Thursday, January 31, 2013

Metro Denver apartment vacancies remain scarce despite new construction

The apartment vacancy rate in the Denver metro area fell to 4.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, dropping from 5.4 percent reported during the fourth quarter of 2011. According to a report released Thursday by the Apartment Association of Metro Denver and the Colorado Division of Housing, 2012’s fourth-quarter vacancy rate was the lowest rate reported during the fourth quarter of any year since 2000. The vacancy rate was 4.7 percent during the fourth quarter of that year.

As expected, the vacancy rate increased from the third quarter to the fourth, rising from 2012's third-quarter rate of 4.3 percent, which was the lowest rate reported in any quarter since the year 2000. Seasonal factors usually result in a rising vacancy rate from the third quarter to the fourth.

For the past thirteen quarters, the vacancy rate has fallen when compared to the same quarter one year earlier. The last time the quarterly vacancy rate rose year over year was during the third quarter of 2009.
From the fourth quarter of 2011 to the same period of 2012, the vacancy rate dropped in Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas, and Jefferson counties, and in the Boulder/Broomfield area. The vacancy rate rose in Denver County during the same period as new apartment communities were completed in the county.

“The only county that showed a year-over-year increase in the vacancy rate was Denver County, where there were some vacancies in brand new communities that haven’t completed the lease-up process,” said Ron Throupe, professor of Real Estate at the Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management at the University of Denver, and the report’s author. “Most new construction is taking place in only a few of the most in-demand submarkets right now, so low vacancy rates will continue to be the norm for many neighborhoods in the short term.”

As vacancy rates moved down, the area’s average rent increased. During the fourth quarter of 2012, the average rent in metro Denver rose to $978, increasing 4.9 percent, or $46, from 2011’s fourth-quarter average rent of $932.

The average rent rose in all counties measured except Adams County, with the largest increases found in Douglas County and in the Boulder/Broomfield area where the average rents grew year over year by 8.5 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively. The county areas with the highest average rents were Douglas County and the Boulder/Broomfield area where the average rents were $1,186 and $1,103, respectively. Adams County reported the lowest average rent at $893.

Not all types of units were equally in demand.

“The average rent in efficiency apartments outpaced other types of units, rising by more than ten percent in metro Denver," said Ryan McMaken, an economist for the Colorado Division of Housing. "This suggests that people are looking for the smallest, least expensive unit they can find in many cases, and that drives up rents for the smaller units too."

2012’s fourth-quarter vacancy rates by county were Adams, 4.5 percent; Arapahoe, 5.0 percent; Boulder/Broomfield, 3.7 percent; Denver, 6.1 percent; Douglas, 4.2 percent; Jefferson, 4.2 percent.

Average rents for all counties were: Adams, $893; Arapahoe, $950; Boulder/Broomfield, $1103; Denver, $985; Douglas, $1186; and Jefferson, $941.

The Vacancy and Rent Surveys are a service provided by the Apartment Association of Metro Denver and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Division of Housing to renters and the multi-family housing industry on a quarterly basis. The Colorado Vacancy and Rent Survey reports averages and, as a result, there are often differences in rental and vacancy rates by size, location, age of building, and apartment type. The full report is available through the Apartment Association of Metro Denver at; and limited information is available online at the Division of Housing web site:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thursday Morning: Vacancy and Rent Data for Metro Denver

Tomorrow morning, we'll be posting the summary data for Metro Denver's apartment vacancy and rent information for the fourth quarter of 2012.

Check back here for new posted information.

Elevated unemployment persists in Colo. Springs, Pueblo, while rates drop below 6 percent in Ft. Collins metro

Total employment growth in Colorado in December was muted according to the Household Survey and showed some growth in the payroll totals. In Colorado, total employment in Colorado was down 108,000 from the July 2008 peak. Employment trends in various regions of the state differ, however, so this article looks at which regions of the state have the highest unemployment rates, and which regions have recovered the most in their labor markets. 

Regional employment trends can also provide us with some insights into local housing demand since, all things being equal, those areas with the most robust labor demand will also have the strongest demand for housing. This would be reflected in apartment vacancy rates and in median home price and home sales transactions, among other indicators. 

