You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2010.

It was a busy week for real estate.  For starters, there were dozens of reports on the impending expiration of the tax credit.  Countless news outlets used the expiration as an opportunity to focus on what to expect next from the housing market.  Of course for us, we used this as a prime opportunity to plug our new Buyer Bonus program, a unique strategy that provides sellers with the opportunity to credit buyers 3% of the sale price up to $8,000.  The fact is, the tax credit has had a very positive effect on the market, but many buyers will be either too late or ineligible to take advantage of the federal tax credit.

As a result, many sellers have told our Agents that they’d like to find a way to extend the benefits of the tax credit to keep the market vibrant and help their sale.

The Buyer Bonus event encourages buyers to stay in the market, while appealing to those who did not qualify for the federal tax credit.

It will also enable sellers to differentiate their homes from others on the market with national marketing support.  We are confident this program will benefit our sellers tremendously and we’re truly excited about its launch.

Now on to a look at the national market.  It is increasingly apparent from recent Case-Shiller reports that home prices are stabilizing in many markets, which signals a much healthier outlook for housing. Both the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and Fannie Mae remain directionally positive in their full-year forecasts for 2010 and 2011. On a combined sides and price basis, Fannie Mae expects 2010 to be up 5% from the prior year, and the NAR forecast calls for a 10% improvement over 2009. By the same combined measure, Fannie Mae expects 2011 to bring a 9% volume increase and NAR estimates an 8% year-over-year volume increase from 2010.

While these third-party forecasts point to a recovery in housing, we think the best yardstick of where we are in the process will become more apparent later in the year as we gain some perspective on how the existing home sale market is behaving absent the impact of the homebuyer tax credits. Generally speaking, we believe that the material declines in the average sales price are over and modest increases should now be the expectation, and our market outlook is more optimistic than it has been in the past four years.

Now, let’s take a look at this week in Colorado real estate.  First let us share that this week we released our Denver Luxury Home report which revealed a sales dip in March but a slight price increase.  For the complete report, visit our Table Talk blog.

