The Year in Review: 2021 Saw Unprecedented Real Estate Changes  

I don’t think anyone in real estate foresaw the amazing year which is now coming to an end, any more than they foresaw the pandemic’s arrival in March 2020 and its effect on that year’s real estate market.

Even though the pandemic spanned both years, the two years display notably different patterns when it comes to home sales.

Below are four charts derived from REcolorado statistics, the first three of which span the time from Jan 1, 2020 through Dec. 27, 2021, when I researched this article. Final figures for December 2021 are not yet in but shouldn’t greatly affect that month’s stats. Because REcolorado is a statewide MLS, I limited the analysis to listings within 20 miles of downtown Denver, which includes the metro area except for the city of Boulder.

The most spectacular effect of the pandemic is shown in the top left chart, as homes started going under contract in a week or less (median), down from 26 median days in MLS in January 2020. Despite that, you can see that the active inventory of listings shot up from about 5,000 before the pandemic to a high of nearly 8,000 in May 2020. Inventory only started dropping at the end of that first summer, but  it’s apparent that the decline in active listings was not for lack of new listings but rather because most listings which came on the MLS went under contract within a week, causing the number of unsold listings to decrease.

The third chart has what looks to be an uninteresting top line, but that’s only because of the compressed scale. It actually reveals a dramatic change which only occurred in the second year of the pandemic. The ratio of closed price to listing price was only 99.3% in January 2020, but it rose to 100% in February and stayed there through January 2021. It surged to almost 105% in June 2021 and was still at 100.6% in November.

What has happened in the luxury market is even more pronounced. The fourth chart, going back six years, shows how the number of closings over $1 million has surged from well below 100 in early 2016 to a high of 547 in June 2021, with the two pandemic years showing the most outstanding growth. On the same chart you can see that the change in price per finished square foot was up and down showing a gradual increase month-to-month from 2016 to 2019, but then took on a sharper and steadier increase during the pandemic.

There does seem to be a cause-and-effect relationship between the pandemic and the real estate market. In the beginning, we could conclude that the lockdown was causing people to seek bigger homes to accommodate working from home (and schooling at home). Also, it seems that some couples broke up under the strain of being together 24/7, further increasing the demand side of the real estate market.

Although the government is reluctant to reimpose a lockdown for pretty obvious reasons, the pandemic is still a factor and can be expected to drive further real estate activity for months to come, even as interest rates rise gradually.

(Actually, rising interest rates can stimulate buying activity, because once buyers see rates rising and realize they’ll continue to rise, they want to buy before rates rise much further.)

Don’t Wait Until Spring to Sell Your Home; There Are Many Advantages to Putting It on the MLS in Winter  

Each year at this time, I like to remind readers that the real estate business is not as seasonal as it once was. It used to be that spring and summer were considered the time to put a home on the market, based primarily on the school calendar. But that is old-school thinking.

Nowadays, with buyers and their agents setting up automated MLS searches based on the buyers’ needs and wants, homes are selling year round. What makes winter a particularly good time to list a home is that most sellers continue to think the old way and keep their homes off the market until spring.

As a result, those sellers who do put their home on the market enjoy two advantages. The first is less competition from other listings, and the second is the large number of buyers who will get the automated alert when a new listing matches their search criteria. (Over 850 buyers got alerts for this week’s featured listing.)

As I write this on Tuesday morning, Nov. 23rd, there is only one active listing in the entire City of Golden. How would you like your home to be   the only home for sale in a city of 20,000 people and 7,500 homes?

I myself have nearly 100 buyers with MLS alerts matching their search criteria. When a new listing is entered on the MLS which matches a buyer’s search criteria, that buyer gets an email alert with all the photos and details about that particular listing.

Perhaps you recall the DTC condo I featured last week. In the first day that it became active on the MLS, over 500 buyers received email alerts about it, four of whom tagged it a “favorite” and six tagged it a “possibility.” When a client tags a listing, their agent gets an email letting him or her know, likely triggering an in-person showing. That listing is already under contract for 10% over listing.

