Housing market remains stable as fall kicks off, but slowing is apparent

Posted by Neil Kalinski on Monday, October 29th, 2012 at 11:39am.

Boulder-area home sales in September exceeded those of a year ago but, compared with August, it appears as if the market may be preparing to hibernate a bit as it heads into fall and winter.

The 281 single-family homes that sold in September represented a 15 percent increase over the 244 that sold in September 2011; and the 95 condominiums/townhomes that sold in September was an increase of 7.9 percent over the 88 units that sold a year ago.“Basically, the trends that we started at the end of July are continuing, with our September 2012 sales improving over September 2011,” explains Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association. “The landscape is really positive and relatively unchanged since mid-summer. But both single-family and attached-unit sales declined fairly dramatically from August.”

However, sales in September represented 25 percent and 22 percent drops in the single-family and attached-dwelling markets, respectively, from the 376 single-family and 122 attached-dwelling sales in August.

“We expect seasonal changes in the market,” Hotard says. “Typically in the fall we see a downturn in sales activity. If the weather supports it, there should be good activity through the fall. Last year was a good fall compared with the year before.”

The failure of sellers to enter the market appears to be causing the fall slowdown to occur sooner and faster than normal.

“All this continues to go on while inventory drops,” says Hotard, noting that the 1,661 homes on the market in September represented a 21.7 percent drop compared with the 2,124 available homes in September 2011. And the 467 attached units for sale in September was a 34.3 percent drop compared with the 711 for sale a year ago.

The month-to-month inventory also declined, with available single-family homes falling 6.4 percent and multifamily homes 5.8 percent compared with August.

“We continue to have issues with low inventory as it is being experienced in communities throughout the country, and it’s tending to hold sales back,” Hotard says. “But it’s also producing the positive benefit of holding prices up in most price categories.”

Hotard notes that Boulder-area markets’ prices bottomed out about six months ago and have been holding their own home if not on a steady climb since.

Average home prices within the city of Boulder increased 2 percent in September compared with a year ago, while their median sales price jumped 6.6 percent. Lafayette saw a 5 percent increase in average home prices and hit double digits – 10.6 percent – for median sales prices in September.

Hotard says single-family homes in the $800,000 and below price ranges in the Boulder-area markets have done well, with the market for homes priced $500,000 and below particularly strong.

In the attached-home market, sales of properties priced $300,000 and below have shown improvement, with the strongest market being that for those priced $200,000 or lower, he says.

“One thing that will help position us for a positive market as we enter the next year is to get this national election behind us,” Hotard predicts. “I believe a lot of people have put their decision to sell or buy on hold with uncertainty with national election and impact it may or may not have on a national economy.”

While hiring will certainly increase during the holiday season, Hotard says those will mostly be temporary jobs, unlikely to affect housing markets, and he doesn’t expect to see any real hiring trends form until the first quarter of 2011. He notes that, “Job growth can lead housing markets. We’d like to see solid improvement early next year.”

Neil Kalinski

RE/MAX of Boulder, Inc


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