The market is in short supply.
More homes are needed to fulfill the need to buyer demand.
Compared to exactly one year ago, the supply of homes is down:
- 32.6% in Metro Denver
- 25.1% in Northern Colorado
An interesting and useful measurement we track is months of inventory. This stat tells how long it would take to sell all of the homes currently for sale at the current pace of sales.
Of course, months of supply can vary greatly by price range and location. However, this stat does a good job of explaining the overall state of the market.
Specifically, months of supply tells us if the market is in balance.
A ‘balanced’ market is when there is 4 to 6 months of supply. A buyers market occurs when the stat is higher than this range. A sellers market occurs when it is lower.
The months of supply looks like this in our market:
- 1.0 months in Metro Denver
- 1.3 months in Northern Colorado
So, the market overall is significantly under-supplied and more homes are needed to meet demand.
We’ve been waiting for June to catch up. It finally happened (almost).
Back in April, real estate activity was significantly limited and the showing of property was restricted which caused the number of closed properties in May and early June to be much lower than last year.
Bottom line, fewer properties going under contract in April caused fewer closings 30 to 45 days later.
Closed properties in May were down compared to 2019 by 44% in Northern Colorado and 43% in Metro Denver.
Then activity jumped significantly in May. The number of properties going under contract was way up compared to last year.
We’ve been wondering when we would see this sales activity reflected in the number of closed properties.
Well, it finally happened (almost).
The number of closings so far in June compared to the same time period through June of 2019 is only down 1.8% in Northern Colorado and 1.6% in Metro Denver.
In both markets, there are only a handful of closings separating activity in June 2020 versus June 2019.
By the end of the month, when all the transactions are tallied up, we expect that June of this year will out pace June of last year in terms of number of transactions.
This is significant not only because of COVID-19, but also because of the reduced inventory compared to last year. Quite simply, there are fewer homes to buy.
All of this speaks to the health and resiliency of the Front Range market.
Mortgage interest rates have hit another record low this week.
Mortgage applications for purchases just hit an 11-year high.
Rates are at a level that many people could never have imagined.
Here’s something that is surprising to many people…
Rates are 1.5% lower than they were just two years ago.
Here’s what that means for buyers…
Pretend someone is looking at a $500,000 home and they will have a 20% down payment.
The difference in monthly payment is $320 between two years ago and today.
Obviously that is a significant amount of money.
Imagine what a person could do with $320 per month.
The fact that rates are at record lows is one of many reasons that the market is so strong right now and prices continue to appreciate at healthy levels.
The numbers that we find to be most interesting right now are all related to inventory.
Long story short, inventory is tight.
It was already tight pre-coronavirus and now it’s even tighter.
Here are the numbers.
Active properties for sale versus one year ago are down:
- 11% in Larimer County
- 20% in Weld County
- 26% in Metro Denver
This low inventory is one of several reasons that prices are generally still up across the Front Range.
Money is on sale (again).
30-year mortgage rates now sit at 3.3%.
This is less than half of the long-term, 40-year average.
This is also almost a full percentage point lower than they were one year ago (which was still very low).
Let’s put this in real numbers.
A $300,000 loan at today’s rates has a $1,313 monthly principal and interest payment.
One year ago, that same loan would be $1,432 per month.
That’s a 8.3% difference in monthly payment.
The fact that money is on sale is one of many reasons that the housing market remains very strong right now.
Here’s something true about today’s market. Properties are selling fast.
Compared to one year ago, the number of days it takes for a property to sell is significantly lower.
The industry term is “Days on Market” or DOM.
DOM is way down.
Here is the comparison of May 2020 versus May 2019:
- Metro Denver down 22%
- Larimer County down 19%
- Weld County down 16%
Initially, this may seem counter-intuitive. How could homes be selling faster in today’s environment?
Here’s the deal. The buyers and sellers who are active in today’s market are serious.
There really aren’t ‘tire-kicker’ buyers out looking at properties just for the fun of it.
There really aren’t sellers testing the market to ‘see what they can get.’
For the most part, buyers and sellers are on a specific mission and this mindset is showing up in the numbers.
For sellers especially, this is no time to test the market and be overly aggressive on price.
Properties that are priced right and in good condition are selling and often selling fast.
We notice a very interesting dynamic in the market right now.
There was clearly a pent-up real estate demand created during the recent time when in-person showings were not allowed. The numbers back it up.
First, a little background. During a portion of “Shelter in Place,” all in-person viewing of properties ceased. Instead, buyers spent time online viewing virtual tours and 3-D photography.
Even though clients could view homes virtually, purchase activity did slow down.
Today, showings are allowed again as long as clear protocols are followed. We’ve implemented a Safe Showings program to keep our clients protected.
Now, to the numbers.
Through the first two weeks of May 2020, the number of closed properties is down compared to the same time period in 2019.
In most cases these closed properties are a result of purchase agreements that were written in April- a time when in-person showings were restricted.
So, a decrease in closings was expected.
However, the number of new written contracts so far this month is up considerably compared to the same time frame last year.
- Metro Denver closed properties down 47%
- Metro Denver new contracts up 6%
- Northern Colorado closed properties down 41%
- Northern Colorado new contracts up 19%
So, buyer activity is up compared to last year, even in our current environment.
This speaks to the resiliency of our market and the effect of low interest rates.
April represents the first time we can look at the impact of COVID-19 on a full month of real estate activity.
To no one’s surprise, activity in April in terms of closings and new contracts did slow significantly.
Much of this slowing was caused by in person showings not being allowed for most of the month.
(showings are now allowed again by following Safe Showings protocols)
Here’s what the numbers say…
Closed transactions were down compared to April 2019
- 26% in Northern Colorado (Larimer & Weld)
- 27% in Metro Denver
New written purchase agreements were down compared to April 2020
- 48% in Northern Colorado
- 44% in Metro Denver
So, while activity did slow, there was nothing resembling a “screeching halt” that took place.
While the way property is shown has certainly changed, the market is still very active and we expect activity to increase even more with showings now being allowed again.
This week our Chief Economist took a deep dive into the numbers to examine the current health crisis versus the housing crisis of 2008.
The reason why? People wonder if we are going to have another housing meltdown nationally and going to see foreclosures and short sales dramatically increase.
It turns out that the numbers show that today’s housing environment is quite different than 2007, right before the housing bubble burst.
Specifically, homeowners are in a vastly different situation with their mortgage compared to the pre-Great Recession’s housing meltdown.
In addition to much higher credit scores and much higher amounts of equity compared to 2007, the most significant difference today is in the amount of ARM mortgages.
Back in years leading up to the housing bubble, Adjustable Rate Mortgages were very prevalent. In 2007 there were just under 13 million active adjustable rate loans, today there are just over 3 million.
The number of those ARMs that would reset within three years was 5 million in 2007 compared to only 320,000 today.
It’s those Adjustable Rate loans resetting to a higher monthly payment that caused such a big part of the housing crisis back in 2008 to 2010.
Back then not only was people’s employment impacted, but many were facing increased monthly mortgage payments.
That’s why there were so many foreclosures and short sales in 2008 to 2010.
That is not the case today and one of many reasons why we don’t foresee a housing meltdown.