May 5, 2014 Updated: May 5, 2014 at 5:30 pm
The Pikes Peak region's recent housing slowdown continued in April.
Colorado Springs-area home sales totaled 922 last month, a 1.1 percent drop from April 2013, according to a report by the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors. Sales have declined for six straight months on a year-over-year basis, association figures show.
Through the first four months of 2014, home sales totaled 2,922, a 6.4 percent drop over the same period last year.
Meanwhile, the median price - or mid-point - of homes that were sold in April dipped 0.7 percent to $213,500, the association's report shows. Prices have declined for two straight months after having risen each month for nearly two years.
After years of being hit hard by the recession, the local housing market rebounded the past few years, and enjoyed a strong 2013 - until the last few months of the year. That's when an uptick in long-term mortgage rates started to take effect and caused some buyers to hold off purchases, some real estate agents have said.
At the same time, the federal government shutdown late last year contributed to some of the market's softness - creating uncertainty among some consumers who wanted to see what effect the shutdown would have on the economy before buying a house.
As the calendar turned to 2014, frigid temperatures in January and February probably led some Springs-area buyers to stay at home rather than look for a house, said Rick Van Wieren, a real estate agent with Re/Max Properties in Colorado Springs.
And while state and federal employment numbers have improved, the Pikes Peak region still has a ways to go in terms of creating jobs, Van Wieren said.
"We're still feeling the effects of a very slow economic recovery," he said.
Even with this year's slow start, Van Wieren expects home sales and prices to pick up. In fact, 2014 might actually be a better year for the Springs-area re-sale housing market than in 2013, he said.
According to Realtor Association figures, there are 1,900 pending sales in the area right now - homes that are under contract, but haven't yet closed, Van Wieren said. That's the equivalent of a little more than two months' worth of sales, based on the rate of home sales in March and April.
"That's a lot of closings coming up," he said. "If we didn't sell a single house, we'd have 950 deals a month for the next two months."
Based on sales that are in the pipeline, and with the summer buying season on the horizon, Van Wieren predicts the Pikes Peak region will make up the ground it lost in first quarter home sales. By the time the year is over, Van Wieren said, he expects sales for 2014 to finish about 5 percent ahead of last year.
As demand increases, prices will improve, too, he said. He recently handled a sale in which his seller received three offers within three days of the home being listed - and all were above the asking price. And as sellers see demand pick up, they'll bump their prices, he said.
"The next sellers are going to try for a little more," Van Wieren said.