Residential Real Estate: Signs point to resurgence in home sales

Across the country, real estate statistics this spring are sobering — although we can’t say surprising. The pandemic has squeezed home sales, particularly in the West.

Nationally, home sales in April dropped 17.2% compared to April 2019. And among the four regions of the United States, the Western states experienced the largest decline, off 27%. The month-over-month comparisons (from March to April) were similar, with national sales down 17.8% and Western sales down 25%. Locally, Northern Colorado results were mostly in line with the rest of the West, with April closings down 24%.

To look at these data points, it would be easy to think real estate will continue to stagger through the summer. In fact, May figures are pointing to a turnaround.

On May 3, Colorado returned to in-person home showings under the new “Safer at Home Order” with new guidance for Realtors and clients. In the three weeks that followed, we saw home showings in Northern Colorado rocket back to levels on par with May 2019.

What it shows is that real estate markets in our part of the state continue to be incredibly resilient. Thanks in part to stable and historically low interest rates, buyer demand remains robust in this region. It also seems that many of us, cooped up in our homes for more than a month, are realizing which features and amenities we most want in our homes, and it’s time to go out and get it. And with smart investments made in real estate over the last decade, many have built equity positions — and responsibly managed that equity — to afford those opportunities today.

To get a better sense of the resurgence in the Northern Colorado marketplace in May, consider what’s happening with home demand. Through May 25, properties under contract increased from 2,082 in May 2019 to 2,165 this year, an increase of 4%. At the same time, the inventory of new listings is down 7%, from 2,402 in May 2019 to 2,224 this year.

The combination of these two statistics continues to make inventory scarce, as we are not bringing enough properties to market to satisfy demand. But on balance, it’s indicative of the continuing strength of the Northern Colorado housing market.

And while showings across Colorado were down slightly from May 2019 levels, our internal tracking finds that Northern Colorado — and The Group specifically — are reporting showings in line with last year at this time. This leads me to believe Northern Colorado is stronger than the state as a whole, or other areas of the state, for reemergence of the real estate landscape and economy.

Brandon Wells is president of The Group Inc. Real Estate, founded in Fort Collins in 1976 with six locations in Northern Colorado