Tag Archives: Market Data

The Market Peak, May 2013

Days on market continues to plummet and months of inventory is less than 3.5 months in half of our major MLS areas right now.

Fancy Whiteboards and Fancy Data: The Stat Pack, September 2012

For the full download of data, please visit our monthly report here:

The Stat Pack after the Downgrade

This post rated AA+.

From the subjective analysis that concludes the forthcoming August 2011 Stat Pack.

Advice for market participants:
SELLERS: You are right to believe that absolutely everything favors buyers right now including the price tag on your house. The question you must ask yourself is this: if you were a buyer in this market and this was the first-time you encountered your house, would you buy it? Would you buy your house during a time when the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is questionable? When the US lost it’s AAA credit-rating? When job security was so tenuous? Yes, this is made up for by the fact that values are depressed, interest rates are incredibly low, and there are 20% fewer homes to choose from then just one-year ago. While all the data is positive as far as “the deal” is concerned, buyers are taxed with everyday concerns that make ANY compelling decision to buy your home  or someone else’s, extremely difficult. Whatever you can do to mitigate those concerns: do it.
BUYERS: This is the very definition of a kick-yourself market. Will you kick yourself for buying in this market? Or will you kick yourself for missing the boat and not buying? EITHER could be true. YOU are the only one that can answer that question, and it must be answered based on your personal situation. In the last 40 years, housing has not been this affordable. And at the same time, the perceived risk of making any major financial investment due to multiple circumstances beyond your control has never appeared greater. If you are in it for the long-haul, and that is defined as a period of time longer than five years of occupancy and ownership, then this is a brilliant market of markets to buy into. If you have any degree of uncertainty about five years of ownership, you best act quick on any decent rental, because there is only 1 – 3% occupancy out there in single-family rental properties.
Analysis:
A memory from my time studying history at Colorado College: freshmen regularly observed that “we learn from history” and “history repeats itself”. These comments would then be thrown out like fresh meat to a pack of starved lions, also known as the upperclassmen, who would pepper the room with their Aristotelian intellect, essentially rehearsing their law school application interview with startling logical brilliance. Of course we learn from history. Of course it repeats itself. But the implications of x and variables y and z will later cause the following courses of action, either action A or action B. It was simple. We were post-Cold War, Clinton-era wunderkids. We had it all figured out. Here was an orderly, systematized world that was easily understood and readily grasped.

