2011 MARKET ENDS ON SLUGGISH NOTE BUT STRONG ENOUGH

Posted by DB Wilson on Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 at 2:07pm.

Following five consecutive months in which home sales exceeded those of the previous year and prices held their own, the Boulder area real estate markets ended 2011 on a rough patch.

“We broke the pattern in single-family home sales in December 2011,” notes Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association. “That means the housing market flattened out and even dipped a little bit.”

Only 204 single-family homes sold in Boulder area markets in December, compared with 231 in December 2010 and 210 in November 2011. In the condominium/townhomes market, 72 units sold in December, which is in line with the 71 that sold in December 2010 but down slightly from the 78 that sold in November 2011.

Hotard notes that although the month-over-month sales were not what were hoped for, single-family homes sales were up slightly quarter-over-quarter, with 656 selling in the fourth quarter of 2010 compared with the 661 that sold in the fourth quarter of 2011. Third quarter single-family home sales of 932 in 2011 dramatically exceed the 765 sales in the third quarter of 2010.

And the 228 condos/townhomes that sold in the last three months of 2012 exceeded the sales in the fourth quarter of 2010 by 25 – a 9 percent increase. Third quarter condo and townhome sales of 316 in 2011 also surged ahead of the 225 sold in the third quarter 2010.

Although not all the sales data for 2011 has closed out, it appears that for the year, the 3,047 single-family homes that sold in 2011 fell short of the 3,161 that sold in 2010, when tax incentives boosted sales. And the 1,001 attached units sold in last year came up short compared with 1,126 in 2010.

The last month of 2011 also showed more downward movement in home prices, with seven out of nine Boulder area communities seeing a decrease in median sales prices and six communities’ average sales prices declined.

Hotard attributed sales price volatility to anticipated holiday season adjustments, but continued economic uncertainty going in to 2012 and a “thin inventory” of homes for sale were also contributing factors.

“There’s not a strong enough inventory of product to choose from in some market areas,” he notes, adding that more buyers might enter the market if they had more product from which to choose. “Sellers are also reluctant to put their homes on the market when prices appear depressed.”

But Hotard says he expects the market to pick up with the arrival of spring and as positive economic news, including job growth and improved consumer activity reflected in local sales tax collection increases, filter in.

“Given the overall strong finish to 2011 in the last two quarters, owners who are thinking about putting their homes on the market should move forward. Those who prepare their homes appropriately and price them appropriately will see good results,” he says.

“The fact that 2011’s sales do not appear to have beaten 2010 is likely because of the sluggish pace of sales in the first two quarters of the year,” Hotard adds. “The final two quarters exceeded the last two quarters of 2010, which puts me on a positive trajectory coming in to this year. I’m looking forward to see if we can sustain that and improve on the first and second quarters of 2011 in 2012.

“I’m thinking it’s going to be pretty positive, especially if we can get some additional inventory put together early this year.”

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