The Boulder County real estate market continued its active pace in January/2013 as single family homes and attached unit sales outpaced January/2012 sales. Single family home sales were UP 20% (166 vs. 138). Attached unit sales were UP 29% (62 vs. 48). The collective market was UP nearly 23%. Sales figures for January/2013 approached January/2007 sales numbers.
The inventory of available single family homes increased 5.77% at the close of January/2013 compared to the end of 2012 (861 vs. 814). Inventory levels will continue to grow as winter melds into spring and the real estate market gains momentum. Available inventory will be the key to how active the Boulder County real estate market is in 2013. 2012 ended the year with nearly 27% FEWER active single family homes on the market compared to the end of 2011 (814 vs. 1121). When you take 2010 into consideration, there were 40% fewer single family homes available at the end of 2012 (814 vs. 1353). The past two years have seen buyer activity increase swallowing-up available inventory. Expect this pattern to continue throughout 2013.
On the financing side, the Federal Reserve has indicated they are going to keep lending rates at historic lows through the balance of 2013 and into 2014. The Fed’s goal is to get the national economy stabilized and then growing at a reasonable rate. National unemployment rates have dipped to slightly under 8%. Colorado’s unemployment rate has pretty much mirrored the national rate for the past five years.
When the Boulder County real estate market was HOT back in 2004 through 2007, the Colorado unemployment rate had dipped below 4%. The national rate dropped to around 4.5% at that time. In its August/2012 economic forecast, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the unemployment rate would be 5.9% by 2017. Getting from there to below 4% again would require a Herculean effort on the part of the local, national and global economy.
But that’s the future. We have to deal with the realities of today. Here are some thoughts to chew-on in looking at the Boulder Valley real estate market.
- It’s a seller’s market, especially at the entry-level. Single family homes in Boulder County priced from $150,000 (yes, there are still a few out there at that price level) to $600,000 had an Absorption Rate of 114 days in January/2013. (That number will decline as the year progresses.) In January/2012 the Absorption Rate for the same price range was 236 days.
- If an entry-level property is priced competitively and in reasonable condition, multiple offers are now the norm. Short sale properties, especially, invite multiple offers.
- The upper end of the market (homes over one million) is showing some resiliency. In January/2013 there were nine million dollar plus homes sold in Boulder County. In January/2012 that number was seven.
- As buyer demand increases, home values follow suit. We’re seeing the trickle-up effect as mid-range and upper end homes are experiencing a positive movement in values.
In the Boulder Valley, spring and early summer are characteristically the busiest time of the year with home closings peaking in the March through August period.