ARCHIVED  November 1, 1995

Local housing market slows to ‘fun pace’

FORT COLLINS – Two years ago, this city’s residential real estate market reached such a fevered pitch that Realtor Michael Hurd often warned clients that if they didn’t make an offer on a house the afternoon they looked at it, it likely would be gone the next morning.

“I’m not telling people that any more,´ said Hurd, a partner in The Group Inc.

“It’s still real busy, but it’s a much more fun pace. It wasn’t fun before. We were short on inventory, and everybody was fighting for a contract,” Hurd said.

Average residential prices are up, but the market pace has slowed to a point that some Realtors say allows their clients to make more-informed decisions about their purchases.

“In Fort Collins, up to the low $100s is still a hot market; below $100,000, it’s a number of days (on the market),” Hurd said. “The mid to upper $100,000s is much more balanced.”

Hurd said the average length of listing for all residential properties is about 55 days. “Typically, in the higher price ranges, above $240,000, it’s definitely a lot slower,” he said.

According to The Group president Sharianne Daily, 2,203 homes sold during the first three quarters of 1995. The average resale price was $172,903. New-home sales averaged $188,251. In 1994, 2,947 homes sold for an average price of $137,411.

The Group tracks only homes that were included in the Multiple Listing Service, and includes no for-sale-by-owner transactions.

Like Hurd, Re/Max First Advantage agent Judy Nelson is breathing a little easier now that the resale market has slowed, and more logical prices are re-emerging.

“You don’t have this massive amount of inflation, where a house listed for just about anything and sold,” Nelson said.

Nelson said she’s seen a few neighborhoods experience a price slump, and suspects that in some cases, people who paid top dollar last fall couldn’t get the same amount out of their homes today.

“The market is not there anymore. There’s not that fast, false kind of market,” Nelson said.

Buyers are more tentative, Nelson said, holding out hopes for interest rates even lower than the prevailing 7.6 percent.

“Anytime you can borrow 30-year money under 10 percent and you’re not doing it, you are making a mistake,” Nelson said. “In 1981, rates were 16, 17, 18 percent. By 1983, rates were coming down to 14 percent, and we all thought we were going to make money. Now people are procrastinating at 7.5 percent.”

Nelson also serves as estimator and construction coordinator for Jim Nelson Construction Inc., a company that at the moment is building high-end homes in the city’s southwest quadrant.

She said that in the $225,000 to $400,000 range, the market is considerably stronger at 7.5 percent than it was six months ago at 9 percent interest rates.

“That market’s a lot stronger now, because the interest rates are more accommodating,” she said. “The inventory that got built up when the rates were higher is selling, and there is more of a balance between supply and demand.”

Jim Nelson Construction has built six homes so far this year, all of which were presold, custom-designed houses.

“Three years ago, we were doing a lot more spec,” Nelson said. “This year, we haven’t done one. It’s great.”

But a more brisk high-end market doesn’t mean that people are impulse shopping, notes Greg Bever, president of G. Bever Construction Inc.

“People are getting more and more quality-conscious about everything, and they do shop,” Bever said. “They know every house on the market.”

Bever builds an average of 35 or 40 homes annually. He is now working in English Ranch, where semi-custom homes run between $185,000 and $230,000.

“It’s backed off a bit this year, so it’s more consistent rather than just being crazy,” Bever said.

FORT COLLINS – Two years ago, this city’s residential real estate market reached such a fevered pitch that Realtor Michael Hurd often warned clients that if they didn’t make an offer on a house the afternoon they looked at it, it likely would be gone the next morning.

“I’m not telling people that any more,´ said Hurd, a partner in The Group Inc.

“It’s still real busy, but it’s a much more fun pace. It wasn’t fun before. We were short on inventory, and everybody was fighting for a contract,” Hurd said.

Average residential prices are up, but the market pace has slowed…

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