(CHEYENNE) HOME SALES

Photo by Mark Reis

Here’s a head-scratcher about the local housing market — and one that many homebuyers probably will find hard to believe.

A National Association of Realtors report released Tuesday shows Colorado Springs median home prices actually declined during the first quarter of this year — dipping 0.1% to $296,400 from $296,600 during the same period last year.

“I don’t buy that,” said Harry Salzman of ERA Shields Real Estate and Salzman Real Estate Services, who tracks the national group’s reports. “There’s no way.”

One reason for Salzman’s dubiousness: the national report runs counter to local data, which show regular price gains for years.

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A Pikes Peak Association of Realtors report for April showed the median price of homes sold last month set another record high of $328,000, jumping by 7.5% on a year-over-year basis. In fact, prices have risen each month for nearly 4 1/2 years, and set several record highs along the way, local Realtors Association reports have shown.

Granted, the local report is based on monthly transactions, while the National Association of Realtors report is a quarterly snapshot of the market.

Even so, a healthy economy and low mortgage rates have created strong demand on the part of homebuyers, while the local inventory of homes for sale remains historically tight. The result, many local real estate agents have said, is a steady drumbeat of higher prices.

Homebuyers, meanwhile, have found they often must submit bids above a seller’s asking price because of stiff competition for properties selling for $350,000 and under.

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Salzman questioned whether the National Association of Realtors report includes home sales outside city limits, such as in Monument north of town or Fountain to the south, where prices are rising.

“I’m beyond curious,” he said. “I don’t buy that number.”

In his overview of the Pikes Peak region’s housing market for this year, Salzman predicted that home prices will increase 5.75% to 6.75%.

National Association of Realtors officials didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The group’s report showed 153 of 178 metro areas nationwide saw price increases in the first quarter compared with the same period a year earlier; 13 of the metro areas experienced double-digit gains.

In Colorado, Denver-Aurora-Lakewood median prices in the first quarter rose to $446,600, a 1.2% percent increase compared with the same quarter last year. Boulder prices increased 2.6% to $603,600.

Nationally, the median price in the first quarter increased 3.9% to $254,800.

“Homeowners in the majority of markets are continuing to enjoy price gains, albeit at a slower rate of growth,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said in a news release.

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