New Listings and Showings Surged Last Week After Governor Eased Showing Restrictions

By JIM SMITH, Realtor(r)

Sellers who had been holding back during most of April put their homes on the market during the calendar week ending Saturday, May 2nd. And showings of listings also surged.

Listing Activity – 7 Days ending 5/6/20 within 25 miles of the Colorado State Capitol

Altogether, 1,648 homes within 25 miles of the State Capitol were listed on Denver’s MLS between Sunday, April 26th and Saturday, May 2nd. That’s pretty close to the 1,885 number entered on the MLS during the same 7-day period in 2019, and more than double the 819 homes listed two weeks earlier. (During the week of April 19th to 25th, only 993 homes were entered on the MLS.)

Of those 1,648 listings, 29 were withdrawn from the MLS by week’s end for unknown reasons, and 10 were entered as “sold” without ever being active. That still left 1,609 new active listings, 511 of which were already under contract by Tuesday noon. That’s significantly above the 405 homes that went under contract by the end of the same period last year.

By the deadline for this column at noon on Tuesday, 233 additional listings had been entered as “active” on Denver’s MLS. 

Not included in the 1,648 number are 176 listings that were entered on the MLS as “coming soon,” a status that didn’t exist until this year. One of those was my $550,000 listing at 2950 Jay St. in Wheat Ridge. It went “active” this week. Showings begin Saturday, May 9th.  There are more pix on the website.

So, while we can hardly say life is “back to normal,” the real estate business is certainly showing renewed signs of life. Frankly, I’m surprised at the size of this surge in listings and signed contracts.

Like most agents, I have many buyers who have given me their search criteria, and the MLS automatically sends them alerts of homes matching those criteria as they are entered on the MLS. In my case, I have nearly a hundred such email alerts in effect. Since Gov. Polis replaced “stay-at-home” with “safer-at-home,” which allows in-person showings to resume, I have seen a spike in the number of buyers clicking on the links for listings sent to them.  My listing at 1957 S. Taft Street in Lakewood saw five showings set on May 1st and 2nd alone.  With this week’s price reduction, I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes under contract quickly.

Listing agents are expected to take extra precautions to protect the health of both buyers and sellers under the “safer-at-home” guidelines. For example, there can be no overlapping showings, and only 3 persons (typically two buyers and their agent) are allowed in a listing at one time. Our showing service, ShowingTime, is enforcing these rules by not allowing overlapping showings to be set.

As a listing agent, it is my responsibility to sanitize a home between showings, which I do by using Clorox wipes on all hard surfaces that visitors might touch, such as door handles and light switches. I leave the lights on and most doors, including closet doors, open or ajar, so that touching them is minimized. If the home is not vacant, sellers can perform these safety functions themselves.

Buyers and their clients are asked to wear face masks and gloves and to wear booties, which they’re asked to take with them when they leave. By following these guidelines, agents and their clients can feel as safe as, or safer than, for example, at a supermarket.

What Will Be the Short- and Long-Term Effects of Covid-19 on Real Estate?

As I write this column on Tuesday, April 28th, the infection rate of Covid-19 seems to be leveling off, and the rule against in-person showings has been relaxed, although open houses are still banned.

The inability during much of April to show listings not only made it harder to sell homes, it also resulted in a reduction of roughly 50% in the number of homes being listed. Despite that, homes that were listed continued to go under contract quickly, thanks in part to good pictures and virtual tours.

It may be that the smart thing to do in April was to list your home. It was a matter of supply and demand — many fewer listings meant less competition for the homes that were listed, while buyers were apparently still willing to “pull the trigger.”  The key was to have good pictures and a narrated video tour because of the limit on showings.

I predict that there will be a bigger than usual surge of new listings in May and June, now that the no-showings rule has been relaxed. Although Denver and five other metro counties have extended their stay-at-home orders through May 8th, it was the Division of Real Estate and the state Attorney General’s office that were setting the rules about showings and open houses, and they don’t enforce local ordinances, so it’s expected that in-person showings will be happening throughout the metro area starting this week. Don’t, however. expect real estate offices to be open for walk-ins during this period.

