Thursday, September 17, 2009

“The patient is out of intensive care, but still has a very long road ahead to a clean bill of health.”

Those were the words last week from Fannie Mae Chief Executive Officer Michael Williams. The CEO went on to say, “Anyone looking objectively at the economy and the housing market sees hope.”

Another good solid indicator of what I’ve been saying in my weekly updates. The U.S. housing market still has a long road ahead but we are making some definite moves towards a housing recovery. So what’s the challenge? Well for starters, rising unemployment numbers aren’t helping. The United States Department of Labor reported in its September 4 Economic Situation Summary that the number of unemployed persons increased by 466,000 to 14.9 million and the unemployment rate rose by 0.3 percentage point to 9.7%. Just to give you an idea, since the recession began in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons has risen by 7.4 million, and the unemployment rate has grown by 4.8 percentage points.

We also need to couple that with the challenges in the mortgage industry. Bloomberg reported, “The mortgage market is still dependent on government-affiliated programs, with private banks providing just 10 percent of loan liquidity, down from about 60 percent in 2006. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are responsible for about 70 percent of all new mortgages, while the Federal Housing Administration accounts for about 20 percent.”

Before we can be truly reformed, we need to get into a position where there is more of a balance between private bank loans and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans. In all actuality, we probably won’t see that for some time.

Having said that, U.S. mortgage applications surged last week with demanding rising to its highest level since late-May as consumers sought to take advantage of the lowest interest rates in months, according to Reuters.

The Reuters article reported, “While home refinancing loans dominated demand, the appetite for applications to buy a home, a tentative early indicator of sales, hit its highest level since early January. The overall trend bodes well for the hard-hit U.S. housing market, which has been showing signs of stabilization.”

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage applications which includes both purchase and refinance loans, for the week ended September 4 increased 17.0 percent to 648.3, the highest level since the week ended May 29.

These are all very positive indicators that showcase that we are on the right track…it’ll probably be a slow track…but we’re on the right one.

Now let’s take a look at this week in real estate—please excuse the light reporting week—many of us are Riding the Range in support of Coldwell Banker’s Community Fund!

  • Boulder/Longmont—The Boulder office reported only minor changes in the Boulder County market over the past week. New listings were down a little (about 5%), under contracts and closed down a little (about 6%), probably due to end of month closings in August , more than a market shift. Showings for our office down 12% for the week, well within normal weekly fluctuations. The week's good news is for the year through August our listings have sold at 98.35% of asking price versus 96.34% for the MLS average. Since our average price for that period was $435,000, sellers in Boulder County put $8,734 more in their pockets when they listed with us!
  • Evergreen/Conifer—No information reported.
  • Denver Central – No information reported.
  • Devonshire— No information reported.
  • Douglas County—Our Southwest Metro office reports s showings were down this past week. We did have several successful open houses and we had several listings that went under contract within three days. Agents are busy with buyers and sellers. One of our Agents had three listings go under contract in one week and we are seeing listings moving. The majority of the buyers are looking at homes $300,000 and less and we are seeing buyers ready to take advantage of the $8000 credit before the deadline.
  • El Paso County—Colorado Springs reports activity is still very steady with showings increasing only slightly. First time buyers are getting more serious since they have to close before Nov. 30th in order to take advantage of the tax credit. We're also watching the possibility of changes in the tax credit deadline and terms as well as the lifting of the moratorium on bank owned properties.
  • Larimer County—The Fort Collins/Loveland offices reported showings are down pretty significantly and it looks as though there are not a lot of homes coming onto the market currently. Recent stats from Weld & Larimer counties report that over 80% of the year to date home sales are below the $300,000 price point. This lower price point allows for excellent rates on FHA financing with as little as 3.5% down & many 1st time home buyers are taking advantage of these great rates. The super hot price point in Fort Collins & Loveland are homes priced around $200,000. We are seeing homes in good condition and in near this price selling relatively quickly and many are selling at list price with competing offers.
  • North Metro—No information reported.
  • Parker— After a very active summer, we are now seeing a decline in activity on the sales and showings as well as new listings coming on the market. Great effort is put into the initiative to extend and expand the tax credit for home buyers.
  • Southeast Metro—As we move into the fall, business is steady and we have seen an increase in the number of properties selling. Our average number of showings before a listing goes under contract has dropped from 26 to 22. This is a great indicator that there are serious buyers out there! We're seeing fierce competition for homes under $225,000, with many selling above list price. Luxury homes are seeing a slight increase in traffic as 10% of our Previews homes are currently under contract. We'll close over 140 transactions this month and are confident about a strong 4th quarter.
  • West Lakewood—No information reported.

I did want to let you all know that I will be taking next week off of Weekly Market Watch but I will return the following week with another robust edition.

Until then,
Chris Mygatt
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Colorado

Thursday, September 10, 2009

“Yes, the housing market has rarely looked better.”

That was the headline in a September 2 The Wall Street Journal article. Click here to access it: This was a really interesting piece which looked at numbers from Standard & Poor’s and NAR.

Following is an excerpt from the article:

“Last week, Standard & Poor's reported that its S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price index of real-estate values increased this past quarter over the first quarter of 2009, the first quarter-on-quarter increase in three years. Its index of 20 major cities also rose for the three months ended June 30 over the three months ended May 31, with only hard-hit Detroit and Las Vegas experiencing declines. The week before that, the National Association of Realtors reported that sales volume of existing homes was up 7.2% in July from June.

In short, the data suggest that real-estate prices hit a bottom some time during the second quarter, and have now begun to rise. There's no way to be certain that this marks the end of the long, painful correction that followed the real-estate bubble, but clearly prices are no longer in free-fall. That means if you've been sitting on the fence, it's time to act.

