The Year in Review: 2021 Saw Unprecedented Real Estate Changes  

I don’t think anyone in real estate foresaw the amazing year which is now coming to an end, any more than they foresaw the pandemic’s arrival in March 2020 and its effect on that year’s real estate market.

Even though the pandemic spanned both years, the two years display notably different patterns when it comes to home sales.

Below are four charts derived from REcolorado statistics, the first three of which span the time from Jan 1, 2020 through Dec. 27, 2021, when I researched this article. Final figures for December 2021 are not yet in but shouldn’t greatly affect that month’s stats. Because REcolorado is a statewide MLS, I limited the analysis to listings within 20 miles of downtown Denver, which includes the metro area except for the city of Boulder.

The most spectacular effect of the pandemic is shown in the top left chart, as homes started going under contract in a week or less (median), down from 26 median days in MLS in January 2020. Despite that, you can see that the active inventory of listings shot up from about 5,000 before the pandemic to a high of nearly 8,000 in May 2020. Inventory only started dropping at the end of that first summer, but  it’s apparent that the decline in active listings was not for lack of new listings but rather because most listings which came on the MLS went under contract within a week, causing the number of unsold listings to decrease.

The third chart has what looks to be an uninteresting top line, but that’s only because of the compressed scale. It actually reveals a dramatic change which only occurred in the second year of the pandemic. The ratio of closed price to listing price was only 99.3% in January 2020, but it rose to 100% in February and stayed there through January 2021. It surged to almost 105% in June 2021 and was still at 100.6% in November.

What has happened in the luxury market is even more pronounced. The fourth chart, going back six years, shows how the number of closings over $1 million has surged from well below 100 in early 2016 to a high of 547 in June 2021, with the two pandemic years showing the most outstanding growth. On the same chart you can see that the change in price per finished square foot was up and down showing a gradual increase month-to-month from 2016 to 2019, but then took on a sharper and steadier increase during the pandemic.

There does seem to be a cause-and-effect relationship between the pandemic and the real estate market. In the beginning, we could conclude that the lockdown was causing people to seek bigger homes to accommodate working from home (and schooling at home). Also, it seems that some couples broke up under the strain of being together 24/7, further increasing the demand side of the real estate market.

Although the government is reluctant to reimpose a lockdown for pretty obvious reasons, the pandemic is still a factor and can be expected to drive further real estate activity for months to come, even as interest rates rise gradually.

(Actually, rising interest rates can stimulate buying activity, because once buyers see rates rising and realize they’ll continue to rise, they want to buy before rates rise much further.)

Meet Anapaula Schock, Golden Real Estate’s Newest Broker Associate  

    Anapaula Schock first came to our attention through her renovation firm, Carlani, which several of our broker associates and I have utilized. I hired her company, for example, to repaint our former office on South Golden Road and to do some demolition in our new storefront location.

    All that time, I knew that she was herself an experienced bilingual Realtor with 12 years’ experience. I was pleased that after she got to know Golden Real Estate and our values, she asked if she could join our team. Passionate about helping clients to meet their real estate goals, she particularly resonates with our commitment to “hometown service delivered with integrity.” She looks forward in particular to bringing those values to Spanish-speaking buyers and sellers. Call her at 303-917-1749 or email her at ap@livincolorado.com.

Search MLS Listings Through Our Front Window  

The WindoVision system is now up and running in the left half of our 18-foot-wide storefront at 1214 Washington Avenue, as shown above.. The next time you’re in downtown Golden, feel free to play with it.

The unused left door has a touchscreen monitor in it which can be operated through the glass. It allows you to look at specific listings displayed on flyers in the large window at left by entering a 3-digit code for each, or search the MLS directly, such as by entering a price.  Try it 24/7!

Under Contract: 3-BR Patio Home in Arvada  

This paired ranch-style patio home at 7857 Allison Court boasts a large kitchen with granite counter tops, gas cooktop, breakfast bar and tray ceiling in the dining room. The main-level master suite has a soaking tub, double vanities, tile floor, a large walk-in closet, and new carpet. It leads out to an All-Season glass sunroom. The other main-level bedroom has an oversized double closet, new carpet, and large window. When you enter the home, you see the premium hardwood floors and vaulted ceilings in the living room with a pellet stove. Walk out to the Trex type deck with plumbed gas connection for a BBQ. The downstairs is loaded with extras! A home theater is wired with surround sound. The 4-person steam room has bench seats and dual rain shower heads. There’s a large kitchenette with lots of cabinets, wet bar, dishwasher, small refrigerator, and wine cooler. The large, carpeted bedroom has a walk-in closet and double entry doors. There is a gym with equipment for sale, and a room with built-in bookshelves that we’re calling a bonus room. Come and see this low-maintenance home with yard work, snow removal, exterior roofing, painting and plumbing costs covered by the HOA. They also take care of water, trash, and street maintenance. Interior photos and a narrated video tour are posted at www.ArvadaPatioHome.info. The open house originally scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 2nd, has been canceled. Call listing agent David Dlugasch at 303-908-4835 for more information.

