A solid end to 2011 for the Boulder-area real estate market appears to have spilled over into 2012, with single-family home sales increasing compared with a year ago.
Boulder area markets posted 167 single-family home sales in January, an increase of 20 percent compared with the 139 homes that sold in the same month last year.
“We’re continuing the momentum we built up in the last two quarters of 2011,” says Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association.
“Clearly sales activity is down from historic levels but it has improved steadily beginning in June 2011.”
Hotard says the area is seeing a good deal of buyer activity in the market, and properties in good condition and priced well are selling fairly quickly.
On the downside, another trend that carried over from 2011 into the New Year is price volatility, with average sales prices dropping in six out of nine Boulder communities and median sales prices falling in seven communities.
But Hotard calls the fluctuation “minor” and consistent with the last year to 18 months. He attributes it to the fact that currently, more homes are selling in the lower price points.
In January, all but 19 of the 167 single-family homes that sold did so for $700,000 or less, and 124 of those sold for $500,000 or less. So the average and median price fluctuation is just a reflection of the active market at this time, Hotard says.
“The inventory challenge is the biggest market disruption in place at the moment at a local level,” he adds.
That goes for the condominium/townhome market, as well, in which all 52 of the units that sold in January were priced below $300,000 and 28 of them sold for less than $200,000.
In comparison, 59 attached dwellings sold a year ago in the Boulder area markets, and Hotard says that financing for attached units remains challenging.
While interest rates remain historically low and credit has eased some, it has not done so nearly enough to allow a broader range of qualified buyers to enter into the real estate market, Hotard says.
“In some market areas that we serve it’s a very tight inventory that’s holding back sales,” he says. “I’m expecting that to improve as we move closer to the spring peak selling season.”
Right now, many buyers aren’t finding the product they’re looking for, Hotard says.
And he disagrees with experts forecasting a housing rebound for 2012.
“I don’t understand the basis for that type of optimism,” he says. “I expect to see improvement but it’ll be modest, at least in the short run. There needs to be significant adjustment in the financial industry to open lines of credit to, again, a broader range of qualified borrowers. That will take some time to accomplish. There are some political barriers to sweeping changes that won’t come down this year.”
And as for those “sweeping changes,” Hotard says discussions this year won’t result in action until later – after the 2012 election, perhaps in 2013 or 2014.