You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2011.

ReasonsToBuyGiven the challenges faced over the last few years in the real estate market, some may question whether buying a house now makes good sense. But take a look around at the housing market today and signs everywhere suggest that you “Buy Now.” The fact is, today’s market presents an excellent opportunity for buyers to find very competitive home prices and historically low interest rates.

The reasons for home buyers to purchase now keep adding up. Setting goals and adopting good habits, such as saving more, reducing debt and improving credit scores, will put buyers in a good position to get what they want when it comes time to purchase a home.

To help along the way, here is a list of 10 reasons now may be the best time to buy a home:

1. Right now, there good chances of a great deal. In some markets, prices have dropped significantly over the last four to five years; in some areas dropping 25-50%. Will prices fall further? No one knows for sure; but trying to catch the bottom is very difficult. No one will ever know if the market has hit the absolute bottom until after it happens and by then it’s too late!

2. Greater variety from which to choose. Single-family homes, condominiums, townhouses, new construction and existing homes are plentiful in many communities today. As a buyer, the greater the inventory the more likely it is that sellers will be motivated to sell.

3. New and improved research tools and technologies—like that of our Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage website, ColoradoHomes.com—make finding the right home in the best location an easy and enjoyable task

4. Modernized financing programs from the Federal Housing Administration that make buying more possible including options for first time home buyers as well as low and moderate income borrowers.

5. Mortgage interest rates remain at historic lows. Even though interest rates inch up in recent months, they still remain at near the lowest level in half a century. Of course, that won’t last forever.

6.Coloradans live in one of the most desirable areas in the country: Gorgeous weather. Trails. Hiking. Skiing. Museums. Culture. Shopping. World-class universities. And some of the finest restaurants in the country. Someone can do and see it all in Colorado, which is exactly why so many people choose to call the Centennial State home.

7. Owning a home is more than simply a place to live. According to MilitaryMoney.com’s article entitled “Home Ownership is Key to Building Wealth,” “The financial truth is that U.S. households build more wealth through home ownership than stock ownership.”

8. Many homeowners save on taxes. Generally homeowners can use the mortgage interest and real property taxes as deductions on their taxes. There are also tax breaks on any capital gains when selling. Of course, always do the math with a tax professional, but many people find that these tax breaks can make homeownership less expensive than renting.

9. HOME OWNERSHIP! The pride of ownership and greater flexibility to make a house a home.

10. Sooner or later, the market will rebound. The population of the United States is going to continue to grow which traditionally increases the demand for housing; unless the supply of housing increases at the same rate as the population, basic economic theory will tell you that home prices should go up.

Buyers, the message is simple: Things are changing and the opportunities available today will not last forever. It’s human nature to wait for an “all clear” signal after the type of downturn the market has experienced. Unfortunately, once the market rebounds, the same price and interest rate opportunities may not be around.

For those looking to the old-fashioned concept of buying a home to live in it for a number of years, there probably is not a better time than now to buy.

Each year, springtime ushers in warmer weather, flowers in bloom, the crack of a baseball bat (go Rockies!) and renewed energy for the housing market. After the winter hibernation, anxious homebuyers come out in force trying to find that special place to call home, and sellers finish up last minute touchups and put their homes on the market.

This year is no exception. The Colorado market seems to be gradually heating up along with the temperatures. Most of the local offices are reporting steady to improving sales activity and overall market conditions.

While many parts of the Colorado are seeing progress on the housing front, the picture isn’t uniform across the board. Some cities are experiencing stronger markets than others. In some communities, certain price ranges are hot while others are tepid. And even within a local market, while one property may get eight or 10 offers, another sits idle waiting for a single buyer.

Nonetheless, the recent uptick in activity in general is providing encouragement to Realtors as well as home sellers.

A variety of indicators—including investor and cash purchase levels and adjustable-rate loan use—are pointing toward a more normal market.  And while the housing market has certainly moved well back from its challenges two years ago, there is still a ways to go.

Distressed properties are still an issue in some counties and drag on prices.  Mortgage financing is still problematic for some borrowers as well.

