This week NAR released its fourth quarter 2009 housing stats revealing some solid and very positive results including:

  • Home sales posted strong gains in the fourth quarter and prices rose in nearly 45% of U.S. metropolitan areas compared with a year earlier, more evidence of an improving climate in housing.
  • Bolstered by low interest rates and a first-time home buyer tax credit, existing-home sales rocketed 27.2% from the fourth quarter of 2008 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.03
  • The national median price of an existing single-family home was $172,900 or 4.1% below the median price in fourth quarter 2008.  That was the smallest price decline in more than two years.
  • Prices rose in 67 out of 151 metro areas in the fourth quarter compared with a year earlier.
  • Sixteen areas had double-digit increases last quarter.
  • Some of the positive Colorado markets that saw the biggest gains?

Median home prices of existing single family home by metro area
Not seasonally adjusted; prices in the thousands

Metropolitan Area       2007               2008              2009            % Change

Boulder                                   $376.2              $324.7           $335.1            3.2%

Colorado Springs                $217.5               $187.0           $189.8           1.5%

Denver-Aurora                    $245.4              $200.8           $223.2          11.2%

What does all of this tell us?  There is definitely a growing amount of evidence that the housing market has stabilized.  Just look at Denver-Aurora with an 11.2% gain in median home price year over year.  The question is how quickly can the market completely recover and will we bump along at the bottom for a couple of months?

In looking at January, the early numbers are in and it seems sales figures overall for January are down from the previous month.  Having said that, a decline in sales between December and January is normal for the season.  What the January figures show us is the market lost some of the momentum it had built up in the second half of ’09, when home buyers rushed to ensure they could take advantage of a tax credit, ultra-low mortgage rates and lower prices.  It is anticipated that over the next several weeks those numbers will once again increase as more and more buyers scamper to get in on the market prior to the April 30 first-time home buyer and existing home buyer tax credit expire.

February is already shaping up to be a better month.  Buyers are eager to get in on a home thanks to the tax credit and sellers are enjoying a much more active marketplace than we’ve seen in previous years.  It’s a welcome coming together of the two that we’re all happy to see it.

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

  • Boulder/Longmont—Boulder reported a sharp increase in new listings (30%) is the highlight of the Boulder County market during the last two weeks.  Sales and showings have been steady with a 1% decrease in sales (we’ll call it even) and a 3% increase in showings.  Some Agents report listing times of less than a week on listings with something special to offer such as open space or those that are in tip top condition.  Listings over $1,000,000 are still much slower than the overall market.  Longmont reported showings are increasing steadily.  Buyers are recognizing value when they see it. We’re having heart to heart talks with listing agents.  Sellers are realizing that their homes need to be staged, either by themselves or by hiring a professional. Non-distressed homes must shine and sparkle.  Buyers are better understanding that short sales can take an incredibly long time to close & that the need to move can offset a perceived price.  The average price of our showings is again climbing in to the $350,000 price range.
  • Evergreen/Conifer—Conifer reported showing activity continues to increase with 77 showings for YTD – on track to exceed January activity by 15%.  The listing activity is steady with five new listings for the first two weeks of Feb.  Sales activity is off from the prior two weeks although numerous offers have been submitted on behalf of buyers during the past two weeks.  Evergreen reported six new listings in the last two weeks.  Six listings went under contract including one short sale listed @ $1,900,000.  Four buyers were local and two were from out of state, two were all cash buyers.  Received bank approval for two short sale listings which will now close within 30 days.  Three buyers placed under contract including one short sale.  There were a total of 199 showings so far in February which is 80% of the total for January indicating continued strengthening of activity into the spring months.
  • Denver Central – Showings are up year over year on our existing inventory.  Unemployment continues to be lower here than the rest of the country which is helping the Denver market.  We’ve had our 4th month in a row with the average sales price increasing in the Denver Metro area.  In January we had a bit of a lull with 1st time home buyers but have seen a significant increase in activity during the first two weeks of February.  The April 30th under contract deadline for the tax credit is fast approaching & buyers are realizing that with low inventory they need to start the process now.  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 right property.  Over 50% of the home sales in the Denver metro area continue to be under $250,000.  If you are looking to sell a home that is priced under $300,000 this is a great time to sell.
  • Denver West— Both the Super Bowl weekend and the President’s Day weekend were a little slower for our agents.  The various areas with properties under $150,000 are extremely busy.  Our agents are struggling trying to get buyers for these properties under contract.  It’s very frustrating for both agents and buyers.  Soon there won’t be any inventory at that price point.
  • 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— Highlands Ranch, Castle Pines North and the Littleton area are seeing significant activity.  Agents are very busy with sellers and buyers right now.  Our open house activity and floor have been very successful this past two weeks.  We’ve seen an increase in our activity with our showings as well as our mortgage rep being very busy at this time with loan approvals.  We’re expecting a huge push in March by both sellers and buyers trying to take advantage of the tax breaks as well as interest rates which are still very good.  The $200,000 price range is still strong and the $350,000 to $450,000 range is showing improvement.
  • El Paso County— Colorado Springs reports activity in Colorado Springs is on an even or upward swing, but nothing drastic.  We are still having a good number of military relocations occurring which tends to help keep activity going.  Many first-time home buyers are still trying to take advantage of the tax credit and meet the required deadlines for being under contract and closed.
  • Larimer County—Our Fort Collins/Loveland offices report there is a flurry of activity in the market right now!  We have seen our showings increase 25% in the last two weeks and 50% in the last 30 days.  In addition, our inventory has also grown as we’ve put 42 new properties on the market in the last two weeks.  This is great news for buyers looking for new homes to view.  Showings for homes priced above the $400,000 range has nearly doubled from the previous two weeks.  Hopefully lenders will make jumbo loans more readily available & at interest rates acceptable to high end home buyers to help get this segment of the market moving.
  • North Metro— January was an incredible month in the North Metro office for listings.  The agents listed 60 homes in January which is up from 47 in December as well as up from January of 09.  The listing price ranges from $90,000 up to $1,500,000!  Activity on the listings has increased as well.  Homes priced under $200,000 are receiving multiple reasonable offers & are going under contract within the first week of being on the market.  Homes priced at $125,000 or less are under contract, on average, within two days.  Now is the time to get your home on the market before the tax credit ends & before the possibility of higher interest rates.
  • Parker— After leveling off for a week, the activity spiked a bit for our agents.  We ‘ve seen considerable activity in Parker and in the surrounding market.  Sellers are keeping a realistic view of home prices and buyers are being more realistic about the offers that they are making.  We’re excited about the coming months.
  • Southeast Metro—The SE Metro office reports pent up demand along with the opportunity for the tax credit seem to be the driving forces in what appears to be a record setting February at our office!  Showings continue to increase as we approach 600 per week.  Our agents are seeing some of their listings hit the market on Friday and be under contract by Monday.  Open house traffic continues to be strong as many buyers out there are unrepresented & looking for a Real Estate professional.  We’ve had several open houses with 15 to 25 people thru on a single day.  There continues to be a shortage of million plus properties in the desirable areas of Greenwood Village & Cherry Hills.  We have high end buyers that are ready to make a move but can’t find the home to fit their needs.  No need to wait for Spring, sellers get your homes on the market today!