Fast forward 15 years…
Standard and Poors just downgraded America’s credit rating to AA+. And the historical precedent for this is what exactly? Beyond that, the administration of this variable onto the system known as global finance will cause what future courses of action? A, B… Z?  Why did Standard and Poors downgrade Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac this past Monday, and not in 2009? Why is France with a substantially larger percentage of debt to GDP still rated AAA? Why can’t I defend away $2 trillion mathematical errors? Does it matter?
The bizarro land of real estate invokes the immortal words of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson (which strangely becomes more relevant with each passing year) “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro”. There is no editorial accident in constructing a SWOT analysis to lead-off this month’s Stat Pack that shows all strengths and all opportunities as the present condition of the real estate market. Without getting too subjective, it is pretty safe to say that everything out there in the real estate market is really good right now: prices are mostly stable, inventory levels are down substantially, foreclosures are down by over 30% from a year ago (which was down off of 2009), interest rates are microscopic at 4.25% as of this writing, prepaid PMI programs give buyers with high credit, real income and the knowledge to buy in good areas incredible opportunities right now and quite a few sellers want/need to make a deal. Everyone of those statements is objectively, measurably accurate.
The problem has to do with everything else that is beyond the consumer’s ability to control. When you buy real estate you participate in world finance, like it or not. All those subprime mortgages were tied to Mexican banana farms which were tied to Thai import/export companies which were tied to Korean manufacturing which were tied to Irish discount airlines. The series of dominoes from one man’s excessive spending in 2005 and subsequent foreclosure in 2007 ended up carrying global implications because bits and pieces of his mortgage and hundreds of other defaulting mortgages were scattered around the globe to investors in all corners. Everybody, everywhere owned just a little bit of everyone else’s little debts. No problem, until a bunch of those (ahem, AAA-rated) debts start to go bad. In the thunderclap that followed this meltdown, the economy of trust was broken. Banks slammed the doors of trust shut in late August 2007 and have barely cracked them back open. Now ten years removed from 9/11 and the beginnings of a war that has seen the sacrifices of a volunteer armed forces, we live in a society that suffers from disaster-fatigue, where meltdowns are increasingly common and increasingly expected. What’s the next order of magnitude to steal away the headlines? Just when you think you have seen it all, something new happens. And the backdrop for this is an ever-more-toxic political climate, where civil discord is a relic of the past.
Why this matters: Sellers more often than not bought in a feel-good era. Buyers today are buying in a feel-worse era. When sellers bought, their motivations were very different than today’s buyers. More likely, the reasons to not buy were not nearly as pronounced as they are today. This makes a seller’s job of marketing their property to a cynical, distrustful audience extremely difficult. This makes buyers more resistant to making decisions that are based on feeling good. People make real estate decisions electively for one of two reasons: pleasure or pain. It is easier now to market with language like: “pain-free”, “move-in ready”, “all-set”; rather than “luxurious”, “masterpiece”, “incredible views”. The first set of phrases use language that dominates the mind of the buyer: pain; inconvenience; problems; doubt; it then overcomes these fears and pains. A seller must speak the day-to-day language of the buyer in order to demonstrate value in today’s market.
This is all talk about the emotional climate of real estate and the difficulty of gauging cause and effect in today’s economy. The day after the S&P downgrade that basically discounted America’s ability to repay it’s debt, what happened? Wall Street went into shock, losing more than 5% and treasuries – the repayment of which was the very thing S&P was calling into question – saw a surge of money, propelling 30 year mortgage rates down. In the midst of all this chaos, the real estate side of the ledger improved yet again.
Year to date, Colorado Springs Real Estate is having a decent year that no one seems to know about. It is all relative and all compared to the last several years which have not been the rosiest of real estate sales years. This year, there will be about as many sales as 2008, more than 2010, slightly fewer than 2009. But what is most intriguing is that the number of listed properties, while still high based on the last ten years of inventory, is lower than at anytime since 2005. For six consecutive months, inventory has been at 6.1 months or less, a stable balance between supply and demand. Because there are fewer homes for sale and slightly higher demand than this time last year, the earlier drops in average sale price will probably balance out as the year finishes because buyers that are buying are less likely to see new listings come on the market and are more likely to try and make a deal with what is out there now, thus stretching slightly upward in price.
The best advice we can give: if you’re participating in a real estate decision for long-term reasons, ignore the toxicity of the present.

Mid-Year Review: July 2011 Market Stats

Click Here for Mid-Year Review Market Report

The Summer Viewing at Pikes Peak Urban Living is on the cat fight between two market metrics: Average Sales Price and Months of Inventory.

Months of Inventory is a handy-dandy metric to forecast, predict or… guess… what the market will do next. The barometer that has traditionally held sway is a 6 month supply of housing equals a neutral market. Get below six months and stay there and the market should see appreciation and increased seller-control. Go above six months, and that much to choose from sways control to buyers and prices drop. The majority of the last four years have been in excess of 6 months with a few brief months in 2009 under 6 months supply. July 1 showed a reading of 5.5 months. After three previous months from 5.9 to 6.1 months of inventory, that should be a predictor of prices going up.

Yet they haven’t done that.

Average price year to date is off 4% from a year ago. A lot of this was the post-tax-credit malaise that wrecked the market last spring. REALTORS went from running their engines at 110% in April to idling them in May, and never really getting them out of neutral the rest of the year. This year has been somewhat spastic, but overall, prices are steady to down then they’re showing appreciation.

Most everyone has an easier time understanding what has happened as opposed to grasping at what might happen, and correspondingly average price gets a lot of press. But as I spoke about last week, the relationship between units for sale and units sold is pointing to possible to likely improvements. The market has crested in inventory and is in the six to seven month cycle of fewer, not greater listings. There will be new listings each month, but not at the rate that they were before, and many good new listings will be recognized more readily as valuable by active buyers because buyers operating in the second half of summer and early fall generally have to make quick decisions. These are general conditions that don’t always hold, but with fewer than 4800 listings for sale, and two more months under 6 month’s supply likely… it will be interesting to see what happens to pricing over the next six months.

To see the active market numbers, Click Here for the Stat Pack.

Does Supply & Demand Rule Everything? If So, Which Way is the Market Heading?

I’m having more fun with math than any man should be allowed this morning.

Here is a quick snapshot in chart form of what the Pikes Peak MLS Market looks like in Single-Family Sales terms at Mid-Year.

Pikes Peak MLS Mid-Year Snapshot

Now, this is a graph of what the relationship between Supply and Demand looks like at Mid-Year, expressed as Months of Inventory (Total Active Listings Divided by Unit Sales per Previous Month).

