Friday, June 26, 2009

Denver Named One of the Best Places to Buy a Home.Now!


Forbes Magazine released this week its “In Depth: Best Cities to Buy a Home” feature in which the magazine highlights cities with the best real estate deals. Click here to access the article: Among other large cities, Denver was listed with the magazine noting that “While the majority of the nation’s housing markets are still working toward a bottom, some cities are boasting fundamentals that make them good places to buy a home now.” In addition to Denver, Los Angeles, Boston, Phoenix and San Diego were listed.

To determine which cities feature the best real estate deals, the magazine “looked at three sets of data in the March 2009 RPX Monthly Housing Market Report, distributed by Radar Logic Incorporated, a New York-based derivatives firm. It looks at the market fundamentals in the country’s 25 most populated metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs or metros), geographic entities defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget used by federal agencies in collecting, tabulating and publishing federal statistics. First, we examined the number of ZIP codes with 25% of the area's sales to determine those in which activity is most evenly distributed. Next, we examined increase and decrease in price per square footage to determine where market value is the highest. Last, we looked at transaction rates in each city to determine where the housing markets are most active. We scored each city by category, and then combined the scores to determine the final ranking.”

Here’s what the article reported:

“1. Denver, Colo.
PPSF Increase or Decrease
March 2009 vs. Feb. 2009: 5.7%
Transaction Increase or Decrease
March 2009 vs. March 2008: -8.4%
Percentage of ZIP Codes with 25% of Sales: 25%”

Also this week, the National Association of Realtors released its existing home sales report which noted that existing home sales rose for the second straight month in May, signaling low prices and incentives are attracting buyers.

NAR says existing home sales, including single family homes, condos and coops rose 2.4 percent in May. It was the first back-to-back monthly gain in existing home sales since September 2005.

Sales of existing homes rose for the second straight month in May, signaling low prices and incentives are attracting buyers.
NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun had this to say, “Historically low mortgage rates clearly drew buyers into the market, and housing remains very affordable even with a recent uptick in rates. First time buyers are also being drawn off the sidelines by the $8,000 tax credit which is helping to absorb inventory.”

The numbers could be even better if it weren’t for poor appraisals. While pending sales of existing homes—those with signed contracts but not closed—indicate stronger activity, some contracts are falling through from faulty valuations that keep buyers from getting a loan, said Yun.

Locally we made some great headlines this week, especially with the Denver Business Journal’s story headlined “Home prices in mountain states up 1.3% outpacing nation.”

The article reported, “Housing prices in Colorado and other mountain states rose 1.3 percent in April from the previous month, the biggest increase of any region of the nation, the Federal Housing Finance Agency reported Tuesday.”

And with that great news in tow, let’s take a look at this week in real estate:

  • Boulder/Longmont—The Boulder/Broomfield county markets continue to show a drop in new listings, with numbers down about 20% from the week before. Sales, however have shown a slight increase this week, about 2%. A quick check of price reductions in the area show 572 so far this month in Broomfield and Boulder counties! Expired listings only totaled 47 and that includes the last day of May. Great new stats for our side: If you sold a house under $750,000 with CBRB in Boulder county this year compared to the rest of the MLS, you averaged 13 fewer days before contract and $7989 more in your pocket! Our Longmont office reports buyers seem to be confused these days. Some are waiting for interest rates to drop and some are waiting for prices to drop. News that the housing market is local seems to be getting out but it might be adding to the overall confusion in the market. First time buyers are the main thrust of our sales. We have had some higher priced homes sell but homes under $250,000 are still selling fast. Now is a great time to get into the investor market. Investors are not looking to "flip" the homes but are looking for the longer term. The rental market is strong in Longmont. Summer weather has finally arrived, making it pleasant to show homes in the evenings.
  • Evergreen/Conifer—Our Evergreen office reported we had a total of five new listings for the week. Seven listings went under contract and one buyer went under contract. There was one multiple offer situation for a $208,000 SFH in Wheat Ridge. One listing went under contract in five days after only two showings, a $425,000 SFH in Evergreen. We had a total of 81 showings during the week which is close to normal level for peak season. The majority of activity occurred in three different price points, $200,000 to $250,000 (mostly first time buyers and investors), $300,000 to $350,000 and some recent strong activity in the $500,000 to $750,000 range. Our Conifer office reports we had four listings go under contract during the week, one of which was a bank REO. One buyer went under contract during the week. There were a total of 42 showings for the week and activity continues to improve.
  • Denver Central—Housing inventory continues to drop in the Denver area and for the fourth consecutive month homes sold in the metro area went for less than $200,000 and 28% were in the $200,000 to $300,000 range with those under $200,00 selling very quickly.
  • Devonshire—Showings have been very consistent this week. There is a definite feeling of increased activity and lots of contracts being written and accepted. Appraisal issues are still rampant, with multiple appraisals being asked for at the last minute before closing. We are advising Agents to write contracts with 45 day closings where possible to allow for a smooth transaction. Buyers are excited to get into their new homes and open houses are busy in many areas. Activity may slow down a bit with the 4th of July upon us.
  • Douglas County—Our Southwest Metro office reports we had another week of great showings. Father's Day was our only slow day. We had six properties with multiple contracts and our Agents are finding they are competing with multiple offers on properties they are writing on for their buyers. Open houses were slow this past weekend however floor was very good. Two Agents picked up buyers from their floor calls. We are still seeing very good activity on homes priced under $350,000. We have lots of buyers wanting to take advantage of the $8000.00 tax credit and I believe that the interest rates going up has also helped get buyers off the fence.
  • El Paso County—No information reported.
  • Larimer County—Our Fort Collins/Loveland office reports things are looking good in the Northern Colorado real estate market. We are seeing homes moving pretty quickly that are priced at market and multiple offers on short sale and bank owned properties that are priced 5-10% below market. Summer began on Sunday and inventory has increased this week as the summer selling season starts to collect steam. First time home buyers are still the primary home shoppers in the market and are gobbling up the lower priced inventory in search of the American dream. Appraisals are still an issue as Agents, lenders and appraisers learn to work together within the confines of the HVCC. It is still an amazing time to buy and interest rates are still near the lowest they've been in the last 50 years.
  • North Metro—Activity abounds in the North Metro area. We have put 53 homes on the market this month so far. Average days on market is less than 60 when the property is well priced. The average sales price is around $273,000. The upper end market (million plus) continues to show slow movement unless the home is located in a new build subdivision. Numerous floor calls are coming into the office on our listings and appointments from these calls are increasing. We're beginning to experience buyer calls on floor looking for homes in the $600,000+ range. Relocation buyers are also abundant & increasing in our area. We continue to see a lot of short sale situations.
  • Parker—After two very busy weeks, activity has slowed down slightly. The listing inventory specifically in the lower to mid price range keeps decreasing steadily which indicates that the trend for declining values could reverse soon. The upper end market (above $600,000) is still very slow and it will take a while to recover. Agents are very busy staying in touch and keeping clients informed about current market conditions while their business is up year over year!
  • Southeast Metro—Traffic continues to increase at our listings. Multiple offer situations are almost a guaranteed with properties priced below $250,000. Luxury properties are also seeing increased traffic and we currently have nine luxury homes under contract. Our success story of the week: One of our Agents had a listing for three years that went under contract and closed in June!
  • West Lakewood—Numerous sales are having appraisal problems. Closed short sales and bank owned properties are affecting the appraised prices. We are seeing increased activity in the above $400,000 price range.

One potential challenge that may begin affecting our market is the rise in interest rates. I came across this article which explains why interest rates are on the rise: At this point, what we are seeing is the recent uptick is causing many fence sitting buyers to get off the fence and get in the market and in all likelihood that is a very good idea. We probably won’t see interest rates as low as they have been for at least another 20-30 years.

I also recently sat down with our friends at Coldwell Banker Mortgage to discuss interest rates, the future and what we can expect and based on that conversation, I will be focusing my July edition of Reality Check on this very subject.

Watch for it after the 4th of July holiday.

Until then, make it a great week.

Chris Mygatt
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Colorado