What this tells is, the market appears to be moving in the right direction. Spring rejuvenation in many local markets will continue in the months ahead, especially if the economy and the local job market continues to improve. Only time will tell.

Below is a market-by-market report from local Coldwell Banker offices:

Boulder—Listings continue to grow as expected for the spring season.  The 24% growth from one two-week period to the next does feel larger than normal.  Sales are also continuing to grow in the market & have experienced an 18% growth over the past two weeks.  The number of showings has decreased by 5% on 600 showings in the previous week.  This would indicate slowing of leveling out in the growth of Buyers coming into the marketplace over the past two weeks.

Colorado Springs—Showings are back up to normal the past week with Friday and the weekend being busier than usual.  This has caused a slight decrease in listing inventory because more showings mean more properties going under contract.  Sales have been steady and most agents are staying busy.  They say just getting through the inspection and the appraisal is the hardest part of most of their transactions.

Denver Central—These last two weeks have been similar to the last two weeks in all ways.  It looks as if we are back to a steady market and hope to see an increase in sales activity soon.

Evergreen—Listing inventory remains stable with the number of sales and new listings in balance.  There have been nine new listings so far this month with five listings put under contract.  This included a listing priced at $995,000 on the Hwy 285 corridor.  Showing activity has declined slightly with 115 showings so far this month but continues across all price ranges and property types.  Selling activity has also stabilized with three buyers put under contract including two in the luxury market.

Larimer County—Spring has sprung!  Tress are bursting with blooms & the early spring flowers are making their way out of the thawed ground.  In spite of drought conditions on the front range, the same cannot be said for the housing market.  Vigorous is the term that comes to mind as well priced  homes are coming on the market & going under contract in a matter of days rather  than weeks.  Many have multiple offers commanding full price or more!  Sales volume remains steady through March with inventory levels at their lowest since 2001!  In spite of year-over-year decreases in sales, units & volume. This is partially due to the artificial run-up in the market from last year’s tax credit incentive.  With recent news of the selection of Loveland as the preferred site for the CAMT ACE campus, increased energy exploration in the north, the jobs picture for Northern Colorado continues to get brighter.  For those thinking about selling – now may be a good time to get on the market to take advantage of the low inventory & improving demand.  Perhaps even trade up to a dream home!

Longmont—The price of homes being shown & going under contract is creeping up in price.  Homes in the $200,000 to $300,000 range are the bulk of the activity. First time buyers are still in the market in a big way.  HUD has revamped the way that they are selling their inventory here in Colorado.  This has increased the number of HUD homes that Buyers are making offers on. Short sales continue to be a long and drawn out process.  Cash deals can take two to three months to close.  Cautious optimism about selling this season.

North Metro—Spring is definitely in the air and activity is picking up.  In the month of March, the agents at North Metro put 121 homes under contract and 60 new listings on the market.  It appears that Sellers are more realistic today about at what price their homes should be listed to get it sold, not just for sale.  Showing activity has picked up on the weekends but it is still somewhat slow during the week.  Open house activity has picked up as well.

Parker—The threat of a possible government shutdown did not have as much impact as some anticipated.  The activity in the Douglas County market is picking up every week, and the listing inventory continues to go down.  This trend has caused several areas to hold their value relatively stable.  Despite these very positive trends, it is still unusually difficult to get transactions to the closing table!  Skilled agents that are able to educate and guide buyers and sellers have become more & more important in today’s challenging real estate environment!

Devonshire—Many things are happening at the Devonshire Coldwell Banker office this week.  Our wonderfully located office, in the heart of Cherry Creek is getting a renovation & a new look. There is excitement about the look & increased functionally to help brokers and clients.  Showings on all ranges of property have had a healthy upswing of over 8% from the previous period indicating stronger consumer interest in all price ranges.  Additionally, new contracts and listings have increased which is also a strong indicator.  Looking forward to positive movements & bringing a higher standard of professionalism to our clients and the general public.

