FEBRUARY HOUSING STATS indicate spring has sprung

Posted by DB Wilson on Thursday, April 5th, 2012 at 1:38pm.

Spring has come to Colorado early this year, and it appears the housing market will follow the upswing in temperatures.


In February, Boulder area single-family home sales hit 172, a nearly 9 percent increase compared with February 2011’s 158 sales and about a 3 percent increase compared January’s sales of 167 homes.


 In the attached-unit market, 62 homes sold in February compared with 54 sales a year ago (a 22 percent increase) and 52 sales last month (a 19 percent increase).


Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor Association, says the sales of single-family homes in February represents the seventh out of the last eight months in which Boulder area markets saw an increase of 8 percent to 12 percent in sales volume compared with the previous year.


Such a trend shows the local housing market’s modest recovery continues, he says.


Another trend reflected in the overall decline in average and median home-sale prices is that a significant majority of houses selling are doing so for $700,000 or less, Hotard notes.


Out of the 172 single-family sales in February, 147 sold for $700,000 or less, he says.


“It’s what they (home buyers) can afford, what they can qualify for in terms of an affordable mortgage,” Hotard says, noting that restrictive loan requirements are not allowing home buyers to over-extend themselves.


Out of the Boulder area market’s nine communities, only three – Boulder (3.6 percent), Lafayette (3.9 percent) and Superior (1 percent) – actually saw increases in average sales prices in February, and only two – Boulder (3.4 percent) and Lafayette (3.1 percent) – saw increases in median sales prices. The mountain housing market experienced the most significant decrease in median sales price – 15.7 percent – as well as a 4.4 percent decrease in average sales price.


Hotard says there remains a limited supply of homes priced over $1 million coming on the market, so they tend to sell fairly quickly.


“I believe that’s because more of the higher-priced homes have experienced more significant price adjustments than the lower-priced homes,” he says, noting they sell within weeks if not days. “Many of the higher-priced homes on the market today are probably a bargain.”


Hotard notes that the spring weather could be drawing potential buyers out of hibernation, as area Realtors are reporting that buyer activity and home showings are up.


But the local improvement in job growth and the gradual loosening of credit are also helping, though many qualified buyers are still unable to obtain a mortgage, he says.


And issues with limited inventory – most Boulder-area communities saw a decline in homes for sale in February compared with a year ago – though BARA members are reporting a recent upswing in listing activity and, therefore, choices for buyers, is improving, Hotard says.


He suggests that some home sellers may holding off listing because of concerns they won’t get the price they want or need for their homes.


And issues with limited inventory – most Boulder-area communities saw a decline in homes for sale in February compared with a year ago – though BARA members are reporting that listing activity and, therefore, choices for buyers, is improving, Hotard says. He attributes the lack of inventory to home owners’ fears that they won’t get what they want or need for their homes.


“People are not going to put their houses on the market if they think they’re going to lose money,” he says.


With the Federal Reserve indicating that it will hold interest rates at historical lows for the foreseeable future, Hotard says he doesn’t see many signs that could negatively affect the local housing market over the next six to 10 months.


“But I also don’t see anything suggesting that we’re going to have a big ramp-up through the spring,” he says. “I believe it’s going to continue to grow, with modest gains in sales volume and stable pricing. It’s a good time to sell your home if it’s priced for the current market conditions.”

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