Tag Archives: Pikes Peak Regional Real Estate Stats

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.

 

 

October 2010 Colorado Springs Market Stats

“If live seems jolly rotten, there’s something you’ve forgotten, and that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing…”

 

"Cheer up you ol' buggah!"

 

That’s right, cue the dying whistlers, and give Eric Idle’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” a spin on the old turntable. September 2010 finished with:

  • Over 9 months of inventory supply
  • A mere 603 units closed
  • Over 5500 listings for sale

This post would be objectively bankrupt to not sit back and state: those numbers, suck.

So why “purse your lips and whistle”? No, the reason is not false optimism, nor is it that the real estate industry benefited from 603 morons that bought property last month. For starters, I’m certain Warren Buffett withhold such a judgment from those 603 buyers; and if he’s not, I sure as heck am not. Surely you remember

 

The Pin-Up of Economic Optimism: Warren Buffett

 

dead-sexy Warren, “Be greedy when others are fearful, be fearful when others are greedy.” When the Oracle of Omaha is making hay on railroads, it might help to think contrarian just like him. A good deal of the reason that so many people are selling at 2003 to 2004 prices these days is because they were greedy when they should have been fearful when they bought. They bought with the intention of selling higher. Money is not made on the sale. Money is made on the buy. You can never be in charge of the market dynamics when you sell. You can be in charge of market dynamics when you buy. With fear dominating the game right now, anyone with skin to put in the game should ask the question “are the masses, right?” I for one don’t think so. The masses bought with poor intentions.

Here is the positive data:

  • Average sales price for the year is up over 4%. This is not because homes are appreciating. That is not the case at all. It is because people are stretching their money on the low interest rates to get more home. Better homes are selling. Yeah, merit!
  • Interest rates are extremely low, with 4.375 a so-so rate. I have buyers locked on a 15-year right now at 3.65%!
  • Sellers have figured out that asking too much is just plain stupid. Never in the last six years have the: avg. sold price; new avg. listing price; all-listing avg. price; been so close together. If anything indicates a market moving towards balance, it is the relationship of these three values. So despite the big slowdown in demand and the corresponding increase in months of inventory, the prevailing forces of balance still have a strong foothold.
  • Pending sales data stabilized. In fact, weirdest single piece of data this year (so far!) is that September produced more pending sales than May or July.
  • September saw 300 sellers quit the market. This is good. There have been too many sellers trying to sell for too much yet again this year. They started to disappear in 2008 and were almost absent from the market in 2009 but came back this year under the false assumption that the market had improved enough to allow speculative pricing. In fact, the opposite has occurred. This trend will likely continue through the fall, setting up the strange likelihood that months of inventory will shrink between now and December.

The rest of the story is here:

 

October 2010 Stat Pack

 

Colorado Springs Real Estate Market Data March 2010

The Stat Pack is sizzling hot HERE.

Silver Bullets are good for killing werewolves. Not much else.

Save your silver bullets for John Landis movies...

