Are More Contracts Falling Because of Bidding Wars?

A contract on one of my listings fell on inspection last week, but the buyer would not say why and would not release the inspection report. Meanwhile, the inspector had met the seller during the inspection and expressed shock when told that the contract was terminated. The logical conclusion was that the contract fell due to buyer’s remorse, i.e., a change of mind about buying the home.

The buyer and their agent could have simply stated that, because it’s a perfectly valid reason for terminating under the inspection contingency. It practically says as much in the contract itself. (By the way, the home quickly went under contract again with a new buyer.)

The seller asked me how common buyer’s remorse terminations are, given the way buyers are being rushed into making purchase decisions (at inflated prices) due to bidding wars.

So I did some research and found that contracts are not falling at a statistically significant higher rate than they did, say, two years ago during the same week.

Here are the specifics from my   research on REcolorado.com:

Of the 100 highest priced closings in early July that were on the market 1 to 20 days, 8% had a contract fall before a successful closing. During the same time period in 2019, 7% listings had a fallen contract before their successful closing.

Of the 100 lowest priced closings in early July that were on the MLS 1 to 20 days, 15% had a contract fall, compared to the same time period in 2019, when 16% had a contract fall before a successful closing.

It was a reasonable theory, but not true.

Real Estate Bidding Wars Are Not Abating

This is my monthly update on the real estate bidding wars. This week I chose to analyze the closings that occurred last Thursday, June 10th, to see how the bidding wars have evolved over the past four weeks. The source for this monthly analysis is REcolorado.com, the Denver MLS.

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 homes, condos and townhouses that were on the MLS at least one day and not more than 6 days before going under contract. Those are the homes with bidding wars. I divided the results into homes which sold up to $500,000 and those that sold for more.

As you can see in this chart, the bidding wars only took off in earnest during February 2021, and they have kept accelerating month by month, enough that it raised the average ratio of closing price to listing price over all sales, not just the homes which sold in six days or less.

On June 10th there were 40 closings up to $500,000, compared to 44 closings on May 13th. The median home sold for 6.2% over its asking price, compared to 8.7% on May 13th. The highest ratio this time was 19.6% for a condo in Golden compared to 15.7% on May 13th for a home in southwest Denver. Only one listing sold for the asking price, and only two sold for less than listing price.

There were 37 homes that closed on June 10th for more than $500,000, compared to 56 homes on May 13th. The median home in that group sold for 7.7% over its listing price, compared to 8.1% on May 13th. Only three sold for the listing price, and none sold for less than the listing price. The highest overbid in this group was 20.9% for a one-story home in Lakewood on June 10 compared to 29.4% on May 13.

To have a statistically significant number of closings over $1 million, I analyzed the 82 such closings over a longer period — June 1-13. The median closing for those high-end homes was 6.1% over listing price, compared to 6.0% in May. Four homes sold for the listing price and 9 homes sold for less than the listing price. The highest overbid was for a 1979 ranch-style home in Jeffco’s Sixth Avenue West subdivision, which was listed at $1,080,000 and sold in 6 days for $1,575,000, 45.8% over listing price.  

I’ll repeat this analysis on July 15.

An $850,000 Home In Littleton Just Sold for $1.1 Million

How High Are Bidding Wars Pushing Up Home Prices?

This is a reprise of my article on April 22nd, when I took a snapshot of closed listings on Friday, April 16th.  This week I did the same analysis, and the day I chose was last Thursday, May 13th, to see how the bidding wars have evolved in just the last four weeks. The source both times was REcolorado.com, Denver’s MLS.

As I did in April, I limited my analysis to sales within a 15-mile radius of downtown Denver. That takes in an area from Broomfield to Highlands Ranch and from Golden to Aurora. It does not include the City of Boulder.

I limited my search to homes, condos and townhouses that were on the MLS at least one day and not more than 6 days before going under contract. Those are the homes with bidding wars. I divided the results into homes which sold up to $500,000 and those that sold for more.

On May 13th there were 44 closings up to $500,000. The median home sold for 8.4% over its asking price. On April 16th, there were 48 closings, but the median home sold for “only” 4.7% over its asking price. The highest ratio this time was 15.7% for a home in southwest Denver that sold in 4 days.