Ordinarily I'd never try to time the real-estate market, but I can understand why buyers have been cautious. Few want to buy in down markets, just as stock buyers avoid bear markets. And for most people, of course, buying a house is a much bigger decision than buying a stock. But with real-estate prices nationally now down about 30% from their 2006 peak and showing signs of turning up, the prices aren't likely to go much lower. Every real-estate market is local, and so there may be a few exceptions. Overall, though, I can't imagine a better time to buy than now.”
This of course is what I’ve been saying for some time and it is nice to see it in black and white in a reputable publication like The Wall Street Journal. The fact is, while we may have a long road ahead, we probably have hit bottom and if you were considering buying you probably should consider acting now before it is too late.

And with that said, let’s take a look at this week in real estate:

  • Boulder/Longmont—The Boulder office reported the big dip in Boulder county numbers didn't last long, with sales now up 16% during the first week of September over the last week in August. New listings were up by 14% so there's a win in the lower inventory department. No sign of a big end of slowdown either. Showings were up 6.5% week over week too. Still, lots of confusion amongst Agents out there about when to use the foreclosure contract & the meaning of MEC vs SSA. We just keep hammering home the difference, one deal at a time. The Longmont office reported showing activity is very steady week over week. A good sign considering the weeks involved were a part of the Labor Day holiday. Homes that went under contract were up 33% over last week and that a yearly high for "under-contracts" in a single week. The price is still a huge indicator of activity. Most homes shown are under $250,000. Higher priced homes are seeing a slower increase in activity. Slower is better than faster. The final push for the $8000 credit for 1st time buyers.
  • Evergreen/Conifer—Evergreen reported we had a total of nine new listings for the week. Five listings went under contract during the past two weeks. There were four local buyers plus one cash buyer from Texas. Four buyers went under contract. All were local. There were a total of 77 showings during the week. Conifer reported we had only one new listing during the week. Two listings went under contract, one bank REO and one private seller. No buyers were put under contract. Showing activity decreased to 27 during the week possibly due to the holiday weekend.
  • Denver Central – There has been an increase in first time home buyers looking for property and wanting to take advantage of the $8000 tax credit. With the deadline (November 30th) fast approaching, the possibility of an extension not occurring buyers are going to have to select a property within the next 30 days to take advantage of the credit. The Denver real estate market continues to get positive national and local press on a weekly basis. We are very encouraged and excited about the future of real estate in Denver. Showings are continuing to increase which is a positive sign for this time of year. We are seeing appreciation of home prices in several neighborhoods. The lower-end market has certainly shifted to a seller's market with properties moving quickly. Properties that are priced aggressively are seeing multiple offer situations. We're also seeing an increase in cash offers on homes in the area. Many properties in the lower end go under contract within days of being put on the market.
  • Devonshire— As we have seen in recent years, August was a bit slower than July. We're looking forwrad to the September rebound as kids are back in school and parents can concentrate on the business of finding the right home and getting settled before the holiday season. There are buyers just waiting as seen by the two homes that we were able to put under contract just by talking about new listings in our weekly business meeting. Any sellers who are thinking about getting their homes on the market should act now. Don't miss this window of opportunity. We're still seeing the upper end home sector not seeing too much activity but we're confident that this well change within the next several months & most certainly as we move into 2010. At Devonshire, we are looking forward to a busy and successful future.
  • Douglas County—Our Southwest Metro office reports showings have been steady even during the long holiday weekend. We had three listings with multiple offers and several of our Agents on the buy side. Open houses were good this week & we also had two clients walk in to our office needing help in finding a home. The homes again are selling in the $250,000 to $300,000 range & we're seeing activity from buyers wanting to take advantage of the $8000 credit before November 30th. We're seeing good results from all of the positive news regarding the Denver market.
  • El Paso County—Colorado Springs reports sales and showing activity has decreased slightly and we expect this trend to continue for the next several weeks. We still see a good number of new listings come on the market, therefore causing an increase in listing inventory. The currently low interest rates help to keep the sales activity on a good level.
  • Larimer County—The Fort Collins/Loveland offices reported summer is coming to a close, kids are starting school & real estate is settling down. Showings saw a slight bump up from the end of last month, but nothing substantial. The good news is that there are fewer homes on the market and this means less competition for sellers in this already tough market. We have had a few bright spots this last week. Two agents put homes under contract in less than a week & sellers are motivated are motivated to look at quality offers from buyers. In addition, investor clients are realizing we may be near the end of the road on really good investment deals. They are looking to make a move before the end of the year. Finally, we have less than 90 days left to take advantage of the $8000 1st time home buyer tax credit. Get out there and get that new home before this money goes away for good!!
  • North Metro—No information reported.
  • Parker— It looks as if these are the last weeks of high sales activity before the seasonal slowdown during the fall. The number of new listings as well as showings have decreased already. For the serious seller the time to list homes and get them sold quickly for top dollar is running out!
  • Southeast Metro—No information reported.
  • West Lakewood—Our Agents are excited about this market. Two listings, one on the market for eight days and another on the market for 42 days both received full-price offers. The price ranges were $250,000 and $375,000. Show condition is very important. If the home doesn't show well, it is much less likely to receive an offer. Sellers need to spend the money & take the time to update their home, stage it & spend some time doing so. Out of state buyers take longer to make a decision. Sometimes it takes tens of homes before they understand our current market.

This week I’ll leave you all with the reminder that the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers is scheduled to expire on December 1. However, in order to qualify, the transaction must be closed on or before November 30, essentially leaving first-time buyers with less than three months to complete the process.

While the urgency of trying to find and close on a home before the deadline may seem stressful, it doesn't have to be. Just contact your Realtor today and they can walk you through the process or visit us online at

Until next week,
Chris Mygatt
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Colorado