Ask anyone in the real estate industry and they have a buyer who is sending them scared-stiff links that “prove” the real estate recovery is not happening like everyone says it is. Some gloomy desk-jockey-number-cruncher is usually quoted with a gloom and doom rubric “5 million more foreclosures” and “21% of American’s underwater” and “it’s now moving to prime mortgages.” The agent response to this phone call or email is usually just as incendiary… they sometimes reply with back issues of the Stat Pack as an attachment. Clashing gospels and dueling clanging gongs creates quite a racket.
The reality is that the economy is a giant gumbo of variables. Within 36 hours this week, all of the following were headlines: Colorado Jobs numbers much worse than expected; National Jobs numbers beat predictions; stock market near 18 month high; mortgage rates expected to rise as Treasuries stops buying servicing; mortgage rates at low for the calendar year; auto sales down 2%; retails sales unexpectedly up; nation’s consumer confidence goes down. Broncos have had a good week for free agents and the Rockies bench is looking pretty deep this year, too. All of these are true. None of these mean a thing on their own.
WHAT MATTERS NOW:
1.) Leverage: The most counter-intuitive aspect of the market, interest rates are staying below 5%. No analyst can say exactly why, everyone merely ventures a best guess. Most everyone is scratching their heads as to why they’re not going up. The Federal Government has been the wholesale market for treasury-backed securities, longhand for saying, they’ve bought the servicing rights on Fannie/Freddie mortgages for the better part of the last year. So if you’ve seen complaints about why the underwriting on mortgages got nutty, that’s a prominent clue as to why: the government put a trillion dollars of skin in the game on that one… Go figure they would prefer tighter appraisals. That treasury-backed securities practice has a budget that is probably out of gas around the first-of-April. After that… it’s back to the same private money that previously was buying servicing left-and-right up until mid-2008 when they saw the crisis about to break. The thinking on the street is that private money will be hesitant (to put it mildly) to buy servicing rights. Never mind that today’s mortgage has higher costs of origination, higher appraisal standards, higher consumer intelligence and 20 pages of additional disclosures attached to it making it one of the safest and best documented forms of paper wealth in America; these banks have been burned before and are expected to be either cautious or complete non-participants. The investment angle for banks is that they 1.) could make them a lot of money in the long-term based on the few players likely to play and 2.) make their shareholders jittery over the next 90 days and drive their stock value down in the short-term. Can you see the morass mortgages are? The bottomline: they’re low now! They may be going up, but they’ve rarely, in their American history, been lower (within 0.15% of the all-time bottom at this writing). Seasonal demand usually creeps them up in May and June anyhow, so a lock now is not a bad thing. Buying power right now (a.k.a. leverage) is almost unprecedented.
2.) Location: Where a home is greatly influences the value. Relocating buyers (#3 on this list) tend to prefer newer construction and so do the raised on Hi-Def & Wi-Fi generation of buyers. But values have held up well in the foothills. Year to date sales in some of the older areas have been abysmal. After a strong end to 2009, downtown has started off very weak. That might change as the more traditional downtown buyer begins to appear with the pedestrian-friendly, warmer months ahead. The months on market numbers vary wildly from neighborhood to neighborhood. Sellers, you can’t take chances if you have a year of inventory. No one’s going to pay near your price if that’s the case. Buyers… do you really want to buy where you’ll be surrounded by for-sale signs for another year?
3.) Relocation: the biggest drag on the Colorado Springs market has been the national market. Somewhere Else, USA used to be the friend of the Colorado Springs seller. The Pentagon-based Air Force Lt. Col. usually had made $100,000 in 3 years and sold their house with multiple offers. They could come west and buy pretty much whatever they wanted. With the onset of the market downturn nationwide in 2007, our market correction (which began in early 2006) deepened significantly. Reliant on the infusion of wealth from other markets, our over $350,000 market has suffered. Well strangely, of the 5 price-brackets to seen an increase in sales the last 90 days over the previous 90-day track (Nov. to Jan.), all of them were above $325,000. Some of that is local, but some of that is also the effect of other markets around the country having bottomed out as well, and their buyers are now able to buy here.
In closing, March 2010 dawns with more promise and hope then March, 2009. Hard not to. It remains a market of opportunity. Whenever there is opportunity, that means there is risk somewhere. Make your decisions wisely.

2009 End of Year Market Report

Updated Market Data

The 2009 Sales Year ended dramatically different than it began.

January was the depths of doom and gloom, lots of listings, lots of fear, skyrocketing job losses, Wall Street hemorrhaging.

Now, we’re back to worrying about Simon Cowel leaving Idol and “shocked” at the admission Mark McGwire used steroids. In other words, the economy is no longer a paramount concern.

But housing is. Last year, 62% of first-time buyers purchased a home because they had strong sentiments about home ownership. The good value rationale was sited as the number one reason among only one in ten respondents to the National Association of REALTOR’s Profile of Home Buyer’s and Sellers.

Locally, this bore itself out with a dramatic shift in the marketplace. The under $250,000 market improved throughout the year, while the $250,000 to $325,000 market made headway… and above $400,000, things actually got worse. Right now, 38% of all listings are over $300,000. Yet only 16% of all sales in 2009 were over $300,000.

Read more at Colorado Springs market leader in real estate information you can use, THE STAT PACK!

