The following analysis of the Metro Denver & Northern Colorado real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
A MESSAGE FROM MATTHEW GARDNER
Needless to say, any discussion about the U.S. economy, state economy, or housing markets in the first quarter of this year is almost meaningless given events surrounding the COVID-19 virus.
Although you will see below data regarding housing activity in the region, many markets came close to halting transactions in March and many remain in some level of paralysis. As such, drawing conclusions from the data is almost a futile effort. I would say, though, it is my belief that the national and state housing markets were in good shape before the virus hit and will be in good shape again, once we come out on the other side. In a similar fashion, I anticipate the national and regional economies will start to thaw, and that many of the jobs lost will return with relative speed. Of course, all of these statements are wholly dependent on the country seeing a peak in new infections in the relatively near future. I stand by my contention that the housing market will survive the current economic crisis and it is likely we will resume a more normalized pattern of home sales in the second half of the year.
- In the first quarter of 2020, 9,189 homes sold. This is an increase of 9.5% compared to the first quarter of 2019.
- Ten counties contained in this report saw sales grow, one remained static, and one saw fewer transactions. Sales rose most in the small Park County area. There was a small drop in sales in El Paso County.
- The average number of homes for sale in the quarter was down 12.9% from the same period in 2019.
- Inventory levels have not improved and, given the fallout from COVID-19, it is hard to put a date on when we will see a resumption of normal activity in the housing market. Though sales are sure to return, we may well see a gradual increase in listings rather than a surge.
- Home prices continue to trend higher, with the average home price in the region rising 6.7% year-over-year to $477,495.
- Interest rates remain at very competitive levels and are certain to remain well below 4% for the balance of the year. This can allow prices to continue to rise but much will be dependent on the fallout of COVID-19.
- Appreciation was again strongest in Clear Creek County, where prices rose a remarkable 27.1%. This market is small though and subject to wild swings, so this jump is not surprising. We also saw strong growth in Park County, which rose 21.8%. Home prices rose by double digits in an additional three counties.
- Affordability remains an issue in many Colorado markets, which could act as a modest headwind to ongoing price growth.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home in the markets contained in this report rose by only one day compared to the first quarter of 2019.
- It took an average of 46 days to sell a home in the region.
- The amount of time it took to sell a home dropped in six counties and rose in six counties compared to the first quarter of 2019.
- The Colorado housing market was performing well before the onset of the pandemic and is likely to resume reasonable performance once we resume normal operations. That said, it will be interesting to see if home sellers or buyers are the first to reengage.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.
Given the current economic environment, I have decided to freeze the needle in place until we see
a restart in the economy. Once we have resumed “normal” economic activity, there will be a period of adjustment with regard to housing. Therefore, it is appropriate to wait until later in the year to offer my opinions about any quantitative impact the pandemic will have on the housing market.
ABOUT MATTHEW GARDNER
As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.
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As the days shorten, you can mitigate many mid-winter headaches with some preemptive prep. Proper weatherizing can help protect your home from preventable damage, save money on energy costs, and, most importantly, keep you and your loved ones safe and warm throughout the winter season. Here is a useful checklist to manage your weatherization project. Setting aside some time on a couple of weekend days should be more than enough to knock this out:
Cracks & Leaks
Examine your entire house for any cracks and leaks, from your roof to your baseboards, to your basement and foundation. With unpredictable winter weather, these cracks and leaks are how the outside gets in, causing cold drafts and water damage.
Luckily, most cracks don’t require a professional to handle it. Depending on your house type and age, it’s likely you’ll be able to do it yourself with supplies from your local hardware store.
Windows & Doors:
Gaps and breaks in windows and doors is another way to let the winter in your home, and they can let heat escape, raising your heat bill throughout the season.
Make sure seals are tight and no leaks exist. If you have storm windows, make sure you put them on before the cold season begins. Additionally, add weather-strips and or a door sweep to prevent drafts and keep the heat in.
Clean your rain gutters of any debris. In colder climates, the buildup will cause gutters to freeze with ice, crack and then leak.
Once you have removed the residue from the drains, test them by running hose water to make sure cracks and leaks have not already formed. Even in warmer locales, the buildup can put undue stress on your roof and home.
Protecting your pipes from freezing should be your number one priority this winter. A burst pipe can quickly become a disaster in any home.
Remember to turn off your exterior water source and take in your hose. Internally, wrapping your pipes is a recommended precaution to take.
Annual checks are vital in avoiding dangers such as house fires. Replace filters if you use a furnace and clear out any vents and ducts that carry heat through them. If you have baseboard heat, wipe them of dust and remove any debris that might catch fire.
Fireplace & Wood Burning Stoves:
Make sure to have chimneys and air vents cleaned early in the season if you are planning on warming your home with a wood-burning source. When your fireplace is not in use make sure to close the damper, some resources estimate an open damper can increase energy consumption by as much as 30%, increasing your bill about $200.