So, what about the market going forward? The fact that mortgage rates are staying low, heading inexorably in the direction of 3% for a 30-year fixed loan, means that buyers are going to be supercharged as they go house hunting under fewer restrictions. There is pent-up demand, and there is also pent-up supply.

Nevertheless, we can’t ignore the near-depression economic conditions we face nationally in May. There will be many buyers not going back to work and unable to qualify for a home loan. However, the estimated 70% of Americans who were able to keep working from home or who had “essential” jobs, such as construction and health care, have been making good money — many earning overtime and/or hazard pay — and may want to reward themselves with a new home once things calm down.

So, while we real estate professionals have remained fairly busy during April,  I expect we’ll be even busier in May and throughout  the summer — especially as rules are relaxed. There will, however, be some subtle and not-so-subtle changes to the way we practice.

Most real estate agents were already accustomed to working from home, only going to their offices for floor duty, to handle paperwork, or to meet with buyers and sellers. Contract software has been online for a decade or more. We are used to emailing documents and having clients sign contracts electronically instead of on paper, which has served us well during the stay-at-home period. That will continue unchanged.

Showing appointments for nearly all MLS listings are handled by one company, ShowingTime, and increasingly the showings are being set online instead of speaking with an operator.

Where we will see the most changes will be with those activities that still require personal contact. Fist bumps and elbow bumps will probably replace handshakes long-term. We’re becoming hardwired as germophobes, I suspect.

Offices will be much cleaner. We’ll disinfect hard surfaces and wash hands more often. We’ll go back to having open houses eventually, but there may be fewer lookie-loos.

It will be a while before buyers want to ride in our cars, preferring to follow us to showings in their own cars.  I will continue to carry disposable gloves and Clorox wipes in my car, to use when showing homes.

More agents will learn to do their own narrated video walk-throughs of their listings, as Golden Real Estate agents have been doing for 13 years. And more buyers will look for those video tours and be more selective about the homes they choose to see.

In conclusion, real estate has shown great resilience during the pandemic thanks to how online the industry has already become, and I believe it will emerge from the current situation stronger than ever.

Why Real Estate Won’t Crash Like It Did Before

Many buyers and sellers of real estate are wondering whether we’ll see the kind of crash in real estate values that we saw in the Great Recession of 2008 onward. Experts agree that we will not.

In an April 22nd post, realtor.com explained that circumstances this time are quite different from then. Reasons cited by realtor.com’s economist, Danielle Hale, include the following:

First, the 2008 crash was created by a rash of bad mortgages — a situation that was remedied because of that crash. Second, there was an oversupply of houses for sale, whereas today there is an undersupply.

According to the realtor.com post, “There are simply too many would-be buyers out there: millennials eager to put down roots and start families, folks who lost their homes during the last recession and want to buy another property, and boomers looking to downsize.”

Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, predicts that home sales will pick up again quickly and that prices will not fall.  He sees the luxury market taking the biggest hit, largely because the buyers of those homes may have lots of financial liquidity, but it is in stocks which they don’t want to sell while prices are low.

Also, widespread mortgage forbearance will prevent the surge in foreclosures we saw before.

Homes Are Still Selling

Each week I have been checking the MLS to see how many homes are being listed and how many are going under contract as the Covid-19 stay-at-home order remains in place.

For the weeks of March 22nd and March 29th, the market showed surprising resilience, with statistics comparable to prior years.  Now let’s look at the statistics for last week.

During the 7-day period from Sunday April 5th to Saturday April 11th, a total of 819 homes were entered on Denver’s MLS, REcolorado, within 25 miles of downtown Denver. Of those, 22 had already been sold privately, so there were only 797 new active listings. Of those, 133 were already under contract by Saturday.  A total of 25 were immediately withdrawn or expired, many of them likely because of the no-showings rule, which was issued that Monday.

