The Real Estate Market Is Still Active, Meeting the Needs of Both Buyers and Sellers

The Denver real estate market, based on my own analysis of REcolorado listings, showed continued strength last week, despite the imposition of a statewide stay-at-home order by Gov. Jared Polis that Tuesday.

To my surprise, despite the growing COVID-19 threat with all its expected economic impacts, a total of 1,799 listings went “active” on REcolorado last week — that is, between Sunday the 22nd and Saturday the 28th.

Although 53 of those new listings were taken off the market the same week — likely because of the stay-at-home order — and 24 of them were entered as “sold” without ever being active, that left 1,722 new listings on the market, and 387 or 22.5% of them were under contract by week’s end. That does not sound to me like a real estate market that is stalling because of the COVID-19 virus. 

It makes me wonder about those 53 listings that were pulled off the MLS because of the stay-at-home order. How many of them would have been under contract by now had the sellers and their listing agents not been overly cautious?

The homes that went under contract within their first week on the MLS ranged from a 2-bedroom, 1-bath condo for $100,000 in the Windsor Gardens senior community south of Lowry to a 4-bedroom, 4-bath home for $1.3 million in the foothills northwest of Boulder. The median price of those homes was $425,000.

To see how last week compared to “normal,” I researched the listings that were first entered on REcolorado during the same seven days in 2019.

Surprisingly, slightly fewer homes were entered on Denver’s MLS during the same 7 days a year ago — 1,727.  Of those, only 12 were taken off the MLS that same week. Another 73 were entered as “sold” that week. Of the remaining 1,642 listings, 670 or 40.8% went under contract within a week. That’s much higher than the 22.5% this year, but consistent with the slowing of the market which we saw before the advent of the virus. Those 670 listings which went under contract within 7 days last year ranged from a $95,000 condo in Aurora to a $1.5 million dollar 6-bedroom home in South Boulder. The median listing price was $395,000.

As you might guess, I was concerned about whether the new Lakewood ranch listed by me last Wednesday would get any showings, since showings didn’t begin until Friday, three days after Gov. Polis instituted the stay-at-home order. I needn’t have worried. We had five showings by Sunday, with one agent calling to ask if we had any offers yet because his buyer was interested in submitting an offer.

Also on Sunday, a buyer I hadn’t heard from in months called about seeing a new listing.  I set a showing for that afternoon, and the buyer is considering making an offer.

All in all, then, this market continues to surprise me. While it is slower in terms of activity, there are still many serious buyers willing and able to make offers on new listings.  Those buyers who are unable or afraid to make an offer, whether for economic or health reasons, are not calling us. Agents might appreciate the fact that only serious and qualified buyers are going to call about seeing homes for sale.

Meanwhile, sellers who want to sell should recognize that there are serious and qualified buyers out there and consider putting their home on the market. Just make sure you use an agent like us at Golden Real Estate who does narrated video tours of listings.

Today’s Technology Is What Allows Real Estate to Keep Functioning

The practice of real estate has come a long way from the days when homes were only listed in books the size of a big-city telephone directory. (You do remember telephone directories, don’t you?)

Back then life was simpler, but that depends on how you define “simpler.” Purchase contracts were one or two pages instead of 20 pages, and they had to be hand delivered, as did subsequent documents such as inspection and appraisal objections. Mortgage applications and information was all faxed, if not delivered in person.

Actually, life is simpler today. All documents are typically emailed back and forth and signed electronically, except for closing (which has to be done in front of a Notary). 

As you know, homes for sale can now be searched and viewed online. An in-person showing or two is common before submitting an offer, but not always necessary. Because our narrated video tours are just like an in-person showing, led by the listing agent, I’ve had out-of-state or even foreign buyers ask me to create a purchase contract, knowing that they can always terminate (which they haven’t) when they fly in for the home inspection. Here’s an example of one of our current video tours:

Example of a Golden Real Estate narrated video tour – 1957 S. Taft St. – Listed last week

Facetime is also a great tool for showing homes. When one of our own buyers from out of state expresses interest in a home which they learned about from an MLS email alert — another new technology tool — our agent will use Facetime or take our video camera and do a narrated walk through of that listing (because the listing agent did not create such a tour), and post it on YouTube as a private or unlisted video, and send a link for it to the buyer. 