  • Boulder/Longmont—Longmont reported showings continue to be high in number.  Our market seems to be embracing the move-up buyer as evidenced by the price of homes being shown. One quarter of the homes being shown are in a price range above $300,000.  The final push for the tax credits is causing a rush of activity.  Now getting these deals closed will be the challenge.  The spring weather is making our landscaping pop!  This is a great time to be on the Front Range of Colorado.  It’s getting greener by the minute.
  • Colorado Springs—We had a huge surge of homebuyers trying to take advantage of the government tax credit offer.  The push to get under contract before the April 30th deadline kept our Realtors running on fumes.  Once the deadline arrives, we may see a little slow down in the urgency, but the fact that people are still looking to purchase will remain.
  • Evergreen/Conifer— No information reported.
  • Denver Central – March and April sales have been great!  Inventory has been low but we are seeing an increased number of Sellers putting their homes on the market.  We continue to see home appreciation in the Denver metro area.  It’s important to be working with a professional that can educate & give you the proper advice to make the right real estate decisions.  It will be interesting to see how the market is after the April 30th under contract deadline for the tax credit.  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 priced in the under $250,000 range.  If you are looking to sell a home that is priced under $300,000, this is a great time.  We’re seeing improvement in the higher-end market.  This is definitely a great market to move up to a higher priced home.
  • Denver West— Today is a very busy day with agents writing offers anticipating that the buyers will be under contract by this Friday, April 30th.  Five days left!!  The other good news is that many , many listings are going under contract due to this tax credit deadline. We’ve seen an increase in condo sales.  Appraisals are still somewhat of a problem in that they are coming in below contract price.  Activity is brisk.
  • Devonshire— With an increase in showing activity, listings and contracts written and accepted, we have a trifecta in the Devonshire office.  It is buzzing in the real estate world as we near the end of the time frame in which the buyer incentives are valid.  We feel strongly that the energy generated this spring will carry us into a good summer selling season.  Our business is up dramatically from 2009.  Open houses are very busy and our sellers are very pleased with the number of people at their open houses and with the activity generated by the real estate community.  Sellers who are on the fence should hurry to get their homes onto the market while inventory is low.  We have buyers just waiting for the right home to hit the market.  We look forward to great energy & optimism going forward.
  • Larimer County—Our Fort Collins/Loveland offices report showings, under contract homes and listings taken are all steady.  We’re seeing the tax credit push come to a close and buyers are scrambling to get into a home before the April 30th deadline.  Now we will see how the market responds without this extra incentive to buy a home.  We may see a bit of a lull just after the deadline, but new buyers both move and first time, will be coming out after the school year comes to an end in late May, early June.  Don’t hesitate to put your home on the market.  The Springs is still a wonderful time to list a home!
  • North Metro— The North Metro Agents have put 74 homes on the market so far in April.  They are priced from $99,000 to as high as $1,350,000.  We’ve seen a slight decrease in April for showings as compared to March, however we still had 2420 buyers through our listings.  Open House activity is beginning to pick up & many of our agents are starting to plan for their spring garage sales.  We’re hoping to continue to see this tremendous activity even with the expiration of the Tax Credit at the end of this month.  We’re looking forward to having our Sellers & Buyers participate in the Buyer Bonus Sales Event.
  • Parker— Weekly sales in the Parker office remain steady and should continue to do so into May with the Coldwell Banker “Buyer Credit Promotion.”  Our listing inventory is down so anyone who is thinking about selling will find this to be an excellent time to put their home on the market.
  • Southeast Metro— UNBELIEVEABLE!!  That’s the only way to describe the energy in our market!  We’ve averaged over 775 property showings a week this month and open house traffic continues to be strong.  With over 170 properties under contract and over 150 scheduled to close, we’re predicting a record setting month at the SE Metro office.  First time buyers are pushing hard this last week to contract on a home.  Mid to higher priced homes are also enjoying increased traffic and ready buyers.  There continues to be competing offers in every price point below $300,000.  It has never been a better time to buy or sell as the marketing has great momentum moving into the seasonally busy time of the year.
  • Southwest Metro – There is lots of activity in the office as well as in our market.  We are seeing buyers rushing to take advantage of the April 30th deadline & many of our sellers are ready to list their homes as school is ready to get out & people are ready to move.  Open houses have been a good source of business as well as our floor.  The feeling is that buyers & sellers are feeling good about the market & are ready to take advantage of the interest rates & ready to move forward.  We’re seeing good activity in our $350,000 to $500,000 range.
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The housing market and overall economy is an intricate web of information and all of the incoming news that we’re collecting on a daily basis can be confusing.  This week we thought we’d try to help weed through some of the content and get a better understanding of what we’re seeing.  Here are some specifics:

  • Unemployment numbers were flat nationally, yet nonfarm payroll employment increased by 162,000 in March.
  • At last count, well over 1.4 million buyers had taken advantage of the first time home buyer tax credit.
  • Consumer confidence is on the rise with the latest numbers showing that the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 52.5, up from 46.4 in February.
  • We’re seeing a lot more buyer activity as we approach the expiration of the first time home buyer and existing home owner tax credit.
  • Denver home prices are on the rise, up 2.6% year over year, some of the biggest gains seen nationally.
  • Home foreclosures are accelerating—and many more people are losing their homes.  Foreclosure filings in March totaled 367,056, jumping nearly 19% from February and up almost 8% from March 2009, according to RealtyTrac.
  • According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the U.S. is currently in position to sell 4.68 million homes this year.  That would put 2009 within the top 5% of home sold in U.S. history.  Although many people are purchasing distressed properties in foreclosure or short sales, there are also a large number of purchases made on non-distressed property sales.  The market is indicating that we may have reached the bottom.

We know what you’re thinking.  It’s hard to make heads or tails of the housing market.  Consumer confidence is up, unemployment is flat but new jobs are on the rise, home prices are increasing yet foreclosures are accelerating.  So what do we make of it?