This is a huge drop from the same 7-day period in 2019, when there were 1,631 new active listings, 227 of which had gone under contract by the end of the same 7-day period. 

In 2018, the numbers were similar, with 1,588 new active listings, 579 of which went under contract within the same 7-day period.

In 2017, the numbers were also similar, with 1,633 new active listings, 663 of which were under contract by the end of the same 7-day period. 

The numbers were equally impressive in 2016.

Bottom line? We are finally seeing about a 50% decline in new listings, but many of them are still selling quickly. Sellers who do list their homes may benefit from the lack of competition.

The Rule Against Showings and Open Houses Shouldn’t Hamper Home-Buying…

…that is, if the listing agent does what Golden Real Estate has done for over 13 years — create a narrated walk-through video of each listing.

Our narrated video tours are just like a showing. They are live action videos which start in front of the house (just like a real showing) and then go through the house and into the back yard, pointing out features as we go. 

Check out the video tours for any of our current listings at www.GRElistings.com to see what I mean. They really are like an in-person showing with the listing agent. For example, the video camera points down to the floor and up to the ceiling as I describe the hardwood floor or the sun tunnels which bring natural light into the home’s interior.

But, you say, you’re not going to buy a home that you can’t see in person.  Right? You don’t have to, because the rules allow for inspection once the buyer has signed a purchase contract. Your visit (presumably with an agent)  the very next day constitutes an inspection. That can be before you even have to deliver your earnest money check, since you may not even be under contract yet. The guidance from the Division of Real Estate says, “home inspections and final walkthroughs after a buyer has signed a purchase contract (emphasis added)… is also considered to be an essential part of the real estate transaction.” The buyer is not under contract simply by signing a contract that has not also been signed or countered by the seller.

That “guidance” from the Division of Real Estate was issued on April 9th and has not been updated as of April 18th, which is when I am updating this blog post.

Scott Peterson’s April 15, 2020 “Legal Bite”

However, Scott Peterson, general counsel for the Colorado Association of Realtors, maintains in a video recorded from quarantine on April 15th that the governor’s executive order prohibits any “marketing” that involves entry into a property – no photos, no video, nothing at all – without a contract in place. If that’s true, however, why isn’t it reflected in the April 9th guidance and why hasn’t that guidance been updated?

I tried Googling the governor’s executive orders and looked at his web page on www.colorado.gov/governor and saw only two executive orders on other matters and no link for all his executive orders. So, for now, I lack evidence of Scott Peterson’s claim and am relying on the April 9th guidance, which I keep checking for updates.

Therefore, a visit to the home by a buyer immediately after signing an offer to purchase the home does, in my opinion as a broker, comply with guidance currently in effect from the Division of Real Estate. Then, if the buyer is able to get under contract with the seller, he or she can schedule a second inspection by a professional inspector.

So, here’s a possible scenario: You look at the video tour of the patio home or the ranch-style luxury which you found at www.GRElistings.com. I guarantee you’ll have a pretty good sense of the home from viewing that video. You’ll experience the flow from kitchen to dining room, to family room, to back yard, etc., because you are being walked through the home. It is not a slideshow of different rooms, giving no indication of flow from one room to the next.

Let’s say you call me or your agent to submit a contract and let’s say that it is accepted by the seller. You’re under contract!  The typical contract has a 7- to 10-day inspection period. You schedule your personal inspection with your agent (or me, if you don’t have one) the next day, before delivering your earnest money check, which is typically due in 3 days.  You can terminate immediately if you have buyer’s remorse, and go back to looking at other houses.

If you don’t terminate, you still have a week to hire a professional inspector and submit a detailed inspection objection.

What if you’re a buyer, and there’s no such video for a house that interests you, but you don’t want to sign a purchase contract? I believe you’ve got three choices here.  One, your agent (me, for example) could ask the listing agent to create and provide a narrated walk-through video. Second, I could preview the home for you since the guidance make no mention of banning previews, and shoot my own rough-cut video tour of the home, post it as an “unlisted” video on YouTube and send you the link. Or, third and perhaps best, we could use Facetime, Zoom, or another app to have you see what I’m seeing as I walk you through the house. (NOTE: Scott Peterson believes that previews and videos shot by anyone other than the seller are not allowed. I just don’t have any documentation supporting that position.)

