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.