SW Metro—Showings have increased each week and there is great activity at open houses.  Several agents this past week picked up buyers and are currently working with them to find a home.  Also, floor has been successful for several agents who are also working with buyers.  There were two agents this past weekend who had multiple offers on three of their properties.  There is still a steady flow of buyers for well priced properties.  There is activity, not only on the $150,000 to $200,000 range but also the $350,000 to $450,000 range.  Agents are busy and the phones are ringing!

Denver West—The Denver West office placed 88 homes under contract during the month of March.  We are on target for an even more active market during April.  One of our multiple offer listings was on the market in the $300,000 price range and had three offers.  This generated a “bidding” event which ultimately sold the home for more than the list price.  Positive energy is felt throughout the office.  The office is very busy listing & selling homes that are “priced right,” with staging in place.

Conifer—No new listings went on the market so far in April for the Conifer office.  Inventory has declined slightly as three listings went under contract.  Showing activity declined sharply with only 22 showings for the month to date.  Selling activity remains steady since four buyers have been put under contract.

Loveland—The big news in Loveland is that Loveland is the front runner for the ACE campus.  This could mean thousands of mid to top range jobs coming to Loveland soon.  The Loveland community was very involved with showcasing the benefits that Loveland has to offer.  Local builders are showing their confidence in the local market.  They are digging foundations on spec homes and are offering some incredible deals.  Short sales and foreclosures continue to be prevalent in this market.  Buyers, both owner occupied and investors are seeing the value of these homes.

That’s it for now!  Make it a great week!

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage announced today the launch of its revamped website ColoradoHomes.com.  Already a popular real estate website throughout Colorado, ColoradoHomes.com has been upgraded to streamline the consumer’s online real estate experience.

“We are committed to providing our clients and customers with the tools and services that they demand in today’s technology-driven marketplace,” said Chris Mygatt, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. “Today’s homebuyers are far more Internet savvy and they seek out comprehensive and evolving websites to research and gather information.  With new search parameters, mapping features and helpful information online, ColoradoHomes.com will ensure that we are succeeding in our commitment to presenting our clients’ listings in the best light possible, to the largest pool of potential buyers.”

ColoradoHomes.com is a complete online marketing suite offering consumers thousands of MLS listings with faster search parameters that enable clients to search for homes by location, MLS number, property type, and school district. It additionally enhances the consumer’s search experience by providing at-a-glance details of property listings with multiple photographs and the ability for consumers to schedule property showings.  The landing pages are complete with local county, city, and neighborhood information as well.

A new interactive mapping feature allows consumers to zoom-in and explore surrounding amenities such as schools, shopping centers and hospitals.

The site is fully optimized for mobile access so consumers can search for homes, find a real estate agent or visit an office virtually from their smart phone browser.  Consumers can also sign-up for email alerts to automatically receive updates to when new properties come on the market or price adjustments are made.

LeadRouter™, a lead distribution software, instantly converts Web-based email inquiries on all Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage listings or profile pages into an automated voice call that is sent to sales associates’ cell phones – all in a matter of seconds.  This enables Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage sales associates to respond to prospective customers within mere minutes of receiving an online request.

“ColoradoHomes.com leverages the power of our technology and our Internet presence expanding the range of tools our customers and clients can use,” continued Mygatt. “With this new release, our sales associates and our clients and customers will benefit from the full menu of services that are easily accessible throughout the site.”

Luxury home sales and the median sale price in the Denver Metro Area were flat last month compared to year-ago levels, although sales were up from February, according to Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Colorado’s leading provider of luxury real estate services.

A total of 34 homes changed hands for more than $1 million last month, exactly the same number as in March 2010. The median sale price of million-dollar homes was slightly lower, down 1.6 percent from a year ago to $1,342,000.

On a monthly basis, sales were up from February, when 27 luxury properties were sold. But the median sale price was off 7 percent from the previous month.

The figures were derived from Multiple Listing Service data of all homes sold for more than $1 million last month in the Denver Metro Area.

