Colorado added 62,000 new jobs over the past 12 months, an increase of 2.4% over this time last year. All of the metropolitan markets included in this report saw annual employment growth, with substantial growth in Boulder (4.7%) and Fort Collins (+4.1%), and more modest growth in Grand Junction (0.3%).
In May, the unemployment rate in the state was 2.3%, matching the prior month and down 3.4% from a year ago. The lowest unemployment rate was in Fort Collins at just 2.0%. The highest rate was in Grand Junction, though it was still a relatively low 3.3%. It is reasonable to expect these markets will see above-average wage growth given the tight labor market.
HOME SALES ACTIVITY
- There were 17,581 home sales during the first quarter of 2017, a solid annual increase of 3.9% over the first quarter of 2016.
- Jefferson County saw sales grow at the fastest rate over the past 12 months, with a 9.4% increase. There was also an impressive increase in Douglas County (+6.3%). More modest sales growth was seen in Denver and Weld Counties.
- Even with the rise in sales, listing activity is still running at well below historic averages, with the total number of homes for sale in the second quarter 7.6% below a year ago.
- Sales growth continues to trend higher, but inventory levels remain well below where they need to be to satisfy demand.
- Due to solid demand, home prices continue to rise with average prices up by 8.5% year-over-year to an average across the region of $438,980.
- Boulder County saw slower appreciation in home values, but the trend is still positive.
- Appreciation was strongest in Denver and Weld Counties, where prices rose by 12.4% and 10.6% respectively.
- Economic growth is driving job growth, which is driving housing demand. Given the relative shortage of homes for sale, expect to see home prices continue to appreciate at above-average rates at least through the rest of the year.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped by three days when compared to the second quarter of 2016.
- Homes in all counties contained in this report took less than a month to sell. Adams County stood out as it took an average of only 11 days to sell a home.
- During the second quarter, it took an average of just 17 days to sell a home. This is down by a substantial 13 days compared to the first quarter of this year.
- The takeaway here is that demand remains robust as evidenced by the remarkably short amount of time that it is taking to sell a home.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.
After the second quarter of 2017, I have moved the needle even farther in favor of sellers. Mortgage rates remain very competitive and, with the specter of lending standards easing a little, demand will remain robust, which will be reflected in rising home values.
ABOUT MATTHEW GARDNER
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Written by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate
Annual employment in Colorado grew by a respectable 2.3% in February, which equated to about 64,000 new jobs over the past 12 months. Within the metropolitan market areas included in this report, employment has been mixed, with Denver, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs reporting above-average growth. However, Greeley and Grand Junction saw a modest decline in employment.
In February, the unemployment rate in Colorado was 2.9%, down from 3.3% a year ago. The lowest reported unemployment rates were in Fort Collins and Boulder, at just 2.6%. The highest rate was in Grand Junction, but it was still a respectable 4.7%.
- There were 11,640 home sales during the first quarter of 2017, an annual increase of 2.2%.
- Arapahoe County saw sales grow at the fastest rate over the past 12 months, with a 7.9% increase. There were also impressive increases in Douglas County. There were very modest sales declines in the relatively small Larimer and Weld Counties.
- Listing activity remains well below historic averages, with the total number of homes for sale in the first quarter 10.7% below that seen a year ago.
- Home sales are generally higher than seen a year ago, but inventory levels are well below where they need to be to satisfy would-be buyers.
- With demand remaining strong, home prices continue to escalate. In the first quarter of this year, average prices rose by 8% when compared to a year ago. Average home prices across the region broke the $400,000 barrier at $402,273.
- Home prices remain well above historic highs and continue to trend upward. While there are very modest slowdowns in price growth—possibly a function of rising interest rates—they should continue to appreciate at above-average rates throughout 2017.
- Appreciation was strongest in Arapahoe and Weld Counties, where prices rose by 12.2% and 10.1% respectively.
- The housing market remains strong and this will continue until we see a substantial increase in the number of homes for sale, which is unlikely in the near-term.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped by one day when compared to the first quarter of 2016.
- Homes in a majority of the counties took less than a month to sell.
- During the first quarter, it took an average of 30 days to sell a home. This is down by one day compared to the same time last year.
- Demand remains very strong across the region, which is evident by the remarkably short amount time that it takes to sell a home.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. In the first quarter of 2017, the needle remains well into seller’s territory. The recent increases in mortgage rates have not had any dampening effect on either demand or home prices, and I expect this will remain unchanged through the end of the year.
Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
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