As Winter Approaches and Covid-19 Lingers, What’s the Denver Real Estate Outlook?

As I write this, the real estate market is a tale of two cities — or, more accurately, a tale of cities vs. suburbs. Because of the virus, Americans are “getting out of Dodge,” leaving the congestion of multi-story buildings and moving to the suburbs and the countryside.

The statistics tell the story. In a recent 30-day period, 46% of the sales in Jefferson County closed above their listing price after being on the MLS for a median of 5 days. It was quite the opposite in downtown Denver. There, during the same 30-day period, 87% of the listings (primarily condos in elevator buildings) sold below their listing prices with a median time on the MLS of 24 days.

It’s the same story nationwide, and for good reason. People are fearful of catching Covid-19, and they know that being in close quarters can’t be good. In the suburbs they can take their dog for a walk without using an elevator and without having to come within 6 feet of another human being.  (I’m describing my own life here — I walk my dog Chloe every morning on a one-mile circuit around my subdivision and never come in close contact with the neighbors I encounter. Because of that, I don’t even need to wear a mask on these walks.)

We keep hearing that the inventory of homes for sale is at record low (except downtown), but that’s only true because homes are going under contract so quickly. The chart below, generated on REcolorado.com, tells the story well.

Using the most recent full-month MLS statistics for Jefferson county (September 2020), you can see that we actually had more new listings this September than in any of the five previous Septembers, yet the number of sold listings was nearly the same, so there was no way the number of active listings was going to increase and was, in fact, lower by far than the number of active listings in the five previous Septembers. The median time on the MLS of 5 days tells you why.

Moreover, the average ratio of sold price to listing price in Jeffco was 100%, as it had been every prior September except in 2019, and the price per finished square foot has continued to soar. The situation is similar in all suburban counties.

Clearly, the takeaway from this analysis is that if a homeowner is thinking of selling their home anytime soon, he or she would be smart to put their home on the market right now. Don’t think that just because winter is coming that buyers aren’t actively looking for homes. Last week in this column I promoted a 1973 ranch in Arvada that was “not particularly updated.”  It didn’t even have a garage door opener for its one-car garage, and it had a backyard clothes line instead of a dryer. Yet that home attracted over 50 agent showings in 72 hours and 11 offers by Saturday evening, when it went under contract for $30,500 over its listing price.

A recent real estate industry article predicted a terrible winter for us real estate agents because of low inventory, but there are just as many homes for sale as ever — maybe more.  You just have to act quickly because they are selling right away. 

Another recent listing of mine also illustrates how hot the market is. The very first offer for my $530,000 tri-level listing in central Lakewood came in at $585,000, apparently from a buyer who had lost out in previous bidding wars and didn’t want that to happen again. The strategy worked, because no other agents would submit an offer when they learned that we had one that was $55,000 over full price.

Are you wondering what you might be able to get for your home?  It costs you nothing to get a comparative market analysis from a real estate agent, and, regardless of where your home is, my broker associates and I are happy to provide that for you.  Call us!

For-Sale-By-Owner Can Hurt Sellers in a Hot Market

When homes sell this easily (if priced right), you might think you don’t need to use a listing agent, but think again.

Take this example. I listed a home last week for what it was worth based on comparable sales, but it attracted 50 showings and 11 offers and I played the offers against each other to get $30,500 over the listing price, waiving appraisal.

If the owner had tried to sell it herself, fewer buyers would know about the home because it wouldn’t be on the MLS and countless other websites. And how could she have handled those 50 showings without our showing service, which is only available to licensed agents? And what about handling those 11 offers which come in using a software package used by virtually all agents, not available to sellers? It would be rather awkward, don’t you think, to conduct the bidding war and end up with as good a result?

Do you have questions?  Give us a call.

5-Bedroom Lakewood Home Just Listed by Ty Scrable

120 Field Street, Lakewood — Just listed for $570,000

You’re going to love this home located a couple blocks from Meadowlark Park. The open floor plan provides smooth transitions from room to room. The updated kitchen has stainless steel appliances and a nice wine rack. There is newer flooring throughout the main level, and both bathrooms have been updated. You can entertain in the beautiful backyard or downstairs at the bar. Thanks to its easy access via Garrison Street to the Sixth Avenue expressway, this home is only a few minutes from downtown Denver or Golden and the foothills. Belmar is less than a mile southwest, and there is a light rail station less than a mile north on Garrison Street. Check out the details and pictures at www.MeadowlarkHome.info, then call broker associate Ty Scrable at 720-281-6783 to see it.