My $725,000 Littleton listing featured two weeks ago triggered email alerts to over 650 buyers, 18 of whom tagged it a favorite and 8 of whom tagged it as a possibility. It went under contract in five days for 20% over listing price.

Don’t wait for spring to list your home if you’d just as well sell it now. This is a great time to list!

NAR’s chief economist predicts a hotter-than-normal real estate market this winter. Click here. And realtor.com published an article on this same topic on November 15th:  “Should You Wait Until Spring to Sell Your Home? No Way! Why Winter Listings Rule Today.” 

Interviewing a Listing Agent? Ask Him or Her to Bring Their MLS Production Print-out  

The MLS printout for Golden Real Estate below shows the information that can be gleaned about individual agents and their brokerages. I’m showing our company report, but I could have shown my personal report. This print-out shows our production since Jan. 1st of this year.

The Production Section at top summarizes the report, showing that we had 46 listings since Jan. 1st, three of which we sold ourselves.  We had 21 buyer-side closings. The right-hand column shows the average of closed price (CP) to listing price (LP) — 102.47% for all MLS sold listings but much better for Golden Real Estate’s sold listings — 104.73%.

In the Production Detail section, the right-hand column shows how many days each sold listing was on the MLS before going under contract. Notice there are no zero days in MLS (“DIM”) because every listing was exposed to the full market so it would attract the most buyers, and yet there are few listings that took over a week to sell.

The “City” column lets you know where the agent (or company) does most of its business. The “List Price” and “Close Price” columns are also instructive. I’ve circled the two most recent sales as examples of how much above the listing price we sold those listings, thanks to our “auction style” of handling multiple offers, as opposed to the “highest and best” approach of most listing agents. It takes more work, but yields better results (a higher price) for our sellers.

This is not to suggest that an agent’s production is the sole criterion you should consider in choosing your listing agent.  However, we learn from experience, which comes from actual transactions, not from years in the business. An agent with only five years’ of licensure but who does a dozen-plus transactions a year can be more “experienced” than an agent who has done a couple transactions a year over a 20-year career.

And let’s not forget about testimonials. Ask for them, and look for online reviews, too. We like www.RatedAgent.com, because it only displays reviews solicited from actual clients following a closing, so the reviews can’t be phonied up or altered in any way.

NAR’s ‘Clear Cooperation’ Policy Has Failed to Reduce the Number of Pocket Listings  

In November 2019 the National Association of Realtors (NAR) created its Clear Cooperation Policy (CCP) designed to end the practice of “pocket listings.” A pocket listing is one which an agent keeps in his or her “pocket,” hoping to sell it himself instead of giving other agents the opportunity to sell it. The incentive is financial. Roughly half the listing commission goes to the agent who sells a listing. If an agent sells the listing himself, he/she gets to keep the entire commission.

The term “clear cooperation” is a reference to the purpose of the MLS, which is “cooperation and compensation.” Every MLS member agrees to cooperate with other MLS members, allowing them to sell their listing. And every listing specifies the compensation which the buyer’s agent will receive — typically 2.5 to 2.8 percent in our market.

You can read the three previous articles I’ve written about this policy at www.JimSmithColumns.com. Those articles (in Nov. 2019, Feb. 2021, and Aug. 2021) document the creation of the CCP and its subsequent implementation by REcolorado, our MLS. The deadline set by NAR to do so was May 1, 2020.

My August 12, 2021, column described how our MLS is fining agents $1,500 for a first offense when they fail to put a listing on the MLS within one business day of promoting it outside their own office in any way — online, in print or via a sign in the ground.

One would think that with such a big penalty the number of homes selling with zero days on the MLS would have declined, but in fact they have increased. I didn’t realize that until I read a Nov. 3rd article from Inman.com which quoted a study by Broker Resource Network (BRN). The study pulled data from 24 multiple listing services comparing the number of homes sold with zero days on MLS during the 12 months before and after the May 1, 2020, implementation date.

“In every market reviewed across the United States, brokerages recognized double and triple digit increases in Zero Days On Market listings across firms of all sizes and business models,” the report said.  These were figures for big brokerages, not the full MLS.