Therefore, while it may be inconvenient not to have an in-person showing of a listed home, there are work-arounds that can make it possible to get under contract and confirm your interest in the property before you are fully committed to it or put down any earnest money.

Finally, I’d like to note that many listings are empty and vacant.  I see no reason why in-person showings of those listings should not be allowed. I know that builders are letting buyers view their empty homes. Again, Scott Peterson maintains that empty homes cannot be visited either. Show us the actual orders from the Governor or guidance from the Division of Real Estate, Scott!

Here’s a Follow-up to My Analysis Last Week of the Denver Real Estate Market for March 22 to 28

In last week’s column (which you can read below), I showed how the market continued to be active from March 22nd to 28nd, despite the growing impact of Covid-19 and imposition of a stay-at-home order.

It seems appropriate for me to do a similar analysis of the following week which ended last Saturday, April 4th.

This time I limited the stats to listings on REcolorado that were within a 20-mile radius of the state capitol, since our MLS includes many far-flung listings.

What I found is that between March 29th and April 4th, there were 1,136 new listings, 884 of which were still active on Monday, April 6th. 207 of them went under contract by week’s end, and 19 were withdrawn or expired.

This compares to 1,651 new listings during the same 7 days in 2019, of which 329 were under contract by April 6th of that year. Only 4 listings were expired or withdrawn immediately.

Since those numbers were about 50% higher than this year, I analyzed the same 7-day periods in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and was surprised to see that last year was an anomaly. During the same 7 days of all three prior years, the number of new listings was roughly the same as this year, although the number of quick contracts was much higher, as you’d expect from the stronger seller’s market that we were experiencing during those years.

In 2018, there were 1,192 new listings during the same 7-day period, 51 of which were entered as already sold. Of the “active” listings, 290 were under contract within that 7-day period and 4 were expired.

In 2017, there were 1,161 new listings during the same 7-day period, 58 of which were entered as sold. Of the “active” listings, 413 were under contract within the same 7 days, and 3 were expired immediately.

In 2016, 1,285 new listings were entered during the same 7-day period, 50 of which were entered as sold. Of the “active” listings, 392 were under contract during that 7-day period, and 7 were expired immediately.

Undoubtedly some sellers kept their homes off the MLS this year because of Covid-19, but still a lot of homes were made active this year, comparable to 3 of the past 4 years for that period. Listings are not going under contract nearly as fast, but it’s still impressive how many of them are selling quickly. Sellers should not shy away from listing their homes for sale at this time.

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.

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.

Have You Noticed How Many Homes Are Selling for Over $1 Million? Here Are the Stats.

We Realtors are as surprised as anyone at the increase in home values, especially of the most expensive homes. The charts below speak for themselves. Not only are sales of million-dollar homes in Denver and Jefferson County increasing, but the time it takes such homes to go under contract has continued to go down.

Not shown in these charts is 2019, since we’re only 9 months into the year, but the number of sales for both counties thus far in 2019 is already about to surpass the sales for all of 2018, and the median days on market (DOM) is about the same as last year. Evidently, the number of sales over $1 million will continue to increase, while the days-on-market line may level off.

The number of sales of Denver homes over $1 million thus far in 2019 is 739, vs. 746 for all of 2018.  The yearly increase in million-dollar closings has ranged from 9.2% to 40% over the past 5 years.

Those are the statistics for all of Denver. The figures for Denver’s four quadrants (divided from each other by Colfax and Broadway) present differing market trends, as follows:

It’s worth noting that two of the quadrants — northwest and southwest Denver — have already recorded a big increase in sales for 2019 over all of last year. And the other two quadrants are likely to top last year’s sales, since there are currently enough homes under contract to make that happen. At press time there were 125 Denver homes over $1 million under contract — 78 in southeast Denver and 13 in northeast Denver, most of which can be expected to close in coming weeks. There are another 323 active Denver listings over $1 million, many of which could also sell by year’s end.

