Scarcity In The Market Persists, But Not Forever

A growing number of Colorado residents are getting their vaccinations against the Coronavirus, and many are increasingly optimistic about the prospect of moving closer to their normal routines later this year. This optimism is also becoming apparent in the local real estate market. Despite a dismal 2,316 active listings on the market at the end of January, as of mid-February, that number had already jumped closer to 3,300 actives. Although that number is prone to fluctuation and still signifies a seller’s market, it is a good sign of things to come in 2021. Every vaccine that gets administered brings us one step closer to a normal economy and further away from the negative effects of the pandemic.

 

Tremendous Excitement For Sellers

Many home sellers are ecstatic and with good reason. The lack of inventory in the market brings friction for buyers and their agents. However, on the seller side, it can be a best-case scenario. The average number of showings per active listing was 20 in January. This high showing traffic tends to lead to competitive bidding wars. These bidding wars can drive offers up tens of thousands of dollars above asking price, if a home is priced correctly from the start.

Another real estate metric is MOI or months of inventory. This is a metric that represents how many months it would take to sell every home currently available on the market if buyers kept buying at the same pace that they did in the last 12 months. For detached homes, MOI is close to 0.3 months or only about 9 days! For condos, it is 0.8 months or around 24 days. This data shows an extremely strong seller’s market, and we do not see that changing any time soon. The average sales price in Q4 2020 was up a whopping 17% from Q4 2019. For condos, this increase was around 5%. The luxury market also shifted to a seller’s market in 2020, which is fairly unprecedented.

 

An Uncomfortable Lack Of Inventory, Trepidation For Some Buyers

The lack of current housing inventory is primarily caused by two factors. The first is that many potential sellers are uncomfortable showing their homes due to the virus. They want to limit the amount of people walking through their homes. This fear can be remedied if proper safety protocols are followed. The second major cause of low inventory is that entry-level and lower-paid workers have been disproportionately affected by the recession. Many are still worried about losing their jobs and don’t want to lose the security that their home provides. Low inventory currently spans all price points but is especially acute in the entry-level market. We are in hopes that by the end of summer all of the people thinking about selling their homes, but did not due to Covid-19 fears, will do so as more people are vaccinated. This first round of immunity should give people more confidence. Eventually, they should move past their fears and into selling their homes. New construction is projected to be on the upswing this year too, which should help the inventory slightly.

Many would-be buyers are nervous that we are in a bubble. They are fearful of buying in a Seller’s market only to have the bubble burst after their purchase. For clarity, in the past 50 years, there has never been a time when prices dropped when it has been a seller’s market and a simultaneous shortage of inventory. There have only been three years out of the last 52 where home prices dropped in the Denver metro. One was in 1985 when mortgage rates, inflation, and unemployment were in the double digits, and we had about 11-12 months of inventory. That year was an extremebuyer’s market. 2008 and 2009 were the other two years when priced dipped. We had 35,000-36,000 homes on the market during the Great Recession. Those two years also had well over 6 months of inventory.

Foreclosures are another common concern for would-be buyers who are worried about a bubble. However, foreclosure activity is the lowest it has been in 20 years, and all the leading indicators show an improvement as people catch up on forbearances in 2021. The odds of foreclosure being a large factor on the market any time soon are very low. Not as many people are behind as you might think. Unless people bought their home in the past year and are in forbearance, they should have equity built up, and thus won’t go into foreclosure. They may fall behind, but even so, they can sell their homes and walk away with the equity.

 

 

Buyers:

Sales are still happening every day at all price points, so do not let yourself get too discouraged. It may just take a bit longer to make a move than normal. There are strategies to come out victorious in multiple offer situations. This extremely low inventory should let up a bit by at least July as people start to cast off some of their Coronavirus fears.

 

Sellers:

Now is a better time than ever to put your house on the market. Inventory is incredibly low and demand continues to surge. Take advantage of the current conditions while interest rates are still low – we are seeing them begin to shift!