At this time last year, our market was experiencing all-time highs for average home prices and all-time lows for housing inventory. Many of the market indicators we track were pointing to continued strong demand and price appreciation, especially with the continued influx of people into Boulder and Broomfield counties. And yet, with home price appreciation outstripping wage gains for the better part of a decade, in the back of everyone’s minds was the question: “How long can this go on?” We may now be starting to get our answer.
The big picture
In 2018 last summer, the Federal Housing Finance Agency measured the average appreciation nationally at 6.89 percent which slowed this year to 5.05 percent. Then, FHFA ranked Colorado as having the fourth-highest one-year appreciation in the country, at 10.63 percent. Boulder County ranked 68th among metropolitan areas in the country with 8.25 percent appreciation. This year, Colorado has dropped to 28th, with 4.78 percent appreciation, while Boulder fell to number 91 with 6.14 percent appreciation So, Colorado and Boulder County are cooling compared to the rest of the country, but, as a bright spot, Boulder County’s appreciation since 1991 still leads the entire nation at 417.28 percent.
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There are 10 statistics we track to gauge the state of the residential real estate market, and studying the movement of these indicators can give you a good sense of the direction of the market. For most of this decade, those indicators have generally pointed toward a rising market, marked by tight inventory, brisk appreciation, quick sales, and low months of inventory (the time it would take to sell all existing homes if no new homes entered the market). At the close of the second quarter of 2019, we are seeing a strong shift for both the single-family homes and attached dwellings (see charts).
As you can see, nearly every indicator we track is pointing to a softening, shifting market, aside from interest rates. And while Months of Inventory still indicates a seller’s market, the trajectory is moving toward a balanced market (between five and seven months of inventory).
And now for the good news
If you are an aspiring buyer in Boulder County, your timing is excellent: inventory is up, so you have more homes to choose from; prices are flat or falling, so you may be able to get a (relative) bargain; and interest rates have dropped once again, so you can get more house for the money.
If you are a homeowner or thinking of selling, the news is not all bad: you’ve rode an impressive wave of appreciation for the better part of a decade; and even when Boulder’s market stalls, it typically does not lose much value (even in the great recession, home prices only dropped about 5 percent).
Remember, don’t panic. Boulder is still the best place in the country to invest in real estate.
Jay Kalinski is broker/owner of Re/Max of Boulder.