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.

Is a Recession Coming? And, If So, How Would It Impact Real Estate Market?

We Realtors have noticed a general slowing of the real estate market over these summer months, so I’m a little surprised that the statistics don’t reflect any significant slowing. The chart below is an example.

Even while the economy as a whole has shown signs of an impending recession through traditional leading indicators, and while showings are down and we’ve seen more price reductions recently, homes continue to sell, and sold prices are not yet going down significantly.

Median sold prices progressed through the $300,000s starting in May 2015, passing $400,000 in April 2018, fell back into the 300s from September 2018 through February 2019, then peaked at $421,000 this past May. They have stayed around that range since June, falling only to $418,000 in August.

Meanwhile, real estate trade publications and websites have featured numerous articles warning of an impending recession, which is causing buyers to hold off on making offers. Last Thursday, NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, was quoted as saying, “Super-low mortgage rates have not yet consistently pulled buyers back into the market. Economic uncertainty is no doubt holding back some potential demand, but what is desperately needed is more supply of moderately priced homes.” Yun predicted the low rates to continue through the end of the year, but also predicted that the sale of existing homes will not increase. He predicts home prices will rise by 3% in 2020.

Also last week, realtor.com released a survey of 755 home buyers, 51% of whom said they expect a recession this year or next year, and 56% of whom said that if a recession does occur they would delay their home search until the economy improves.

Three days earlier, realtor.com quoted its senior economist, George Ratiu, as saying, “This is going to be a much shorter recession than the last one. I don’t think the next recession will be a repeat of 2008…. The housing market is in a better position.” The biggest wildcard is probably the President’s back-and-forth on a trade war with China and the rest of the world, and no economist (or presidential advisor) can predict that.

Realtor.com went on to say, “Aspiring buyers hoping that home prices will crash, like they did during the Great Recession, are likely in for a rude awakening. There simply aren’t enough homes being built to satisfy the hordes of buyers. There isn’t likely to be a drop-off in demand anytime soon.”

We agree. Call us!

Statistics Show a Slowing Real Estate Market — But Not at Golden Real Estate

The 4½-year-long seller’s market is clearly transitioning into a “balanced” market and may be moving toward a buyer’s market by 2020, judging from statistics garnered from REcolorado, the Denver MLS.

In December, for example, the median days on market for City & County of Denver sales was 20, the highest since Feb. 2014, and the ratio of sold price to listing price was 98.5%, up from 98.3% in November, but otherwise the lowest since Feb. 2012 — nearly seven years ago.

January statistics won’t be available until early February, but a study of the 403 homes sold in the first 21 days of January shows that the median days on market is even higher — 28 days — and that the ratio of sold price to listing price has dropped to 97.2%.

The number of sold listings in December was 783, the lowest for a December since 2011. This compares to more than 1,000 sales in every December from 2014 to 2017. The number of active listings for this December was 1,605, the highest for any December since 2013.

Now let’s look at Jefferson County statistics.

In December the median days on market for Jeffco sales was 24, and the ratio of sold price to listing price was 98.6%. Both stats were the worst (relatively speaking)  since February 2014, nearby five years ago.

As with Denver, a study of the Jefferson County homes sold thus far in January shows that the median days on market will remain above 20 and that the ratio of sold price to listing price will dip even further. With 307 sales thus far and another 308 listings under contract over 20 days, I predict that the number of sold listings will be the same as or higher than January 2018, when 553 Jeffco homes were sold.  The median sold price will continue to climb, though less quickly.

Given these statistics, you can imagine our surprise at how well our own listings have performed this month. 

For example, broker associate Kristi Brunel listed a home on a busy street (usually not a good selling point) for $520,000, which was above what neighborhood comps suggested. She got it under contract for 13% more in four days. There were 60 showings and 13 offers, but there were 20 or more other offers which weren’t submitted once buyers knew how high the bidding had gone. Saturday’s open house, just hours after Friday’s big snow storm, was so busy and with so many cars parked on the street that one neighbor asked Kristi if it was a church function!

I had a similar experience with another listing. I got multiple offers which bid up the home to 7% over its listing price within four days, and the open house was the busiest I can recall. A Golden listing of mine which didn’t sell in December sold readily in January for nearly its listing price, and a $1.1 million listing of mine in downtown Golden sold in less than a week with multiple offers driving the price up by $75,000 following an open house where I needed help to accommodate the flow of buyers. 

So you can understand why I don’t quite know what to make of the current real estate market — except perhaps that Golden Real Estate knows how to sell homes better than other brokerages!

What we do know with certainty is that there are many disappointed buyers who did not win the bidding wars on these Jeffco listings and that homeowners who think they should wait until spring to put their home on the market should consider doing so now — and with us!

As I’ve written in the past, there are multiple reasons why winter is a good time to list a home, but our experience with these few listings is surprising even me. But beware — the reason that the MLS statistics are not as good as our own experience at Golden Real Estate may be that other brokerages are not listing their homes at the right price and not providing the kind of marketing for which Golden Real Estate is famous.

Buyers are definitely getting wiser and not making offers on homes that are overpriced. Give me or one of our broker associates a call and ask us what we consider the right price to list your home. 

Statistics Seem Not to Reflect a Coming Slowdown in the Real Estate Market

By JIM SMITH, Realtor

Because of recent national and regional reports that the real estate market is changing from a seller’s market to a balanced, or even a buyer’s market, I have drilled down into the statistics for real estate activity in Denver and Jefferson County, looking for evidence of that shift. After all, as in politics, all real estate is local, and even reports about Metro Denver’s real estate market don’t necessarily reflect what is happening in each of the metro area’s six counties.

So, are the Denver and Jeffco real estate markets changing from a seller’s market to a balanced or buyer’s market?  The answer appears to be “yes,” as I’ll show below, although the data in the 25-month charts above provide no indication of a coming slowdown. While 25 months might seem like an odd timeframe for a chart, I used it so you could compare this November (on the outer right) with November 2016 (on the outer left) as well as all the months in between.

Two measures of a market’s health are the trends in median sold price and the median days on market. The charts show continued year-over-year increases in the median sold price in both Denver and Jefferson County and only seasonal changes in the days on market. When median days on market are this low — ranging from 5 to 16 days in both Denver and Jefferson County over the past two years — you know it’s a seller’s market.

However, the listings that are currently active or under contract and those which have sold thus far in December suggest that, from a purely mathematical standpoint, 2019 statistics will document a shift in Denver’s and Jeffco’s real estate market.

As I write this on Tuesday, December 11th, there are 1,832 active Denver listings on REcolorado. The median days on market of those listings is 54, more than triple the median days on market for last month’s sales. There are 1,230 Denver listings that are under contract, and their median days on market is 24.  Of the 200 Denver listings which closed between December 1st and 11th, the median days on market was only 20.  Clearly, as those currently active and under contract listings change their status to “sold,” the median days on market will rise significantly by month’s end and into 2019.

The figures for Jefferson County mirror those of Denver. Median days on market for active listings is 42, median days on market for under contract listings is 25, and median days on market for listings sold December 1st to 11th is 19. As with Denver, it’s safe to say that Jeffco’s market has already begun to slow, and statistics will reflect that in coming months. 

If you’re thinking of selling your home, don’t let yourself be blindsided by this evolving market. You can still sell a home quickly in a slowing market, but only if you price it correctly. As I have written before, you can’t underprice a home, because competing offers will drive the price upward. And by pricing your home correctly, you’ll benefit from those competing listings that were not priced appropriately. Call me or another Golden Real Estate agent at 303-302-3636 if you’d like advice on pricing your home to sell.