There were 56 homes that closed on May 13th for more than $500,000. The median home in that group sold for 8.1% over its listing price.  On April 16th there were 68 such closings, and the median home sold for 8.3% over asking price, so little change there, but the highest overbid in this group on May 13th was 29.4% over listing for an $850,000 home in Littleton’s Sundown Ridge, which sold in 2 days for $1.1 million.  On April 16th, the highest overbid was “only” 18.8% over asking price for a home in Westminster. On May 13th, there were four homes with an overbid higher than that.

To have a statistically significant number of closings over $1 million, I analyzed the closings over a longer period — May 1-15. The median closing for those high-end homes was 6% over listing price. The highest was for a 1991 home in Denver’s Hyde Park at Polo Club subdivision, which was listed at $1,575,000 and sold in 6 days for $2,225,000, 41.3% over listing price.  In the first half of April, there were only 68 closings over $1 million, and the highest overbid was 24.9% over listing price. This time there were six closings with an overbid higher than that.

In my April analysis I predicted that the overbids would get even more intense, and that has proven to be the case. I’ll keep up this analysis in coming months. Stay tuned.

How High Are Bidding Wars Pushing Up Home Prices?

We’ve all heard some crazy examples of bidding wars in which homes have sold for way over their listing prices, so I took a snapshot of just one day’s closings, limited to a 15-mile radius of downtown Denver. That takes in an area from Broomfield to Highlands Ranch and from Golden to Aurora. It does not include the City of Boulder.

The day I chose was last Friday. The source was REcolorado.com.

I limited my search to homes, condos and townhouses that were on the MLS at least one day and no more than 6 days before going under contract. Those are the listings that experienced bidding wars. I divided the results into homes which sold up to $500,000 and those that sold for more than that.

On April 16th there were 48 closings up to $500,000. The median home sold for 4.7% over its asking price. It was a tri-level home in Aurora listed at $420,000 which sold in 3 days for $440,000. Only 3 homes sold for the listing price and 2 sold for less. The highest ratio was 25.8% for a home in Aurora that sold in 1 day.

There were 68 homes that closed on April 16th for more than $500,000. The median home in that group sold for 8.3% over its listing price.  It was a 1950 ranch in Denver’s North Hilltop neighborhood listed for $600,000 that sold in 3 days for $650,000. The highest overbid in this group was 18.8% for a 2-story home in Westminster listed for $425,000 that sold in 5 days for $505,000. Only 5 sold for the listing price and 4 sold for less.

To get a statistically meaningful number of closings over $1 million, I looked at 68 such closings from April 1-16. The median ratio was 4.3% over listing price. The highest was for a 1954 bungalow in Denver which was listed at $965,000 and sold for $1,205,000, 24.9% over listing.

Note: These statistics reflect the bidding wars that were taking place during late March, when most of these listings went under contract. Today’s bidding wars appear to be even more intense. Stay tuned!

DMAR Reports Average Home Price Rose by $100K in Last 12 Months

The Denver Metro Real Estate Market Trends Report, released on February 3rd by the Denver Metro Association of Realtors, reveals that detached single-family homes in the metro area set yet another record for average price, exceeding $629,000 in January. Attached single family homes (condos & townhomes) rose by less than half that amount, as shown in the above chart. Download the full report here.

Denver Real Estate Market Ends 2020 with a Record-Breaking December

The chart below is a compilation of various market indicators for the Denver metro area, which I am defining as a 25-mile radius of the State Capitol. There are some surprising differences this December from previous Decembers to be discerned from looking at that chart. I have included June figures but put the December stats in bold type to make it easier to compare summer vs. winter statistics over the last five years.

Source: REcolorado

Historically, one would expect to see more sold listings, new listings and active listings in June than in December, and that trend held true in 2020, but the numbers for this December broke some new ground.

The number of sold listings and new listings were at record highs for a December, leaving the number of active listings at a record low. There has been lots of talk about how low our active inventory is, but, as I’ve written before, that’s not for lack of new listings but rather how quickly buyers are snapping up new listings.

