In my recent post, Where to Buy 2010, Part II: Green Lights, I documented two dozen areas that were showing positive enough signs of life to conclude that:
- Price Depreciation was likely over
- Supply and Demand was weighted slightly in favor of Demand increasing (or better)
- The probability of sale was increasing
- Values would like begin increasing by the end of first quarter, 2010 (if they were not already actively appreciating)
Now comes the harder part. Offending people who live in places where these important stabilizing factors are less evident. These are “the Yellow Lights” areas where:
- Price Depreciation may still be occurring
- Supply and Demand is not clearly favoring an increase in demand and an over-supply may exist
- The probability of sale is at the market average (47%) or worse
- Prices may not start appreciating in first quarter 2010. It might take until late 2010 for that to happen
Very quickly, anyone who can read through my cautious language will notice “may”, “maybe” and “might” all dominate the language of this post. The Yellow Lights are areas where there can still be some excellent buys. But a smart buyer who wants in on one of these areas needs to quantify their decision making. Is the home I’m interested in below the median value for the area? Are there any fatal flaws that would possibly hinder appreciation (near or backing to a busy road, non-conforming floorplan, etc.). Am I buying upgrades or dirt? (because the dirt is where the value is)
The ALMOST THERE…
These three areas all had one little glaring problem that kept them from Green Light Status.
In the Old Colorado City area, the probability of sale has increased and demand has picked up. But price has taken a beating every year since 2005. That’s odd that average price in this boutique and unique area started to drop two years ahead of other market. The consumer demand has been largely for less expensive properties. Qualifying the unique qualities of an over $200,000 home will be important for a 2010 buyer in Old Colorado City. Likewise, pricing has taken a hit in both Tamarron and Newport Heights. While the probability of sale has never dipped below 50%, it is interesting to note that surrounding areas have performed better. When Tamarron (D20) is compared to Pinon Valley or Oak Valley Ranch (both D11), a larger, similarly priced property has had a lower chance of sale in the normally more appealing D20 area. Newport Heights average list price is actually below the 6 year average sold price. One difficulty here however is that the area is small and has many streets impacted by road noise (proximity to Dublin and Austin Bluffs). Homes on the inside and near open space will sell much more easily.
The, “These can’t possibly stay Yellow Light for Long” areas
I was scratching my head looking at Cheyenne Meadows. That’s right up next to Ft. Carson and an always popular area with junior officers. With an average sales price similar to the city and high rental rates, this can’t possibly stay down long. But the probability of sale is lousy and price has reset to 2004 levels. Weird. Very similar circumstances north of New Life in Northgate (collectively Trailridge and Deer Creek). Prices are at the 6-year average and the probability of sale has been low for four years running. This despite a superb location and near many of the destination D20 schools. Then there is Crystal Hills. The only suburban-style neighborhood in Manitou, the problems here are a lower than expected probability of sale and higher than usual inventory. With the price reset to the six year average and an over-supply heading into winter, pressure is down on price (for the short-term). All three of these areas have something somewhat extraordinary to extremely special in their location. That will have to make a measurable impact on a return to better value sometime in 2010.
High-End Areas where the worst is probably over (but boy what a hit)
Mountain Shadows and Peregrine have both seen demand sour substantially in 2009. At one point in October of this year, Mountain Shadows had only 3 properties that had sold for over $400,000 the entire calendar year. For a long stretch of the summer, a half dozen Peregrine properties were in a race to the bottom in price, starting around $650,000 before settling between $575,000 and $615,000. And for the last several years, the Old North End has been characterized by very low demand over $500,000.
|Old North End||2004||2005||2006||2007||2008||2009||Avg|
In all three of these areas, the average list price remains above the six year average. But the year to date sales price has dropped below the six-year average. In all of these areas, a home under $500,000 is very much worth looking at. Homes asking over $650,000 though will have to offer the buyer something extraordinary. That is, until inventory levels shrink even more.
The Million-Dollar Drag
Pine Creek. Spires. Flying Horse. All of them have taken a beating with direct competition with new construction. All of them have a lot of inventory sitting on the market. All of them have a lower than expected probability of sale. Broadmoor Glen has the added nuance of present new construction that is starting at twice the average of the rest of the neighborhood.
In all four areas, the “average” property for sale requires not just jumbo financing, but super jumbo financing or a cash buyer. There are not many of either. Since all three areas have homes from $400,000 to well over a million, even talking about them as “areas” requires a discussion of areas within areas. A home on the Golf Course in Pine Creek with a nice lot and great upgrades will probably sell at a respectable price. A home that isn’t on Paisely (where it seems everything is for sale near the top) and is in the low $600,000’s will likely sell in the Spires. In Broadmoor Glen homes can move very quickly… or take forever. The price span is largest here, with home starting around $300,000 (selling very well) and an over-supply of million dollar new construction in the Canyons (one to three units selling per year). Flying Horse is having a hard time selling anywhere north of $500,000, but under $450,000 is actually moving faster than 6 months. In all three areas, the bottom of the neighborhood in price seems to be activated; but the majority of the present listings are quite a bit more than “average”. These will take a year or more to see improvements.
The operative term here is “Yellow Light”. Many drivers see yellow light and hit the accelerator. That means change is about to happen, and if they act quickly, they can beat the change. That might be the case in some of these places. The safe money is found in the Green Lights. The Curve-Beating money is found when the light is yellow.