Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I'm Invigorated!

Okay, I know that headline seems a little exaggerated and maybe even a little far-fetched, but honestly I am.  I don’t know if it is a combination of the sun, the clean Spring air and the excitement that seems to be brewing in our offices, but I can feel that change is abuzz in the real estate market and for the first time in a long time, I’m truly invigorated!

 

This week was yet another week of milestones.  Several weeks ago I questioned, are all of these positive indicators the start of a trend or are they just that, positive indicators that will have a short shelf life.  Well, after at least four weeks of some strong, positive gains, I truly am invigorated.

 

This week, NAR released its Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in February, reporting that pending home sales rose 2.1 percent to 82.1 from a reading of 80.4 in January.  Pending home sales have a way to go for there to be a meaningful increase, but recent increases in shopping activity are hopeful indicators that we’ll see additional sales gains.

 

NAR’s Housing Affordability Index also rose 0.9 percentage points to a record high of 173.5 in February from an upwardly revised index of 172.6 in January, and is 36.3 percentage points higher than a year ago.  This broad measure of housing affordability using consistent values and assumptions over time, shows that the relationship between home prices, mortgage interest rates and family income is the most favorable since tracking began in 1970.  1970!!!!

 

Also interesting, Inman News released a survey this week noting that of the 225 readers who responded to an online survey from March 23 to April 1, 48.9 percent said housing markets in their area were improving, 27.1 percent said they were stabilizing and just 12.9 percent characterized them as worsening.

 

That, along with the indicators I’ve referenced over the last several weeks including last week’s jump in mortgage applications, the historic drop in interest rates and the surge in new housing starts, we truly are seeing some very positive and indicative signs of recovery.  I truly believe that buyers are seeing inventory move and that gets them moving. 

 

It seems some of Obama’s various recovery efforts are starting to have some effect on the market.  The billions to slow foreclosures and goose bank lending, plus the tax credit, are getting buyers to move which is a positive sign. 

 

Now, of course, we’ll have to keep our eye on it and watch as the market continues to progress through our traditionally busy Spring selling season, but thus far the signs are positive and my magic eight balls says “Outlook is Good.”

 

With that good news in tow, let’s take a look at this week in real estate: 

 

  • Boulder/Longmont—Our Boulder office reported very strange two weeks in the Boulder market.  New listings fell about 33% during the last week of March compared to the week before but under contracts skyrocketed!  They went from 3 to 27! A 900% increase.  Showings were down due to the snowstorm.  Inventory in Boulder County continues to increase but we are holding steady at about 10% of going under contract in the first two weeks on the market.  Our Longmont office reports showing activity was down 35% from last week…the blizzard of March 2009 did impact the showings!  The week ended on a positive note with the showings going up again.  Buyers are finally getting the message that the interest rates are awesome!  More investors are writing contracts to purchase.
  • Evergreen/Conifer—Our Evergreen office reported a total of two new listings for the week.  Two listings went under contract, one is a short sale property.  63 showings for the week making a total of 335 for the month of March.
  • Denver Central—Our Denver Central office reports we have seen a big increase in activity in March. The lower-end market is very hot right now with multiple offer situations.  We are also seeing increases in sales volume.
  • Devonshire—Our Devonshire office is reporting that we are still seeing showings increase even with the unsettled weather.  Buyers are getting tired of waiting for things to stabilize and are anxious to get out there and get a home.  They are however, looking at many more homes before making a decision.  The interest rates are wonderful so I believe that activity and closings will increase as we move further into Spring.  Sellers are seeing that price and staging of their homes are more important than ever.  Now is truly the time to move forward towards your real estate goals.
  • Southwest Metro —Our Southwest Metro office reports our floor has been generating great leads this past week.  We have had four Agents that picked up buyers from their floor shifts.  Open houses were very successful this past weekend.  We are seeing a turning point (small but turning).  Our mortgage rep is still very busy.  He registered 25 leads out of 26 this month!
  • El Paso County—Our Colorado Springs office reports that the under $250,000 market seems to be the hottest price range right now compared to $350,000 two months ago.  This may be due to more of the workforce of some of the companies at the Space Command Center at Schreiver coming in and the executive transfers have slowed.  
  • Larimer County—Our Fort Collins/Loveland office reports that Spring has sprung and following a fast-moving blizzard this past week, we've seen a spike in activity in Larimer County.  Loveland overall remains slower, but all indicators are that the Spring selling season is underway in the Fort Collins/Windsor area as showings are up 20% from previous weeks.  Contracts are strong as well with an end of month blitz that doubled the number of the week before.  We are seeing an increase in open house activity and sign calls as interest in current inventory increases while interest rates remain unbelievably favorable.
  • North Metro—Our North Metro office notes that Agents are going out on many listing appointments.  Sellers are ready to "sell.”  Numerous buyer appointments as well.  Seeing an increase in number of short sale listings.  Average days on market for our listings is about 95 days.
  • Parker, Douglas and Elbert Counties —What a busy week last week of March!  We set a record for March under contracts as well as for showings during week one of March of over 300! The biggest impact comes without a doubt from the first time home buyers that want to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit.  Because of the increased activity and the decreased inventory, more and more communities in the lower price ranges show a stable value.  The upper end communities are still slow, however it's only a question of time until those pick up as well.
  • Southeast Metro—No information reported.
  • West Lakewood— We have bank owned properties that are receiving multiple offers.  This week we had a short sale listing receive seven offers. Of the property with seven offers, the selling Agent was asked to give their highest and best offer. Two owner-occupied homes which have been listed since Fall received multiple offers.  The buyer offered $10,000 over list price and lost the home to an investor. First time buyers who want to take advantage of the tax credit are finding themselves either in multiple offer situations or the property went under contract within hours of them viewing it.  They are also in competition with investors. Owner occupied sellers are busy getting their homes ready for market. They are open to staging, painting and carpeting so they can compete well.  Eight parties came through a $730,000 home at an open house last weekend.  That is the highest traffic since last summer.

 

As you can see, the market is heating up.  Consumer confidence is finally on the rise and buyers are edging off the fence.  For those who are still cautious, please consider all of the positive signs that are knocking at your front door.  From the first time home buyer credit to the historically low interest rates to the increases in conforming loan limits to the generous amount of inventory to the motivated sellers to the…honestly, the list goes on.  Opportunity is knocking and it is time for buyers to recognize this and jump in.

 

 

Brian L. Thomas

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

720-934-4745 Direct

303-675-5657 Fax

Brian@SouthOfDenver.Com

www.SouthOfDenver.com