The first graph compares unemployment rates in Colorado's metro areas.

The regional unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) for December 2012 are:
Colorado Springs, 8.8%
Denver-Aurora, 7.4%
Fort Collins-Loveland, 5.9%
Grand Junction, 8.6%
Greeley, 8.4%
Pueblo, 10.5%
Statewide, 7.5%

Since mid-2009, The Fort Collins-Loveland area has consistently shown one of the lowest unemployment rates while Grand Junction and Pueblo have generally shown the highest rates. Over the past year, however, The Colorado Springs are has moved into second place behind Pueblo for the highest unemployment rate while Grand Junction has fallen again.  

The unemployment rate decreased in all metro areas except Colorado Springs and Pueblo from December 2011 to December 2012.  In Colorado Springs, the unemployment rate was flat at 8.8 percent over the period, and in Pueblo, the rate increased from 9.8 percent to 10.5 percent. In the Ft. Collins area, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.9 percent making it the only metro area to report an unemployment rate below 6 percent since 2009. 

To provide some additional context, we can look to see how far below total employment levels are below the most recent peak in employment in each region. The peak time differs in each region. For example, the labor market peaked in mid-2007 in the Colorado Springs area, but it did not peak until late 2008 in the Grand Junction area. 

The following numbers reflect how far below the most recent peak are the December 2012 employment totals: 

Colorado Springs MSA, 8.2%
Denver-Aurora MSA, 2.8%
Fort Collins-Loveland MSA, 1.2%
Grand Junction MSA, 8.5%
Greeley MSA 5.9%
Pueblo MSA, 2.4%
Statewide, 4.1%

All things being equal, the areas further below the peak have recovered the least from initial job losses. The noticeable exception is Pueblo where total employment is nearly back to peak levels, but the unemployment rate is being kept up by a growing labor force that is unable to find employment. Most other regions are experiencing very little growth in labor force, or even declines. See here for more on Pueblo. 

Grand Junction is further below peak levels than all other metros, including Colorado Springs, although both those metros have consistently well below peak levels in recent months. 

(Note: If we include the Boulder-Longmont MSA, we find that the Boulder area has consistently been among the areas with the lowest unemployment rate. In December 2012, the rate in the Boulder-Longmont area was 5.5%.)

Total payroll employment grows in Colorado by 2.3 percent, unemployment rate falls to 7.5 percent

The non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate fell from 7.7 percent during December 2011 to 7.5 percent during December 2012. According to the most recent employment data, collected through the Household Survey and released last week by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and the BLS, both the labor force and the employment total were essentially flat from December 2011 to December 2012, with the labor force rising 0.1 percent, and total employment rising 0.3 percent, year over year.

With the labor force growing slightly less than total employment, the unemployment rate dropped.

During December 2012, the labor force consisted of 2.72 million workers, while total employment was at 2.52 million employed persons.

According to the Household Survey employment totals, total employment remains approximately 108,000 employed persons below the employment peak reached during July 2008.

The first graph shows the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted):

The unemployment rate inches downward, helped along by little labor force growth and some small gains in total employment.

The second graph shows total employment. is up from levels seen during 2009 and 2010, but so far this year has grown only slightly over 2011 levels. Total labor force, on the other hand, is now back up near peak levels, but is no larger than the labor force size of mid-2008.

Total employment, according to the Household Survey, is now back at levels reported during early 2007.

The third graph shows payroll employment collected through the Establishment Survey of employment, and shows the year-over-year change in payroll employment in Colorado. While the Household Survey showed employment remaining flat year over year, rising by only 0.3 percent, the Establishment Survey shows total payroll employment growing by 2.3 percent from December 2011 to December 2012, which is a much larger gain. The Establishment survey uses a larger sample size, but does not measure employment activity among small firms.

Year-over-year growth in the Establishment Survey has usually been at or under 2 percent since the last recession, and this is generally a smaller growth rate than what was common during the last expansion from 2003-2008. 2.3 percent growth rates during November and Decamber 2012 suggestion some strengthening of the labor market, but is still not a robust growth rate.