The number of Jefferson County homes over $1 million sold in 2019 through press time was 235, vs. 242 for all of 2018.  The yearly increase in million-dollar closings has ranged from 21% to 53% over the past 5 years. Those, however, are the statistics for all of Jefferson County. The figures for the four biggest Jeffco cities present differing market trends, as follows (Note: Golden stats are within city limits only):

Only Wheat Ridge is lagging in this trend of massively increased sales of Jeffco homes for over $1 million.  The other three cities are beating the county trend. The days on market for these four cities varied significantly from each other and from the Jefferson County statistics. 

For example, those five sales last year of million-dollar homes in Wheat Ridge had a median DOM of 298, while the 20 homes that sold last year in Lakewood had a median DOM of 25 and the 5 homes that sold in Golden had a median DOM of 89. The Arvada homes had a median DOM of 21 days.  The 15 Arvada homes that have sold thus far in 2019 have a median DOM of just 14 days.

While the market for lower-priced homes does show signs of slowing, the market for homes over $1 million seems only to be strengthening. This may be a reflection of the Trump tax cuts which are known to have helped the ultra rich more than those in lower income brackets. That discrepancy has also evidenced itself in the rates for jumbo loans, which have been lower in recent years than the rates for conventional mortgages. When I checked on Sunday, Wells Fargo was quoting jumbo loans at 3.5% and conventional loans at 3.625%.

There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, especially in the Middle East and on the domestic political scene, and I’m frankly surprised that the markets remain so stable.  It will be interesting to see how things shake out in the coming months and how that impacts the real estate market.

Nothing Would Spur the Real Estate Market More Than Relief of Student Debt

A recurring idea among many of the Democratic presidential candidates is the payoff of student debt combined with making public universities and colleges tuition-free.

If that were to be done, I think we’d see an amazing increase in home purchases by those who are currently saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Freeing them from monthly payments of that debt could unleash a lot of buying power, and not just for real estate. Dollar-for-dollar, there is probably no investment the government could make of equal scope that would have as great a stimulating effect on the economy.

According to the Center for Responsible Lending, “Student loan debt has topped $1.5 trillion in recent years, making it the largest type of consumer debt outstanding other than mortgages. The average student loan borrower graduates with nearly $30,000 in debt.”

Moreover, according to the Center, The CFPB estimates that over a quarter of borrowers are delinquent or have defaulted on their student loan debt. Such defaults wreak havoc on the borrower’s credit rating, making home financing impossible rather than just difficult.

It’s hard to imagine the impact of having literally millions of home buyers entering the market if this were to happen. It may, in fact, prove to be too much stimulation of an already tight housing market. Meanwhile, the rental market could have the depressing impact of so many renters vacating rental units to buy their own condos and homes.

Speaking of the economy, I read an article last week that the RV industry is experiencing a 20% decline in sales, and that it’s considered a leading indicator of recessions. In my Sept. 5th column I wrote about fears of recession stoking a reduction in home buying activity, although market statistics don’t yet show that happening .

However, the article on declining RV sales got me to thinking. What makes it a leading indicator of a coming recession is that RVs are an extreme example of discretionary spending, the kind that is reduced when consumers fear for their financial future.

Well, real estate purchases are often discretionary, too. People don’t always have to sell their current home or leave their rental to purchase a home. If they are in fear of economic pain, it’s understandable that they would postpone such a purchase.

So, although the statistics don’t yet reflect such a slowdown in real estate activity, I think the prospect of that slowdown is quite real, and I’ll be watching for statistical evidence of it.

If indeed a recession is looming, relief of student debt could have a strong countervailing effect on the economy as a whole, and not just the real estate market.

Note: Some readers of this column got the impression that I supported the forgiveness of student debt. I still need to be convinced that it would be a good thing to do. The point of this column was merely to speculate on the market effect if that idea were to be implemented.