So I checked REcolorado statistics to see what our full-MLS statistics are for homes sold with zero days on the MLS. I found that there were 2,225 such closings reported in the 12 months before May 1, 2020, and 2,769 reported in the 12 months after May 1, 2020 — a 24.4% increase.

To discover the longer trendline, I looked at several half-year periods going back to 2018. In the last 180 days (as of this past Sunday), there were 1,677 closings of resale residential listings recorded on REcolorado with zero days on MLS before going under contract.

During the same 180 days of 2020, there were 1,295 such closings, making this year a 29.5% increase over last year. The number in 2019 was even lower — 1,077.  In 2018 it was not much different — 1,104.

What could account for this counter-intuitive increase?

One explanation might be the explosion of the seller’s market during the pandemic, which really took off simultaneously with the implementation of the Clear Cooperation Policy (and the pandemic surge).

One way to assess the seller’s market is to measure how many homes went under contract after 4 days on the MLS during those 12 months before and after May 1, 2020, and the median ratio of sold price to listing price for those listings.

During the 12 months before the implementation of the CCP, there were 4,563 closings of listings which went under contract in 4 days, and the median ratio of sold price to listing price was 1.0019. During the 8 months after May 1, 2020, there were 4,896 such closings, and the median ratio was 1.01299.  Another 2,840 such closings took place during the remaining 4 months of the  12-month period after May 1, 2020, and the median ratio for them was 1.05157. Clearly, the seller’s market was accelerating. It makes sense that more sellers might receive offers they “can’t refuse,” and that listing agents might encourage them to accept those offers.

There was an important loophole created when the CCP was implemented by REcolorado and perhaps by those 24 other MLSs. That loophole is called the “office exclusive,” which allows any brokerage to promote an off-MLS listing within the brokerage, so long as there is no advertising of any kind on social media or in print and no sign in the yard — the definition of a pocket listing.

This policy greatly favored large brokerages which could have hundreds of agents in a dozen or more offices, to promote new listings internally with the additional incentive of keeping the full commission of each transaction within the brokerage.

If this loophole were to be closed, there would probably be far fewer closings with zero days in the MLS — and sellers might get more money for their homes by having them exposed to more competing buyers.

As I mentioned above, a listing agent profits from keeping a listing off the MLS, because it increases the chances of selling the listing himself and thereby greatly increasing his/her commission. Of the 100 homes on REcolorado which sold for $1.25 million or more in the last 180 days with zero days on the MLS, 25% of them were double ended (see list below), and only 9 of those 25 listings reduced the commission paid by the seller because of their listing agent’s windfall. (The agents at Golden Real Estate always discount our commission when we double-end a transaction.)

D0uble-Ended Sales On REcolorado Over $1.25 Million – Last 180 Days, Showing Whether Seller Got a Discounted Commission

By contrast, of the 100 highest priced homes ($1,575,000 and over) which sold after 4 days on the market, only 2% were double-ended. Whether or not you call it “greed,” the agents who kept their homes off the MLS greatly profited from it — and the sellers paid the price by not exposing their homes to all potential buyers.

Another recent article from Inman reminds us that Fair Housing was one of the reasons the Clear Cooperation Policy was introduced. A blog post on REcolorado also makes this point. The reasoning is that if a home is sold privately without being exposed to all buyers on an MLS, then it is more likely to be sold within the same demographic. Thus, pocket listings are inherently discriminatory against minority groups, whether they be racial or, for example, LGBTQ.

I’m sure that these articles and the studies behind them, including my own analysis of REcolorado statistics herein, will lead to some discussion locally and nationally about how to tweak the Clear Cooperation Policy so it is more effective and less counter-productive, which it clearly has proven to be. I do not believe, however, that the Clear Cooperation Policy will be scrapped, because its stated intention is clearly good public policy.

Sellers: Insist that your home is put on the MLS so that all interested buyers have the opportunity to see it and participate in a bidding war that nets you more money.

We Are Now Witnessing the Transition from a Sellers Market to a Balanced Market  

The often heard complaint from homebuyers and their agents during the pandemic was the lack of active listings, which was not due to a lack of new listings but rather the result of those new listings going under contract so quickly that at any given time there were few to choose from.