Our advice?  Stop trying to make anything of the influx of reports that are coming out (almost) on a daily basis.  It’s too difficult and confusing.  There are three essential principles we can count on for the future:

  1. Inflation leads to higher interest rates
  2. Houses are selling in high quantities
  3. If you’re a seller, it may be time to cut your price and be decisive.  If you’re a buyer, it may be time to purchase or miss out on the opportunity.

For buyers, don’t make the mistake of waiting for everyone else to make a move before you feel comfortable making a purchase.  Many people have made a purchasing decision already, and we never know what the bottom of the market is until it has passed.  Here’s one thing you can take to the bank, however:  higher interest rates are the equivalent of a price increase and interest rates are slowly inching up.  When inflation hits, it will be too late, so try to take advantage of this window of opportunity while it’s still here.

Sellers, sell only if you’re serious about selling.  If you are serious about selling your property, adjust your price to where the market is moving, consider taking your lumps and move on or you may be waiting a long time.  Also, if you want to take advantage of the buyer pool that is available now through the end of the month with the home buyer tax credit, try to get your home on the market now.  Remember, the credit expires at the end of this month.

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

  • Boulder/Longmont—Boulder reported steady as she goes in Boulder County with no major movement in any category.  New listings in Boulder county increased by 4 over the last 2 weeks  – not 4%, just by 4.  Sales were up by 0.3% and showings on our listings went from 680 to 677.  You get the idea.  Agents are reporting loads of traffic at open houses.  One agent with a historic listing in Louisville had over 50 parties through in three hours last Sunday!  Longmont reported April has started with a bang.  Showings are up 45% week over week.  The top homes being shown are in the $180,000 to $250,000 price range.  Good news is two homes over the $450,000 price range were in the top 10 of homes shown last week.  First time buyers are still a large percentage of the buyers.  FHA financing is the favorite financing for most buyers.  Short sales are a large part of our market and they continue to be a challenge for buyers, sellers and Realtors.
  • Evergreen/Conifer— Showing activity continues to increase with 191 showings during the prior two week period.  We had a total of seven new listings put on the market so far in April with five listings put under contract during the same period.  Conifer reported showing activity continues to increase with 62 showings for month to date.  Listing activity is steady with four new listings for the first two weeks of April.  Sales activity continues to build, with two listings going under contract since the beginning of April and five buyers have gone under contract during the same period including one  new construction townhome in Aurora and two vacant land parcels.
  • Denver Central – No information reported.
  • Denver West— Business is brisk.  One agent brought in four listings priced over $1,000,000 and 12 lots.  One of the lots went under contract in less than three days.  If you are showing property less than $250,000 it is not uncommon to be in the home with several other buyers also looking at the property.  This activity has made buyers very realistic.  Sellers too are realistic in both staging and pricing their homes.
  • Devonshire— Spring is in full swing and real estate activity is on the upswing.  The big N.A.R. Open House Weekend created a huge opportunity for the public to get out there & see many open houses on the same day.  My feedback is that while the open houses were busy, perhaps they were not as busy as one would expect.  What was very active, on the other hand were the showings, indicating that many serious buyers were out there using the professionals to show them the right areas & homes that would meet their wants & needs.  The incentives are quickly disappearing so buyers have a sense of urgency.  It’s the perfect time to get new listings onto the market as the pent up desire for homes will serve them well.  We’re looking forward to a good summer season in real estate.
  • El Paso County—No information reported.
  • Larimer County—Our Fort Collins/Loveland offices report WOW!  The market is red hot in Northern Colorado.  We have had highs the last two weeks in showings, contract written and new listings coming on to the market.  Buyers are attempting to get into their new home before the tax credit expires at the end of this month and it shows!  Sellers are keenly aware of the expiring credit and are putting their homes on the market as quickly as possible to take advantage of this current buyer pool.  If you are a buyer or seller, don’t wait too long …the tax credit window of opportunity is closing!
  • North Metro— Is it the nice weather or the nearing of the end of the tax credit?  Whatever may be the positive factor it is greatly affecting the activity in our North Metro office.  We’ve experienced a 16% increase in the number of listings we put on the market in March 2010 as compared to last year. There has also been an increase in the number of homes closed by 14% as compared to March 2009. When working with the sellers in this market, the agents are finding that they are becoming much more realistic about what price they should list their home for.  The reports that we provide them from our very own “Market Quest” program has helped sellers to better understand what buyers are willing to pay for their home.  Because the pricing of their home is more in line, the average days on market is decreasing.
  • Parker— Weekly sales in the Parker office remain strong and should continue to do so even with the 4-30-2010 end of the first time home buyer tax credit.  Coldwell Banker will be rolling out its “Buyer Credit Promotion” 5-1-2010 till 6-30-2010 where buyers can get up to 3% on the purchase of their home (up to $8,000) from participating sellers.  The number of short sale transactions is still high & a lot of patience is required from sellers & agents but especially buyers before those transactions come to a close.  We’re anticipating that the new HAFA rules will help to ease up the process on those short sales quite a bit.  The listing inventory as well as  showings are steady over the past weeks.
  • Southeast Metro— Spring has sprung in SE Denver!  The SE Metro office scheduled over 1400 showings in the last two weeks of March.  Open house traffic is off the charts with 30 to 40 people visiting properties on the weekends.  The luxury home market is also reaping the benefits of energetic marketing.  We closed one luxury home last month for $1,200,000 and another for $1,600,000.  Our open house blitz is scheduled for April 10th & 11th and we’re sure to see lots of ready willing and able buyers visiting our listings.
  • Southwest Metro – Our showings were great these past 14 days.  Held last weekend was our Open House Extravaganza with over 30 homes open.  We’re hearing from many of our agents wonderful success stories.  Several agents picked up  buyers & listings from their open houses and the signage was fantastic (lots & lots of blue & white signs & balloons!)  Our agents are very busy with buyers & helping sellers get their homes ready to be placed on the market.  Our floor calls have increased & yesterday we had an agent pick up a listing & a buyer.  We’re feeling good about the market & the activity that we are seeing in our area.

