Local home sales, prices continue to rise in February

RICH LADEN Updated: March 4, 2013 at 12:00 am • Published: March 4, 2013

The local single-family housing market continued its recovery last month, as both sales and prices rose again, according to a Pikes Peak Association of Realtors report.

Home sales totaled 664 in February, up 29.2 percent from the same month last year, the association’s report showed. For the first two months of the year, sales have increased by about one-third over the same period in 2012.

“Here’s a good example of the market: I’m at wall-to-wall appointments into the evening tonight,” Ben Day, a real estate agent with The Selley Group Real Estate in Colorado Springs, said early Monday.

Meanwhile, the median price — or midpoint — of homes that were sold in February increased to $199,000, a 12.6 percent year-over-year gain. Local prices now have increased for 12 straight months on a year-over-year basis.

At the same time, there were 3,025 homes listed for sale in February, a 5.9 percent decline from the same month last year.

Historically low mortgage rates have been credited with driving the market recovery. Last week, 30-year, fixed-rate loans averaged 3.51 percent nationally, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

Not only do low rates allow qualified buyers to purchase a home, it also helps them buy more home for their money, Day said.

And as demand has increased, some real estate agents have credited the relatively stable supply of homes for sale over the last several months with boosting prices. While 3,025 homes for sale in February sounds like a lot, there were nearly 5,600 for sale during the same month five years ago.

In fact, some agents increasingly say the limited inventory of homes for sale is creating major headaches for both buyers and sellers.

In the years after the housing market nose-dived around 2007, buyers might have had six homes to choose from, Day said. Now, they might have only three that fit their needs — and they might not necessarily like any of them, he said.

Some homeowners, meanwhile, are finding the market has improved to the point where they can finally sell their home in a reasonable amount of time.

Yet, some sellers are scrambling because they can’t find a home to buy after they sign a contract to sell their house — taking a genuine emotional toll on those sellers.

“They put their house on the market, they have seven people come through their house in 48 hours,” Day said. “They have an offer. Great. They’ve sold their house. Now what?”

The supply of homes for sales is being kept in check for several reasons, he said. The area‘s foreclosure problem has improved dramatically, which means fewer homes are being taken back by lenders and going back on the market for sale, Day said.

Likewise, some homeowners who previously might have sold are instead refinancing and staying put because they can’t afford to pass up such low mortgage rates, he said. Other owners are holding onto their homes and turning them into rental properties because the rental market has been so hot.

Based on the most recent monthly sales and listings, the area has a 4.6-month supply of homes for sale, he said. By comparison, there was a nine- to 12-month supply a few years ago.
“It’s going to be a busy year,” Day said.

Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228 Twitter @richladen
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