Climate Change Vulnerability Is Increasingly an Issue for Homebuyers  

It’s not surprising, given the extreme weather we’re witnessing, including here in Colorado, that 63% of people who moved during the pandemic say that climate is or will be an issue where they now live, according to a Redfin survey of 1,000 Americans who moved since March 2020. Many of the respondents said they researched climate issues before making their move.

In another survey by ValuePenguin, more than half of Americans fear they would not be able to recover financially from a climate-induced catastrophe. An earlier Redfin survey showed that Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 were most likely to say that “natural disasters, extreme temperatures and rising sea levels” all influenced or will influence their decisions on where to move. 

Here in Colorado we’ve been blessed to experience fewer and less dramatic impacts from climate change. But those impacts are knocking on our door. Consider last summer’s fire smoke, or this month’s hurricane-force winds, or our current drought.

Our water supply depends on snowpack, and rising winter temperatures result in more rain and less snow. Even though we’re east of the continental divide, we, like the Western Slope and the states west of us, are dependent on the dwindling Colorado River water, which is transported from the Western Slope to the Front Range through tunnels.

Because we experience fewer effects of climate change, I foresee increased migration from other parts of the country, including “tornado alley,” to Colorado as their current homes experience climate change’s increasing impact.

In researching this topic, I came across a Fall 2021 white paper from SitusAMC entitled “The Burgeoning Insurance Costs for Real Estate.” It assesses the impact of increased losses from catastrophes, mostly caused by climate change.

Although the focus of the white paper is on the ability of insurers to cover increased claims and the effect of those increased claims on residential and commercial insurance rates, it also made some interesting observations about the migration of people to and from states with high insurance claims and expected future risks from climate change.

So guest what? With the sole exception of California, people are moving to states where they will be more at risk rather than less. Texas, which accounted for 40% of all insurance claims in the first half of 2021, has had the highest influx of people from other states. Florida, despite its risks, was a close second.

In recent years I’ve seen many of my sellers relocating to Florida, and it’s hard for me to understand.

So there you have it — a Redfin study that says Americans are considering climate change risks before making their move, while another study shows that more people are moving into states and areas of high risk. Could both be true? I’m not sure what to believe now!

Our Downtown Location Doubles as a Gallery for Noted Golden Photographer Todd Caudle  

In this picture, Todd Caudle mounts one of six large-format photographs in our new office at 1214 Washington Ave. He lives in Golden proper and is well-known for his photos of such local landmarks as Castle Rock. (See one of them below.) His popular desk and wall calendars, books and note card sets are sold at Red Wagon, 1118 Washington Ave., but our office is the only place you’ll find his large-format photographs.

All six of the photos displayed above our desks are for sale. As they sell, other photographs by the noted photographer will take their place. His collection features Colorado scenes, and we’ll feature his Golden photographs.

You can view all his many photos at www.SkylinePress.com/gallery/fine-art-prints/. Here’s a screenshot from that website.

We are welcoming you to come look at the photos, not just talk to one of our broker associates or me about real estate. Todd is a Golden treasure, and we are delighted to provide a brick-and-mortar outlet for his work. His photos are adding a splash of color to our office.

What Is the Effect of Today’s Surging Inflation Rates on Real Estate?  

With everything costing more these days, from groceries to gasoline to natural gas, what is the effect on the real estate market?

No doubt, you’ve heard that the year-over-year consumer price index increased by 6.8% in November, the highest increase in 40 years.

You also know that real estate prices and rents have increased too. So how do those statistics compare, and is buying still a better choice than renting?

Home prices have actually increased more than consumer prices over the last year, making real estate ownership the best hedge against inflation. In the Denver metro area (excluding Boulder) as of Sept. 30, 2021, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average sold price of homes was $614,800, an increase of 21.5% over the prior year. The average apartment rental price was $1,689 per months, an increase of 12.5% over the prior year. If you had a mortgage, the average monthly cost of ownership of that average home purchase was an astounding $4,126 per month for a single family detached home, making the rental of an average apartment much more affordable.

But, of course, the money you spend on rent is money down the drain, whereas the homeowner may find that the value of his/her home increases by more than the monthly mortgage payment. To me, there’s no comparison to owning vs. renting, but I understand that renting makes sense for many families.

So, what’s the prognosis for home ownership in 2022?  Because of the inflation rate, we can also expect mortgage rates to rise from around 3% to 3.7% in 2022 according to NAR, but if you already own your home, your low interest rate is locked in. Mortgage rates currently average 3.1%, according to Freddie Mac. 

A higher interest rate, however, could affect what you might sell your home for, if that’s in your plans. Compared, however, to the increase in value you’ve already experienced, I don’t think the effect of higher interest rates will be too much of a downer for you, should you choose to sell.

Unless you’ve switched to heat pump heating and cooling and have installed solar panels to generate the electricity, your home heating cost will increase in 2022. The cost of natural gas has already increased by 25%. The nice thing about electricity is that its cost can only increase by a vote of the Public Utilities Commission, and those increases are more gradual.