Want to search for your next home without ever getting out of your pajamas? There is an Internet site for that. Do you want to know how much the mortgage payment will be for certain types and sizes of loans? There’s a site for that. Do you want to know the relative values for homes in your neighborhood? Yes, there’s a site for that, too. And once you move into that new home, there are sites to help you find local schools, restaurants and even your next dentist.

We thought it might be helpful to list my favorite websites for people interested in buying or selling a home, remodeling their existing residence, or just looking for local information on their new neighborhood. There are countless websites, of course, and we don’t claim to have the ultimate list – these are just ones that we have found can be very useful for homeowners and those looking to become owners.

Here are our favorites:

ColoradoHomes.com. Ok, we admit, we’re biased.  But Coldwell Banker’s consumer website offers a myriad of of tools for home buyers and sellers, including advanced search engines, tips on buying and selling, relocation information and even community facts, figures and information;

Realtor.com. In that same vein, Realtor.com is also a good consumer website, especially for those thinking about relocating to other regions or want advice on buying or selling, as well as hiring an agent. There are articles on the market, consumer tips, and even suggestions on gardening and remodeling;

cbcotabletalk.wordpress.com. If you’re looking to get your real estate feet wet, start with blogs such as this one from Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. They give great tips, are easy to read and are updated frequently. This site also has 50 other real estate blogs.

Bankrate.com. Now that you’ve decided where you’re going to buy, this site will help you figure out how much you can afford. This is one of my favorite financial websites because it offers mortgage rate comparisons, links to lenders, and literally dozens of different types of calculators to figure it all out;

Local.Yahoo.com. So you’re ready to move into your new home. Now what? Go to this site to find a plethora of useful links and information on everything from local restaurants and coffee shops to city offices and police departments to public utilities to get the water and gas turned on;

Yelp.com. Another great site for newcomers to an area is Yelp, which features customer reviews and ratings on every imaginable local business. Sure there’s the usual restaurant ratings, but you’ll come here to find favorite dentists, veterinarians, gardeners and yes, even real estate agents;

ServiceMagic.com. For those homeowners planning to remodel or just looking for a contractor to do some routine work, this website can be quite useful. Service Magic prescreens a wide variety of contractors and also incorporates customer ratings in order to provide a list of recommended businesses;

HomeTips.com. Run by Don Vandervort, a host on HGTV and well-known author of do-it-yourself books, this site – as you might guess – specializes in articles on how to maintain and remodel your home. One of the favorite search engines helps the weekend warrior figure out how to do a wide variety of repairs and save money.

