.
Boulder home prices have remained strong throughout the last two decades with average home price appreciation of 6.4%, Alhtough the City of Boulder's median home price is currently $543,000 (one of the highest in the country), Boulder has never had the 20% appreication years that others such as Las Vegas and the general states of Florida and Arizona have experienced. With that said, the latest statistics show that the City of Boulder's median home price is down 2.6% for the last 12 months. There are outlying cities around Boulder, but within 10 miles of downtown which are experiencing great growth such as Louisville (up 4.5%) Broomfield (up 7%) and Superior (up 6.7%). They are playing some catch up to the higher Boulder median prices.
The central downtown area has seen double digit annual price appreciation while Denver metro still struggles. Even other Boulder county cities haven't performed as strongly as Boulder.
The issue come to supply and demand. There's been a shrinking supply, especially in recent years, in the Boulder real estate market and an ever growing demand.
An understanding of the 'moat' concept in Boulder is useful. As Boulder has systematically surrounded itself with 'Open Space" which will never be developed, prices continue to trend upwards.
The recent trend is renovation and infill. There are some very high-end condo projects that are popular now and selling well (for the most part, there are good products being built).
In many cases, homes sold recently for between 400k to 600k are being completely remodeled/expanded or even razed and the newly built home is consequently worth 2x to 3x or more the original value.