The following analysis of the Metro Denver & Northern Colorado real estate market (which now includes Clear Creek, Gilpin, and Park counties) is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere agent.
Colorado’s economy continues to grow with the addition of 44,800 new non-agricultural jobs over the past 12 months. This represents a reasonable growth rate of 1.7%. As stated in last quarter’s Gardner Report, we continue to see a modest slowdown in employment gains, but that’s to be expected at this stage of the business cycle. I predict that employment growth in Colorado will pick back up as we move through the year, adding a total of 70,000 new jobs in 2019, which represents a growth rate of 2.6%.
In February, the state unemployment rate was 3.7%, up from 2.9% a year ago. The increase is essentially due to labor force growth, which rose by more than 84,000 people over the past year. On a seasonally adjusted basis, unemployment rates in all the markets contained in this report haven’t moved much in the past year, but Boulder saw a modest drop (2.7%), and the balance of the state either remained at the same level as a year ago or rose very modestly.
- In the first quarter of 2019, 11,164 homes sold — a drop of 3% compared to the first quarter of 2018 and down 13.5% from the fourth quarter of last year. Pending sales in the quarter were a mixed bag. Five counties saw an increase, but five showed signs of slowing.
- The only market that had sales growth was Adams, which rose 4.9%. The rest of the counties contained in this report saw sales decline, with a significant drop in the small Park County area.
- I believe the drop in the number of home sales is partially due to the significant increase in listings (+45.6%), which has given would-be home buyers more choice and less need to act quickly.
- As mentioned above, inventory growth in the quarter was significant, but I continue to believe that the market will see sales rise. I expect the second half of the year to perform better than the first.
- Home prices continue to trend higher, but the rate of growth is tapering. The average home price in the region rose just 2.1% year-over-year to $456,243. Home prices were .3% higher than in the fourth quarter of 2018.
- I anticipate that the drop in interest rates early in the year will likely get more buyers off the fence and this will allow prices to rise.
- Appreciation was again strongest in Park County, where prices rose 21.9%. We still attribute this rapid increase to it being a small market. Only Clear Creek County experienced a drop in average home price. Similar to Park County, this is due to it being a very small market, making it more prone to significant swings.
- Affordability remains an issue in many Colorado markets but that may be offset by the drop in interest rates.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home in Colorado rose five days compared to the first quarter of 2018.
- The amount of time it took to sell a home dropped in two counties — Gilpin and Park — compared to the first quarter of 2018. The rest of the counties in this report saw days-on-market rise modestly with the exception of the small Clear Creek market, which rose by 26 days.
- In the first quarter of 2019, it took an average of 42 days to sell a home in the region, an increase of four days compared to the final quarter of 2018.
- Job growth drives housing demand, but buyers are faced with more choice and are far less frantic than they were over the past few years. That said, I anticipate the late spring will bring more activity and sales.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.
For the first quarter of 2019, I have moved the needle a little more in favor of buyers. I am watching listing activity closely to see if we get any major bumps above the traditional increase because that may further slow home price growth; however, the trend for 2019 will continue towards a more balanced market.
As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.
Pretend you have been driving on the Interstate at 100 miles per hour.
Also, pretend you have been doing that for a long time.
Now pretend you slow down to 83 miles per hour.
How would that feel?
It would probably feel slow, right?
83 miles per hour is a 17% decrease from 100. It may feel slow, but it’s still pretty fast.
How does this relate to real estate?
Well, the market has been moving fast for a long time.
It’s been going 100 miles per hour for at least two years (some would argue even longer).
We’ve recently seen a 17% change in terms of number of transactions that are occurring.
There were 17% fewer sales in October 2018 versus October 2017 in Metro Denver.
It feels slow because we’ve been driving so fast for so long. But, our market is still moving.
For example, prices are still up. So, remember, that it’s all relative.
Here’s some good news for buyers who have been waiting for more selection…
No need to wait any more because the numbers show that more new listings are hitting the market compared to the recent past.
In Metro Denver, the number of homes for sale is up 14.42% compared to last year.
That equates to 800 more homes to choose from.
Start spreading the news!
Virtually all of the experts we follow put rates above 5% going into next year and some see rates approaching 5.5% by the middle of 2019. What’s certain is that there are economic forces at work that are pushing rates higher.
So, how about a little history lesson? How do today’s 30- year mortgage rates compare to this same date in history going all the way back to 1990?
• Today = 4.85%
• 2017 = 3.94%
• 2015 = 3.82%
• 2010 = 4.27%
• 2005 = 5.98%
• 2000 = 7.84%
• 1995 = 7.75%
• 1990 = 10.22%
While today’s rates feel high only because they are higher than 2017, they are quite a bit lower than at many times in history.
Change is afoot. We suppose it always is, but doesn’t it all seem to come at us so much faster in today’s world? We see change all around us. Just consider, for a moment, how much technology has changed our lives thanks to innovators like Uber, Google, and Apple, to name a few. Technology has also changed the way we do real estate.
The real estate world is a complex environment that most of us only travel once every 10 years. This infrequency, coupled with the ever-changing laws and emotional toll, makes it very hard for most of us to navigate. That’s why we rely on a professional. Even those of us who live and breathe real estate every day use a Windermere agent to conduct our personal transactions.
