If I may, I’d like to open with a social note. It’s truly heartbreaking, the number of individuals and small businesses that have suffered over the last four months. Even though the government opened the coffers in a big way, for many, it won’t be enough. I hope I’m not the only one who has consciously tipped much more generously and shopped much more locally than ever before. Community is a precious commodity in which we should always stay invested.
As if the masks, and the distancing, and the sanitizing everything isn’t weird enough, there’s really almost nothing we do in our daily lives that doesn’t seem strange now. Even the “reopening” is more bizarre than it is approaching anything close to normal as we knew it back in early March. As real estate agents, we are now allowed to show homes again, albeit with masks and gloves and sanitizing everything. For a while, way back in April and May (a lifetime ago, right?), that wasn’t allowed, and the homes that were going under contract were viewed virtually only, and then, only after they went under contract, the buyer could go in and inspect, with masks and gloves and sanitizer. That was really surreal, and it’s still really weird. And open houses remain taboo, per the governor. Dang it. The last house we held open, in March, actually sold to a woman who stumbled across the open house and fell in love.
So, what hasn’t been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic? Well, liquor sales in pot sales may actually have increased. Anything related to home improvement has certainly fared well. Pet supply stores are pretty solid and what a utopic time this has been for the dogs, right?! What else? Oh, here’s a surprise: Real Estate! What?!
You heard it right. The number of purchase contracts written in the Denver area in the last 5 weeks exceeds the best 5 weeks of 2019 by almost 8%. But because half of March and all of April were wrought with uncertainty and fear, which translated into full-on home-sales anemia, we’re still 10% behind 2019 in total sales for the same period. I have no doubt we could more than make that up at the rate we’re going. And if that isn’t tightening the market enough, the most exacerbating numbers are the new listings coming on line. As in… not nearly enough!! Metro-wide, including single family and multi-family homes, there are 30% fewer new offerings year-to-date then during the same period last year. So, with demand increasing that dramatically over supply, home buyers will continue to struggle with rising prices and, in many cases, bidding wars on the best homes being listed. There’s apparently no end in sight for this housing shortage. That’s good if you already own a home and horrible if you don’t!
BUT, lest I be too bullish on real estate, remember it is still 2020 after all. Just because the murder hornets have not come to Colorado and rioters haven’t burned down main street Evergreen doesn’t mean we’re done dodging bullets. The virus has definitely not left the building although Colorado is holding pretty steady so far. But when the stimulus money runs out, and the forbearance periods end, and the PPP infusions no longer pay small business employees and overhead, especially for the bars and restaurants trying to survive at 50% capacity, there will be ripples that I pray will not ultimately become waves of distressed properties coming online. While a real estate market cooldown might actually be healthy, nobody wants to see hard-working people having to give up their homes. Falling unemployment and the continuing influx of new businesses to Colorado are all hopeful signs for quick recovery but truly there are just too many wild cards in the deck to have this amateur gambler betting hard one way or the other on what real estate will do in 3 months, 6 months or a year. The collective sigh of relief will only come when the vaccine does. So “C’mon Mr. Gates, give it up already!” (a little conspiracy humor there)
One thing I will bet on is that this summer will be hot, and I’m not talking about the weather. Continued crazy-low interest rates and some urban flight are shoring up the foothills markets right now, even with these higher prices and, of course, the quality of life here just can’t be beat.
Happy Homes everyone and stay safe out there.