What the Numbers Say

During a time of varying opinions and heavy speculation about the Front Range real estate market, let’s see what the actual numbers are telling us:

Inventory is up significantly year over year:

  • Larimer County = +48%
  • Weld County = +52%
  • Metro Denver = +74%

However, supply is still low as measured by months of inventory:

  • Larimer County = 1.1 Months
  • Weld County = 1 Month
  • Metro Denver = 1 Month

Transaction count is down as the pace of sales is slowing:

  • Larimer County = -24%
  • Weld County = -15%
  • Metro Denver = -19%

Yet, average prices are still up versus last year:

  • Larimer County = +18%
  • Weld County = +10%
  • Metro Denver = +14%

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Rate Perspective

Given the recent increase in mortgage interest rates, we think a little perspective is in order.

  • The average 30-year rate for the last 40+ years is 7.5%
  • Rates are now back within the range where they were between April 2018 and February 2019
  • Between January 2000 and December 2009, the high was 8.15% and the low was 5.05%
  • Between January 1990 and December 1999, rates never went below 6.25%

Bottom line, while the increase in rates is challenging for active buyers, rates are still incredibly low historically speaking.

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3.2 Trillion

The new CoreLogic Homeowner Equity Insights report shows that homeowners in the U.S. have seen their equity increase by a total of $3.2 trillion over the last 12 months.

Their data shows that 63% of all homes have a mortgage.

On average, U.S. homeowners gained $55,000 while the average increase in Colorado was higher at $75,000.

The other piece of good news from the report is that properties with negative equity reached the lowest amount in several years.

Only 2.1% of all properties across the U.S. have a value lower than the mortgaged amount.  Negative equity peaked at 26% of all mortgaged properties back in 2009.

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Townhome Surge

Townhome construction has surged in the last 12 months.  This is welcome news for first-time buyers who benefit from the lower prices that multi-family product tends to provide.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, townhome construction has jumped up 28% compared to the previous year.

Townhomes now represent 13% of all new residential construction starts.

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Money at a Discount

This week, for the first time in 32 months, mortgage rates hit 4%.

While this increase may feel painful for buyers currently looking at property, it is important to put today’s rates in perspective.

We believe we will look back a few years from now and see that a 4% rate was like buying money at a discount.

Interest rates hovered between 4.5% and 3.75% for the 8-year span of June, 2011 to June 2018

Between January, 2000 and December, 2010 rates were as high as 8.25% and as low as 5.0%.

When looking at the history of interest rates and researching economists’ forecasts, we believe it is reasonable for rates to hit 5% within the next 24 months. 

When interest rates increase 1%, a buyer’s monthly payment increases 10%.

So, if rates do go to 5%, it is like an additional 10% price increase for a buyer.

Given all of this information, we believe the biggest risk to a buyer in today’s market is to wait.

Mortgage rates are likely on their way up and there is an opportunity to buy money at a discount today.

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Steady Stream

Despite the extraordinarily low amount of standing inventory, it is important to understand there is still a steady stream of new inventory hitting the market.

Inventory is low. That is a reality.

New inventory is coming on the market at essentially the same pace as compared to the last few years. That is also a reality.

Because demand is so high, the inventory doesn’t stay on the market very long.  Residential listings go from ‘Active’ to ‘Pending’ very quickly (assuming they are priced correctly).

Over the course of 2021, there were 66,308 new residential listings that hit the market in Metro Denver.  That is only 5% less than 2020.

Larimer County had 8,342 which is 7% less than 2020.

Weld County had 8,499 which is 5% less than 2020.

While standing inventory is near 50% lower than last year, the stream of new inventory is fairly consistent.

It is time to register for our annual Market Forecast with Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. This year the event will be hosted online on Thursday February 3rd from 11:00 to 12:00.

You can register at www.ColoradoForecast.com

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Standing Low

The standing inventory of residential properties currently for sale is staggeringly low.

The number of active properties for sale is almost 90% below the average for this time of year.

In Metro Denver, there are 1,144 residential properties for sale today.

In Larimer County, there are 136 and in Weld County there are 174. 

Current inventory along the Front Range is essentially half of what it was one year ago.

The low standing inventory bolsters our belief that nothing resembling a decline in housing prices is on the horizon.  The low supply will continue to put upward pressure on prices.

It is time to register for our annual Market Forecast with Chief Economist Matthew Gardner.  This year the event will be hosted online on Thursday February 3rd from 11:00 to 12:00.

You can register at www.ColoradoForecast.com

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Housing Inventory

Many of our clients wonder if the current pace of price growth can continue.  Some even ask if prices will decline this year. 

Based on researching the Case-Shiller Home Price index and the National Association of Realtors home inventory data, there must be at least 6 months of inventory in a market for prices to have any chance of declining. We wrapped up 2021 with about 2 weeks of inventory across Larimer County, Weld County and Metro Denver. This marks a 43%-46% decrease in inventory as compared to December 2020.

The dwindling supply and the rising prices have led to a lot of questions about the future of the housing market. Is there a market crash on the horizon? Is there a housing bubble that’s about the burst? The answer is no. Although it is unlikely that the market can continue at this pace indefinitely, all signs point to a healthy housing market in 2022.

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Lumber Back Up

The price of lumber has jumped back up again and is adding to the cost of new home construction.

Over the past four months, lumber prices have nearly tripled, causing the price of an average new single-family home to increase by more than $18,600.

According to Random Lengths, as of the end of December, the price of framing lumber topped $1,000 per thousand board feet — a 167% increase since late August.

This most recent lumber price upsurge is due to a number of factors, including:

  • Ongoing supply chain disruptions
  • A doubling of tariffs on Canadian lumber imports into the U.S. market that increased price volatility
  • An unusually strong summer wildfire season in the western United States and British Columbia

Predictions on what lumber prices will do during 2022 are mostly pointing to even higher costs for home builders and ultimately, new home buyers.

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Record Increase

Home builders have experienced their largest-ever increase in building costs so far in 2021.

This is according to the latest Producer Price Index report.  

Year to date, building costs are up 14.5%.  This amount tops the previous record of 7.1% which occurred in 2008.

Specific materials which have seen significant increases include lumber, drywall and steel.

The price of steel has risen 117% this year.

These material cost increases combined with increases in items like building permits and tap fees are causing home builders to raise their sales prices.

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