Where to Buy 2010, Part V: 59% increase in unit sales

All the data is Posted Here.

The hurry-up to the analysis is here…

Did the Gazette just describe the real estate market as “Soaring?” What happened to “plummet, freefall & plunge?
Remember November, 2008? There was not a cable-news network minute that went by without some new bank showing signs of weakness, some new stock plummeting, some new unimaginable sum in the billions of dollars being dedicated to a bailout of some enormous, household name entity that was ruled too big to fail. It was being called the biggest Wall Street Panic since the Great Depression and calling it the Great Recession seemed to be a euphemism for investors that were losing money to the tune of 30 to 60% in a single year. Terminology like plummet, freefall and plunge was routine. It was accurately applied to housing as average selling prices lost over 15% in 4 months and demand shriveled up.
December 2nd, 2009: Sales Increase 59%. Last November was the worst November in 15+ years in the Pikes Peak MLS. Numbers are numbers. A cynic looks at that increase and says, “that’s like the Broncos posting 10 points last week in a loss and winning with 16 the next. So what? The offense is still broken.”
In some regards, the system is still broken. There is less than 4 months supply of housing under $250,000 (that is NOT broken, that’s actually a hot-market). But there is over 10 months supply above $250,000 (that’s pretty slow, even for late Fall). If the numbers are used just to describe where things are today as compared to the recent past, the story is told halfway. It is better now than it was then; but how could it really be worse?
Where the numbers start to really illustrate and tell the whole story is when they are mapped and analyzed for trends. Months of Inventory has not been below 6 months on December 1st since the heyday of the boom market in 2005. That’s where it is now. Average price citywide is about $20,000 less than that time and interest rates are a full percent lower. And there are tax incentives to stimulate more demand, most importantly from first-time buyers who by definition, do not have a home to sell. The December Jobs Report showed a significant decrease in the rate of unemployment filings and durable goods orders are coming in ahead of forecast. Baby it’s cold outside… but the sun is shining. Consumers are cautious and value-oriented… but they are no longer terrified.
What Lies Ahead?
Be prepared for lots of forecasts and lots of media attention in the slow December News Cycle to be dedicated to the green shoots of a housing recovery. Some of this will be helpful, some of this will be accurate and a lot of it will paint with a brush broad enough to cover all 50 states in a minute and five seconds. The Real Estate Bust has definitely shown that real estate can move downward as a nation just as it can move upward as a nation. But the extremes of the market have been in coastal areas and places that posted unsustainable rates of growth. Middle America, places where population has continued to grow, places with lower than national rates of unemployment and neighborhoods that were less impacted by the explosive growth of new construction from 2003 to 2006 are the places where the recovery has already sprung. All of the above market conditions apply to Colorado Springs greater metro area.
“Value” will be the operative phrase to describe any recovery. The 2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers showed that the overwhelming reason First-Time Buyers chose to buy a home in 2009 was NOT the First-Time Buyer Tax Credit. Over 60% had the desire to own a home. The 2nd reason? Affordability (10%). Third? Change in Personal Situation (8%). Only 6% sited the tax credit. And yet look at those November sales when the tax-credit was initially supposed to end. It is a nice carrot that helps propel buyers past the tipping point of personal desire, decent selection, low interest rates and real estate at a four to seven year low in price. The tax credit is eventually unsustainable and it certainly does borrow buyers from the future and activate them in the present. But what better time to do that than when housing affordability is at one of it’s highest levels in record? Who else will consume the inventory of properties of willing (or unwilling) sellers who either need to move or hope to change their real estate investment? It greases the wheels of recovery so that the majority of participants can once again begin to buy and sell real estate.
Make no mistake, the old days will not return and the market has changed in nature and what consumers consider “valuable”. Over 90% of 2009 buyers started their search online; 37% found their home via the internet, and only 33% by their REALTOR. That sends an enormous message to sellers: BUYERS WON’T BE FOOLED. Buyers want thorough property descriptions of high-quality properties and will not waste time looking at over-priced and under-conditioned properties. Affordability has increased. Probability of sale will begin to increase. But that will happen only for properties (and sellers) deemed a better value than their peers.