If there is one constant in Boulder Valley, it’s a strong real estate market. October’s sales statistics show 2018 is on track to finish strong. This is despite that month-to-month, those statistics sometimes show significant fluctuation.
Take September and October 2018. When compared to October, September’s data is like Colorado weather: If you don’t like the statistics one month, wait a month, they are likely to change.
September’s single-family sales dropped 20 percent, then recovered to gain 8.7 percent in October with 362 homes sold vs. September’s 333. Despite the short-term fluctuation, year-to-date sales are holding steady through October, reaching just one unit short of the same volume as last year – 3,880 vs. 3,881.
“It’s hard to characterize our market here in Boulder County. Given all of the factors, it can be difficult to decipher trends as opposed to an event,” says Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association.
“While the swings add volatility to the market, the market exhibits good health with strong demand, and prices and sales holding steady,” he says, adding that a strong economy and job growth continue to be drivers.
Condo/townhomes in Boulder County saw a month-over-month sales decrease of 5.2 percent, with 110 units sold in October compared to 116 in September. Year-to-date attached dwelling sales rose 4 percent through October – 1,317 vs. 1,266.
October’s inventory for attached dwellings also increased 7.3 percent over September with 280 units available in October compared to 261 the prior month. Single-family home inventory declined 10 percent, with 945 homes available for sale in October compared to 1,050 in September 2018.
Hotard projects November and December sales will be “anybody’s guess depending on the weather. But all things being equal, I don’t expect much change through the end of the year.”
The next big change he expects will be in early 2019. “I think we’ll see a big increase in inventory and sales in February and March. I think people will look at taking the gains we have seen in this market, providing inventory and set the market up for pretty strong increases in the big home selling months.”
Colorado’s economy continues to expand in 2018, even after signaling a slowdown at the beginning of the year. Job growth was revised upward to 2.4 percent growth for the year, according to the mid-year economic report from the Leeds Business Research Division at the University of Colorado Boulder.
The rebound follows a slowing of employment growth last September to less than 1.9 percent – the lowest level in almost six years. In June 2018, job growth increased 2.8 percent year-over-year.
The increase means about 15,000 more jobs than expected will be added through 2018, bringing the total to 62,000 new jobs by the end of the year.
The state’s gross domestic product also rose 4.5 percent year-over-year for first quarter 2018. The increase shows Colorado’s economy is continuing to grow after slowing to just 1.4 percent in 2016— the lowest level since 2010. Economic output rose to 3.6 percent in 2017.
Meanwhile, Colorado still has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, logged in June 2018 at 2.7 percent. While fewer people have been moving to Colorado – dropping from 67,781 in 2016 to 46,626 in 2017 – more Coloradans are going into the labor force. The increase in workers has enabled continued employment growth, despite the decrease of people moving to the state.
Sectors leading the way in job growth are natural resources and mining, and construction.
Natural resources and mining have shown strong employment growth, according to Business Research Division Executive Director Richard Wobbekind. “Energy prices are obviously factoring into it,” Wobbekind notes.
The construction industry is “finally back to the same level of employment that they were at pre-recession. They are really mostly constrained by lack of available workforce,” he says.
While a shortage of skilled labor continues to challenge the construction industry, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows construction employment across the state was 171,200 in June 2018, a 5.2 percent year-over-year increase. This surpasses the last peak of 170,100 in July 2007. Average annual pay for construction workers was $59,446 in 2017, slightly above the average Colorado pay of $56,916.
Agriculture’s outlook is not as robust, however. Drought, wildfires, and low prices are slowing growth. For example, corn prices have declined more than 30 percent from five years ago.
“It’s a tough road to hoe in some of the rural areas,” Wobbekind said.
Read the full Mid-Year Economic Update at https://www.colorado.edu/business/2018/08/17/state-economy-adding-thousands-more-jobs-expected-report-predicts