The very large losses that occurred during 2009 and 2010 were the largest losses, by percentage, in at least 30 years. Job gains in recent years don't compare with the robust job gains seen during the boom years of the 1990s.

This jobs report suggests that Colorado continues to add jobs (especially at larger firms) but that growth is not occurring fast enough for a quick return to old peak levels.

Housing starts up in West region, multifamily starts surge 92 percent

Housing starts in the West Census region of the US, which includes Colorado, were up 5.7 percent percent from December 2011 to December 2012, counting both single-family and multi-family units. According to new housing construction and housing starts data released last week by the US Census Bureau, single-family housing starts were more or less flat in December when compared to Decembers of the previous 5 years. (Graph units in 1,000s.)

But multi-family housing starts in the West were at a six-year high for December, rising the highest December total since 2006.  

The first graph shows multifamily housing starts for the West region (units in 1,000s): 

Multifamily housing starts increased in the region by 92 percent from December 2011 to December 2012. As the graph shows, overall multifamily activity has increased substnatially since the trough of 2009, and is now at the highest level of activity since 2007. In the West region during December, there were 5,000 new multifamily units started, compared to 2,600 units during the same period of 2011. 

Single-family starts, on the other hand, showed growth that was much more restrained than multifamily growth. Nevertheless, the growth from 2011 to 2012 was substantial with single-family starts increasing 49 percent from December 2011 to December 2012. There were 7,900 new single-family starts during December, compared to 5,300 single-family starts during December of 2011. (Graph units in 1,000s.)

The third graph shows that overall starts have been up from 2011 to 2012, and that activity is generally at a 4-year high.  Starts remain below 2008 levels, however. 

This report signals continued optimism among both home builders and apartment builders. Year-over-year changes are large when compared with last year, showing that there is much improvement from the builders' perspective over the past year. Over a 5-year period, though, starts totals remain well down from peak levels. 

New home sales flat in US West region during December

New single-family home sales in the U.S. West were flat from December 2011 to December 2012, coming in at 5,000 new homes for December 2012, which was a change of zero percent from December 2011. According to a new report, released last week by the census bureau, 2012 showed growth in new home sales over 2011 overall, but December new home sales have moved little since 2008, and are generally hovering around 5,000. 

The report, which monitors sales activity for newly constructed houses, reported that in the West, new home sales were back to the lowest total recorded since January 2012, and this reflects seasonal patterns. We will have to wait until Spring 2013 to get a sense of how 2013 will shape up for new home sales. 

The first graph shows monthly new home sales totals for each month since 2003. 2012 was clearly the most active year since 2009, but remains below 2008 levels. 

For the West region: 

Comparing monthly totals, December stats show that little has happened in December over the past five years or so. December 2012's total was flat again near five-year lows.

The number of new homes for sale rose a bit, rising 6.25 percent from December 2011 to December 2012. There were 34,000 new homes for sale in the West region during December, compared to 32,000 for sale during December of 2011. Nationally, new homes for sale were flat. 

As a final note, we can also look to the new home inventory. In this case, we calculate inventory by subtracting the number of new home sales in a given month from the number of new homes for sale at the end of the previous month. We see in the graph that the inventory bottomed out in 2012.  During the past two months, however, the inventory has inched up as builders have been responding to very low inventories in existing homes for sale. The rise in inventory suggests that builders are less fearful of being left with inventory they can't sell, although inventory remains at very low levels. 

For a longer historical perspective, see here

Zillow: Home values up in all Colo. metros, most growth in metro Denver and Ft Collins metro

According to to most recent Zillow Home Values report, home values as measured by the Zillow Home Value Index,were up from December 2011 to December 2012 in all Colorado metro areas including Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins, Greeley, Grand Junction, Boulder and Pueblo metros.

Home values in the United States were up in December, increasing 5.9 percent from December 2011 to December 2012, rising to $157,400.