The strength of this sellers’ market becomes more evident when you look at the other columns. In past years, the median sold price in December was substantially lower than it was in June, but the opposite was true this year, rising to a record $455,000. Correspondingly, the average price per finished square foot surged above June’s number to a record $246, and the median days in the MLS (“DIM”) plunged from last December’s 24 to just 7 days this December — even lower than the DIM for June 2020. The average DIM of 28 is more typical of summer months than winter, reflecting the fact that even homes that had been languishing on the market (because they were overpriced) were selling at a faster clip last month. Indeed 22% of the listings sold were on the MLS for over 30 days. Of those, 5.8% were active over 90 days, and 3.4% were active for more than 120 days. Those older listings are responsible for raising the average DIM.

Because of the well-publicized migration away from densely populated areas because of Covid-19, I was curious to learn whether single-family detached homes represented a higher percentage of the closings this December, compared to December 2019, but in fact the percentage dropped a little this year — 66.7% this year vs. 69.5% last year. The same was true in June, when the pandemic was already raging and we believed that people were fleeing condos for detached single-family homes. This is counterintuitive, and I can offer no theory to explain it, but I have more to say about this topic below.

Another measure of the strength of the current sellers’ market is how many homes sold above their asking prices. With December 2019’s days in MLS number so high (24), one hardly needs to ask, but here are the numbers. This December, 16.6% of the listings sold for their full listing price, and 42.2% sold above their listing price. Last year, those numbers were dramatically lower. While 15.8% sold for their full listing price, only 15.9% of listings sold above their listing price in December 2019.

So, what’s the prognosis for 2021?  January is positioned to have a record number of closings, considering that there are a record number of pending transactions left over from December, as shown in the chart. With mortgage interest rates projected to remain at record lows — currently at or below 3% — there is a strong incentive for buyers to keep buying. Another factor favoring buyers is the movement of service sector jobs towards working from home.

To measure that trend, I compared the December-over-December sales in Downtown Denver, part of Capitol Hill and the Golden Triangle (specifically, a 1.2-mile radius from 20th & Arapahoe Streets in downtown Denver) and found there were 63 sales in December 2019 compared to 77 sales in December 2020. Meanwhile, there were 272 active listings in December 2019, but that surged to 444 active listings in December 2020.  It’s a buyer’s market there.

In that same area, the days in MLS dropped from 43 days last December to 32 days this December (way higher than the 24 days vs. 7 days for the 25-mile radius in the above chart), but the median sold price plunged from $535,000 in December 2019 to $480,000 in December 2020. Compare that to the $40,000 increase in median sold price with the larger metro area, as shown in the above chart.

So, yes, it is still harder to sell a home in the densely populated central Denver area, and there is definitely an out-migration taking shape, but it’s still too early to call it an exodus.

Note: All these statistics were compiled from REcolorado, Denver’s MLS, excluding listings from other MLSs which are displayed on REcolorado.com. Often those listings from other MLSs are merely duplicates of REcolorado’s own listings, so I excluded them.

Denver’s Realtor Association Reports That October Listings & Sales Broke 22 Records

     The Denver Metro Realtor Association (DMAR) has just released a report by its Market Trends Committee which noted that 22 different records were broken during October. Below is their summary, which is based on statistics from REcolorado, the Denver MLS. These statistics are for the entire MLS which lists property statewide but primarily the Denver metro area. Below is my own analysis limited to the Jeffco statistics from the same MLS.

ACTIVE LISTINGS

     (All Residential) 4,821 represents the lowest October on record. The previous low for October was 6,731 in 2016.

     (Detached) 2,643 represents the lowest October on record. The previous low for October was 4,720 in 2017.

CLOSE PRICE — MEDIAN

(All Residential) $475,000 represents the highest amount on record. The previous record was $460,000 recorded in July, August and September of this year.

(Detached) $519,900 represents the highest amount on record. The previous record was $510,000 in September of this year.

(Attached) $339,425 represents the highest amount on record. The previous record was $335,000 in September of this year.

CLOSE PRICE — AVERAGE 

(All Residential) $561,999 represents the highest amount on record. The previous record was $540,890 recorded in July 2020.

(Detached) $625,100 represents the highest amount on record. The previous record was $602,264 in August 2020.

(Attached) $393,733 represents the highest amount on record. The previous record was $384,902 in September 2020.

DAYS IN MLS — MEDIAN

(All Residential) 6 days represents the lowest October on record. The previous low for October was in 2015 of 10 days.

(Detached) 6 days represents the lowest October on record. The previous low for October was in 2015 of 11 days.

DAYS IN MLS — AVERAGE

(All Residential) 24 days represents the lowest October on record. The previous low for October was in 2015 of 25 days.

(Detached) 23 days represents the lowest October on record. The previous low for October was in 2015 of 27 days.

NEW LISTINGS

(Attached) 2,022 represents the highest October on record. The previous high for October was 1,657 in 2019.

CLOSED LISTINGS

(All Residential) 5,984 closed transactions represent the highest October on record. The previous high for October was 5,144 in 2019.

(Detached) 4,352 closed transactions represent the highest October on record. The previous high was 3,709 in 2019.

(Attached) 1,639 closed transactions represent the highest October on record. The previous high was 1,461 in 2017.

MONTHS OF INVENTORY

(All Residential) 0.81 months represents the lowest number on record. The previous record low was 0.91 months of inventory in September 2020.

(Detached) 0.61 months represents the lowest amount on record. The previous record was 0.72 months of inventory in September 2020.

PENDING

(All Residential) 6,141 pending transactions represent the highest October on record. The previous high for October was 6,062 in 2017.

(Detached) 4,337 pending transactions represent the highest October on record. The previous high was 4,330 in 2017.

(Attached) 1,804 pending transactions represent the highest October on record. The previous high was 1,732 in 2017.

SALES VOLUME

(All Residential) $3,363,002,016 sales volume represents the highest October on record. The previous high for October was $2,487,936,752 in 2019. July 2020 holds the all-time record of $3,965,805,480.

Of particular interest, in my opinion, is the difference between the median and average “Days in MLS.” While half the listings went under contract in 6 days or less, the average was 23 or 24 days. That  gap is a reflection of how many homes are overpriced and linger on the market a long time, raising the average DIM when they finally go under contract. A search of currently pending MLS listings shows that 983 of them were “Active” for 100 days or longer before finally going under contract. Compare that to 4,097 listings that went under contract in 1 to 6 days.

Despite Global Pandemic, Our Real Estate Market Was the Hottest Ever for August

Much to the consternation of observers, the real estate market in metro Denver was hotter this August than it was in any previous August, according to the Market Trends Committee of the Denver Metro Association of Realtors (DMAR). At this rate, 2020’s statistics at year end will likely exceed 2019’s statistics.

The report covers an expanded metro area, including 11 counties instead of the 7 urban and suburban counties that you and I think of as “metro Denver.” The non-urban counties included in the report are Clear Creek, Gilpin, Elbert and Park.

Detached single-family homes sold like crazy in August—up over 6% from August 2019, despite 50% fewer active listings at month’s end. The average sold price was up 13.8% from last year, and average days on market was down 23%.

Attached homes sold on a par with last year, although their inventory was also down — 19% fewer listings at month’s end. They did sell quicker, though, with days on market down by over 27%.

Unlike DMAR, I like to define the metro Denver market as within a 25-mile radius of the state capitol, as shown here, instead of by county. Using that method, the number of detached homes sold this August was up 13.7% from August 2019, and the sold price per finished square foot (my preferred metric) was up 7.0%. Average days on market dropped by 31%, but median days on market plunged 57% from 14 days in August 2019 to 6 days this year.

Even more interesting to me is that median days on market was in double digits until March 2020 — the first month of Covid-19 lockdown — when it dropped by 40% to 6 days, and remained in the 5- to 7-day range through August. It could be said that “Stay at Home” and “Safer at Home” really meant “Buy a Home” in the real estate business!

Average sold price within that  25-mile radius rose by 13.4% to $597,290, while median sold price rose by 11.6% to $505,000. The gap between average and median is attributable to a large number of million and multi-million dollar closings. I wish others would stop focusing on average stats for that reason.

The number of active listings (what we call “inventory”) plummeted from 6,483 in August 2019 to 3,444 in August 2020, a 47% decline.

Another measure of market strength is how many listings expire without selling. That number was 777 in August 2019, but it fell by 37% to 493 this year.

The average ratio of sold price to listing price was 100% both last August and this August — suggesting that roughly half the listings sold above full price. With half the homes selling in 6 days or less, it’s to be expected that there were multiple offers and possibly a bidding war on many listings.

This week my downtown Golden fixer-upper closed at $665,000, which was $40,000 over listing price. My Lakewood listing from last week is already under contract at $55,000 over full price. Clearly, the seller’s market is still hot despite the pandemic.

If you have considered selling your home, there couldn’t be a better time than now to put your home on the market. And you couldn’t do better than call one of us listed below to talk about it. Your home would, of course, be featured in my weekly Denver Post column and on this blog.

If you let us represent you in the purchase of your replacement home, the listing commission could be as low as 3.6% and qualify you for totally free moving!

Jim Smith— 303-525-1851

Jim Swanson — 303-929-2727

Carrie Lovingier — 303-907-1278

Chuck Brown — 303-885-7855

David Dlugasch — 303-908-4835

Carol Milan — 720-982-4941

Homeownership Surged During the Pandemic, According to a Realtor.com Report

On July 28th, Realtor.com published an article by Clare Trapasso (link) with surprising statistics about a surge in homeownership during the 2nd quarter of this year.

According to her article, which was based on a U.S. Census Bureau report (link), the homeownership rate surged to 67.9%, the highest it has been since the Great Recession of 2008. (See chart below.) That rate was 3.8 percentage points higher than the same quarter of 2019 and  2.6 percentage points over the first quarter of this year. Covid-19 arose during the last month of the first quarter, but it dominated the entire second quarter.

Gray areas = Recessions / Blue line = Homeownership rate / Red line = Seasonally Adjusted Rate

The homeownership rate in this century peaked at 69.2% during the second and fourth quarters of 2004.

As you’d expect, the homeownership rate varies among different age groups, currently 40.6% for adults under 35 and 80.4% of persons 65 and older. The rate has been rising in each age group. In 2015 (2nd quarter) it was 38.4% for the under-35 age group, and it was 78.5% for the 65-and-over group. The greatest increase was in the 35-44 age group, which increased from 58.0% to 64.3% during the same 5-year period.

Homeownership surged in every race and ethnic group in the second quarter from last year to this year. For Non-Hispanic Whites, the rate increased from 73.1% to 76.0%. For Blacks it surged from 40.6% to 47.0%, and for Hispanics of any race, it surged from 46.6% to 51.4%.

The Census report came with a caveat that its data collection methodology was impacted by the   Covid-19 pandemic, shifting from a mix of in-person and phone interviews to entirely phone interviews, which resulted in a reduced response rate, declining from 70% in April to only 65% in June, compared to an average response rate of 82.7% during the second quarter of 2019.

Realtor.com’s chief economist, Danielle Hale, believes the increase in homeownership was distorted by the change in methodology. “It’s likely the homeownership rate rose, but I don’t think it’s likely that it rose that much,” she said.

According to the article on realtor.com, “After a pause during stay-at-home orders, the housing market has rebounded — and then some. The lack of homes on the market hasn’t discouraged the hordes of buyers from descending en masse, seeking to escape small, city apartments and cramped starter homes while taking advantage of record-low mortgage interest rates. (Rates dipped just below 3% for the first time ever earlier this month.)”

As an example, Rita and I just locked in an interest rate of 2.5% for refinancing our home’s mortgage with Jaxzann Riggs of The Mortgage Network. A buyer I’m working with was quoted a 2.25% rate.

“People still want to own homes, and with mortgage rates low, a lot of people are taking advantage of that even though there are lots of scary things going on in the economy,” says realtor.com’s Hale.

The article continues, “This has led median home prices to shoot up 9.1% year over year in the week ending July 18. That’s despite a recession and the most widespread unemployment since the Great Depression. Meanwhile, the number of homes for sale is down 33% compared with the previous year, when the nation was already experiencing a housing shortage.”