It became a crazy sellers market which is only now abating except for “special” homes that are priced appropriately.

Looking only at closed listings, you might conclude that we are still in a sellers market. One measure I have used in the past is the median ratio of listing price to closing price, which remains above 100% within the Denver metro area. In September, for closings within 15 miles of downtown Denver, the median was 0.9% above listing price — declining, but still impressive.

However, if you look below the surface — that is, at the homes that haven’t sold, you see a rising inventory of homes that have been active on the MLS for an increasing length of time.

For example, as I write this column on Monday morning for this Thursday’s newspapers, there are 2,542 active listings of single family homes, condos and townhomes within 18 miles of downtown Denver, 760 of which (or 30%) were only listed on REcolorado in the last 7 days.

Despite so many new listings, the median active listing has been on the MLS for 19 days, and 1,024 of them (or 49.9%) have been active 30 days or longer. Another 552 of them (or 21.7%) have been active for 60 days or longer.

Meanwhile, there are 4,949 pending listings within that same 18-mile radius. Of them, only 804 or 16.2% were active more than 30 days before going under contract, and only 319 (or 6.4%) took over 60 days to go under contract. 221 of those currently pending listings went under contract with zero days on the MLS. Another 2,528 of them (over 50%) went under contract in 1 to 7 days.

Meanwhile, if you look at the 3,509 listings in the same 18-mile radius that closed in the last 30 days, only 401 of them (or 11.4%) took over 30 days to go under contract, and only 318 (or 3.4%) took over 60 days to go under contract.

This is what it looks like as we transition from a seller’s market to a balanced market. To reiterate, nearly 22% of active listings within 18 miles of downtown Denver have been on the market over 60 days, but only 3.4% of recently closed listings were active that long before going on the market.

My bottom-line observation is: Buyers who gave up after losing multiple bidding wars will find greater success if they re-enter the market now. As I’ve suggested in the past, you can avoid a bidding war simply by asking your agent to send only listings that have been active on the MLS for at least 10 days. You’re less likely to have competing buyers for them.

The new listings, however, will still get multiple offers if they are unique or special in one way or another.

For example, we recently listed a home in Golden’s coveted 12th Street Historic District. There was a bidding war on it, and it went under contract for more than $100,000 over the listing price. But if you look at all the active listings in Golden proper as I write this, there is only one new listing. The other active listings have been on the MLS between 11 and 102 days, and all but two of them have posted price reductions.

It should begin to sink in among sellers and their listing agents that they need to be less aggressive in pricing their homes when they put them on the market.

Don’t assume that buyers will flock to your listing regardless of price and compete with each other for it. Price it right, and it will sell. Overprice it, and it won’t.

Now That the Summer Months Are Behind Us, How’s the Market Shaping Up for Fall?

It has been a wild ride so far in 2021 — and the ride may be slowing, but it is definitely not over.

Below is a chart with some key statistics that I garnered from our MLS, REcolorado.com, for the 13 months ending August 2021, a timespan that allows us to compare this August with last August as well as the months since.

In creating the chart, I limited myself to listings within 15 miles of downtown Denver. That includes the entire metro area except for the city of Boulder.

The headings are pretty self-explanatory except for the last three columns. “Ratio” is the ratio of closed price to listing price at the time of sale, which might, in the case of older listings, be less than the original listing price. “Med. DOM” stands for median days that the listing was “active” on the MLS.  Half the listings went under contract in that number of days or less, and half of them went under contract in that number of days or more. “Ave. DOM” stands for average days that listings were active on the MLS, and it’s always higher than median days on the MLS because many listings are overpriced and linger on the market before the price is lowered and the home goes under contract.

There are some numbers that are worth noting, but there are some numbers that are downright remarkable.  We all know, for example, that the inventory of active listings is very low, but it’s notable that it is more than 40% lower this August than it was in August 2020. The number of sold listings is also lower by over 4% and the number of new listings is lower by 13%.

However, it’s also notable that the number of listings that expired without selling has plunged by over 43% from a year ago. More hard-to-sell and overpriced homes are selling before expiring.

Lastly, it is notable that the median days before a listing goes under contract has barely risen, and that figure has been under 7 days now for over a year.

