Real Estate & Construction  December 30, 2010

Improved home market in ’11 depends on quality jobs

The good news in residential real estate in Northern Colorado in 2010 was the extension of the federal tax credit for certain homebuyers.

The extension meant a busy first part of the year for home sales, then a slowdown in both Larimer and Weld counties by the fall.

The tax credit was $8,000 for first-time homebuyers and $6,500 for homeowners who had lived in their current homes for at least five years and wanted to sell. Homes had to be under contract by April 30, and closings had to occur by Sept. 30.

“It’s kind of like putting anything on sale,´ said Sean Dougherty, president of the Fort Collins Board of Realtors. “You get a glut of people who want to buy, then they go away once the sale is over.”

Overall, the market was steady in Fort Collins in 2010. At the end of November, the number of listings sold was the same as 2009. The $233,000 median home price was up compared to last year’s $225,000.

“We have been very stable and steady in Fort Collins,” Dougherty said. “We are lucky because we are a university town. We’re able to weather the storm better because our clientele will always be here.”

Home sales were up 3.7 percent in Loveland/Berthoud compared to 2009, and median prices were also up from about $204,000 to $210,000

The news wasn’t quite as good in Greeley/Evans, where home sales were down 8.1 percent compared to last year, and median prices dropped slightly from $134,000 to $133,000.

“I think we have been bouncing along the bottom for the last year or so,´ said John DeWitt, managing broker for Re/Max Alliance in Greeley. “I’m surprised we didn’t see more sales in 2010.”

The other good news in 2010 was that foreclosure filings went down although DeWitt attributes some of that to banks now turning more to short sales and loan modifications rather than foreclosure. Foreclosure filings through October were down 17.3 percent in Weld County and 16.2 percent in Larimer County compared to the same period last year.

For 2011, real estate agents see more of the same – stable numbers in Fort Collins and Loveland and slower recovery in Weld County.

“Our market won’t really get better until we see those quality jobs,” DeWitt said. “The good news is that jobs have come to Northern Colorado.”

The return of consumer confidence is also important.

“I’ve had more cash buyers this year than I’ve ever had,” Dougherty said. “There’s money out there, but people are afraid to spend it.”

Given that people buying more real estate than they could afford was one of the causes of the Great Recession, some see the steadier growth of the future as a good thing.

“Northern Colorado has a very rosy picture compared to some other parts of the country,” Dougherty said.

The good news in residential real estate in Northern Colorado in 2010 was the extension of the federal tax credit for certain homebuyers.

The extension meant a busy first part of the year for home sales, then a slowdown in both Larimer and Weld counties by the fall.

The tax credit was $8,000 for first-time homebuyers and $6,500 for homeowners who had lived in their current homes for at least five years and wanted to sell. Homes had to be under contract by April 30, and closings had to occur by Sept. 30.

“It’s kind of like putting anything on…

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