The year-over-year changes for Colorado metros were:

Change from December 2011 to December 2012 (in %):
Colorado statewide: +7.8
Boulder +5.3
Colo Springs +2.5
Denver metro +12.05
Ft. Collins +5.7
Grand Junct +3.0
Greeley +6.4
Pueblo +0.4

As can be seen in the graph, in recent years home values have shown the most stability and/or growth in Boulder, Fort Collins and in Denver metro, and those three metros also have the highest values.

The Zillow home values in July 2012 for each metro area are (in $s):

Colorado 212,500
Boulder 320,900
Colo Springs 186,000
Denver metro 228,600
Ft. Collins 227,400
Grand Junct.161,000
Greeley 166,100
Pueblo 101,900

Not surprisingly, Boulder has the highest home value level and Pueblo has the lowest. The largest decline in home values in recent years is seen in the Grand Junction area where home values have declined from about 220,000 to 160,000 since 2007. Price declines in other Colorado metros have been more mild as can be seen in the graph. Metro Denver, Boulder and the Ft. Collins area are all now back to, or very near to, previous peak levels

See the home price archive for comparisons with other indices.

Zillow home valuations, known as the median "Zestimate valuation" is just tone of many indices we consult, and it tends to show some of the largest growth rates. Indeed, the Zillow growth rates tend to be far above those of the FHFA and Case-Shiller indices. It is helpful as a means of comparing different metro areas.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Unemployment claims down for third year during 2012

First-time unemployment claims fell 10 percent to 9896 in Colorado during 2012. There were 11,036 new claims during the same period last year. According to the December report released last week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1,011 first-time unemployment claims during December 2012 alone, which was down 14.2 percent from the 1179 claims reported during December of last year. First-time unemployment claims have been down at year-end for the past three years, declining since 2009.

The first graph shows monthly first-time unemployment claims in Colorado, which has been slowly, declining overall since 2009:

The second graph shows year-end totals for mass layoff events and first-time unemployment claims for each year since 1996. Both mass layoffs and first-time claims peaked in 2009 when there were 188 mass layoff events and 16,424 claims. From 2011 to 2012, claims fell 10 percent and mass layoff events fell 8.7 percent.

Overall, the most recent mass layoffs data suggests that the employment situation continues to stabilize, but is still at elevated levels.  New layoffs continue to lessen, but as we've seen in the most recent employment data for Colorado, job growth continues to disappoint and total employment totals remain below 2008's peak totals.

The last graph shows year over year changes in unemployment claims in both Colorado and the US. Claims declined in both areas, dropping 10 percent in Colorado and 8 percent nationwide from 2011 to 2012. 2012 was the third year in a row of declines in both cases.

Layoffs in Colorado, such as the recent Amtel layoffs in Colorado Springs, continue to affect statewide employment. 

Initial claimant. A person who files any notice of unemployment to initiate a request either for a determination of entitlement to and eligibility for compensation, or for a  subsequent period of unemployment within a benefit year or  period of eligibility. 
Mass layoff event. Fifty or more initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits filed against an employer during a 5-week period, regardless of duration.

New hires outnumber layoffs in U.S. West for 10th month

The number of new hires in the U.S. West, which includes Colorado, rose 6.1 percent year over year from November 2011 to November 2012. Layoffs also rose, rising 5.5 percent during the same period.

According to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover report (JOLTS), released earlier this month by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the West's increase in new hires of 6.1 percent percent was larger than the nation overall which showed a smaller increase of  1.5 percent, when compared year over year. During the same period, layoffs fell 5.8 percent in the nation overall, compared to the West's increase of 5.5 percent.

The first graph shows the year-over-year change in new hires and in layoffs in the U.S. West region. There is no solid trend in either layoffs or new hires. 

In the second graph, we see the total number of new hires compared with the total number of separations, including quits, layoffs and other separations.

Note that when total hires (the blue line) are above separations (the purple bar) then a positive net number of jobs have been added to the economy. November 2012 was the tenth month in a row in which new hires have been larger than separations in the West region.  Overall, 2012 has been somewhat similar to 2011 in the relationship between separations and hires. There were 58,000 more hires than separations during November 2012, compared to 67,000 during November 2011. 

In this metric, 2012 is similar to 2011 for the West region, and does not show sizable growth in employment since the previous year. 