Those statistics are notable, but there are two statistics that are remarkable. The first one is the ratio of sold price to listing price, which remains above 100% at 101.4%, although down from June’s high of 104.6%. This is remarkable because it was only this February that the number rose above 100% for the first time, signaling the height of the bidding wars. The August figure indicates that many bidding wars are still happening — due in part, of course, to the limited inventory of active listings — but they are not as numerous or extreme overall.

I emphasize “overall” because bidding wars are still getting extreme in isolated instances where the home is outstanding in some way or is in a highly desirable area with little or no competing listings. We are still seeing some homes sell for 40 to even 50% over their asking prices here and there. That includes in my home town of Golden.

So what, you may be asking, is the outlook for the fall and winter months?

If there is any seasonality left in the real estate business, it is that there are fewer new listings in the winter. You can see that was true last winter, with the low point being December. This makes sense, because few people want to put their home on the market during the holidays. That, however, only serves to keep the inventory of active listings even lower than during the summer time, yet the buying of homes continues year-round, with roughly as many closings happening in December as in November. Notice, in fact, that December was the only month in the last 13 where the number of sold listings exceeded both the number of active listings and new listings.

We should stop thinking of spring and summer as the selling season, but rather as the listing season. Most sellers believe it’s the selling season, when in fact homes sell year round. In fact, winter could be the best time to put your home on the market because there are just as many buyers getting those MLS alerts that I wrote about last week, but there are fewer homes for them to look at. 

If you want to sell your home before next spring, you should not wait until next spring to put it on the market — but do take some nice exterior photos of your home now that can be used in the marketing of your home over the winter.

Mortgage rates could start to ease upward in the coming months, but that will only increase the market frenzy as buyers try to get ahead of further increases in interest rates. No one in the industry, however, is projecting a major increase in interest rates over the next 12 months.

The MLS’s Campaign Against ‘Pocket Listings’ Is Serious, With $1,500 Penalties

Last November, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) board of directors voted into existence a “Clear Cooperation Policy” (see below). The rule required all MLSs in the country to implement the policy by May 1st of 2021. Although there were some technical delays, the rule is in full force now and our MLS, REcolorado, is enforcing it with substantial fines for violations. (I know because I’m on the Rules & Regulations Committee.) Many MLS members have already received fines starting at $1,500, with only one warning notice given.

The rule basically says that there can be no advertising of any kind for a listing without making the listing active on the MLS so that all members of the MLS have the opportunity to show and sell it.  If a “for sale” sign is put on a listing or there is a social media ad for it, or any other kind of public promotion of the listing, the agent must put it on the MLS within one business day. Currently that means that if the sign or advertising appears in the morning, it must be on the MLS by 6:30 pm the same day.  If it is promoted in the afternoon, it should be on the MLS the following morning.

A listing can be listed on the MLS as “Coming Soon,” but that means no showing by anyone including the listing agent. Once a showing takes place, it must be changed to “Active” immediately, making it available to other MLS members. Also, if it’s “Coming Soon” on the MLS, there must be a Coming Soon sign rider on the yard sign.

Most NAR rules only apply to NAR members (aka “Realtors”), but since NAR requires all MLSs to implement the rule, it does apply to the thousands of agents who do not belong to a Realtor brokerage. 

The policy was intended to reduce the number of “pocket listings.” A pocket listing is one which an agent withholds from the MLS (i.e., keeps in his pocket) in hopes of selling it himself or herself and thereby not sharing the commission with another agent.

With such stringent enforcement of the rule — other MLS violations carry penalties as small as $25 — you’d think there would be a widespread shift away from agents selling their listings before they are shared on the MLS. 

To see if that was the case, I did some analysis of my own, counting the number of closings entered on REcolorado showing zero days on the MLS. I fully expected to see a drop in the number of such closings.

The first day that a listing is on the MLS, it is shown as 0 days in the MLS. If it is changed to pending (or closed) the same day, one can assume that the listing was not active on the MLS long enough for other agents to set a showing and submit an offer.