“The luxury market has gradually been stabilizing over the past year, as evidenced by the March sale figures as well as median price,” said Chris Mygatt, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Colorado. “The end of the federal tax credit last year appears to have slowed the overall market, but the good news is that inventory levels are declining and that should help bolster prices in the months ahead.”

Mygatt noted that the overall inventory of unsold homes in the Denver metro area is at its lowest level since 2002. “It’s encouraging to see inventory finally dropping after rising most of last year,” he said. “We’ll be watching the inventory numbers closely to see if this is the beginning of a trend that could provide a solid foundation for the market.”

Some key findings from this month’s Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage luxury report:

  • The most expensive sale in the Denver Metro Area last month was a six-bedroom, eight-bath 7,334-square-foot home in Cherry Hills Village that sold for $2,575,000;
  • Denver County boasted the most million-dollar sales with 10, followed by Boulder with seven, and Cherry Hills Village with four;
  • Sellers on average received 90 percent of their asking price, down from 91.7 percent a year ago and 94 percent the previous month;
  • It took an average of 181 days to sell a million-dollar home in the area, up from 101 days a year ago but down from 184 the previous month.

The Denver Metro Area Luxury Home Report is produced by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, a specialist in high-end real estate sales. Through its internationally renowned Coldwell Banker Previews® program, the company is recognized around the world for its expertise in the luxury housing market.

Just over two years ago, Coldwell Banker embarked on creating a channel solely for real estate video that exists on YouTube. It is called Coldwell Banker On Location and it’s a place to search for videos of real estate listings, communities, agent videos and more. With tens of thousands of videos uploaded, over 2.5 million visits to the channel and millions of video views later, it is clear the right move was made.

Video has been and will be an essential part of marketing a home and giving consumers the best information possible when they’re in the real estate shopping process. A recent infographic put together by Postling, which was featured on Mashable, made Coldwell Banker reflect on what the company had done and what the company is going to do in the future when it comes to video.

The infographic had an impressive statistic when it comes to how real estate customers view the importance of video (see portion below). The study showed that 73% of homeowners are more likely to list with a Realtor offering to do a video, yet only 12% of the Realtor population is doing video.

Many Coldwell Banker Colorado agents are already harnessing the power of video as part of their marketing platform. Knowing the power of video as a company allows for a deep commitment to continue building on what Coldwell Banker has already started which includes a TV show dedicated to company listings. This is an advantage offered by Coldwell Banker and Coldwell Banker alone.

Video is now a part of every facet of the Coldwell Banker platform. From coldwellbanker.com to Coldwell Banker On Location to the recent iPad app, video is taking center stage.

Just to show how far video reaches within the Coldwell Banker network…here’s a video from a Coldwell Banker listing in Sydney, Australia. Video is global in reach and universally important to today’s real estate consumer. By the way, be sure to check out the black mosaic pool. It’s pretty impressive.

CB Blue Matter

There was a story splashed across the business section of last week’s paper suggesting that the market might be heading into a “double-dip” housing recession based on the latest S&P Case-Shiller index report. What was ironic was that over the past week, the Coldwell Banker office managers met – most of whom were reporting that their local markets were revving up with great activity, and some markets with a real sense of urgency. What gives?

The paradox made suggests that a lot of people – consumers and real estate reporters alike – may not realize that such monthly reports as the Case-Shiller index and even the very popular market reports are really lagging indicators of the housing market. They are in effect old news by the time they are released. These reports are based on closed sales the previous month that actually began two or three months before in many cases.

Take the most recent Case-Shiller report: This study came from closed home sales – not in March or even February – but January. Those same transactions began when consumers agreed to buy the home perhaps as early as the fall. These kinds of reports are a very old “snapshot” of the housing market by the time they get to the news media. This would be like someone opening up their sports section last October and instead of seeing the Giants in the World Series, found Denver’s local heroes 10 games out of first because the paper was still reporting the July standings.