Thanks to technology, certain aspects of the real estate process that were once difficult are now very easy, like searching for a home. Within minutes of a property being listed, it’s fed to websites all over the world for potential buyers to see. Information about neighborhoods, schools, and home values are also readily available online to help buyers make smart decisions.
There’s no doubt that real estate will continue to benefit from technology, but we’re concerned about the companies that are beginning to look at consumers less as people and more as data that can be generated and shared for monetary gain.
At Windermere, our agents don’t treat their clients like data points being fed into an algorithm; they know them on a personal level. They help buyers make one of the biggest financial and emotional decisions of their lives. They help sellers understand the nuances of the market so they can get top dollar for their home. They are experts in neighborhoods, market trends, contracts, and negotiations. They treat their clients with respect and compassion. And they care deeply about their local community.
As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Real estate is the perfect example of that. Technology will continue to change and improve how people buy and sell homes, but our pledge to you is that it will never replace what has always mattered most to us: relationships.
– OB JACOBI, JILL JACOBI WOOD, AND GEOFF WOOD
The following analysis of the Metro Denver & Northern Colorado real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
It’s good news for the state of Colorado, which saw annual employment grow in all of the metropolitan markets included in this report. The state added 63,400 non-agricultural jobs over the past 12 months, an impressive growth rate of 2.4%. Colorado has been adding an average of 5,300 new jobs per month for the past year, and I anticipate that this growth rate will continue through the balance of 2018.
In February, the unemployment rate in Colorado was 3.0%—a level that has held steady for the past six months. Unemployment has dropped in all the markets contained in this report, with the lowest reported rates in Fort Collins and Denver, where 3.1% of the labor force was actively looking for work. The highest unemployment rate was in Grand Junction, which came in at 4.6%.
HOME SALES ACTIVITY
- In the first quarter of 2018, there were 11,173 home sales—a drop of 5.6% when compared to the first quarter of 2017.
- With an increase of 5.3%, home sales rose the fastest in Boulder County, as compared to first quarter of last year. There was also a modest sales increase of 1.2% in Larimer County. Sales fell in all the other counties contained within this report.
- Home sales continue to slow due to low inventory levels, which were down 5.7% compared to a year ago.
- The takeaway here is that sales growth continues to stagnate due to the lack of homes for sale.
- Strong economic growth, combined with limited inventory, continued to push prices higher. The average home price in the markets covered by this report was up by 11.7% year-over-year to $448,687.
- Arapahoe County saw slower appreciation in home values, but the trend is still positiveand above its long-term average.
- Appreciation was strongest in Boulder County, which saw prices rise 14.8%. Almost all other counties in this report experienced solid gains.
- The ongoing imbalance between supply and demand persists and home prices continue to appreciate at above-average rates.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped by three days when compared to the first quarter of 2017.
- Homes in all but two counties contained in this report took less than a month to sell. Adams County continues to stand out where it took an average of just 17 days to sell a home.
- During the first quarter, it took an average of 27 days to sell a home. That rate is down 2 days from the fourth quarter of 2017.
- Housing demand remains strong and would-be buyers should expect to see stiff competition for well-positioned, well-priced homes.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. In the first quarter of 2018, I have left the needle where it was in the fourth quarter of last year. Even as interest rates trend higher, it appears as if demand will continue to outweigh supply. As we head into the spring months, I had hoped to see an increase in the number of homes for sale, but so far that has not happened. As a result, the housing market continues to heavily favor sellers.
Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has more than 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
Did you miss our Northern Colorado real estate market forecast or do you just want a quick refresher?
Windermere Colorado’s President, Eric Thompson, gives you a recap of what we discussed and what we predict will happen with the housing market in the upcoming years.
Annual employment growth in Colorado was measured at a respectable 2.2% in November and will likely finish the year having created around 55,000 new jobs. Within the metropolitan market areas included in this report, we are seeing employment growth at or above the state level and I anticipate that this will continue to be the case in 2017.
Unemployment rates continue to drop, and with rates now below three percent, all of Colorado’s metro areas are at full employment. Because of this robust level of growth—in concert with very low unemployment levels—I anticipate that we will see some fairly substantial income growth as companies look to recruit new talent and keep existing employees happy.
HOME SALE ACTIVITY
- There were 14,614 home sales during the fourth quarter of 2016—up by a marginal 0.7% from the same period in 2015.
- Jefferson County saw sales grow at the fastest rate over the past 12 months, with a 5.9% increase. Sales activity fell in three counties, but this was a function of short supply rather than slowing demand.
- Listing activity continues to remain well below historic averages, with the total number of homes for sale in the fourth quarter 12.8% below that seen a year ago.
- The key takeaway from this data is that 2017 is shaping up to be one which will still substantially favor home sellers. I do anticipate that we will see some improvement in listing activity, but it is almost a certainty that demand will exceed supply for another year.
- Demand continued to exceed supply in the final three months of 2016 and this caused home prices to continue to rise. In the fourth quarter, average prices rose by 9% when compared to the fourth quarter of 2015. The average sales price across the region is now $393,969.
- In many parts of the region, prices are well above historic highs and continue to trend upward. With double-digit price increases over the past year, the market remains very hot.
- Annual price growth was strongest in Larimer and Jefferson Counties, where prices rose by 11.8% and 10.9% respectively.
- While we will likely see some modest softening in home price growth in 2017, we can still expect a very strong market.