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.
We’ve seen some headlines recently that suggest home prices along the Front Range have peaked and are starting to decline.
When we dig in and do the research, this is what we find…
Home prices are still going up, just not as fast as they have been.
We’ve known that the double-digit appreciation that we’ve seen for the last several years could not be sustained and we expected the pace of appreciation to slow down.
So far in 2019, this is the case. Prices still going up, just not as fast.
It’s like running up stairs. Eventually you will get tired and you will need to start walking (but you’re still going up).
Headlines that suggest that prices have peaked and are falling create unrealistic expectations for buyers and give sellers a skewed perspective on the market.
Here are the numbers…
- Up 1.53% in Metro Denver
- Up 6.1% in Larimer County
- Up 5.1% in Weld County
Months of Inventory:
- 5 Months in Metro Denver
- 5 Months in Larimer County
- 4 Months in Weld County
- (Remember that 4-6 months of inventory represents a balanced market)
There has been an increase in Days on Market which means that homes are taking longer to sell. But the increase is measured in days, not months.
Here are those numbers…
Days on Market:
- Up 4 Days in Metro Denver
- Up 11 Days in Larimer County
- Up 3 Days in Weld County
So, be mindful of headlines that can be sensationalized and might suggest that the market is falling.
Bottom line, the market is going up, just not as fast as it was.
The results are in from FHFA.gov’s latest ranking of the top performing markets in the U.S.
Each quarter they track 245 cities across the country and rank their real estate markets by home price appreciation.
What’s the highest performing city the the U.S.
Vegas! Their prices have gone up 17.63% in the last year.
How about the worst?
Bloomington, Illinois sits in dead last where prices went down 3.58%
Here’s how Colorado cities are ranked:
• #10 Colo. Springs = 11.41%
• #16 Greeley = 10.68%
• #59 Fort Collins = 8.29%
• #64 Denver = 8.15%
• #97 Boulder = 6.85%
A valuable statistic with a funny title.
The Misery Index simply measures inflation plus unemployment.
It’s an effective way to look at our Nation’s economy.
Today’s Index sits just below 6%. Back in October 2011, it was close to 13%.
The lowest it has been in the last 7 years is October 2015 when it was near 5%.
If you would like a copy of the entire Forecast presentation, go ahead and reach out to us.
We would be happy to put it in your hands.
What a year it has been for both the U.S. economy and the national housing market. After several years of above-average economic and home price growth, 2018 marked the start of a slowdown in the residential real estate market. As the year comes to a close, it’s time for me to dust off my crystal ball to see what we can expect in 2019.
The U.S. Economy
Despite the turbulence that the ongoing trade wars with China are causing, I still expect the U.S. economy to have one more year of relatively solid growth before we likely enter a recession in 2020. Yes, it’s the dreaded “R” word, but before you panic, there are some things to bear in mind.
Firstly, any cyclical downturn will not be driven by housing. Although it is almost impossible to predict exactly what will be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”, I believe it will likely be caused by one of the following three things: an ongoing trade war, the Federal Reserve raising interest rates too quickly, or excessive corporate debt levels. That said, we still have another year of solid growth ahead of us, so I think it’s more important to focus on 2019 for now.
The U.S. Housing Market
Existing Home Sales
This paper is being written well before the year-end numbers come out, but I expect 2018 home sales will be about 3.5% lower than the prior year. Sales started to slow last spring as we breached affordability limits and more homes came on the market. In 2019, I anticipate that home sales will rebound modestly and rise by 1.9% to a little over 5.4 million units.
Existing Home Prices
We will likely end 2018 with a median home price of about $260,000 – up 5.4% from 2017. In 2019 I expect prices to continue rising, but at a slower rate as we move toward a more balanced housing market. I’m forecasting the median home price to increase by 4.4% as rising mortgage rates continue to act as a headwind to home price growth.
New Home Sales
In a somewhat similar manner to existing home sales, new home sales started to slow in the spring of 2018, but the overall trend has been positive since 2011. I expect that to continue in 2019 with sales increasing by 6.9% to 695,000 units – the highest level seen since 2007.
That being said, the level of new construction remains well below the long-term average. Builders continue to struggle with land, labor, and material costs, and this is an issue that is not likely to be solved in 2019. Furthermore, these constraints are forcing developers to primarily build higher-priced homes, which does little to meet the substantial demand by first-time buyers.
In last year’s forecast, I suggested that 5% interest rates would be a 2019 story, not a 2018 story. This prediction has proven accurate with the average 30-year conforming rates measured at 4.87% in November, and highly unlikely to breach the 5% barrier before the end of the year.
In 2019, I expect interest rates to continue trending higher, but we may see periods of modest contraction or levelling. We will likely end the year with the 30-year fixed rate at around 5.7%, which means that 6% interest rates are more apt to be a 2020 story.
I also believe that non-conforming (or jumbo) rates will remain remarkably competitive. Banks appear to be comfortable with the risk and ultimately, the return, that this product offers, so expect jumbo loan yields to track conforming loans quite closely.
There are still voices out there that seem to suggest the housing market is headed for calamity and that another housing bubble is forming, or in some cases, is already deflating. In all the data that I review, I just don’t see this happening. Credit quality for new mortgage holders remains very high and the median down payment (as a percentage of home price) is at its highest level since 2004.
That is not to say that there aren’t several markets around the country that are overpriced, but just because a market is overvalued, does not mean that a bubble is in place. It simply means that forward price growth in these markets will be lower to allow income levels to rise sufficiently.
Finally, if there is a big story for 2019, I believe it will be the ongoing resurgence of first-time buyers. While these buyers face challenges regarding student debt and the ability to save for a down payment, they are definitely on the comeback and likely to purchase more homes next year than any other buyer demographic.
Originally published on Inman News.
The Front Range may have lost out on Amazon’s HQ2, but that doesn’t mean their company won’t affect our economy.
Denver was in the running for Amazon’s massive new second headquarters that supposedly would bring 50,000 new high-paying jobs and $5 Billion of investment.
In the end Amazon chose to split the headquarters among two East-Coast cities and many in Colorado breathed a sigh of relief.
But they are will continue to be an economic force in our state.
Over the past two years, Amazon has greatly expanded its footprint in Metro Denver, opening up a sorting center in Aurora, fulfillment centers in Aurora and Thornton, a Prime Now center in Denver and a new delivery center in Centennial.
They will soon have 3,000 workers here and that number is expected to grow significantly.
Housing demand remains high across the Western United States, but home-building is still struggling to keep up. What can be done to help encourage construction of new homes? Windermere Real Estate’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner has insight.
Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner explains the ways zoning rules and regulatory costs can limit housing affordability.
75 million Baby Boomers control nearly 80% of all U.S. wealth, and as this generation ages, retires, and inevitably downsizes, they will have a significant impact on the housing market. Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, explains when we can expect to see Boomers start to sell, opening much-needed inventory and making home ownership available to younger generations.