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.
This week we hosted our clients and friends for a special online event with our Chief Economist Matthew Gardner.
Matthew talked about a variety of topics that are on people’s mind right now including home values.
Matthew sees no evidence that home values will crash and actually sees signs that they may rise this year nationally.
Here’s why he says this:
- Mortgage rates will remain under 3.5% for the rest of the year so there won’t be any interest-rate pressure on prices
- Inventory, which was already at record-lows, will drop even further keeping the supply levels far below normal
- New home construction will continue to be under-supplied and will be nothing like the over-supplied glut of inventory that we saw in 2008
- The vast majority of employees being laid off and furloughed are renters
- Homeowners have a tremendous amount of equity in their homes right now compared to 2008 which will prevent an influx of short sales and foreclosures
If you would like to receive a recording of the webinar we would be happy to send it to you. Feel free to reach out and ask for the link.
On Wednesday April 22nd you are invited to a special online event with Windermere’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner.
He will be giving his insights into the U.S. economy and what that means for real estate along the Front Range of Colorado.
You will hear the answers to the biggest questions we are hearing from clients now like “do you think housing prices will crash?”
This event is exclusively for clients and friends of Windermere Real Estate. To receive the registration link simply comment on this blog or reach out to your Windermere real estate broker.
Many of you have heard Matthew speak at our Market Forecast events we hold each year in January. He is famous for making complex economic dynamics very simple to understand.
You will get useful and valuable information which will give you clarity about where the market is headed and when we can expect the economy to improve.
For example Matthew predicts unemployment to hit 15% by the end of June, but then to improve to 8% by year-end and 6% by this time next year.
Again, if you would like the link just comment on this blog or reach out to your Windermere broker.
An impact we expected from COVID-19 to the housing market is reduced inventory. That prediction is certainly proving to be true.
In March, the number of withdrawn properties from the MLS went up 68% in Larimer County and 38% in Weld when compared to March 2019.
Reduced inventory is one reason why we don’t expect a significant drop in home prices in 2020. We don’t see a glut of housing supply dragging prices down.
So how are properties being sold now? Virtually! We are helping people view homes using virtual 3D Tours and live online walk-throughs.
Our business right now is certainly not business as usual and our industry has proven to be resourceful so we can still help people with urgent real estate needs.
We are watching close to see where the real estate market is headed. Anecdotally we can tell you that the vast majority of transactions that are under contract are still closing. We have seen very few transactions cancel because of employment issues or the wild swings of the stock market.
An interesting leading indicator was announced this week that sheds some light as to where the market is headed. Each week the Mortgage Bankers Association releases their index which tracks new mortgage applications.
They track both purchase applications and refinance applications. To no one’s surprise, the index was down this week but not as much as you may have guessed.
New purchase applications were down 11% compared to the same week this last year. Refinance activity fell more sharply, down 34%.
This is a statistic we will watch closely as time goes on.
Our Chief Economist made a video for all of our clients where he shares his perspective on COVID-19’s impact on housing. You can watch it by clicking the image below: