The following analysis of the Metro Denver & Northern Colorado real estate market (which now includes Clear Creek, Gilpin, and Park Counties) is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere agent.
The Colorado economy continues to perform quite well, having added 72,200 non-agricultural jobs over the past 12 months — a solid growth rate of 2.7%. Through the first eight months of 2018, the state has added an average of 6,700 new jobs per month. There has been a modest slowdown in employment gains, but I really don’t think this is a cause for concern and still hold to my forecast that Colorado will add a total of 82,000 new jobs by the end of 2018.
In August, the state unemployment rate was 2.9%. This matches the level seen a year ago. Unemployment rates in all the markets contained in this report rose between August 2017 and August 2018 but this is not actually a concern. Growth in the workforce is not only due to recent college graduates, but also discouraged workers who are starting to look for work again and this puts upward pressure on the unemployment rate. All of Colorado’s metropolitan areas are showing unemployment rates at around 4% or lower, suggesting that the regional economies are at, or close to, full employment.
HOME SALES ACTIVITY
- In the third quarter of 2018, 16,550 homes sold — a drop of 6.2% compared to the third quarter of 2017.
- Sales rose in just two of the 11 counties contained in this report. Gilpin County again led the way, with sales rising by an impressive 21.1% compared to third quarter of last year. There was also a significant increase in Clear Creek County. Sales fell the most in Arapahoe County.
- Slowing sales in the quarter can, to a degree, be attributed to continued home price growth, but I believe it is more a function of the rapid rise in the number of homes for sale. The number of listings in third quarter rose by 5.4% over the same period in 2017, but was up by 31.2% compared to the second quarter of this year.
- What the numbers are telling us is that inventory growth is giving buyers more choice and they are being far more selective — and patient — before making an offer on a home.
- Even with the rapid rise in listings and slowing home sales, prices continue to trend higher. The average home price in the region rose 7.9% year-over-year to $460,982. However, the average price dropped 4% between second and third quarters.
- The smallest price gains in the region were in Park County, where prices rose by a fairly modest 3.6%.
- Appreciation was strongest in Clear Creek County, where prices rose 10%. All other counties in this report saw gains relative to the third quarter of 2017.
- Affordability is becoming an issue in many Colorado markets and this, in concert with rising inventory levels, has started to dampen home price growth. Although I do not expect prices to drop, I do think price gains will moderate over the next few quarters.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home in Colorado remained at the same level as a year ago.
- The amount of time it took to sell a home dropped in three counties: Gilpin, Clear Creek, and Larimer. The rest of the counties in this report saw days on market rise by only a couple of days or less.
- In the third quarter of 2018, it took an average of 24 days to sell a home. It took less than a month to sell a home in all but one county.
- Housing demand is still solid and, as long as homes are priced appropriately, they will continue to sell in less time than historic averages.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.
For the third quarter of 2018, I continue the trend that I started last quarter and have moved the needle a little more in favor of buyers. Listings are likely to continue their rising trend, but we should still see a seasonal drop off during the winter months. The market is clearly headed toward balance, which I am very pleased to see.
Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has more than 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
Luxury homes sales across the U.S. continue to perform strongly, but I’m noticing some headwinds starting to appear that are worthy of a closer look.
It’s often thought that luxury real estate runs totally independent of the overall market, and while this is true in some respects, there are definitely correlations between high-end housing and the rest of the market.
The first similarity is that the luxury market has suffered from some the same inventory constraints that are almost endemic across all price points in the U.S. But, similar to the overall market, we are starting to see a rise in inventory, which should be good news for real estate agents and luxury home buyers alike.
Impact of rising inventory
This increase in the number of luxury homes for sale has started to have a tapering effect on price growth, which again, is similar to what we’re seeing in the rest of the market. But as real estate professionals, we know full well that all housing is local and some markets are performing far better than others.
For example, luxury markets in Maui, Northern California, Colorado, and Sarasota, Florida, are all experiencing substantial price growth, while there are noticeable slowdowns in many parts of New York and New Jersey. Even Queens and Jersey City, which have continued to benefit from high demand, have seen price growth stall recently, indicating that those markets could be losing some steam.
Why the slowdown?
The slowing of luxury sales in certain areas around the country piqued my interest, so I decided to explore why this is happening. The first thing I noticed is that cities with high property taxes are fairly prevalent on the list of slowing markets; this includes cities like Boston, Austin, New York City, and Chicago. It is likely that the federal tax changes limiting the deductibility of property taxes are the culprit for such slowdowns in these areas.
Something else that has undoubtedly impacted luxury home sales in markets, such as New York City and Seattle, is the significant decline in foreign buyers from countries like China and Canada. According to the National Association of Realtors, the number of purchases by international buyers fell by 21 percent between 2017 and 2018, amounting to a drop of $32 billion – the largest decline on record. Foreign buyers spent $121 billion on 266,754 properties, making up 8 percent of the buyers of existing (previously lived in) homes.
My research tells me that foreign home buyers are pulling back amid political uncertainty in the U.S. Ongoing concerns about a potential trade war, combined with rhetoric against foreigners, have done their part to dampen some of the enthusiasm to invest in U.S. housing. Also playing a role in this slowdown is the Chinese Central Government which has started placing tighter controls on the ability to spend money outside of mainland China. And finally, rising home prices and a strong U.S. dollar are likely two other key factors behind the tumbling interest in luxury real estate from overseas buyers.
So how do I see the luxury market performing in 2019?
Luxury real estate sales in markets like Boston, Clearwater, Austin, and Alexandria, Virginia will continue to slow down for the reasons stated earlier, but in other parts of the country, home buyers will provide the demand needed to keep the market plugging along at a healthy pace.
The changes affecting mortgage interest deductions and property taxes will also continue to impact the luxury market in certain areas, but this will, to a degree, be offset by other tax changes that favor high-income households and increase their disposable income. Something else that will help keep the luxury real estate market afloat in the coming year is jumbo mortgage interest rates which remain remarkably competitive compared to historic standards.
On a whole, high-end real estate sales have been strong over the past few years. While I am predicting somewhat of a slowdown next year given the headwinds discussed earlier, 2019 will be remembered as a year where balance started to return to the luxury housing market.
Mr. Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has more than 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
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