Buying season springing to life

Buying season springing to life

Buying season springing to life

The spring housing market has sprung in the Boulder area, with both single-family and condo and townhome sales in March showing significant improvement over the same month last year. “The pattern we started late last year, coming into 2013, is continuing through March,” said Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder […]

The spring housing market has sprung in the Boulder area, with both single-family and condo and townhome sales in March showing significant improvement over the same month last year.

“The pattern we started late last year, coming into 2013, is continuing through March,” said Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor Association. “We’re seeing increased sales volume year over year, and it’s fairly healthy increases.”

The 315 single-family homes that sold in March represented a 16.7 percent increase over the 270 that sold in March 2012; and the 110 condominiums and townhomes that sold in March were 25 percent more than the 88 units that sold a year ago.

But it was the jump in sales from February to March that deserves note: 47.2 percent more single-family homes sold in March than the 214 homes that sold in February, and 53.7 percent more attached units sold in March than in February, in which 73 units sold.

“We really sprung into the spring buying season month over month when comparing March to February,” Hotard said. “The spring home buying season looks like it really launched in March.”

However, while the number of homes on the market increased slightly — 11.8 percent for single family and 9 percent for condos/townhomes — in March, inventory was down 26 percent and 27 percent, respectively, compared with March 2012.

The first-quarter 2013 sales still pale in comparison with the fourth quarter of 2012, with single-family home sales dropping about 14.1 percent and condo/townhome sales falling 7 percent, Hotard noted.

“We finished 2012 strong, exceeding expectations,” he said. “We were looking for downward seasonal adjustments in activity but instead saw a strengthening market.

“I think inventory has been the challenge and continues to be the challenge. It’s partially responsible for the quarterly declines in sales volume. If we had the inventory, with the demand that’s out there, we could have met or exceeded the 2012 fourth-quarter numbers.”

While there have been modest month-over-month improvements in inventory from December through March, Hotard said, they haven’t been strong enough to overcome year-over-year declines in inventory.

He believes the same dynamics are holding people back from putting their homes on the market: many still owe more than their house is worth or don’t have enough equity to come up with a down payment on next their house; uncertainty in the job market remains with a 7.5 percent unemployment rate; and the economy and jobs are just not growing fast enough to move the market forward.

Hotard said new-home construction is picking up and banks are reportedly releasing more of their foreclosed properties, so the inventory of homes for sale should improve heading into late spring and summer.    

Tom Kalinski, broker-owner of Re/Max of Boulder, can be reached at 303-441-5620 or tomkalinski@mindspring.com.