Note: The JOLTS employment data is tied to the Establishment Survey which does not cover small business hiring and self-employed persons.The BLS recent made some significant revisions to employment data at year-end 2011. This analysis reflects the new revised data

Monday, January 28, 2013

Pending home sales down 7 percent in US West

Pending home sales were up nationwide by 4.9 percent year over year nationwide during December, but were down by 7.0 percent in the West region of the US. According to the National Association of Realtors' pending home sales report released today, the West region was the only region to report declining year-over-year pending home sales. Pending home sales were up year over year by 6.5 percent, 11.3 percent and 8.7 percent in the Northeast, Midwest and South, respectively.

Pending home sales were also down year over year in November, dropping by 1.9 percent from November 2011 to November 2012.

See here for NAR's report.

According to NAR's press release:

Yun said shortages of available inventory are limiting sales in some areas. "Supplies of homes costing less than $100,000 are tight in much of the country, especially in the West, so first-time buyers have fewer options," he said. "We expect a seasonal rise of inventory in the spring to help, but a seller's market may be developing. Much of the West is already a seller's market for homes priced under a million dollars, but conditions are much more balanced in the Northeast."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Corelogic: November home prices increased 7.7 percent in Colorado

Corelogic's home price index for Colorado increased year over year for the tenth month in a row during November 2012, increasing to the highest growth rate seen since the beginning of the recession in 2008.

Colorado showed a 7.7 percent increase from November 2011 to November 2012. The November HPI report, released today by Corelogic, shows the national HPI rising by 7.4 percent, year over year. Over the past four months, the year-over-year change in the HPI has flattened out, but remains at a robust growth rate at or above 7 percent. Continued inventory shortages and continued population growth are likely driving continued increases. An addition, in the short term, low interest rates and loose monetary policy are likely to continue pushing up home prices as  interest rates remain at historic lows.

Annual declines were common after 2009, although the trend in declines was interrupted briefly by the homebuyer tax credits which created some annual gains in the HPI in Colorado and nationally from late 2009 to mid-2010.

See the home price archive for comparisons with other indices.

The CoreLogic HPI shows that, nationally, home prices have not increased as much as in Colorado, but have been rising to nearly match Colorado's growth rate in recent months.

In the November report, 11 states reported larger year-over-year increases than Colorado. The states with the largest increases were Arizona, Nevada and Idaho with increases of 20.9 percent, 14.2 percent, and 13.8 percent, respectively.  Six states showed declines in prices. The states with the largest declines in the home price index were Illinois and Delaware, with drops of 2.2 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively.

Job Opening: Emergency Family Assistance Association

Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA) is in search of the next Executive Director for this enduring and exceptional nonprofit organization which serves thousands of families in Boulder and Broomfield Counties.  EFAA seeks a leader who will bring to the position of Executive Director a high degree of energy, integrity and creativity as well as the analytical, organizational and personal qualities that will garner the respect and cooperation from all of its constituencies.

NAR: Existing home sales up 8.8 percent in U.S. West

The National Association of Realtors released new existing home sales data and median home price data today.

According to NAR's numbers, existing home sales in the US West region, which includes Colorado, were up 8.8 percent from December 2011 to December 2012. This is the smallest increase of the four regions measured. For example, home sales in the Midwest were up 15.5 percent during the same period.

Overall, there was growth in the region in home sales compared to last year, as can be seen in the first graph. Most of the sales growth appears to be in the Midwest and South.

NAR also released median home prices for each region. In the West region, the median home price increased 17.3 percent from December 2011 to December 2012. The median home price was $239,900 in the West region. In the metro Denver area, which has the highest metro-wide median home price, the median home price right now is in the $250,000-$260,000 range.

Nationwide, the median home price increased 11.5 percent from December 2011 to December 2012, according to NAR.

Corelogic: 17.8 percent of Colorado homes with mortgages underwater

Colorado was 28th in the nation for the percentage of its mortgages that were underwater during the second quarter of 2012. According to a report released this week by CoreLogic, 17.8 percent of homes with mortgages in Colorado had a "negative equity share."