Gasoline costs have skyrocketed, but, again, the electricity to power EVs has not, and if you installed enough solar panels, you probably pay nothing for your car’s fuel. I suspect that solar installers are doing a good business nowadays. The cost of solar has plummeted, so call an intaller for a quote.

Interest-Only Loans Make a Comeback. Is One Right for You?  

Interest-only mortgages are making a comeback. Having a full appreciation of how interest-only loans work is key to determining whether this type of loan is the best fit for you. I spoke to Jaxzann Riggs of The Mortgage Network to break down these loans for me.

Well, let’s first answer the question: What is an interest-only mortgage? 

An interest-only mortgage allows you to pay only the interest due on the loan during the first 10 years of the loan – making your monthly payments lower when you first start making mortgage payments.

How do interest-only mortgages work?

A fully amortizing loan requires you pay an amount toward the interest and the loan balance (called the principal) for a set term, usually 15, 20, or 30 years. Lenders often refer to this as the P&I payment (principal and interest).

Interest-only mortgages, however, allow you to make monthly payments that equal only the interest due on the loan, for the first 10 years of the loan. At the beginning of the 11th year, you will begin paying both, the interest due on the loan and a portion of the loan balance.

For example, if you take out a $500,000 interest-only fixed rate mortgage at 4%, with an interest only period of 10 years and a fully amortizing period of 20 years, you’d have to pay about $1666 per month for the first 10 years. When the interest-only period ends, you will still owe the entire $500,000 and your monthly payment amount will almost double to about $3,029 with the inclusion of both principal and interest payments. 

What are the Pros and Cons of an interest-only mortgage?

According to Business Insider, there are many pros and cons to think about. 

Pros:

The initial monthly payments are usually lower: Since you’re only making payments towards interest the first several years, your monthly payments are lower compared to some other loans. 

May help you afford a pricier home: You may be able to borrow a larger sum of money because of the lower interest-only payments during the introductory period. 

Increase to your cash flow: Lower monthly payments can leave you with extra dollars in your budget. You can use that money to put towards other investments, home improvements, or you can start paying down the principal early.

Cons:

You won’t build equity in the home: With an interest-only loan, you aren’t building equity until you begin making payments towards the principal.

You can lose existing equity gained from your payment: If the value of your home declines, this may cancel out any equity you had from your down payment, making it difficult to refinance or sell.

Low payments are temporary: Your low monthly payment won’t last forever — when the interest-only period ends, your payments will increase significantly.

Interest rates can go up: Interest-only loans usually come with variable interest rates. If rates rise, so will the amount of interest you pay on your mortgage.

There are many homebuyers that may benefit from an interest-only mortgage. People who aren’t planning to stay in their home long term can take advantage of the lower monthly payments for several years, and then sell their house before the higher monthly payments kick in. Buyers who are just starting in their careers may appreciate the lower payments while they are making an entry level salary. If your finances are strong and you’re not worried about building equity, this may be a great option for you.

As with any large financial commitment, it’s important for all prospective buyers to seek expert advice. Reach out to Jaxzann Riggs at 303-990-2992 with any questions.

It is important to note, however, that once the initial interest-only term ends, you’d continue making payments toward the loan with both principal and interest included.

Just Listed: 3-Bedroom, 2.5-Bath Home in Arvada’s Wood Run III Subdivision

This home at 9710 W. 82nd Place enjoys the largest lot in Wood Run III, and is convenient to many amenities, including the Dry Creek Trail, Standley Lake Library, Wood Run Park, Fireman’s Park and Pomona Lakes 1 & 2. If allergies are an issue for you, you’ll appreciate the lack of any wall-to-wall carpeting. The upper level with the 3 bedrooms is all parquet flooring except for the tiled bathrooms. Other features include a wood-burning fireplace, new skylights in the living room, lots of real wood walls, including cedar, a whole-house steam humidifier, newer clothes dryer and fencing, large covered deck, and mature trees pruned earlier this year. You can look forward to a new community pool in 2022. Seller says the neighbors are wonderful. You can view a narrated video tour with drone video by clicking on the YouTube thumbnail below or at www.ArvadaHome.info. Open house will be this Saturday, Dec. 18th, 11 am to 1 pm.

https://youtu.be/vfHb-y26iPo
created by dji camera

Realtor Magazine Features All-Electric Home Trend  

This week’s email from Realtor Magazine featured “13 Home Trends Stealing the Spotlight in 2022,” and I was pleased to see that trend number twelve was “All-Electric Homes.”

I could have written it myself! I can’t improve upon the wording, so here it is, verbatim:

     More homeowners understand the importance of “decarbonizing” everything from products to transportation, and especially their homes, says Chicago- and Boulder, Colo.-based architect Nate Kipnis of Kipnis Architecture + Planning. “The way we can best do this is by eliminating all fossil fuels use from houses and including induction cooktops rather than gas for cooking, which offers safer, faster, and more even cooking,” he says. Kipnis recommends using either an air-source heat pump (mini-split) for the HVAC system or a ground source system (geotherm-al). The big payoff, he says, is that renewable energy has become the cheapest form of electricity generation.