A Snapshot of Colorado's 2019 Housing Market
Low inventory and affordability dominated the state's real estate market this year
With a 30% dip in new listings statewide between October and November, the low inventory story continues to drive nearly every market across the state, according to the latest monthly market data from the Colorado Association of Realtors (CAR). The months’ supply of inventory for both single-family homes and townhome/condos has diminished to 12-month lows at 2.1 months and 2.2 months, respectively. Total inventory of active listings statewide sits at just 20,116 properties in November, down more than 20% from a year ago.
“Despite all the challenges that low housing inventory has created across Colorado, the conditions continue to support strong median pricing figures for both single-family and townhome/condos,” says Colorado Association of Realtors spokesperson Karen Levine.
The statewide median price of a single-family home dipped less than half-a-percent in November to $398,875 but remains up nearly 6% over this time last year. Looking at the townhome/condo market, median pricing rose just a fraction (0.2%) to $315,000 and is up 5.4% from last November. Low inventory and monthly appreciation continue to be the new normal statewide as activity remains robust.
“With just a hint of some tightening statewide, sellers must be highly aware of their pricing strategy and not get overconfident. Overpriced properties typically result in a lower net sales price in the end,” Levine says.
The CAR Housing Affordability Index – a measure of how affordable a region’s housing is to its consumers based on interest rates, median sales price, and median income by county – remains approximately 10% better than where Colorado stood a year ago.
Taking a look at some of the state’s local market conditions, Colorado Association of Realtors market trends spokespersons provided the following assessments:
“Just as the rest of the year has gone, low Inventory means increasing prices. Aurora and Centennial are ending the year with available active listings down 30-40 percent compared to 2018. Zip code after zip code shows active listings for both homes and condos much lower than we have seen. Of course, it stands to reason that with a shortage of homes comes an increase in median price," says Aurora-area realtor Sunny Banka. "The suburbs are booming, and affordability is a big issue. Clearly, homes are appreciating while rents are increasing.”
"Boulder County’s homes prices are stuck in the snow and the wheels are spinning. With literally no appreciation year-to-date, the challenge for sellers is accurate pricing if they hope to sell in the typical two-month window," says Boulder-area realtor Kelly Moye. "Contrastingly, Boulder’s neighbor, Broomfield, seems to think it’s still spring. With 11% more listings than we had on the market in January and 18% more sales, the real estate market is moving right along in Broomfield County. The affordability and active employment opportunities in Broomfield are likely to take the credit for the continued strength in this market."
Colorado Springs/Pikes Peak area
“The Pikes Peak region woke up in November to some cold days and a hot real estate market. The winning streak continues for sellers as the market remains tight. And although we ended up with an increase in days on market, we continue to push values up as well. There appears to be no cooling off this winter in our area. Though many agents are starting to say that they are seeing slowing on showings and multiple offers, we are still in a great real estate market, even though buyers are really having problems with affordability," says Colorado-Springs area realtor Patrick Muldoon.
For Colorado Springs, the market is "strong and steady," according to Muldoon. "In November 2019, we recorded the highest level of monthly and year-to-date sales volumes, as well as average and median sales prices compared to any month of November on record," he says. "Unequivocally, pathetically low inventory and affordability challenges due to ever-soaring prices continue to be the most problematic aspect of the Colorado Springs area housing market,”
"Denver continues to show it’s finished with the latest trends and is starting down a new path. With only 1.3 months’ supply of inventory, the number of new listings coming to the market in November was the lowest of the last 4 years. Continuing the saga of low inventory, what is different this year is that despite the low number of listings, days on market, on average, have continued up – the highest in four years," says Denver-area realtor Matthew Leprino. "The pricing plateau is here; we have reached the summit and are cooling our shoes. Now, the $10 million question, where will it go from here?"
“The November housing numbers for Fort Collins appear to be following seasonal trends and, like our average temperatures this time of year, cooling seems a consistent pattern," says Fort Collins-area realtor Chris Hardy. “With the advancing holiday season, sales are likely to remain on the lean side and with the New Year, we may see an uptick in homes for sale as sellers look to cash in on earned equity over the last several years to buy something new or different. However, the expectations for ‘cashing in’ must be tempered with the reality of the market. Buyers have become a bit more particular and housing prices in some segments have flattened as homes need to be in tip-top shape to command the best prices."
Golden/Arvada – Jefferson Country
"The Jefferson County housing market has been strong all year. It is still a seller’s market however, moving towards a balanced one with homes sitting on the market longer. Buyers are seeing more inventory hit the market in the last few months and sales prices decreasing," says Golden/Arvada-area realtor Barb Ecker. "Some homes priced under $400,000 are still experiencing multiple offers. Homes priced over $500,000 need to have a great location and many upgrades to sell quickly. The selling season in Jefferson County now begins earlier in February and does not slow down until October."
"The Grand Junction market continues to slow as measured by inventory, under contracts and sold listings," says Grand Junction area realtor Ann Hayes.
"We have concerns locally with the loss of 600 jobs due to the Halliburton closing, and the last of those employees poised to be gone before year’s end. It remains to be seen if some of those employees will stay locally or have to leave the area to find employment. If the greatest number leaves, which is the current implication, the impact on inventory and even properties that become pre-foreclosures could be a negative, as many of those properties are not in the highest price demand areas. We hope not to see many more energy jobs leave," Hayes says. "There is a little encouragement from the BLM, who have announced they are considering hiring about 27 people locally which would be beneficial to the community as they would be better paying positions."
"The Pueblo housing market delivered more signs of the season with mostly negative numbers across the board," says Pueblo-area realtor David Anderson. "November sold listings were down 4.1 percent from last year and are -3.6 percent year-to-date. Days on market is slowly rising and reached 76 days. Pueblo remains a seller’s market."
"The November Vail housing market maintained the trend that began a few months ago as we were up 40% in sales dollars versus November 2018 bringing our year-to-date dollars plus 3% compared to 2018," says Vail-area realtor Mike Budd. "The troublesome scenarios are driven by inventory in key price niches with inventory down 22.6% for total market and significantly greater in the usual high-volume price points. Some of this is due to the strong November sales however, the trend has been consistent throughout the second half of the year."
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