Banking & Finance  February 12, 2010

Final real estate stats confirm 2009 not stellar year

Northern Colorado real estate agents struggled to move houses between buyers and sellers in a year that was marked by down numbers across the board.

Loveland-based Information and Real Estate Services, a multiple-listings service that compiles real estate statistics for the region, recently released final stats for 2009 that showed the number of homes sold in all three main regional markets – Fort Collins, Loveland-Berthoud and Greeley-Evans – was down from 2008, with the Loveland-Berthoud market down most at 6.7 percent.

Fort Collins home sales were down 5.1 percent, while Greeley-Evans home sales were down only 2 percent. Sharon Taylor, a Keller-Williams agent and incoming president of the Greeley Area Realtor Association, said the year just ended wasn’t all that bad, in her view.

“Actually, 2009 was a good year for me and for Greeley in general,” she said. “I think we started to see things begin to turn around in Greeley. We actually had a shortage of inventory in some price ranges, so people who had been holding off could put their houses on the market.”

Taylor said those who had homes to sell in the Greeley area for under $175,000 experienced “a seller’s market” in 2009, with multiple offers from buyers.

Median prices dropped in all three markets, with homes in the Loveland-Berthoud area declining most with a 5.5 percent drop from $217,000 in 2008 to $205,000 in 2009. Fort Collins area median home prices slid by 2.8 percent from $233,000 to $226,500 while Greeley area prices were down only 1.5 percent, declining from $137,000 to $135,000.

Greeley-Evans experienced the biggest drop in active listings for the year, down 25.5 percent. Taylor said that reflected the tight inventories in the area, which has traditionally had the most affordable housing costs in the region.

Even though Fort Collins had the most homes sold at 2,239, Sean Dougherty, a Re/Max Alliance agent and president-elect of the Fort Collins Board of Realtors, said 2009 was an especially difficult year. “I would characterize it as the most challenging year in the last 10 years,” he said. “But it’s forced home sellers to figure out better ways to sell their property.”

Dougherty said 2009 proved “the time of bloated house prices has pretty much ended. Now, to sell a house it has to be the best price, the best condition, or preferably both.”

The year was tough on agents, with some leaving the profession at least until better conditions return.

“There definitely have been some Realtors leaving the buying and selling of real estate, but I’d say the bulk of them have been part-time or doing it for a hobby,” Dougherty said.

Taylor agreed she’s seen some local agents give up in 2009 – again mostly part-timers – but she also saw some new faces enter the field.

“We’ve actually had some new members in 2009, and we didn’t have that in 2008,” she said.

Whether 2010 ends up being better than 2009 is obviously an open question, but Taylor and Dougherty point to an expansion through April of the federal tax credits that helped revive last year’s market, continuing low interest rates and some signs of new house construction in the region as indications that it could be an improvement.

“I believe we’ll still see a year below our boom years,” Dougherty said. “We’re going to have to give it time. We’re still a couple of years down the road from a full recovery.”

“I see our market being strong through the first half of the year,” added Taylor. “After that, I’m not sure. But we’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. I think it’s a good time to be a buyer and a seller.”

Northern Colorado real estate agents struggled to move houses between buyers and sellers in a year that was marked by down numbers across the board.

Loveland-based Information and Real Estate Services, a multiple-listings service that compiles real estate statistics for the region, recently released final stats for 2009 that showed the number of homes sold in all three main regional markets – Fort Collins, Loveland-Berthoud and Greeley-Evans – was down from 2008, with the Loveland-Berthoud market down most at 6.7 percent.

Fort Collins home sales were down 5.1 percent, while Greeley-Evans home sales were down only 2 percent. Sharon…

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