How crazy is the housing market in Colorado right now? According to new statistics gathered by the Colorado Association of Realtors, around 60 percent of homes sold in the state during March went for above the original asking price — evidence that bidding wars are now the rule rather than the exception.
Winter is typically a slow season for real estate in Colorado, the group confirms — but it notes that trends “have now reached a fourth straight month of unprecedented buyer behavior as we enter the early spring housing season and watch record after record be shattered.”
The situation is particularly acute in the seven-county metro-Denver area, where active listings were down by 78 percent from the same period in 2020, prompting a price jump of 11 percent since the beginning of 2021 and 15.6 percent year over year. But while detached homes remain piping-hot properties, condos aren’t selling at the same pace, particularly in Boulder and Denver, possibly because people want to keep their distance during a pandemic.
For a better sense of how this situation is playing out in greater Denver, here are insights from CAR realtors working in four sectors: Arvada/Golden, Aurora, Boulder/Broomfield and Denver County.
Realtor Barb Ecker: “The record low inventory across Jefferson County continues pushing buyers to new levels of frustration in one of the most aggressive housing markets we have seen in a long time, and there is no end in sight. For single- family homes, the median sales price rose once again in March to $600,000 as properties were on the market an average of twelve days. For condo/townhomes, the median sales price hit $340,000 with those properties on the market just sixteen days.
“Thankful buyers are covering the difference from sale price to appraisal with cash at closing, and there are plenty of pure cash buyers winning the offer as homes come to the market at the end of the week and are under contract by Monday.”
Realtor Sunny Banka: “While we typically enjoy watching the flowers and number of houses for sale start to rise each spring, sadly, the latter of those two annual events just isn’t the case in 2021. Listings are down in Aurora, Centennial and Adams County 73 percent to 85 percent depending on the location. In March 2020, Arapahoe County had a total of 866 listings; the same time this year, we found only 185 active listings. With extremely low inventory, it stands to reason that prices are up about 15 percent year over year. The median price in Arapahoe County is now $522,000. Condos in Arapahoe County are also experiencing the same drop in inventory, however; prices are up 7 percent over March 2020 to a median price of $300,000.
“Adams County shows the same lack of inventory, with active listings down 85 percent and home prices up 12.3 percent, to a median sales price of $455,000. The condo market, showing numbers similar to Arapahoe County, has inventory down 84 percent and median prices up 12 percent, to $320,000, for March 2021.
“The City of Aurora had 104 available single-family homes for sale in the month of March, down 81 percent compared to March 2020. The median price for all areas of Aurora is $467,000, keeping Aurora as one of the more affordable options in the Denver-metro area. The condo inventory also fell 84 percent compared to a year prior, pushing the median price up 6 percent year over year to $278,000.”
Realtor Kelly Moye: “Is it ever going to end? Even though it’s only been four months since our market has really taken off, buyers, sellers and realtors continue to ask the question. The extreme low inventory and inflated prices do not equate to a sustainable, healthy market, and yet it seems to be continuing into the spring with no end in sight.
“Boulder County has 26 percent fewer listings than this time last year, when we were in a lockdown, so that decreased number is even more significant. Prices are soaring, with an increase of 19.9 percent since January. Most single-family homes experience a multiple-offer situation, with buyers needing to compensate for lower appraisals to win the property.
“Broomfield County is experiencing more of the same. With 19 percent fewer listings in both single-family and attached homes, prices have increased 15 percent since January for houses and a whopping 21 percent for attached properties. The steady stream of people moving here (especially from California) has peaked the demand to near-record levels.
“And then there is the condo market in Boulder. It’s the only segment of this market that is not experiencing the same appreciation and demand. With a very modest increase in prices of 2.4 percent since January and an average of sixty days on the market, this particular category is not faring nearly as well as its single-family neighbors. It may be the perceived density of condo living or perhaps fewer student residents, but whatever the reason, this part of our market is not performing like the rest of the Front Range.”
Realtor Matthew Leprino: “With this being the first COVID-to-COVID comparison year-over-year, we have seen staggering growth in the freestanding home sector, while the condo market has fallen far short of its wild and rambunctious sibling. At a staggering 19.4 percent median price appreciation in just one year, demand for the freestanding has nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020’s growth of 11.1 percent, and the year before that, less than 1 percent price growth occurred. By comparison, the condo price appreciation in March 2021 was just 2.6 percent higher than the year before. Given the price increases that are hardly new news in Denver, the condo market in years past has held steady in growth alongside its slightly more popular sibling. For comparison’s sake, March’s 2.6 percent increase was a drastic decrease from 2019 to 2020’s 13.5 percent price appreciation, and well below the average 7.32 percent condo price growth over the last five years.
“As COVID-life veterans by now, we all can understand demand for more space, which now encompasses office life, home schooling and new demands on a home. The demand for a freestanding home does fall in line with that evolution and certainly doesn’t look to decrease anytime soon. What we can see happening in the future, however, is that with a median price growth from $527,000 to $630,000 in just one year, the ability to prefer one home type over another becomes further out of reach for many homebuyers in 2021 and beyond. The condo will certainly need to become more appealing, as pricing will become an even larger factor in where people live in Denver.”
By Michael Roberts – Westward