We hope this information proved helpful.  If you are ready to explore the possibilities available in today’s market, please contact us today.

In the last two weeks, two reports were released giving strong indication that we really can’t rely on the national news stories to tell our local real estate story.  NAR’s report was released last week revealing existing-home sales declined slightly in February, noting specific emphasis on softer sales in the West.  Sales, according to the report, slipped 0.6 percent nationally, though they were seven percent higher than a year ago.

Within a few days, Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller released its home-price index.  The report revealed that Denver was among nine metropolitan areas in a 20-city survey that saw home prices increase in January compared with the same month a year ago.  Denver-area home prices rose 2.6 percent in January compared with January 2009, making it the sixth-largest increase among surveyed cities.

What is promising about Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller’s report is that it showcases we’re on the road to recovery.  Locally, the Colorado market is seeing some of the nation’s biggest gains and we seem to be making some great strides from month to month.  Of course we’re probably not out of the woods yet.  There is still fear of a double dip recession and with unemployment figures (though improved) still staggering, it does make home purchases a challenge for some.  But the signs are encouraging and our local housing market is showing signs of life.

Have we stabilized?  Prices are reasonably flat from a year ago.  But that doesn’t mean we’re going to see sudden, double digit appreciation.  Watch for a very normal, balanced recovery with mild to moderate gains.

One final note.  As of the writing of this piece, we have just 29 days and counting until the first time home buyer and existing home buyer tax credit expires.  If you are planning to act, now truly is the time.