Is Your Home Ready for Winter?

I got the following information/advice from one of my favorite inspectors, Bud Monk. His contact info is at the bottom.

It’s that time of year again, and fall & winter are just around the corner. Are you ready?

Some things to think about in getting ready for Winter.

  • Check your AC condensing unit or your evaporative cooler (swamp cooler)
    • Clean the leaves and debris from the fins with a high pressure water hose or leaf blower, etc.
    • Cover the unit to protect it from snow and ice.
    • Drain swamp cooler and cover to prevent cold air from blowing back into the house.
  • Check your furnace (or have it serviced by a qualified HVAC technician). Turn the thermostat up to 80 and check to make sure the furnace fires and is running properly.
    • Change the filter if necessary.
    • Lubricate the blower fan.
    • Check your smoke and CO detectors to confirm they are working!!!!
  • Check your chimney and fireplace.
    • If you use your fireplace, be sure there are no bird or squirrel nests in the chimney.
    • Verify that the chimney cap is in place and didn’t blow off during a summer storm.
  • Remove and drain your hoses.
    • Disconnect the hoses from the hose bibs and drain the hoses.
    • Turn off the water to the hose bibs and open the valve. Or install the protective foam covers.
  • Drain the sprinkler system.
    • Turn off the water supply to the system.
    • Open all the zone valves and blow out the lines
    • Open the valves and drain the water from the vacuum breaker.
  • Remove the debris from the roof and the gutters.
    • Debris laying in the valley(s) can trap moisture and accelerate the deterioration of the shingles.
    • Debris in the gutters can prevent them from draining properly.
  • Storm windows.
    • If you have storm windows, now is the time to install them.
  • Check the weather stripping on doors and windows.
    • Repair or replace damaged weather stripping.
    • Check and repair / replace caulking around windows and doors.

AND, if you are leaving your home for an extended period of time, have a professional “winterize” your home so that nothing will freeze during your absence. For anyone wanting to do their own winterizing, I have a checklist that is available which will lead you step by step through the process of “winterizing” and “de-winterizing”. The checklist will probably contain several items the average person would not be aware of.

Bud Monk – A-1 Quality Home Inspections – 303.981.6699 – email: vcm_456@yahoo.com

Website: https://www.a-1qualityhomeinspections.com/

MyMove.com Reports Surge in Moves During Covid-19, 28% Citing Virus as the Reason

MyMove.com is the online replacement of the change-of-address form you probably filled out at the post office the last time you moved. While the post office benefits from having the move process computerized, the website makes money by accepting advertising and earning a royalty on moving services which are purchased on the site.

Through their exclusive partnership with the USPS, My-Move also aggregates data from those online change of address forms. Pew Research Center then surveys a sample of those movers to find out why they moved.

In prior columns I speculated about the out-migration from downtown Denver to Jefferson County and other suburbs by “urban cliff dwellers” (as my mother called them) fleeing their congested high rises to reduce their exposure to the virus. An October 14th article on MyMove. com confirmed that trend nationally, as reflected in the chart below. Note: The numbers are for net migration between Feb. 1, and July 31, 2020, subtracting the number of moves into each city from the number moving out of that city. Therefore, the number of moves out of each city is actually higher than the number shown in the chart.

The following is excerpted from that Oct. 14 MyMove article.

Pew Research Center study conducted in June looked at almost 10,000 U.S. adults to understand COVID moving trends better….

About a quarter (28%) told us they chose to move because they feared getting Covid-19 if they stayed where they were living… About a fifth (20%) said they wanted to be with their family, or their college campus closed (23%). A total of 18% gave financial reasons, including job loss.

In reading the chart, it should be noted that “New York, NY” is the postal address for Manhattan, not all five boroughs of New York City, which is why Brooklyn has its own number. Also, not shown is that the biggest destination of New York out-migration is Brooklyn, and vice versa. Since only 28% of movers cited the virus as their reason for moving, that fact does not diminish the impact Covid-19 played in this year’s moves.

