Statistics Help to Quantify the Slowing Real Estate Market in Metro Denver

Here are some ways I’ve been able to quantify what we are all seeing, namely the slowing of our local real estate market.

Looking within 14 miles of downtown Denver, the currently active (i.e., unsold) listings have a median days on MLS (DOM) of 27 days. However, the currently pending listings have a median DOM of 13, and the listings that closed in the last 30 days have a median days on the MLS of 7.

The listings that closed in the prior 30 days had a median DOM of just 5, which is what it has been, more or less, through the past couple years. So the market is definitely slowing, and slowing rather abruptly.

The number of active listings —  what we refer to as “inventory” — has surged as homes sit on the market longer.

As I write this on Tuesday morning, there are 4,133 active listings on REcolorado, the Denver MLS, in that same 14-mile radius. That’s down from the peak of 5,521 at the end of July, but you have to go back to September 2020 to find a higher number of active listings than this July, as shown in the chart below.

In prior years, you’d see the number of active listings increase by 50%, more or less, from January to July, but look at this year’s more than triple surge from January to July in that chart.

The chart of pending listings (below) is also instructive. Notice that in most months during 2021 and 2022, the number pending listings was almost always higher than the number of active listings (above chart), but that changed in June and July, when the numbers dropped dramatically.

You’d expect, in a normal market, with a lot more listings to choose from, that more listings would go under contract, but the reverse was true. As the number of listings surged in June and July, the number of listings going under contract went down substantially. That, too, reflects an abrupt slowing of Denver’s real estate market.

(As an aside, notice the effect of the pandemic on the April 2020 number of pending listings. April was the first full month of the pandemic, and the number of listings going under contract plummeted at a time of year when they would normally surge. Notice, however, the quick recovery in the following months. It has been surmised that Covid soon caused a surge in sales as people began to work at home and saw the need for more home office space and the opportunity to move further from their place of work since they were no longer commuting.)

Another statistic demonstrating the slowing of Denver’s real estate market is the extent to which the median sold price of homes has fallen as the market has turned.

The median sold price for that   14-mile radius peaked at $582,950 in June, but it fell to $550,000 in July and has fallen to $520,000 for closings during the first half of August — going down, but still higher than in any prior year.

NOTE: The above article was adapted for a Jefferson County audience using only Jeffco statistics. You can read a PDF of that version at www.JimSmithColumns.com.

Golden Real Estate’s Other Active Listings

1863 S. Robb Street, Lakewood — 4 bedrooms, 3½ baths, 3,126 total sq. ft.  Features include voluntary HOA ($30/year); RV parking next to garage;  750 sq. ft. master suite addition in 2006; 0.46-acre lot with vegetable gardens, fruit trees, rose garden, great patio space (see picture). Narrated video tour at www.LakewoodHome.info. Open house this Saturday, Aug. 20, 11 to 1. Price: $694,000

2000 Arapahoe Street #204, Denver — Downtown loft close to everything: Coors Field, 16th Street Mall, Performing Arts Center, light rail (including train to DIA), shopping and restaurants. If you’re drawn to city life, this 1,170-sq.-foot loft may be what you’re looking for. Special feature: It comes with 3 garage parking spaces! Take the video tour at www.DenverLoft.info, then call Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 to see it.

8785 W. 67th Place, Arvada — This 1961 brick ranch in Scenic Heights has 4 bedrooms and 3 baths. Both the front porch and back patio are covered. You will love the hardwood flooring on the main level, including under bedroom carpeting. Finished basement includes a 12’x39’ family room. Fenced backyard, corner lot. View a narrated video tour at www.ArvadaHome.info. Price: $663,000.

Affordable Condo in Denver’s Central Park

Just Listed at $205,823 by Chuck Brown

This move-in ready 2-bedroom,  1-bath condominium at 2608 Syracuse St. #101 in Denver’s Central Park neighborhood (formerly Stapleton) is ready for a new owner. This is a ground floor unit with lots of natural light from the south-facing windows and is in a prime Central Park location close to open space and shopping. Brand new updates include paint, carpet, hardwood flooring, kitchen appliances and a water heater. Included is a 1-car detached garage. The unit is part of the City of Denver’s affordable housing program and the buyer must meet certain income qualifications in order to purchase. Please contact Chuck Brown for more information about program qualifications. Additional information can be found by searching for Denver Housing Stability at www.Denvergov.org. View a narrated video tour at www.DenverCondo.online. Open house Saturday, August 20, 11am to 1pm. 

https://youtu.be/3lcsFcZHis8

How Concerned Should Homebuyers Be About Fed Interest Hikes?

