At the start of the year, I read an article about the 10 biggest threats to the global economy in 2020, written by a prestigious international organization. “Global pandemic” did not make the list, which goes to show how generally lousy we humans are at accurately predicting the future. As such, any predictions that I (or anyone else) could give you about how this pandemic will unfold, in terms of its impact on the local real estate market, would likely fare no better than random chance. Similarly, with the situation evolving so rapidly, any advice or best practices I could offer today may become obsolete in short order.
So, rather than peddle advice and predictions, let’s pause and take stock.
Back in 2008, the financial crisis was sparked in the real estate sector and led to a crisis that nearly collapsed the banking system. We see from history that recessions that begin in the housing sector tend to be worse and last longer than recessions ignited by other factors. Today, the recession we are likely heading into has a very different background — our economy and housing market were far stronger and more resilient, thanks in part to the measures put in place after that recession (tighter lending restrictions, more stringent liquidity requirements for banks, etc.). In fact, we were enjoying the longest economic expansion since WWII.
According to National Association of Realtors chief economist Dr. Lawrence Yun, “Conditions today are very different than the last boom/bust cycle. In 2004, we had a huge oversupply of new homes. In 2019, we still had a huge undersupply of new homes. In fact, we haven’t been building enough new homes to keep up with demand in over a decade. During the last downturn, there was the subprime factor and the variable interest rate. Now there are fewer variable rate mortgages and virtually no sub-prime mortgages.”
Colorado is well-positioned as a top economy nationally. Real GDP growth in Colorado ranked seventh in the nation year-over-year, and the state’s five-year average ranks fifth, according to economist Rich Wobbekind with CU-Boulder’s Leeds School of Business. Wobbekind says that Boulder County’s economy has been outgrowing the state economy, and is uniquely able to weather a recession. Boulder County’s economic vitality is fueled by a highly educated workforce and diverse ecosystem of industries including government research facilities, aerospace, biotechnology, cleantech, and information technology — industries that endure in the long term.
Boulder ranks number one in the nation for home value stability and growth for the fifth consecutive year, according to SmartAsset. As discussed in our recently published real estate report, based on our extensive data and market analysis, we have had a healthy housing market through 2019. Even through the grim days of the Great Recession, home prices in Boulder County declined only by 5 percent and recovered quickly post-recession. If you held onto your home for at least six years, there is no period when you would have lost money on your investment here.
While past performance is no guarantee of future results, the real estate market in our area has a history of weathering recent recessions better than other places and recovering more quickly after the storm has passed. Given everything that is going on, I still believe that owning property in Boulder Valley is and will continue to be an excellent investment.
Be well and do what you can to flatten the curve. Stay home.
Market demand continues to be strong for Boulder County residential real estate with continued improvements for June sales compared to May.
“Sales were strong through June. It’s a lively market, but certainly not overheated,” says Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association.
Single-family home sales in Boulder County improved 2.3 percent in June 2018 compared to May 2018 – 498 vs. 487 units – while townhome/condominium sales jumped 31.3 percent – 189 units sold vs. 144.
Year-to-date sales show ongoing growth with single-family home sales rising 2.4 percent through June compared to the prior year – 2,218 vs. 2,166 units – and condo and townhome sales improving 6.6 percent year-over-year – 776 units sold compared to 728.
Inventory is holding steady, which typically correlates with strong sales. Single-family homes for sale increased 9.4 percent – 1,004 homes for sale in June compared to 918 in May. Condo/townhomes inventory rose 14.4 percent over the same period, making 238 units available for sale vs. 208 in May.
Prices are one indication of market temperature. So far, 2018 has seen average and median sales prices continue to rise year-over-year, with all Boulder Valley markets showing improvement in the single-family category for June. Condos/townhomes also showed improvement in both median and average sale prices in every community except statistics for Louisville, Niwot and the Mountains.
Hotard notes that typically “July has a pullback in sales, due to summer vacation schedules and the anticipation of school starting.”
“Market demand is impressive and prices are holding up,” he says. “Single-family homes average selling price has been over a million for months now and shows no signs of cooling off.”