Much to my surprise, the number of homes listed as closed with zero days on the MLS has only increased over the last 24 months, as shown by the chart below. In fact, the highest number of such closings has occurred since the rule went into effect.

So what gives? This harsh penalty does not appear to be having the desired effect, but maybe some more publicity about it will create more awareness and more compliance. Agents can be suspended from membership in the MLS after enough violations, basically putting them out of business.

After three violations within the same brokerage, the brokerage itself starts getting penalized, with the fine starting at $5,000, so that should certainly increase the in-house training about the rule. I have made sure that my own broker associates are aware of the rule.

Homeowners can, of course, make their own private deals with a buyer and then call upon an agent to handle the paperwork, which is fine, since there’s no advertising or promotion of the listing by the agent.

Also, there’s a “brokerage exclusion” which allows an agent in a large brokerage to tell other agents within that brokerage about the listing, but that cannot include posting it on social media where other buyers could learn about it. These two work-arounds could explain many of the homes contributing to the chart’s high numbers.

Why Is It Called ‘Clear Cooperation Policy’?

The real estate industry is unlike any other industry I know. Through our many Multi-List Services or MLSs, we members agree to “cooperation and compensation.” In other words, each member agrees to share his/her listings with every other member, allowing them to sell that listing to a buyer, and to be compensated by the listing agent by an amount displayed on the MLS.

I like to compare our industry to the new car business. Imagine if you went to a Chevy dealer and described the kind of car you wanted, and the salesman said, “I think the Ford Explorer would be perfect for you.” The salesman takes you to the Ford dealer, gets the keys, and then joins you on a test drive. If you like it, the salesman writes up the contract and presents it to a Ford salesman, who then gives the Chevy salesman half his commission (which the Chevy salesman then splits with his dealership).

That’s how it works in real estate. The commission earned by a buyer’s agent (who is the selling agent)  is called the co-op commission, short for cooperation.

The MLSs have rules requiring a member to put all their listings on the MLS, typically within 3 business days.  NAR’s “Clear Cooperation Policy” tightens that rule to say that any agent who promotes a listing to prospective buyers in any way (including with a sign in the yard or a social media post) must put the listing on the MLS within one business day.

The NAR policy — now an MLS rule — was instigated by members upset that other members were withholding their listings from the MLS until they were sold, further frustrating both the agents and their buyers looking for homes to buy at a time of especially low inventory.

Is the Real Estate Market Slowing, or Isn’t It? Here Are Some Useful Statistics.

Last week I did my regular update on the state of the bidding wars, but it left me unsatisfied because I knew that the market was slowing, yet the bidding wars seemed just as real, especially in the under-$500,000 price range.

The problem with my analysis was that I only looked at the homes which sold in 1 to 6 days because those are the listings which likely had bidding wars.

This week, I looked at the bigger picture but still limiting my analysis to residential listings on REcolorado that are within 15 miles of downtown Denver.

A chart containing some key statistics over the last 11 months is shown below. Here are my observations, which you can follow by looking at the chart’s columns from left to right.

First, it’s clear that the bidding wars started in earnest in February, when the ratio of closing price to listing price went above 100% for the first time. That ratio peaked in June and fell significantly in July, but is still far above 100%.

The number of active listings is still unseasonably low, but higher than it has been since last November. The number of listings under contract (pending) is lower than it was in May and June, but still higher than any of the other months on the chart.

The number of July closings is probably a bit higher than shown in the chart since I did this analysis on August 1st, and not all July closings had been reported, but it is clearly lower than June’s number, while higher than any other month since last October.

The number of new listings in July was higher than any other month except June, which reinforces what I’ve said for months, namely that the lack of inventory is not due to sellers keeping their homes off the market. Rather, homes sell so quickly that the number of active listings remains low.

The median days active in the MLS (DIM) has not risen, but the drop in average days in the MLS is very telling. The drop to 10 days is stunning and shows that even the homes that don’t sell immediately are selling faster than ever. Last July the number was 21 and in July 2019 the number was 23. In the past five years the average days in the MLS never fell below 16 until this April.

The last column shows that the inventory (in months) of homes for sale hasn’t been above one month since January, although it is the highest it has been since February.