It is no surprise that headlines like “Fed Hikes Rates” may discourage prospective home buyers, but they should not be discouraged. Jaxzann Riggs, owner of The Mortgage Network, explains why.

The “Federal Reserve” is the central bank of the United States. Founded by an act of Congress in 1913 with the primary purpose of enhancing the stability of the American banking system, the “Fed” is charged with helping to set “monetary policy” for the United States. It sets the “federal funds rate” which is the interest rate that banks charge each other to borrow or lend excess reserves overnight.

“Monetary policy” refers to the actions undertaken by the Federal Reserve to influence the availability and cost of money and credit offered to consumers and businesses to help promote national economic goals. 

You may have also heard the term “quantitative easing.” Quantitative easing (QE for short) is a policy or strategy which has recently been used by the Federal Reserve. During the COVID pandemic, the Federal Reserve not only cut the “Fed funds” rate to zero but it also purchased mortgage-backed and other financial securities to increase the supply of money for homeowners. This encouraged more lending to consumers and businesses. While the result of the policy remains to be seen, most economists suggest that it caused mortgage rates to be held artificially low. The combination of low rates and low housing inventory (construction of new homes fell dramatically following the 2007-2008 fiscal crisis) created the “inflation” of home values with which we are all familiar.

Some assume that the Federal Reserve sets mortgage rates… they do not, but they do influence mortgage rates. The Fed controls short-term interest rates (mortgage rates are long-term rates) by increasing them or decreasing them based upon the state of the economy. When the economy is struggling, the Fed lowers the rates, allowing banks to borrow money at a lower rate to lend to consumers. When the Fed decides the economy may be overheating (read inflation) they tighten the money supply by raising the Fed funds rate. While this does not directly increase mortgage rates, lenders must eventually do the same to keep up with their costs to borrow money from the Federal Reserve.

On July 27th, the Federal Reserve announced a three-quarter percent interest rate hike, and during that week the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell one quarter of a percentage point. When there is talk of the Fed raising their rate, mortgage rates can spike, but they typically correct by the time that the increase is actually announced.

Recent positive unemployment figures may cause the Fed to raise rates once again, but the Fed’s chairman, Jerome Powell, has also indicated that there may be a pause on future increases in order to assess their impact on the economy.

We all know that higher rates reduce purchasing power for buyers, but there have been some positives to higher rates. Fewer buyers in the market mean that inventories are rising, and sellers are willing to help buyers with “interest rate buydowns.” Buying at the right price is important, but asking the seller to help with the cost of an “interest rate buydown” instead of offering a lower purchase price will have much more impact on a buyer’s monthly mortgage payment. (Click here to read my July blog post on the topic of interest rate buydowns.) Buyers are qualified for monthly mortgage payments versus loan amounts, so reducing the rate on your new home loan increases your buying power.

If you have lending questions about your personal circumstance, Jaxzann Riggs is standing by. You can reach her on her cell phone at (303) 990-2992.

Looking for a Good Deal? Opendoor Is Slashing Prices to Clear Its Inventory

I wrote about Opendoor last week. They’re one of the “iBuyer” companies that buys off-MLS listings and flips them for a profit. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work, but too many homes haven’t sold, and they drop their listing prices twice each month until they sell. For too many of their listings, that means they will be getting far less than what they paid for them.

As I write this on Sunday evening, there are 446 unsold Opendoor listings on Denver’s MLS, and the median days on the MLS is 58!  It’s apparent that they bought many of these listings during those heady days before the market softened and now they can’t sell them for a profit or even at the price they paid for them.

To keep it manageable, I studied only the 45 Opendoor listings currently active in Jefferson County. The median days on the MLS for those listings is 75!  That’s three times the median days on the MLS for all active listings in Jefferson County. All but two of those listings have been active for at least 12 days, and all 43 of those have had their prices cut to try to clear the company’s inventory. They’re going to lose money on most if not all of them.  Here are some examples:

They purchased 11022 Trailrider Pass, Littleton, for $631,400 on Dec. 2nd and listed it on Feb. 17th for $820,000.  Nine price reductions later, it’s now listed at $643,000 and has yet to go under contract. At the current price, they will pay their usual 2.5% buyer agent commission, netting them about $5,000 less than they paid for it. Presumably they also had some repairs, repainting and other expenses during the two months between buying and listing.

Opendoor’s oldest listing, 2090 Braun Drive, Golden, was purchased last September for $638,300, and is currently listed for $621,000 after one failed contract and three subsequent price reductions.