Bring your patio furniture inside or cover it for the winter. Don’t forget other, smaller items such as your tools, including the hose and planting pots. Clear out any piles around the side of your house, checking for cracks and holes in your home and foundation as you go so to avoid providing shelter for unwelcome guests over the cold season.
If your property has large trees check for loose branches and call someone to trim back any limbs that may fall in your yard, on your roof or even damage a window.
Lastly, make sure your emergency kit is up to date with provisions, batteries, fresh water, food for animals, entertainment for kids – especially if you live in an area prone to power outages.
By: Mike Longsdon
There is nothing like enjoying retirement, as it allows us to explore our senior years with a new sense of freedom. After all, we’ve worked hard to get where we are today, and for many of us, it’s the perfect opportunity to discover new interests and hobbies. Of course, downsizing can be a large part of finding more time for this adventure, especially when purchasing a new home. Here’s some information to keep in mind during the process.
How Downsizing Can Improve Your Golden Years
Often, having a larger home in our golden years just doesn’t make sense. When you don’t have as many maintenance- and financial-related responsibilities, you have the opportunity to enjoy spending more time enjoying retirement. In fact, it takes longer each week to keep a larger home clean, as well as more money to maintain it. Both of these factors — time and money — could be better invested in doing things that you enjoy. Of course, there are ways to lower heating and cooling bills, but these tricks take work and time. At the end of the day, it’s worth considering downsizing and moving into the home of your dreams instead.
Exploring New Cities and Areas
This is the perfect opportunity to relocate to somewhere you’ve thought about your whole life. Still, we can’t just pack our bags and hit the road, so begin by doing your homework. When thinking of a specific city, you have to consider its weather, cost of living, quality of healthcare, and how active its senior community is. Then again, if it’s been a goal to explore another country, such as France, Spain, or Italy, your budget could go further. Indeed, there are plenty of places where you can not just survive, but thrive, on less than $3,000 a month.
Finding the Best Home for You
An accessible-ready home will be your best bet, but if you fall in love with a two-story home in need of a little renovation, you can still make it work. For instance, you might keep your bedroom on the ground floor, especially if there is a bathroom on that level. Moreover, you could also install a chairlift on the stairs to make things safe and provide easy access. Otherwise, prioritize homes that allow you to age comfortably. In particular, look for light switches that are easy-touch and 48 inches from the ground, hallways and rooms with walkways wide enough for mobility aids, and no-threshold showers to make bathing safe and effortless. If modifications are going to be a must, be sure to get a general idea of a home’s value so you know what you can expect to spend on the house, making it easier to budget for necessary upgrades. In Fort Collins, homes are currently selling for an average of around $399,000, but you can find a smaller-sized home for less.
Packing, Moving Day, and Organizing
To make moving day as easy as possible, the best thing you can do is declutter and donate any items you no longer need. This may seem difficult at first, particularly when we are attached to stuff no longer used, but remind yourself that memory associated with it is the most important. So, use it one last time, take a picture, and let it go. Without boxes bulging with possessions, packing and transportation will be much easier. As you do pack, don’t go room by room; instead, pack by category to keep similar items together. Lastly, to ensure moving day itself is as painless as possible, take extra care when researching Fort Collins moving companies. After all, you want to have faith that the movers will get your goods to your destination safely.
Finding a New Rhythm
A new house brings new routines, and the transition can sometimes be difficult. However, having an organized home can make things smoother, so don’t put off unpacking. When you arrive, do the main parts of your kitchen, enough to cook a few meals, then set up your bedroom. There’s nothing more priceless than having a place you can retreat to, so invest your energy here. Then, you can take your time and really think about where you’d like everything to go to make your home the sanctuary it should be.
Don’t let your house be a reason you don’t have the independence you deserve. With fewer chores and expenses, you’ll have a greater ability to find new sources of joy at this stage of life. A smaller home can open opportunities you might not have realized were available.
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Choosing between moving companies can be a difficult task: you need a reliable company that can do the work at a price that won’t break your bank. There are many companies on the market and with so many scams and bad experiences surrounding the industry, it is important to make sure you are choosing a reliable and vetted company.
- Check their online reputation
- Make sure they are transparent with the services they provide and what they do not provide
- Quality of service – for example, are they willing to come to your home and provide an in-home estimate?
For more information on the moving industry and choosing a reliable mover, please review this guide from Consumers Advocate: https://www.consumersadvocate.org/moving-companies
On January 17th we hosted our annual Market Forecast. Our chief economist flew in from Seattle to give us an educational and entertaining summary of where the market has been and where it is going.
If you missed it, don’t worry, you can find a recap video below!