The bottom line, then, is that, yes, the market is slowing but is still crazy hot. The trend, if there is one, is toward a gradual easing of the seller’s market in the Denver metro area, but it is well short of becoming a “balanced” market.

Will the end of the eviction moratorium have a big effect on the market?  My guess is that it may increase the number of new listings as landlords, especially small landlords, decide to sell rather than replace their evicted tenants. The opportunity to cash in on their properties’ increased value may be too much for some to resist, and the risk of continued lost income too great for some landlords.

There will not, I believe, be an increase in foreclosures or short sales, because very few property owners are likely to owe more than their property is worth. Because of that, they will simply sell.

Brokerages Should Allow Agents to Enter or Change Their Listings on the MLS

At Golden Real Estate, each agent (under my supervision) enters and updates their own listings on the MLS. I believe that helps to promote accuracy.

But many brokerages block their agents from accessing their own listings, sometimes resulting in incomplete or inaccurate data. One would hope that agents in those brokerages check to see how their listings were entered and tell their admins when mistakes have been made or data omitted, but there’s no way to know that.

Did you know that in addition to the “public remarks” for listings, there is a place to enter a description of every room in the house?

Very few listings — under 50% by my count — include a description of any rooms, and some listings don’t even list rooms other than bedrooms and bathrooms.

Dimensions can be entered for each room, too (rounded to the nearest foot), but I find very few listings with that information either. Our office policy is to enter room dimensions and descriptions for every room in every listing.

Brokerages which require all agent listings to be entered by their unlicensed administrative staff are less likely to have these non-mandatory fields entered. If they would make each agent responsible for such data entry and then monitor their work as we do, I believe that buyers would have much more useful and accurate information for each listing. Other non-mandatory fields in the MLS include the following:

> Is the property owner-occupied, tenant-occupied, or vacant?

> What is the zoning?

> What direction does the home face?

> How close are bus stops and light rail stations?

> Is it in an incorporated or unincorporated area?

> What are the dimensions and features of the garage/carport/RV parking?

> What appliances are in the house?

> What kinds of flooring is there?

> Does the home have any fireplaces, and where are they?

> If there’s an HOA, what are the fees and what do those fees cover?

Our office policy is not only to complete every field on our company’s MLS listings, but to share our MLS data entry in draft form with the seller before making the listing live on the MLS, which also helps to assure accuracy and completeness of our listings.

Bidding Wars Are Slowing — for Higher Priced Homes

This is my regular update on the real estate bidding wars. This week I chose to analyze the closings that occurred last Thursday, July 22nd, to see how the bidding wars have evolved over the past few weeks. As before, the source for this monthly analysis is REcolorado.com.

As I did in previous months, I limited my analysis to sales within a 15-mile radius of downtown Denver. I limited my search to listings that were active on our MLS at least one day and not more than 6 days before going under contract. Those are the homes that likely had bidding wars.

On July 22nd there were 36 closings up to $500,000, compared to 55 closings on June 28th. The median home sold for 6.3% over its asking price, compared to 5.4% on June 28th. The highest ratio this time was 18.5% for a home in SW Denver, compared to 20.8% on June 28th for a townhome in Littleton. Three listings sold for the asking price, and three sold for less than listing price, compared to four and six respectively on June 28th.

There were 48 homes that closed on July 22nd for more than $500,000, compared to 53 homes on June 28th. The median home in that group sold for 3.2% over its listing price, compared to 8.7% on June 28th. Only six sold for the listing price, and six sold for less than the listing price. The highest overbid in this group was 18% for a home north of Denver’s City Park, compared to 32% on June 28th.

To have a statistically significant number of closings over $1 million, I analyzed the 87 such closings that occurred from July 12 to 26. The median closing for those high-end homes was 5.4% over listing price, compared to 6.6% from late June. Nine homes sold for the listing price and 8 homes sold for less than the listing price, compared to 12 and 6 respectively in late June. The highest overbid was 24.8% for a bungalow in the Hilltop neighborhood, which was listed at $950,000 and sold in three days for $1,186,000. Of those 87 homes, 24 were listed under $1 million. Last month four million-dollar homes sold for more than 30% over their listing price.