So what’s a better way to take the current temperature of the market? New sales or pending sales are a much more accurate assessment of what’s happening now because they are a forward-looking indicator. These are sales that have just occurred, but haven’t gone through the 30 days or 60 days necessary to complete escrow. New pending sales offer the best barometer of what’s happening at the moment regarding buyer confidence in the housing market; the transactions that will be reported by Case-Shiller a month or two from now.

And what’s encouraging is that all across Colorado, pending sales in March are outpacing the same total last year.

This is not to say that every community and every neighborhood in Colorado is seeing a revival in new sales. There are still slow areas that are still challenged, depending on the price point. And even within some cities, certain parts of the market are doing well while others might be soft. And the overall market will continue to be challenged by shadow inventory of distressed properties coming on the market.

But if only reading the lagging indicators like the Case-Shiller report you’d think the market is dropping off the cliff. Far from it. There is tremendous improvement in many parts of Colorado, and the state is not alone.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the pending home sales index for properties nationwide, a forward-looking indicator, rose 2.1 percent to 90.8, based on contracts signed in February, from 88.9 in January. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist said, “Pending home sales have trended up very nicely since bottoming out last June, even with periodic monthly declines. Contract activity is now 20 percent above the low point immediately following expiration of the home buyer tax credit.”

The outlook wasn’t even across all regions, however. The PHSI in the Northeast fell 10.9 percent to 65.5 in February. In the Midwest the index rose 4.0 percent in February to 81.1. Pending home sales in the South increased 2.7 percent to an index of 100.3. While in the West the index rose 7.0 percent to 105.6 and is now 0.6 percent higher than February 2010.

“We may not see notable gains in existing-home sales in the near term, but they’re expected to rise 5 to 10 percent this year with the economic recovery, job creation and excellent affordability conditions providing confidence to buyers who’ve been on the sidelines,” Yun said.

One other thought when it comes to housing numbers: It’s important to take the lower median or average sale prices in monthly reports this time of year with a grain of salt.

In many markets throughout Colorado, REOs and short sales can make up as much as 20% to 30% of the entry level sales.  While typical homeowners might take a break from the holidays and list (or re-list) their property in January or February, banks don’t take any breaks in November and December. These listings stay on right through the holidays. So a greater percentage of available listings that sell are “distressed” properties at lower price points, bringing the median and average sales prices down for several months in the New Year.

Below is a market-by-market report from local offices:

Boulder— While the number of listings has dropped by 10% over the past two weeks in the marketplace the CB Boulder office experienced a 30% increase in listings over the same period.  For the month, CB Boulder will have listed in excess of 80 properties.  Sales have remained flat over the past two weeks.  Showings have decreased 12% however when asked, agents felt that their showings were increasing.

Colorado Springs— The market hit a bump in the road with showings dropping about 30% from the past few weeks.  It is steady during the week but on weekends it’s very slow.  Listings are steady and it looks like a lot of sellers are getting their homes ready to put on the market (agent feedback from prelisting calls).  Sales have been steady throughout the month & with interest rates still at an all time low, it should continue to be a great time to buy and or sell.

Southeast Metro—Looking back at the month of March, there are optimistic feelings about the real estate direction for 2011.  Sellers are now getting into the market with homes that are staged to show nicely and priced, for the most part, to reflect accurate data and market trends.  Buyers are feeling better about their choices in the market place with this influx of “new” inventory.  Mortgage rates are still better than they have been historically and buyers seem to be ready to purchase now rather than taking a chance on an upsurge in rates.  With the upcoming increase in mortgage insurance premiums for FHA buyers, which should take effect mid-April, those that need and want FHA financing should identify their new homes & lock their rates as soon as possible.  The upper end of the market is moving with homes on the market for a shorter period of time.  Showings of these homes have increased & buyers for these homes seem to be feeling a little more confident in the current economic conditions.  It should be a better spring season than seen in some time with a successful upcoming real estate season.

Denver Central— Well, it appeared that activity was really starting to pick-up momentum, but the last two weeks have dropped off from the first two weeks of March and the last two weeks of February.  It seems that all activity has flattened out.

