HOME FOR SALE FILE PHOTO

Colorado Springs-area home sales reached a record high of 18,159 in 2021, as a strong demand and low mortgage rates propelled buying and selling activity, according to housing industry experts. THE GAZETTE FILE 

Last year was another record-setter for Colorado Springs-area home sales and prices as rock-bottom mortgage rates and a desire for home ownership continued to fuel a furious demand for local housing.

Sales of single-family and patio homes totaled 18,159 in 2021, surpassing the previous year's record high of 17,337, according to a December market trends report released Tuesday by the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors.

"It's unbelievably strong," Joe Clement, broker-owner of Re/Max Properties in Colorado Springs, said of the local market. "I'm looking at this chart and it shows 18,159 addresses got sold through the (Multiple Listing Service) in 2021. That's the largest that number's ever been."

But a strong demand also has led to sharp price increases. In December, the median price of homes sold during the month rose 18.4% to $450,000 when compared with the same month of the previous year, according to the Realtors Association's report. December's median tied the area's record high price, which was first set in June.

Local median prices now have risen on a year-over-year basis each month since December 2014, Gazette historical data show — a seven-year streak. What's more, year-over-year prices have risen on a percentage basis by double digits for 18 straight months, dating to July 2020.

Mortgage rates continue to help drive the interest in housing, industry experts have said.

Thirty-year, fixed-rate loans climbed to a nationwide average of 3.11% last week, and weekly rates have exceeded the 3% mark nearly every week since mid-October, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.

Despite that uptick, rates in the 3% neighborhood remain historically low and attractive to buyers.

How low? Twenty years ago, long-term, fixed-rate mortgages averaged more than 7% during the last week of 2001, Freddie Mac figures show. Forty years ago at the end of 1981, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged just over 17%.

But it's not just demand that has sent prices soaring.

Colorado Springs continues to wrestle with a shortage of homes for sale, a problem that's plagued the Pikes Peak region and other markets for two to three years.

In December, the supply of Colorado Springs-areas homes listed for sale at month's end totaled just 659, a roughly two-week supply based on the number of available properties and the pace of recent sales, the Realtors Association report showed.

On the one hand, December's listings were up by nearly 25% when compared with the same month in 2020. And yet, December inventories routinely topped 2,000 and even 3,000 in the years before the Great Recession.

The home shortage and ongoing demand have led to bidding wars among buyers, many of whom submit offers that exceed a seller's asking price by thousands of dollars.

The market's been a boon for sellers, but a source of soul-crushing disappointment for many buyers who can't find a home to purchase, area real estate agents have said.

And don't expect those trends to change in 2022, Clement said.

The area needs more newly built homes to come on the market to help boost the overall supply and slow the increase in prices, he said. He's not optimistic the shortage will ease anytime soon.

"It's the same issue that we've had for the last couple of years: It's inventory," Clement said. "I don't see how we can all of a sudden pull out of that unless they (homebuilders and developers) start getting development plans approved in two weeks or something and they could start building like crazy and try to catch up. But that ain't going to happen."

The Realtors Association market trends report tracks home sales handled by its member agents; it doesn't include homes sold by individuals. Most home sales take place in El Paso County, with the rest in Teller and a handful of Front Range counties.

  

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