2010 Tax Credit Expired on June 30, 2010.

 

 

April 2011 Colorado Springs Real Estate Market Report

How about that for an SEO Title?

April continued the trend of “we don’t know anything” from one month to the next. In January, sales were lousy, but price was decent. In February, sales were again lousy, as in really lousy, but price was outstanding. Additionally, listing volume continued to be lower than expected. Then came March. March had pricing go down to where it was in January (sigh) but saw a 7% increase in closings over the tax-credit fueled March 2010 (hurrah!).

In other words, predicting the market is like predicting when it will snow next in Colorado. Good luck.

Here is the info:

 

April 2011 Stat Pack

On a side note… April marks the Five Year Anniversary of the Stat Pack. I was either the first real estate goober to start obsessively tracking the market (be glad my blog wasn’t around for my 13 page July 2007 edition…) or the last one of the first adopters still standing, but I do not think there is a market report with 60 consecutive months and four consecutive annual reports worth of real estate data tracking the local marketplace. Not to say that term of length makes this any more relevant, just saying. I’m happy this project has gone on five years. Thanks for reading it.

 

It’s About the Listings…It’s about Interest Rates

The 2010 Sales Year was characterized by an abnormal addition of listings to the real estate market in the late winter and early Spring. In February, 2010, inventory swelled by almost 10% in a single month with the gain of over 400 units between March 1 and April 1. This was after February added almost 200 listings to inventory. The seven month run up in inventory from January 1 to July 31, 2010 saw a gain of almost 50% in total listings for sale.

 

Early 2010 Compared to Early 2011

While demand never quite equaled the same levels experienced in 2009, part of this reason was the double-sided promise to buyers that their opportunity was never getting away from them: More listings just kept coming on the market, allowing them to prolong their decision, and the steady drumbeat of “interest rates are sure to rise” was an outright falsehood as rates actually dipped below 4.00% in October (a full 1% improvement over February, 2010). These two actions allowed buyers to prolong taking action.

 

In 2011? New listings are coming on the market, but they are beating absorbed by new buying activity. There were 464 unit sales of single-family homes in January 2010 and there were 460 in January 2011. The average selling price of these two months was all of $150 different. In other words: the same buyers were buying the same homes at the same rate. Interesting side note: 2010 had an $8000 tax credit carrot to get buyers to perform. That’s kind of a big deal when $8000 represents a complete first-time buyer downpayment at $210,000 (the January average sales price for the month both years). This year offers no such carrot. But buyers performed in the same manner and volume, absent federal stimulus.

Also interesting: January 2010 gained 170 listings, February 2010 gained 240 listings and March 2010 gained 412 listings. In 2011, January reduced in supply one listing, and February is only up 50 units. Interest rates are about the same as they were this time last year. Again, the drumbeat of “they’re sure to go up” is on the street, and the reality is that they are up close to a full percent in the last four

Freddie Mac 30 Year Avg since 2005

 

months. Why this is interesting: Conventional Wisdom  was that the market was getting better in 2010. This was “proven” because more people were buying homes in the spring of 2010 then the (miserable) spring of 2009. But the quiet under-current in 2010 was that that inventory was increasing at a rate that ultimately had 50% more listings on the market in the summer than the start of the year. While people were briskly buying houses in early 2010, months of inventory, and therefore, seller’s ability to dictate pricing, wasn’t getting any shorter because the ratio between listings and sales wasn’t changing. But so far in 2011, the big bounce in listing inventory has not happened. However, buyers are still buying at about the same rate, and don’t have federal stimulus inviting them to do so.

So far in 2011 (and that’s all of 50 days), listings for sale have increased slightly more than 1% while the rate of sale has remained the same (without a tax credit stimulus) and interest rates after steadily rising for four months have retreated 0.1% in the last week to come back below 5%.

This doesn’t establish a trend. But if you’re a buyer thinking “where are all the new listings I was expecting?”… you’re not alone. If you were hoping to buy based on a 4.25% interest rate, your window might have already closed. Over 30 years, the increase in interest payments from 4.25% to today’s 5.00% on a $210,000 loan is $35,000. I was told the other day by a buyer that the real cost of buying a home is the amount you finance. That is kind of true.

 

Comparison of Loan Values, Interest Rates, and 30 Yr. Paid Interest

 

But literally,  that’s only half of the equation. The price you pay is the amount you finance at the interest rate you finance it at.