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

  • Boulder/Longmont—Boulder reported sales in Boulder County continue to climb, up 9% during the last two weeks.  That’s after a 7% increase during the first two weeks.  New listings were down 9% so overall inventory is moving in the right direction.  Showings were down 5% but 2 days of blizzards with lots of warning probably caused that, so I’m saying “steady” using a weather adjustment.  Agents are reporting lots of visitors to open houses & those buyers are collecting information for purchases later this year.  Longmont reported spring has sprung and it’s a great time to buy a home.  Showings on our listings are on again increasing week over week.  Buyers know that the deadline for the tax credit is coming soon.  Entry level housing that is well priced is selling quickly.  There are some incredible bargains to be made in the upper end price ranges.  Good news is that jumbo loans are making a comeback.  The local job market is stabilizing.  Longmont as a city and the surrounding area continues  to realize that jobs make our world happen.  The local economic council is aggressively negotiating with companies to relocate to Longmont.
  • Evergreen/Conifer—We had a total of sixteen new listings for the month of March, eight of which went under contract.  Four of them were at price points above $500,000.  A total of 410 showings and previews during the month brought us to an increase of 23% in activity over the same month last year.  Conifer reported we had seven new listings during the month of March, five of which went under contract.  The total showing for the month increased to 131.  This is a continuing increase in activity since the beginning of January.
  • Denver Central – March has been great and sales continue to increase.  Inventory has been low but we’re seeing an increase of sellers putting their homes on the market.  Appreciation is neighborhood specific and there are some hot areas in the Denver metro area.  It’s important to be working with a professional that can educate & give you the proper advice to make the right real estate decisions.  The April 30th under contract deadline for the tax credit is fast approaching & buyers are realizing that with low inventor they need to start the process of buying a property now.  The inventory shortages in the lower end market has created multiple offer situations for most homes on the 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’re looking to sell a home priced under $300,000, this is a great time to sell.  We’re also seeing improvement in the higher-end market.
  • Denver West— The office is very busy.  It appears to us that consumer confidence is up and the sellers are taking the next step which is to list their property.  Sellers are also more attune to listing their property at a price that will cause it to sell.  We are seeing many listings sell with the sellers purchasing another property in the marketplace.  Some are downsizing, however the majority are buying “up.”  First time home buyers are still active in the marketplace.
  • Devonshire— Spring has sprung and with it is renewed energy and activity in the real estate market.  We’re seeing a dramatic increase in people attending open houses and the conversation with these people indicates that they are not just looking but are serious about finding a new home.  Our mortgage company has seen a strong upswing as the public is concerned about the uptick in interest rates.  The consumer is getting settled with their financial picture before looking & actually putting offers in on a home.  Sellers are putting homes on the market with much more consideration of market analysis data & thus are getting their homes under contract in much more reasonable time frames.  It’s going to be a busy spring as we are moving from a place of fear & uncertainty to a little more comfort & cautious optimism.  Happy Spring!
  • El Paso County— Colorado Springs reports as we enter in to the last month of the First Time Homebuyer credit and move up credit, we’re seeing a flurry of activity.  Buyers are getting serious about getting qualified and making offers.  We still see banks sitting on short-sale offers but word is we could see banks responding more quickly in April with new incentives from the Federal government.  If banks begin responding, we could see inventory levels start dropping more quickly and housing prices start to recover.
  • Larimer County—Our Fort Collins/Loveland offices report we are moving along steadily, and the two large snow storms did not seem to slow the showings down too much.  With warm weather becoming a more regular occurrence I would expect to see more and more home buyers out in the market.  In addition the listing inventory is growing as home sellers have recently been very realistic about the market and there selling price.  The tax credit is worth mentioning again as you have about one month to get under contract to receive either the $8000 or $6500 tax credit if you are eligible. Finally, the Federal Reserve is no longer buying mortgage backed securities as of March 31, 2010.  This means there is an excellent chance of mortgage rates increasing in the upcoming months. Get out and buy now before the rates jump!
  • North Metro— Comparing March to February (the first 15 days of the month), the North Metro has twice as many listings as this time last month and twice as many under contract.  There is an urgency to take advantage of the tax credit before it’s too late.  The average sales price out of our office is $250,000.  The average list price is up to $275,000. We continue to see low inventory on homes under $200,000 & multiple offers.  With the nice weather, activity at open houses and sign calls is picking up.  We have even been experiencing walk-ins to our office, people ready to get their homes on the market to beat the spring rush.
  • Parker— We are receiving an unusual amount of buyer requests compared to new listings on the market.  Of course the approaching deadline of April 30th for the buyer tax credit has a big impact on this change in dynamics.  However, we are confident that there are other drivers and the positive development will continue.
  • Southeast Metro— Spring has sprung in SE Denver!  The SE Metro office scheduled over 1400 showings in the last two weeks of March.  Open house traffic is off the charts with 30 to 40 people visiting properties on the weekends.  The luxury home market is also reaping the benefits of energetic marketing.  We closed one luxury home last month for $1,200,000 and another for $1,600,000.  Our open house blitz is scheduled for April 10th & 11th and we’re sure to see lots of ready willing and able buyers visiting our listings.
  • Southwest Metro – Our showings have increased week over week.  Activity in our open houses has also been great!  The weekend of April 10 & 11 we’re having an open house blitz in the Highlands Ranch area as well as having an open house in our office to answer questions and hand out flyers to all of our open houses.  We’re seeing much activity not only in our $250,000 to $350,000 range but also in the higher price ranges in both Highlands Ranch and also in Littleton, Castle Rock and Centennial.  Agents are very busy listing homes and showing buyers.  There is a great amount of energy in the office and in the streets.
  • West Lakewood – The office is very busy!  It appears to us that consumer confidence is up and the sellers are taking the next step which is to list their property.  Sellers are also more willing to list their property at a price that will cause it to sell.  We are seeing many listings sell with the seller’s purchasing another property in the marketplace.  Some are downsizing, however the majority are buying “up.”  First time homebuyers are still active in the market place.

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