The change-of-address form asks whether the move is permanent or temporary, and although the number of permanent moves increased by about 2% year-over-year, the number of temporary moves increased by nearly 27%. Some of those moves were to second homes. Others were students who left campuses which had switched from in-person classes to online learning.

Since an estimated 70% of workers were able to continue working from home, those people who had a place to which they could relocate made the move quickly — likely to a place that was not subject to the lockdowns of their home city. The highest spike was in March, falling slightly in April. As reflected in the above chart, small cities were the primary recipients of this in-migration, which supports what I have already observed, that downtown Denver has a buyer’s market while the suburbs have a seller’s market. 

Reflective of that, my most recent closing was of a tri-level home in Lakewood, which I listed at $520,000 and which sold immediately for $579,000. In Jeffco, 46% of the closings in the past 30 days sold for more than their listing price with median days on market of 5. Meanwhile 87% of the homes (mostly condos) that sold in downtown Denver, Lodo and River North during the same 30-day period sold for less than their listing price, with median days on market of 24.

Denver Has Among Nation’s Lowest Foreclosure Rates

ATTOM Data Solutions, the nation’s most comprehensive aggregator of foreclosure data, reported last week that the number of foreclosure filings in the 3rd Quarter (July-September) of 2020 was down 12% from the 2nd Quarter and down 81% nationally from the same quarter a year ago. Denver was down 89% and Colorado was down 90%. Only three cities and four states recorded bigger year-over-year declines.

The combination of foreclosure moratoria and forbearance programs was a primary contributor to these drops, so the question on many people’s minds is whether we’ll see a flood of foreclosure filings when these programs end sometime in the coming months.

In a press release, Rick Sharga of RealtyTrac, a related company, is quoted as follows:

“We’ll certainly see more repossessions by lenders once the foreclosure moratoria have ended, but maybe not as many as people might expect. Given the record amount of homeowner equity – over $6.5 trillion – it seems likely that many homeowners in financial distress will opt to take advantage of strong demand among homebuyers and sell their property rather than risk losing it to a foreclosure auction.”

Good Business Colorado Grows

Golden Real Estate is proud to be a charter member of Good Business Colorado, a 3-year-old organization of now 300 companies and non-profits which share a commitment to creating a prosperous, equitable and sustainable Colorado. You can learn more about this great organization at www.GoodBusinessColorado.org.

Just Listed: 4-Bedroom, 2-Bath Brick Ranch in Arvada

12082 W. 60th Place — Just listed for $400,000

This 1963 brick ranch has been lovingly maintained, although not particularly updated, since it was purchased by the seller in 1973. Most of the hardwood flooring throughout the main floor has been covered over the years by wall-to-wall carpeting, but the carpet has been removed from the main-floor bedrooms so buyers can see it. The full basement has a non-conforming 4th bedroom, 3/4 bathroom and laundry, plus a full-width family room. The name of the subdivision is Allendale, which is located east of Ward Road and south of 64th Avenue, making it super convenient to shopping as well as Interstate 70, while being an extra quiet neighborhood. You’ll hear no highway noise from your front or back yard! You can take a narrated video tour of this home, inside and out, and see all the interior photos at www.ArvadaRanch.info, then come to our open house this Saturday, October 24th, 11am to 2pm.

You’ve Heard of NIMBY (‘Not in My Backyard’). You’ll Be Hearing About YIMBY in 2021.

One of the many bills passed by the Democratic House which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not allowed to be acted on in the Senate is the YIMBY Act. If, as may well happen, the Democrats take control of the U.S. Senate in this year’s election, that act could become law next year.

The YIMBY Act (HR 4351) was bi-partisan, co-sponsored by Democrat Denny Heck of Washington and Republican Trey Hollingsworth of Indiana. It was passed on a voice vote by the House of Representatives on Mar. 2, 2020. Here’s a link to the full text of HR 4351.

Here’s how the act is described and promoted at www.UpForGrowth.org:

The Yes in My Backyard (YIMBY) Act encourages localities to eliminate discriminatory land use policies and remove barriers that prevent needed housing from being built around the country.

