Colorado Springs-area home sales and prices rose again last month, although a slowdown on the re-sale side of the housing market could be in the offing because of higher mortgage rates and other factors, some real estate agents say.
A Pikes Peak Association of Realtors report released Thursday shows that sales of single-family homes totaled 829 in September, a 7.2 percent increase over the same month a year ago. It was the 15th straight year-over-year increase in monthly sales.
Year-to-date, sales have totaled 8,469, a 22.6 percent gain over the same period in 2012, the report shows.
The median price - or mid-point - of homes that sold in September rose nearly 10 percent to $213,000. Prices have risen for 19 consecutive months.
Historically low mortgage rates have been driving home buying activity up to now, even as they've ticked up, real estate agents have said. This week, the average for 30-year mortgages fell to 4.22 percent nationally - the third consecutive weekly decline, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday. But average rates had been as low as 3.35 percent in early May.
Even if rates remain above 4 percent, they're still very attractive, said Harry Salzman, broker-owner of Salzman Real Estate Services in Colorado Springs.
"This is a cheap, cheap interest expense," Salzman said.
But homebuilders have reported a slowdown in new home sales each of the last two months, and cited higher rates as the reason. Now, some real estate agents say the same thing might be happening to the re-sale market.
"I would disagree that the uptick in interest rates has had no effect on the residential side," said Nancy Rusinak of Rusinak Real Estate in the Springs. "We are seeing exactly what the builders are seeing. Showings are down in all price ranges - lower price ranges, higher price ranges. It's very much quieter than it was."
Wynne Palermo of WYNNE Realty in Colorado Springs said she's also noticed a slowdown in showings. But if a market slowdown takes hold, it will be about more than just rising rates, she said.
The federal government shutdown is on buyers' minds, the stock market has gone up and down in recent weeks and some local residents still are getting over the shock of this summer's Black Forest fire and flooding in Manitou Springs, she said.
"It will be interesting to see what October, November and December look like," she said.
Hank Poburka of The Platinum Group Realtors, who is finishing his one-year term as Realtors Association board chairman, said the effects of sequestration on the local economy still could play a role in homebuying decisions. He expects sales to continue to rise - but they won't be as strong as during the summer.
Meanwhile, the supply of homes listed for sale rose 9.3 percent in September to 4,070, according to the Realtors Association report. Monthly inventories had dropped below 4,000 in late 2011, stayed below that mark for all of 2012 and only recently headed upward in recent months.
"In the long term, there's still a big, big shortage of homes," Poburka said.
The Realtors Association report is based on home sales whose transactions are handled by its members and doesn't include sales recorded by individual owners.
Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228
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