This week the National Association of Realtors released its pending home sales report revealing that contracts signed in December increased 1.0 percent to 96.6 from 95.6 in November and remains 10.9 percent above December 2008 when it was 87.1.  December activity was the fifth highest monthly tally in two years.

NAR is chalking much of this surge up to the tax credit as buyers responded to a tax credit that was expiring and then extended and expanded.  These swings, they say, are making the underlying trend, which is a broad improvement over year-ago levels.

The fact is there are a lot of first-time home buyers and even some existing homeowners who are vying to take advantage of that credit and that is helping our local market.

One thing I think we will see this year is a much earlier Spring selling market.  The spring buying season typically takes off in March and runs through May. But buyers who want to claim this year’s tax credit — up to $8,000 for first-time buyers and up to $6,500 for repeat buyers — must have signed purchase contracts by April 30. And they have to complete the deal by June 30. I agree with Coldwell Banker President and CEO Jim Gillespie who said “Sales are going to take off in February and March and really take off in April,” as home buyers try to get under contract by the April 30 date.

It is comforting to see how many consumers are realizing the opportunities to in today’s market—even many investors.  There are amazing opportunities and great deals to be had and as buyers come to this realization, it’s exciting to see how it is affecting our market.

Now, let’s take a look at this week in Colorado real estate:

  • Boulder/Longmont—Longmont reports showings are holding steady at an increased level.  More buyers are looking.  Short sales are a large part of the offers written.  This is still a lengthy and frustrating process for both the buyer and the seller.  25% of the short sale contracts written either fail or are lost because buyers are unable to wait any longer for  lender approval.  This is a perfect time to add to an investment portfolio in real estate.
  • Evergreen/Conifer—Evergreen reported we had four new listings in the last two weeks for a total of thirteen.  Three listings went under contract.  There were a total of 250 showings during the month.  Two buyers were put under contract in the last two weeks.  Overall, activity has increased significantly in price ranges up to $1,000,000.  Conifer reported showing activity has increased significantly compared to December, totaling 129 showings for the month.  Listing activity is increasing with five new listings.
  • Denver Central – Overall sold units were down from 2008 to 2009 but overall inventory was down at a greater percentage than resales.  The drop in inventory in 2009 is a very good sign for the Denver market in 2010. Showings are up year over year on the existing inventory.  Unemployment continues to be lower than the rest of the country which is helping the Denver market.  We’ve had our 4th month in a row with the average sale price increasing in the Denver Metro area.  With the extension of the tax credit to 2010 there has been an increase in 1st time home buyers looking for a property.  Unfortunately, with the low inventory they need to start the process now to be under contract by the April 30th deadline.  The inventory shortages in the lower end market has created multiple offer situations for most homes in that market.  It might take a couple of offers before buyers find the correct property.
  • Denver West— One of our Agents had an open house on Saturday the 30th at a $750,000 listing – over 20 groups came through in three hours!  Another Agent put all eight of her listings under contract in the last few weeks.  Our under contracts are double what they were for the first two weeks of January.
  • Devonshire— With February here and the deadline for the tax incentive for 1st time buyers quickly approaching, we’re seeing a very nice upswing in real estate activity.  Even our Sunday showings have seen a dramatic change.  Typically Sunday has been a quiet day for showings in this office.  We’re also seeing more contracts being written.  Sellers seem to realize that ANY offer is worth countering as the written offer is just the very beginning of the process.  We’re definitely short of inventory so it’s the perfect time to get homes on the market.  If there is some hesitancy on timing to list a home, then the sellers should spend this time getting their homes in the best condition possible.  The upper end market is finally showing some signs of movement slowly but surely, so we’re cautiously optimistic for that market sector.
  • Douglas County— Our Southwest Metro office reports our floor calls have been great.  We’ve generated between five and seven appointments for listings and a couple of buyers.  Open houses have been very successful the last two weeks.  We’re seeing tremendous activity as well as our agents picking up potential buyers and listings.  Agents are very busy with listing and buyer appointments.  We’re seeing an increase in activity in the office and Agents are quite busy.  We’re seeing movement in the $350,000 to $450,000 market as well as lower.  We’re very excited about the activity that we are seeing in our market.
  • El Paso County— Colorado Springs reports in the Colorado Springs area, single-family home sales totaled 8,745 in 2009, a 4.9% increase over 2008.  This is the first annual increase since 2005.  Existing home sales last year totaled 8,188 and 8.3% increase over 2008 according to the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors.  In December, home sales totaled 623 nearly a 26% jump from the same month in 2008. Existing home sales, which account for about 90% of purchases totaled 566 in December, a 22.8% increase from the same time a year earlier.  Sales reflect only transactions handled by association members and most took place in El Paso and Teller counties.
  • Larimer County— We’re seeing a large jump in showings the last two weeks, up over 25%.  Homes are steadily coming on the market and agents have reported that the upper end has seen a few more showings over the same time last year.  These are promising signs for the new year.  New listings this week are nearly identical to last week and I would expect the inventory to continue to climb in the next 60 days with the bulk of the sales activity still below $300,000.  The perfect storm continues…low prices, low interest rates and tax incentives.
  • North Metro— No information reported.
  • Parker— Listings, showings and all activity are up in Parker and the surrounding areas.  The buyers seem to be showing up after the long Winter slumber. We have had a big jump in showings just in the last week, showing that there are still huge opportunities for homeowners.  Now is a great time for people on the fence to sell their homes because of the low rates, government incentives and reasonable inventory.
  • Southeast Metro—The SE Metro office is seeing an increase in our showing activity to over 550 showings last week.  In January we placed 123 new homes on the market.  As quickly as we’re listing them, we see them selling!  Several agents have had 3 or 4 listings placed under contract within two weeks on the market!  Buyers are excited about the extended tax credit opportunity and are anxious about finding their dream home before the interest rates tick up.  Luxury homes are also experiencing a steady increase in traffic.