Zoom came along just in time for COVID-19, replacing GoToMeeting as the “go to” software for virtual meetings.  A classmate from long ago sent me a link for a virtual 6-person band performance of an adaptation of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” cut, with COVID-19 lyrics. What a hoot!

Even this column is made possible by technology that wasn’t available when I was a newspaper publisher. I create it on my laptop using MS Publisher, create a PDF of it, and send it to the newspaper on deadline, which is two days before you see it in print.  Then I post it on this blog, which has hundreds of subscribers, and email it to 900 people who have chosen to receive it by email because they no longer subscribe to a printed newspaper.

Of course, this newspaper, like most, is also available in a “digital replica edition” on its website, which reaches even more readers. I love technology and how it has made life simpler!

How Golden Real Estate Is Coping With COVID-19 Guidelines

We and our partners in real estate continue to work while adapting to the COVID-19 guidelines for physical distancing, minimized travel, and more. Inspectors are still inspecting, but they don’t want buyers or agents in the house with them. Title companies are still doing their title searches and conducting closings, albeit with attention to sanitizing rooms and some physical distancing. Mortgage companies are still doing their jobs, as are the appraisers they hire.

Meanwhile, real estate brokers like us are still showing homes, writing contracts, negotiating inspection issues just as we always have — that is, by phone and email — and going to closings, although even that could be more virtual, now that Gov. Polis has issued an executive order saying that Notaries can work virtually.

What’s different is the cancelation of all kinds of meetings, open houses, and in-person continuing education classes (which are still available online). 

That keeps us all at home, which is where most brokers work anyway, but with fewer reasons to leave.  I’m walking the dog more than ever.  My Apple watch tells me that I completed all three activity rings last week.  Woohoo!

Bottom line: I’m sort of liking this, although I do look forward to getting back to normal.

COVID-19 Will Certainly Impact the Real Estate Market, but By How Much?

By JIM SMITH, Realtor®

We Realtors are keenly aware that the COVID-19 outbreak will affect the real estate market, but we’re all waiting to see that happen in a more measurable way. We’ve seen a reduction in showing activity, but homes are still being listed and keep going under contract, especially in the higher price brackets.

I dropped in on an open house Sunday and spoke with the agent on duty. This was a million-dollar listing on Easley Road, north of Golden. I showed up two hours into the open house, and he said that he had already had about 10 sets of visitors. Indeed one visitor was in the house when I arrived.

Two Saturdays ago, I had my best open house ever at a $580,000 listing in Golden proper, and 18 agent showings had been set for that same day. Two days later, the home was under contract for $620,000. Other than bumping elbows instead of shaking hands, it was pretty much business as usual.

I’m under no illusion that the market won’t slow down as more potential home buyers are unable to get mortgages because they were laid off. Cash buyers may be less willing to sell depreciated stocks to buy a home. But that’s not happening a lot yet.  A local TV news program had a segment Saturday evening in which a local real estate agent gave a similar account of a busier-than-ever real estate market.

My broker associates have seen some impact.  One of them told me a buyer had terminated a million-dollar purchase because they were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to sell their current home.

Another broker associate reported that his buyers are moving forward with their contract on a home, but only because they have stable jobs — one a physician and the other a public defender.

A third broker associate has a vacant land listing that had failed to sell for three years but suddenly has multiple buyers talking to her about submitting offers for it.

Another broker associate has a buyer from Connecticut who is retiring and wants to move to Colorado but had to cancel her flight because of COVID-19. Her state has instituted a stay-at-home order. Meanwhile, she told our agent that she’s now thinking more about looking outside the metro area where there’s “more space.” Maybe she’d like Kim Taylor’s Cedaredge listing featured this week!

The same broker associate said that a buyer from Chicago had been planning to make a non-contingent offer on a home but now wants to make it contingent on the sale of his current home because of concerns that it may not sell as readily now.