Evergreen—Seventeen new listings have come on the market in March.  Listing inventory continues to increase as homes come on the market as the selling season gets into full swing.  Showing activity has rebounded following a decline in February due to severe cold & snowy weather and has spanned all price ranges and property types, totaling 295 showings and previews during the month.  Selling activity has also improved with four listings and twelve buyers being put under contract so far this month.  Properties that are priced competitively at the outset or are adjusted to the “sweet spot” will receive offers and in some cases, multiple offers while properties that are overpriced are shunned by the buyer pool.

Longmont— The Spring buying season has started… the showings on office listings are holding steady at a nice rate.  Homes being shown are in most price ranges.  Still not seeing a lot of activity in the $1,000,000 and up price range.  A number of agents are showing rural/acreage properties , need to put those horses somewhere.  Buyers, both investors and owner occupants, are looking at and buying HUD homes.  There are some great values with bank owned properties too.

North Metro— March has turned out to be an extremely busy month at the North Metro office.  Listing inventory is up as is the average sales price for the office.  The agents are set to close approximately 80 homes in March.  This is slightly down from last year at this time, but last year the Tax Credit was in play, which of course we don’t have this year.  Open House activity has increased as has the number of calls coming into the office.  Looking forward to an even better April.  Spring is definitely in the air.

Southwest Metro—Agents are very busy with buyers & sellers.  There has been a steady increase in listings and buyer contracts. Open houses have been great!  Several agents have picked up great leads and have had terrific activity.  Floor calls have resulted in several listings as well as a couple of buyers.  The most showing activity has been in the price range of $300,000 to $450,000. There are still short sales in several areas and these will be around for awhile.  Overall, the agents are busy & working hard to get listings priced to sell in our market place.

Denver West—There is competition from buyers who are purchasing in the $190,000 to $250,000 price range.  It appears that there is pent-up energy with sellers.  They are tired of waiting for the market to fully rebound & are deciding to place their homes on the market at this time.  Most are very realistic about their sale price.  Oftentimes, if the house is priced aggressively, the agent is able to generate more than one offer, which ultimately bumps up the sale price.  The buyer in the number one position acts diligently because they know there is a back-up offer behind them waiting to move into first place.  Traffic at open houses has increased.  Buyers have more confidence in the economy, know the interest rates are low and believe the prices are good.  There is more motivation on their part.

Conifer—Five new listings have gone on the market so far in March.  Inventory has stabilized as fewer homes are being withdrawn and both new and past sellers are beginning to put homes back on the market.  Showing activity continues to gain strength with 140 showings.  Selling activity is also increasing with five listings and two buyers being put under contract so far in March.

Loveland— The office is waiting and waiting for the location decision of the Aerospace & Clear Energy Manufacturing & Innovation Center (ACT) to be announced.  Loveland is a very viable candidate for the location.  Loveland would see a huge benefit should ACT locate here.  The art community in Loveland is gearing up with fund raisers and great exhibits in our many galleries in town.  New construction is happening in Loveland and there are great products at entry level pricing.  The time to buy is now!

With spring in the air and the traditional spring cleaning season in full swing, now is a perfect time to clean out your closet and dressers and help make a difference in the lives of those in need, right here in Colorado.

As a part of our annual spring clothing drive Coldwell Banker is reaching out to our families, friends and clients asking for new, or lightly worn, clean clothing donations for all ages and sizes. Donations may include the following items:

  • Kids clothing, shoes, toys and bikes
  • Adult button-down business shirts or blouses
  • Professional slacks, skirts or dresses
  • Ties, rain coats, suits, blazers and belts
  • Jeans, shorts, light pants or sunglasses
  • Shoes – heel, flats, loafers, sandals
  • New socks and/or undergarments

Please place your donation items in bags and drop them off to any Coldwell Banker office location along the Front Range, or contact your Coldwell Banker real estate professional to arrange for a pick up at your home.

Thank you for your support. Together we can make a difference in the lives of those in need within our Colorado communities.

Whether buying or selling, please contact your Coldwell Banker real estate professional for all of your real estate needs.

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