The Colorado Springs-area housing market roared out of the gate in the new year, as strong demand and a historically low supply of homes combined to send sale prices soaring to record highs.

The Pikes Peak Association of Realtors reports that home sales totaled 938 in January, 3.3 percent more than in January 2017. Monthly sales have been rising on a year-over-year basis for most of the past 3½ years.

Homes listed for sale continue to be gobbled up quickly. In January, they averaged 39 days on the market, down from 44 days a year ago.

The ongoing demand - fueled by a surging economy, more jobs and still affordable mortgage rates - is helping to drive housing costs.

The median price - or mid-point - of homes sold in January rose to $295,000, 11.3 percent higher than a year earlier, the association's report showed. January's figure easily topped the area's previous record high of $285,250 last June.

Another factor driving prices: a tight inventory of homes for sale.

The Realtors Association report showed that listings totaled just 1,236 in January, which some local real estate experts say is likely a record low. By comparison, listings routinely topped 5,000 a month during the Great Recession - and sometimes climbed past 6,000 and 7,000 a month.

But the local market now is in full recovery mode from the recession, said Debbie Howes, a broker with Re/Max Performance in Woodland Park and the Realtors Association's board chairwoman.

"We're still in just an amazing market," Howes said. "People are moving in for jobs, and they're good jobs."

Even a recent uptick in mortgage rates hasn't slowed demand.

Many people - from borrowers to lenders - seemed prepared for higher rates, Howes said. The average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.22 percent last week, up from 4.15 percent a week earlier, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.

The hot market still has its challenges, however, she said.

Some homeowners who might consider selling are staying on the sidelines for fear they won't find another home to buy, Howes said.

Multiple offers - especially for homes in the $400,000-and-under price range - continue to be common, she said. That's good for sellers, yet it means many buyers are left disappointed.

On the new home side of the market, builders can't construct houses fast enough to help supply the market, Howes said. New home prices also are rising because of higher construction and labor costs, she said.

"When we pulled out of the slump," Howes said, "we pulled out pretty quick."

The monthly Realtors Association report compiles sales transactions handled by its members, not individual sellers. Most sales typically are in El Paso County, although some take place in Teller, Pueblo and other Front Range counties.

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Twitter: @richladen

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Business writer, Colorado Springs Gazette

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