Adobe Stock

Zillow has recently published a report equating home prices relative to commute times in the nation’s 33 largest metro areas, including Denver. It pinpointed downtown as the 80202 zip code, home to the Central Business District, Union Station and city hall. The report indicates that homeowners living a half hour away from downtown can save some money on housing but if their budgets top out at $400,000 they should plan on spending more time in the car.

According to Zillow, homes 15 to 30 minutes from downtown Denver by car have a median value of $420,000,13.8 percent less than the median-valued residence 15 minutes or closer. If you're living 30 to 45 minutes outside the median value drops to $397,000. Denver's decrease is not as steep as other hot real estate markets. Moving 15 to 30 minutes from the city center in Austin for instance means buying a house worth $144,000 less in terms of median value - a 30-percent decrease.

“In general, in the fastest appreciating markets you’re going to see a premium” put on all housing, Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas said. “In part because people are willing to pay for anything they find and like. People are just happy to get in a house.”

Zillow’s assessment is built around a traditional model of a U.S. city with a central business district (like Denver’s aptly dubbed Central Business District) serving as concentrated job center and focal point of government administration. Researchers pinpointed a city’s “core” zip code using 2016 U.S. Census Bureau data that tracked employees per-square-mile and data from study partner HERE Technologies tracking the number of trips into an area during morning rush hour.

But the home value-commute trade off becomes less clear, and less important, in metro areas with multiple job centers. When zooming in on specific zip codes, home values begin to climb and even surpass downtown areas near the Denver Tech Center.

Read More