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We are now a year into this new, elevated interest rate situation and things are starting to shake out. A year ago, there were a lot of predictions of doom and gloom for the real estate market. Now that the future has arrived, we can see the past and future are a little more clearly.
One item we know to be false is interest rates aren’t going up, up, up, over 10% as some “experts” predicted. In fact, while still considered somewhat volatile, rates have settled into a narrower range over the past couple months between 6.76% and 6.16%. There was a day or two where rates dipped into the high 5’s, but there also hasn’t been pressure for them to climb into the 7’s. And, now that the FED is done raising the overnight rate, there could be some amount of stability due to the 10-year treasury down around its low since last September. Fingers crossed it breaks lower.
We also know that the normal crush of inventory isn’t arriving like it normally does. The normal spring inventory rise may come still, but we haven’t seen substantial jumps like normal. My contention is higher inventory levels will only come with lower interest rates. Those sellers who wanted to, but refused to sell over the past year won’t be motivated to sell until they know they can buy their next home with a decent rate. Most industry professionals link this motivation to a rate of about 5.5%, but I think a little under 6% will knock a little ice of this frozen situation.
Any agent who’s been in the business fewer than eight years hasn’t seen this report with a Days on Market average of over 50 days. Just like getting an offer for more than asking price, selling a home in less than two weeks isn’t normal, by any stretch of the imagination. This isn’t a new normal. It is normal. Get used to it and get your sellers prepared for it.
Another fear from a year ago had to do with prices crashing and foreclosures skyrocketing. Neither is happening. Prices are doing exactly as I predicted, riding a wave of monthly positive and negative results. The year to date (YTD) average and median in Boulder single-family is down -0.25% ($4,505) and -6.6% respectively Longmont is down -1.7% and -2.6% respectively. The average YTD average price in Ft Collins is up 0.8%. These results are hardly remarkable compared to the 8.8% to 11.4% increase in prices from ’21 to ’22. Our rock-solid results are only possible because foreclosures are nearly non-existent. Don’t let a buyer, who read something about making money on all the foreclosures, drag you into wasting a lot of time looking for them… there aren’t any. And when a buyer says the words ‘Shadow Inventory”, run… it’s a myth.
My graph this month is trying to answer a question I’ve been pondering. How have buying patterns changed in this higher interest rate environment? From what I can see they aren’t any different than last year. This surprises me because if I can only spend $X a month on a mortgage payment, and today, because of higher rates, the same house will cost me $X+ a home, it’s logical I’d have to find a less expensive house to buy so my payment will be the original $X per month. I can’t see this in the numbers, but maybe I’m missing something… like the fact that they may have left the process altogether.
The two funnel graphs show all sales in Boulder, Lafayette and Louisville of both attached and single-family homes from May 1, 2021 to April 30, 2022 in blue on the left and May 1, 2022 to April 30, 2023 in red on the right. The data points are actual numbers, but the width of each bar is based on the percent of the total sales for each price range. Buyers who are most interest rate sensitive would be at the top of the funnel. Based on the logic above, higher mortgage rates should push rate sensitive buyers from a more expensive bracket into a less expensive one, widening the lower price brackets from last year to this one. It didn’t happen. You can click here to see the complete chart with the percentages from Longmont, Loveland and Boulder.
I understand the impact of the Marshall Fire, but income, expenses, interest rates and lending guidelines don’t have sympathy. They just are and they seem to defy the logic I stated above. All price points under $1.1 million decreased as a percentage of overall sales except for the $700,000-$800,000 price range. And all price ranges between $1.1 million and $2.1 million went up as a percentage of total sales. I also understand that housing is more expensive, but even the $2.6M+ category went up from 4.3% to 5.7% of total market sales.
Do you remember a year ago when mortgage rates jumped to 5%? Back then it seemed like a curse. We’d all love to see this rate again for buyers and sellers, but right now we are crossing our fingers that rates drop below 6% for the rest of the summer. The results in this report will start to even out as we progress through the summer. Last April we were still feeling the effects of losing 1,000 homes in the Marshall Fire so prices were artificially high and days on market were artificially low. Until prices normalize, go find some sellers who are willing to sell when rates hit 5.75% and get them teed up to take advantage and not miss the boat again.
Last thing. I got a question from April Neuhaus last month. She asked about how new home sales are affecting the market. In today’s environment, new homes frequently get sold with incentives through lending and buy downs or finished basements, free upgrades or something else. Also, when buyers spend money on options and upgrades, the reported sold price is more than list price. I can’t take all the time in the world to analyze all those variables but what I can tell you is:
In Ft Collins the price of a new home is about $50,000 more than that of a resale and new home prices are about level in 2023 vs 2022. The total square footage of that home is nearly identical to last year, but the finished square footage is smaller. Also, the price per square foot has stayed about the same for both new and resale homes.
In Loveland the price of a new home is about $20,000 more than that of a resale and new home prices average about $35,000 less in 2023 vs 2022. The total square footage and the finished square footage are both quite a bit smaller vs 2022. So, that tells us houses are shrinking, but so are prices. The resale market in Loveland has stayed almost exactly the same. Click here to see the data sheet. It’s a mess, but the numbers are there.
Today’s best practice – go find a way to double the size of your database. Then make sure you have a plan to reach out and touch them all by June 15.