Yet another agent has a client who was ready to list their current home and buy another but is a physician concerned about getting infected herself, so she is holding off on those plans.

Source: REcolorado

The MLS statistics above show that life goes on across our industry. Homes are still being listed, going under contract and selling. However, the 21 withdrawn listings and the 25 back-on-market listings are likely homes where a contract fell, perhaps because of COVID-19.

Like any business, Golden Real Estate is adjusting to the situation with new practices and procedures. We carry disinfectant wipes and rubber gloves in our cars, and we have buyers meet us at listings instead of carpooling.  At our office, we have disinfectant wipes handy for wiping down hard surfaces after we or visitors touch them.  When it’s warm outside, we keep our front door open so that visitors (and we ourselves) don’t have to touch the handles at all.

Title companies are adapting, too. I attended closings recently at which the closer handed out only new pens and wore blue gloves herself, and the rest of us were spaced out more than before around the closing table.  One title company is doing “drive-through” closings, in which the documents were passed through the car window for signing!

The real estate industry will survive and people will still buy and sell homes, but we expect the volume of sales to decline.  How much we can’t be sure.

Stay-at-home orders and the closing of businesses, as implemented this week, could have a big effect, but real estate was exempted from that ruling as an “essential professional service.”

For over decade, Golden Real Estate has created narrated video tours of its listings. For an example, click on any of the listings at www.GREListings.com. If all brokerages did this, it would greatly reduce the need for open houses and in-person showings.

The Narrated Video Tours of Our Listings Allow You to Visit Them From Home

For over decade, Golden Real Estate has created narrated video tours of its listings. You can find examples at www.GREListings.com. If all brokerages did this, it would greatly reduce the need for open houses and in-person showings.

Here’s the video tour from this week’s featured listing in Lakewood:

Do You Want to Get Out of Dodge? Try Cedaredge!

1235 NW Cedar Ave, Cedaredge CO — Just listed by Kim Taylor at $540,000

This Western Slope home just listed by our former broker associate, Kim Taylor, is a newly remodeled home in Cedaredge CO overlooking five private acres with incredible views of the San Juan Mountain range and the Grand Mesa, just a half mile from downtown Cedaredge, where Kim is now a local Realtor. The 3,464-square-foot ranch-style home was completely remodeled in 2013, including natural gas service, a new heating system, new paint, carpeting, and more. Two bedrooms were converted to a large master suite. An office and gas fireplace were added to the main floor. One garage/shop is 44’x50’ with a 12-foot door that can store your RV and all your toys, and has a shop with 240V power. A second outbuilding is an 800-SF shop with garage door and attached tractor barn. The property enjoys public water and sewer and is adjacent to open fields and an orchard, just a 10-minute walk to downtown Cedaredge. The top of the Grand Mesa is just 20 minutes to the north and offers world class snowmobile trails, X-country skiing, hiking, biking and fishing. The Gunnison River is 15 minutes to the south for water sports and fishing. Visit www.CedaredgeHome.info for a video walk-through of this home, including aerial footage of the property and surrounding area. Call Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 or Kim Taylor at 303-304-6678 for more info or to set a showing. 

Just Listed: 4-Bedroom Lakewood Ranch with Finished Basement

1957 S. Taft Street — Just Listed for $475,000

This 4-bedroom, 3½-bath brick ranch in Lakewood’s Green Mountain Village offers a solid home with main-floor living in a quiet neighborhood just north of Bear Creek Golf Club and Hutchinson Park. Green Mountain’s network of bike and hiking trails is also close by.  One trail is just 100 yards away at the end of the street! With its finished garden-level basement, there’s 2,498 sq. ft. of living space.  The backyard is special, with a dozen or more lichen-covered boulders, brick flower beds, included hot tub, wood deck (outside the master bedroom) with pergola, and two storage sheds!  The 2-car garage is extra long, accommodating the included work bench and wall cabinets. With our narrated video tour at www.LakewoodHome.info you only need to set a showing if you know you’re interested in it. It’s just like an in-person showing. Call your agent or listing agent Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 to see it.