As contradictory as year-to-year sales decreasing and month-to-month sales increasing may seem, the Boulder area’s real estate statistics for March continue to reflect a resilient market.
“I don’t see much difference in this month’s statistics than the pattern we’ve continued to see the last several months,” says Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association. “It’s pretty steady as she goes.”
Year-to-year sales of single family homes dropped 14 percent in March compared with a year ago – 271 units versus 315 units – while sales in the same category increased 39.7 percent in March compared with the 194 units sold in February.
The trend repeated itself in the condominium/townhome market, with sales falling 12.7 percent in March compared with the year before – 96 units versus 110 units – yet increasing 17 percent in March compared with the 82 units selling in February.
Hotard says the year-to-year decrease represents a “strong seasonal adjustment,” considering a “fairly strong fourth quarter” the Boulder market experienced in 2013.
In quarter-to-quarter comparisons, single-family home sales of 653 represented an 11.4 percent drop compared with the first quarter of 2013, in which 737 units sold, and a significant 22.6 percent decrease compared with the 844 units that sold in the fourth quarter of 2013.
The condo/townhome market also saw only 238 units sell in the first quarter, a decrease of 5.5 percent compared with the 252 units that sold in the first three months of 2013, and an 11.5 percent drop compared with the 269 units that sold in the fourth quarter of last year.
“I wouldn’t make too much of the sales-volume drop in those categories,” he says, adding that the month-over-month sales show both the single-family and attached-unit markets are tracking “reasonably well.”
The number of both single-family and attached-unit homes also fell year-to-year while increasing compared with the previous month: 1,246 single-family units were on the market in March, a 15 percent drop compared with March 2013 but 18.6 percent more compared with the 915 units available in February. In the condo/townhome market, inventory fell 21.4 percent in March compared with the 401 units available a year ago, but that was an increase of 13.3 percent compared with the previous month.
“We’ve still got the same inventory challenges that we have had, and credit continues to tighten,” Hotard says, adding that higher Federal Housing Authority fee structures are also having an impact on sales, as are other factors. “We have the same ol’ song we keep singing: job growth remains low, wages are stagnant and people are less inclined to leverage themselves with the uncertainty of the economy.”
Hotard says he expects the trend to continue through the summer, with inventories not quite meeting the demand in some markets but sales increasing month over month and perhaps year over year.
There’s no indication that will change in the foreseeable future or at least this year, he says.
And Hotard says he wouldn’t be surprised if the market slowdown came in July, as it did last year, instead of August.
“If we have an early summer slowdown, we could have a stronger-than-average fourth quarter,” Hotard says.
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