The YIMBY Act achieves these goals by requiring Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) recipients to report periodically on the extent to which they are removing discriminatory land use policies and implementing inclusive and affordable housing policies detailed by the bill.

The YIMBY Act increases transparency in land use, zoning, and housing decisions; sheds light on exclusionary polices; and ultimately encourages localities to eliminate barriers to much-needed housing.

Background:

According to Up for Growth’s “Housing Underproduction in the U.S.” report, the United States has underproduced housing by 7.3 million homes from 2000 to 2015.

Exclusionary land use policies — including zoning and density restrictions, onerous parking requirements, and other burdensome development regulations — drive a severe housing shortage and affordability crisis.

The “Missing Millions of Homes” report from the New Democratic Coalition shows that the cost of shelter has been the single largest increase in household budgets in the last 15 years and that the median U.S. family now spends 42% of its income on housing.

Housing underproduction also increases cost of living for families, inhibits geographic mobility, burdens both renters and buyers, and stifles economic productivity. By one estimate, from 1964 to 2009, our national housing shortage lowered aggregate economic growth by 36 percent.

Many of these land use policies are rooted in racism and classism. Their continued existence perpetuates housing discrimination and contributes to the housing affordability crisis affecting large parts of the United States.

Legislative Solution:

The YIMBY Act increases transparency and encourages more thoughtful & inclusive development practices by requiring localities to fully examine and disclose their housing policy decisions.

The bill provides localities a framework for smart policymaking and regulatory practices, thus promoting more inclusive development principles.

The YIMBY Act is an important first step in decreasing the barriers to smart, inclusive growth and reducing the negative and cumulative impact of exclusionary housing policies. It is also a way to clearly demonstrate that the federal government takes seriously the challenges created by exclusionary zoning.

This proposal has not escaped the attention of conservatives, who consider it an attack on suburbia, primarily by eliminating single-family zoning. Allowing greater density and making housing more affordable means to them the introduction of lower-income and therefore racially diverse populations into communities which are historically white and upper-middle or upper income neighborhoods. It’s worth noting that it’s an argument that does indeed divide conservatives from liberals and, because of how it is being promoted, will be a factor in this year’s election.

However, we should remember that zoning laws are matters of local debate and enactment and cannot be forced upon localities by the federal government. That’s why the YIMBY Act only asks localities to consider the implications of their zoning decisions. Single-family zoning will only be modified or eliminated gradually if at all over time and only by a vote of locally elected representatives on city councils and county boards of commissioners. Voters would be wise to recognize fear mongering on the subject for what it is and to consider the underlying motives.

Moreover, it is inconceivable that an established and fully built out subdivision, especially one with a healthy housing stock under 30 or 40 years old, would see any effects from zoning changes. Instead you might see the legalizing of ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units), which are already popular in many jurisdictions. These units can be in walk-out basements or above detached garages, and provide a great solution for modestly increasing a neighborhood’s and city’s density.

What we are already seeing in the older communities with pre-1970 bungalows is the scraping of isolated homes, making way for attached townhomes. Again, this is only done by the enactment of zoning changes by your elected officials who are not going to act in opposition to their constituents’ loudly expressed viewpoints.

No matter who is elected on the national level or what legislation is passed, housing will always be an expression and result of very localized democratic control — that’s democratic with a small “D.”

Moreover, the YIMBY Act would only apply to localities which accept Community Development Block Grants, for which no community needs to apply.

Realtor Association Takes Fair Housing Seriously

While it might be popular to think of Realtors as privileged conservatives (mostly Republicans) who put up with but are not fans of federal civil rights laws, quite the opposite appears to be true now. Liberal thinking Realtors are in ascendance.

An August 22 article from Realtor Magazine, the official magazine of the National Association of Realtors, makes this abundantly clear.

In 2018, NAR leadership laid bare at its legislative meetings in Washington, D.C., the organization’s “immutable past support of discriminatory and racist practices [link],” vowing to deepen its commitment to industry inclusivity and equal opportunity in housing.

The Chicago Association of Realtors, headed by an African-American woman, apologized last year for its “historically racist policies that persisted for decades.”

Click on that link above. Unless you miss the “good old days,” you’ll be heartened by what you read. It makes me proud to be a Realtor. The commitment to equality and justice is rock solid.