4740 S. Tabor St., Morrison, was purchased for $500,500 in December, listed for $612,000 two months later, and after nine price reductions and no contracts, it’s listed at $527,000. Depending on how much money they spent dressing up that listing during those two months, they might break even.

Here are some of the Jeffco listings on which Opendoor will lose a lot of money:

Unsold Jeffco listings priced as much as $50,000 below what Opendoor paid for them:

6384 Newland St., Arvada ($579,000)

7076 Parfet Street, Arvada ($626,000)

6975 W. 63rd Ave., Arvada ($577,000)

12463 W. 68th Ave., Arvada ($693,000)

7155 Fenton Circle, Arvada ($568,000)

9010 W. 5th Pl., Lakewood ($594,000)

289 Marshall St., Lakewood ($657,000)

10112 W. Dartmouth Ave., Lakewood ($379,000)

10946 W. Texas Avenue, Lakewood ($558,000)

11266 W. Kentucky Dr., Lakewood ($575,000)

5645 S. Zang Street, Littleton ($481,000)

6309 W. Fair Dr., Littleton ($649,000)

10679 W. Cooper Place, Littleton ($776,000)

7782 W. Alder Dr., Littleton ($786,000)

6230 W. Maplewood Place, Littleton ($666,000)

5683 W. 118th Place, Westminster ($556,000)

11526 Marshall Street, Westminster ($495,000)

10012 Holland Court, Westminster $464,000)

10063 Flower Street, Westminster ($723,000)

9679 Teller Court, Westminster ($576,000)

6280 W. 45th Avenue, Wheat Ridge ($573,000)

Of the 177 Opendoor listings (in all counties) which closed in the last 90 days, only 18 sold at or above their original listing price. More than half sold for at least 5% below their original price.  In the same 90-day period a year ago, 55% of Opendoor’s listings sold at or above their original listing price.

One could argue that the iBuyer model is still valid and that the company just suffered from the abruptness of the change in the real estate market. Meanwhile, it is also reported that although the market has slowed, prices are still increasing, so perhaps there are some bargains to be had among Opendoor’s “stale” listings.

Although Opendoor Brokerage is difficult for brokers and buyers to work with (they are managing 446 Colorado listings from their office in Tempe, Arizona), my broker associates and I would be happy to show you any of their listings and see if we can get you a good deal!

Just Listed: Lakewood Home with Views & Two Master Suites

Just Listed at $695,000

This home at 1863 S. Robb Street is in Lochwood Hills, west of Kipling and north of Jewell. What sets it apart from other homes are the two master suites and the 0.46-acre lot with a fenced vegetable garden, both wild and cultivated flowers, bushes and trees, including multiple kinds of bearing fruit trees. The home’s hilltop location gives it mountain views from most windows. The sellers, who have owned this home for 41 years, added a 750-sq.-ft. master suite addition to the main level in 2006 with vaulted ceiling, ensuite bathroom and walk-in closet, barely visible to the right of the tree. The original master suite remains on the upper level above the garage. There’s an RV parking space (with electrical outlet) through a gate to the left of the garage. Although in the middle of south Lakewood, this home is in unincorporated Jeffco, saving you on sales tax for big purchases such as a car. You can take a narrated video tour below or at www.LakewoodHome.info, then call your agent. Open Saturday, 11 to 1.

https://youtu.be/AwkUfnuUL_k
View from kitchen window

Let’s Hear It for the Multiple Listing Service: The Best Tool for Buyers & Sellers  

We hear a lot about “off-MLS” sales of homes, particularly by investors. Investors love to buy homes off the MLS, but they turn to the MLS to sell the homes they bought. Prospective sellers should read that sentence again, because it says everything you need to know about the value of the MLS: Buyers can pay less if the seller doesn’t put their home on the MLS; and sellers net more money by putting their home on the MLS.

Investors know they would pay “market value” for MLS listings, because that’s what the MLS is — it’s the market! Investors know they’ll be competing with other buyers if the home is on the MLS. That’s why they find the homes they buy by soliciting homeowners who do not have their home on the market.

They make an appealing pitch — no showings, no open houses, and a quick cash closing. Remember, investors are in business to make a profit, and the only way to make a profit is by paying you less than your home is worth by buying it off the MLS, and then selling it on the MLS.

Now, if money doesn’t matter that much to you — for example, you’re the personal representative of an estate, but you’re not a beneficiary — that’s probably an attractive pitch. After all, it’s not your money! But, if it’s your house and your money, just know that you’ll make more money from the sale of your house if you let a professional like one of the agents at Golden Real Estate expose your home to the full market — which is only accomplished by putting the home on the MLS.

