The Kearney Report
I’ve just published the latest Kearney Report which highlights the latest trends in Boulder County real estate and compares them to the longer term trends. I break up the county into a few smaller areas including Boulder, Longmont, East County (which includes Erie, Louisville, Lafayette and Superior) so that you can compare price ranges and other statistics in our different communities. You can view The Kearney Report below online or you can download the PDF here The Kearney Report 3rd Quarter 2017
Real Estate Market Update
At the end of the second quarter the Boulder area real estate market started to show signs that the strong sellers market that had been in place for over four years was wavering. The third quarter solidified that trend as sales slowed, negotiation edged toward neutrality, properties stayed on the market longer and price reductions were very common as sellers figured out that their optimistic expectations were not being realized in the market.
During the third quarter of 2017 there were 1,335 sales in Boulder County which reflects an 12% drop from the same quarter of the previous year. The median sales price during the quarter was $475,000 which is 8% higher than it was a year ago (the median price for sales during the second quarter were $500,000). Homes are staying on the market longer and this has given buyers more choices when looking.
During the second quarter, 31% of the homes sold for a price above the list price, this is down from 41% during the second quarter and 42% during the third quarter of 2016. The average premium paid on those properties that sold above full price was 2.8%, last year it was 4.04%. While still considered a seller’s market, we are shifting more toward neutral and buyers are able to negotiate rather than pay above list price in a majority of situations.
Here are some of the trends we are seeing in the market:
Trend #1 – Slowing Sales
Through the end of September sales in Boulder County were down 7% from a year ago. This alone isn’t such a big deal. What is more interesting is looking at sales on a monthly basis. Through March, cumulative sales in Boulder County were up by 6% over the same time period in 2016. The market was strong, multiple offer situations were common and houses were selling quickly. Sales tailed off a bit in April and May but that was due more to lack of inventory than anything else. Then right around Memorial Day the market noticeably slowed down. Houses that one would expect to sell quickly lingered on the market. We also started to see price reductions at a higher pace than previous years and the total number of sales dropped. Closings in June were down 12%, in July down 10%, in August down 14% and in September down 14%. We have definitely lsot some momentum in the volume of sales.
Trend #2 – Price Range Matters
When we speak about the average listing in Boulder County we are talking about a price range in Boulder County of roughly $500,000. When one deviates from that range the story can differ from what is reported. Over the past few years there has been a record number of sales over $1 million. However, the sales of homes in the luxury range have shown less of a seller’s market than lower price ranges. Currently there is 2.6 months of inventory on the market in the price range of $500,000 and lower; 2.91 months for those homes in the $500 – $750k range; 4.10 months for homes between $750,000 and $1 million; and 6.04 months for homes priced above 1 million. The National Association of Realtors has stated that 6 months of inventory is a balanced market.
Trend #3 – Interest Rates
At the end of September the average national 30 year mortgage interest rate was 3.83%. This is up slightly from a year ago but still below the five-year average. At the end of the day what matters to a potential home purchaser is if they can afford the payment. As prices rise, buyers slowly adjust to the new normal but if they can afford it and if their friends and colleagues are also buying homes, the price objection as a stand-alone issue dissolves as long as they can afford the payment. So when prices rise, like they have over the past five years affordability needs to come from somewhere. Buyers must either have their incomes increase in a proportional way, be able to bring a larger down payment, or interest rates must be low enough to allow for a reasonable payment relative to their overall monthly income. So far, interest rates are staying low and allowing for sustained sales. If we do see a spike in interest rates that compounds the effect of the recent price increases, we can expect to see demand fall and prices flatten. This flattening of prices has been the normal for the Boulder County market over the past 30 years after a period of rapid price gains.
Trend #4 – Price Appreciation Losing Some Steam
I’m splitting hairs a bit here because we have seen some slowing this summer on price appreciation. According to FHFA.gov Boulder County homes showed a 10.84% gain in value from June 2016 to June 2017. This was tied for 19th best in the nation with Portland OR. But the rise in inventory and the drop in sales this summer tell me that the pace of appreciation has slowed.
We have been blessed by a steady upward trending market without the up’s and downs that typically accompany high growth. Real estate is cyclical and it will be interesting to see where we are in the cycle over the next few years. Enjoy the report!
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