Friday, January 11, 2013

Northern Front Range Snapshot: Home prices, foreclosures and permits

The northern front range has been one of the more economically robust areas of Colorado in recent years. In this post, I'll look at several economic indicators for the region including home prices, foreclosures, releases of deeds of trust, and building permits. In most cases we'll find that Larimer County/Ft Collins-Loveland tends to show more demand for real estate than is the case in metro Denver or Weld County/Greeley. Weld County'Greeley shows less demand for real estate than metro Denver in many cases, but that region has showing an increasing amount of demand over the past 12 months.

According to the home price index (HPI) of the Federal Housing and Finance Agency, home prices headed up during much of 2012 in both the Ft Collins area and in the Greeley area.

The first graph shows the FHFA's home price  index for The Ft. Collins area and the Greeley. According to the index, the Greeley is index is down 13 percent from peak levels while the Ft. Collins index is back to peak levels (down by 0.01 percent). The metro Denver index is down 3.6 percent from peak levels. All areas have shown growth in the index since the second quarter of 2011, however.

The second graph shows the year-over-year change in the index. Home prices in both the Greeley area and the Ft. Collins-Loveland area were up from the third quarter of 2011 to the same period this year. The HPI in Greeley increased 2.8 percent, while it increased 3.6 percent in the Ft. Collins area. In metro Denver, the index increased 2.8 percent. The third quarter of 2012 marked the third quarter in a row during which both the Greeley index and the Ft. Collins index were up year over year. 

The third graph shows foreclosure auction sales in Larimer and Weld counties and in all metro counties combined. Auction sales in all three areas have generally tracked together since 2007, so overall, the foreclosure auction sales trend along the northern front range is very similar to the statewide trend.  Auction sales are the step in the foreclosure process when the home is sold off to investors or back to the bank. For the period of January-November this year, there have been 898 auction sales in Weld County and 531 in Larimer County. This is a decline of 27.6 percent in Larimer County and a decline of 25.7 percent in Weld County from the same period last year. In all combined metros, the decline was 19.9 percent.  

The fourth graph shows new foreclosure filings for both the combined metro total and Weld and Larimer counties. Foreclosure filings are the first step of the foreclosure process and are an indicator of future foreclosure auction sales activity. Since 2007, foreclosure filings in Weld and Larimer counties have generally tracked together with the combined metro total. For the period of January-November this year, there were   have declined in both the combined total and in Pueblo County, but they have not fallen as much in Pueblo County as in the combined metro total.  For January-November of this year, foreclosure filings were down 17 percent to 1,013 in Larimer county and down 14.6 percent to 1,500 in Weld County, compared to the same period last year. In all metro counties combined, the decline was 6.5 percent. 

The fifth graph shows new releases of deeds of trust in Colorado and in Weld and Larimer counties.  County. (Releases occur when a mortgage loan is paid off, and is an indicator of refi and home sales activity.) Since 2000, Weld County has shown less growth in releases than both Larimer County and statewide. But not much less. All three areas have generally tracked together and they all showed quite a bit of growth form 2000 to 2003. Statewide, release activity will likely return to 2000 levels by the end of this year, although Weld and Larimer counties may still end 2012 down a bit from 2012 levels. 

But if we look at release activity since 2008, We see that Larimer county has shown significantly more growth in release activity than in the statewide totals or in Weld County. From the third quarter of 2011 to the third quarter of 2012, however, all three areas showed increases of almost 50 percent or more with releases increasing 48 percent, 58 percent, and 54 percent in Larimer County, Weld County, and statewide, respectively. There were 6,219 releases in Larimer County during the third quarter of 2012, 3,366 in Weld County, and 78,240 statewide. 

As home prices slowly increase, foreclosures fall, and release activity increases, it is not surprising that single-family permits have been increasing as well. For the period of January-November of this year, the total number of single-family permits was up 58 percent in the Greeley area and up 54 percent in the Ft. Collins area, compared to the same period last year. As shown in the graph, total single-family permits are still well down from peak levels. There have been approximately 1024 single-family permits this year in the Greeley area and 966 permits in the Ft. Collins area, through November of this year.