I have written in the past about “iBuyers,” such as Open Door, which buy homes off the MLS, then flip them with minimal improvement by listing them on the MLS. You can find columns on that topic dated Jan. 2, 2020, and Aug. 22, 2019, at JimSmithColumns.com, where all these columns are archived. In those columns I point out that the iBuyer companies typically convince homeowners to meet with them by offering a high sight-unseen price, which is thousands above what they finally offer the seller. It’s a bait and switch approach, so beware!

The essence of the MLS is “cooperation and compensation.” Sellers hire a listing agent for a negotiable commission — currently averaging under 6 percent — which is large enough for the listing agent to compensate another MLS member for producing the buyer of that listing.

There’s an understandable misconception that the seller pays both the listing agent and the buyer’s agent and that somehow that’s unfair — that the buyer should pay his or her own agent.

But, although it may look as if the seller is paying both agents — because it is taken from the seller’s proceeds at closing — in fact, as I said above, the listing agent is paying the buyer’s agent out of his or her listing commission.

As shown in the graphic below, the MLS is at the heart of making the real estate market work efficiently to expose listings to the full universe of buyers. No other industry that I can think of works as well as the real estate industry, because no other industry has an MLS.

Last year, the National Association of Realtors introduced the Clear Cooperation Policy to make the MLS system work even better, telling participating Realtors, in effect, that if they want to be a member of the MLS, they must commit to giving fellow members a reasonable opportunity to find and sell their listings.

That policy has yet to achieve its goal because some MLS members find a way around it so they can sell their listings without sharing their commission with other MLS members. Golden Real Estate’s agents, however, are in full compliance.

Foothills Home on .88 Acres Listed by Chuck Brown

Just listed for $565,000

Live closer to the things you love about Colorado in this spacious 3-bedroom/3-bath raised ranch at 199 Lake Front Drive, Black Hawk. It’s on .88 acres and is in a neighborhood that borders the Arapaho National Forest near Golden Gate State Park, with  hiking, biking and ATV trails. Eldora ski area and the gaming areas of Black Hawk and Central City are a short drive away. You’ll enjoy beautiful views of Missouri Lake, Echo Mountain, and Mt. Evans or the diverse wildlife from the large deck or inside the home. The Gilpin County School (K-12) is a half mile away, and the impressive Gilpin County Recreation Center is 3 miles away. It’s an easy commute to the metro area or an awesome space to work from home with reliable high speed internet. Inside you’ll love the openness of the main level with a large kitchen space that flows into the dining and living rooms with big windows and lots of natural light.  The large primary bedroom has an en suite bath and a sliding glass door that leads to the covered patio. The main guest room also has its own bathroom. There is a lower level with a 2-car garage and a room with enough space for a home gym, art studio or extra storage. Open House on Saturday, Aug. 6th, 11-2. More photos, details and narrated video tour can be found at www.BlackHawkHome.online.

https://youtu.be/2koJn2dwCIo

CRES ‘Teach-In’ This Saturday on Clean Energy Transformation

The Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES) is hosting a 1-day conference this Saturday, August 6th, “Renewables Powering Forward: Solutions for Our Clean Energy Transformation.” It runs from 9am to 5pm at the Jefferson Unitarian Church, 14350 W. 32nd Ave., Golden.

This conference is designed to illustrate key elements of today’s clean energy solutions. We are fortunate to have the National Renewable Energy Lab and the Colorado School of Mines and many energy innovation entrepreneurs and pro-active political leaders.

Keynote speakers include Hunter Lovins, and there will be sessions on solar power, home electrification and micro-grids. A light breakfast and lunch are provided, and all sessions will be recorded.

Tickets are as low as $25, with a virtual ticket for viewing the conference online available at $35. Learn more and register online at cres-energy.org/cres-conference-2022.

Just Listed: Downtown Denver Loft with 3 Garage Spaces  

If you’re looking for loft living, this is as good as it gets! Walk to EVERYTHING in Downtown Denver from this 1,170-sq.ft. loft at 2000 Arapahoe Street #204 — Coors Field, Performing Arts Complex, 16th Street Mall, Lodo, Union Station, shopping, restaurants, and light rail, including the A-line to DIA. The 12-foot ceilings and four massive pillars, plus the views of nearby skyscrapers (see picture below) — this is the loft life you’ve been looking for! The loft comes with three garage spaces which you could rent out for $150 to $200 each, too! This is a rare opportunity, so act fast. No open houses. Call your agent or Jim Smith for a private showing! See more pictures at www.DenverLoft.info.