The big real estate news this week came from RealtyTrac which reported the total number of foreclosure filings – notices of default, auction notices and bank repossessions – fell by 9% from March to April and 2% compared with April 2009.  Many news outlets reported similar stories: “The foreclosure plague may have finally reached its peak in April 2010.”

This is the first time that foreclosure filings have fallen that dramatically since the report began in January 2006.

Along with that good news came the news of mortgage rates.  Mortgage rates moved lower last week with the average rate on 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgages drifting to their lowest level in six weeks, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey.  Treasury yields have fallen in recent days as investors flocked to U.S. government debt, pushing up Treasury prices as concerns about Greece’s financial standing intensified.  Mortgage rates typically follow Treasury yields.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5% for the week ended Thursday, May 6, down slightly from the prior week’s 5.06% average but up from 4.84% a year ago.  Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages were 4.36% down from 4.39% last week and 4.51% a year ago.

These are all important factors as we rise in the wake of last week’s mass stock market sell off with investor concerns growing over Europe’s growing debt crisis.  After last week’s horrendous conclusion, this week we saw modest recovery with rallies seen on Monday and Wednesday as investors moved away from their worries and instead opted to scoop up issues hit in last week’s sell off.  Overall we saw the major indexes propel more than 5% in three days.

While some would argue whether or not there is a correlation between the real estate market and the stock market, I think most would agree that real estate and consumer confidence are closely connected.  When the stock markets see major declines as they did last week, it hinders consumer confidence and may drive concerns to our local real estate markets.  But with the swift recovery we’ve seen in the last week I think we’ll see little effect on our housing market.

Overall, we continue to see promising signs of recovery throughout the housing market.  Sales trends are on the rise.  Many price points are seeing pricing recoveries.  The jobless rate remains lower in Colorado than in many parts of the country.  And, with this week’s news, foreclosures are showing major declines and interest rates are down.  All of this is very encouraging and leaves us optimistic about the future of the housing market.

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

  • Boulder/Longmont— Boulder County is looking pretty good as Spring rolls in.  Listings are down over the past two weeks by 17% but sales are up by 5% and showings really took off – up by 14%.  The expired tax credit doesn’t seem to have hurt things but there seems to be less frenzy for lower priced properties. Longmont reports, as anticipated, the showing activity did drop off with the termination of the tax credit for buyers.  Sellers are getting motivated with the arrival of Spring.  Jobs are still the greatest motivation for buying & selling.  We’re seeing some confidence in the local economy. Sellers are getting more reasonable about pricing their homes to sell.  We’re looking forward to both great Spring and Summer selling seasons.  Interest rates are still low.  Short sales continue to be a long and very arduous adventure for the buyer, the seller and the Agents involved.
  • Colorado Springs— The first week after the 1st time buyer government tax credit we saw a decrease in sales activity but listings are still on the rise.  April of 2010 Colorado Springs home sales were up 11.9% over April 2009.  This is the 9th month in a row of double digit increases over the prior year.  The average price also increased 4.7% & the median (1/2 above, 1/2 below) increased by 4.2%.  The inventory of unsold homes jumped to 5,138 units, an increase of 2.6% from last year.
  • Evergreen/Conifer— There’s a total of 25 new listings in April compared to 16 new listings for the month of March.  Ten listings went under contract during the month.  We had a total of 452 showings and previews during the month, representing a 10% increase over the prior month.  Showing activity for the first 10 days of May reflect continued strength although a typical seasonal decline through mid-June is anticipated.  Conifer reported nine new listings for the month of April compared to seven new listings during March.  The total showings for the month were 130, nearly identical to March levels.
  • Denver Central – No information reported.
  • Denver West— April under contracts, listings and closed transactions exceeded our expectations.  The good news is that activity continues to be brisk.  Sellers want to sell their home before interest rates increase.  We’re busy informing our clients about the risk of inflation.  Since buyers are not willing to risk their tax credit very few inspection items are surfacing during the under contract period.
  • Devonshire— We had a great April with lots of activity in the market.  Now that the April 30th deadline has passed, things feel a little slower probably helped by the unusual weather.  We’re looking forward to the activity that will come with the increased homes coming on the market.  Buyers are looking for homes that can close before summer gets into full swing.  The frustration for buyers right now is the fact that they need to wait for bank approvals on many homes that are bank owned or on short sale properties.  Sellers who can sell their homes without third party approval stand a greater chance of a smooth transaction which will enable them to get into their new home also.  Summer should be very busy and productive.
  • Larimer County—Our Fort Collins/Loveland offices report the tax credit has come and gone and so have some of the buyers.  We have seen a steady amount of homes coming onto the market and some homes going under contract, but the largest dip is in showings.  Showings have dropped nearly 35 % in the last two weeks.  However, sellers are fortunate that the inventory has shrunk as now they face less competition.  Finally, buyers are also in luck!  Even though buyers are no longer receiving the tax credit they still have record low interest rates and motivated sellers in the marketplace.
  • North Metro— No information reported.
  • Parker— Overall, our listing inventory is holding steady with 40% being short sales.  Historically, listings pick-up by the end of May and the first part of June.  There are still a lot of buyers looking at properties because of low interest rates and the new Coldwell Banker “Buyer Credit Program.”
  • Southeast Metro— The end of the Buyer Tax Credit saw a decrease in the amount of overall showings at the SE Metro office.  However, our listing inventory continues to increase and currently we have over 538 listings on the market!  We are confident that the momentum will continue as we move into our traditionally busy time of year!
  • Southwest Metro – We are continuing to see an increase in our inventory and showings.  Open house activity has been very good and our floor Agents have had some very good prospects.  We’re also seeing an increase in offers and showings on our properties that are in the $350,000 to $500,000 range.  We’ve not seen a decrease in buyers since the tax credit deadline of April 30th.  Our Agents are seeing an increase in activity with sellers ready to list their homes as they feel the time is right.  Several Agents are working with investors ready to take advantage of the opportunities in the marketplace.