Of the 1.15 million mortgages outstanding in Colorado, 205,000 of them were underwater, while an additional 76,500, or 6.6 percent of them, were "near" underwater.

Nationwide, 22.0 percent of loans were underwater during the first quarter and an additional 4.8 percent were nearly so.

According to the report:

Nevada had the highest percentage of mortgaged properties in negative equity at 56.9 percent, followed by Florida (42.1 percent), Arizona (38.6 percent), Georgia (35.6 percent) and Michigan (32 percent). These top five states combined account for 34 percent of the total amount of negative equity in the U.S.
Corelogic has revised its method of collecting home equity data, so comparisons with past periods should be avoided.

Revised data was provided for recent quarters, however:

Colorado Q3 - 2012  17.8%
Colorado Q2 - 2012  18.2%
Colorado Q1 - 2012  20.9%
Colorado Q4 - 2011  22.94%
Colorado Q3 - 2011  22.25%
Colorado Q2 - 2011  22.45%
Colorado Q1 - 2011  21.97%
Colorado Q4 - 2010  21.59%
Colorado Q3 - 2010  21.37%
Colorado Q2 - 2010  21.42%
Colorado Q1 - 2010  21.97%
Colorado Q4 - 2009  21.96%
Colorado Q3 - 2009  20.74%

Total percentages for mortgages with negative equity during the third quarter of this year dropped to the lowest level seen since 2009.

The third quarter's drop in the proportion of mortgages that are underwater would seem to correspond to the acceleration in home prices that has occurred in Colorado during recent months. As home prices rise, more homes rise out of negative equity territory. This will contribute toward a decline in foreclosure totals as well, although new economic disruptions, such as another global recession, could reverse the trend.

New Western Slope Asset Manager at the Division of Housing

The Department of Local Affairs, Division of Housing (DOH) is pleased to announce Kathryn Grosscup as its new Asset Manager for the western slope serving the following counties: Archuleta, Delta, Dolores, Eagle, Garfield, Gunnison, Hinsdale, La Plata, Mesa, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, Routt, San Juan, San Miguel, Grand, Summit and Jackson. DOH is excited to have its first member of its Asset Management team living on the western slope. Kathryn’s office will be located in Glenwood Springs. In her new role, she will manage DOH contracts, provide technical assistance to grantees and review compliance for affordable housing projects and programs on the western slope.

Kathryn has over eleven years of experience working with federal, state and local programs focused on affordable housing. She was a Presidential Management Fellow and worked at the HUD Denver regional office for five years, primarily in the Office of Public Housing. Following a relocation to the western slope, Kathryn worked for the Garfield County Housing Authority for six years with local community housing programs.

Kathryn has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Colorado College and a Master’s degree in International Administration from the University of Denver. She is a Colorado native and resides in Glenwood Springs. Kathryn can be contacted at or 970.640.7576.

2013 technical update from USDOE

Register Now for the 2013 Technical Update Meeting

Join the U.S. Department of Energy's Building America program at the 2013 Technical Update Meeting scheduled for April 29–30, 2013, in Denver, Colorado. This meeting will showcase Building America's world-class building science expertise for high performance homes, presented in a dynamic format of expert presentations, panel discussions, and audience participation. This meeting is free and open to the public.Space is limited, so please register as soon as possible!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Housing News Digest, January 24

$30M development planned for downtown Trinidad Phil Long Dealerships CEO Jay Cimino is spearheading a $30 million development near downtown Trinidad that will include a classic car museum, brew pub, baseball training center, hotel, movie theater and shopping center that he believes will bring tourists to the area.

  Weingarten Realty Sells Two Shopping Centers in Colorado Springs for $31.5M Two shopping centers in Colorado Springs have been sold by Houston-based Weingarten Realty for $31.5 million. The Gazette reports limited companies formed by Columbia, Mo.-based The Kroenke Group recently acquired the Uintah Gardens and Academy Place. Located in Colorado Springs’ west side at 19th and Uintah streets, the 215,000-square-foot Uintah Gardens was built in 1974 and is anchored by a King Soopers grocery, with other tenants including Walgreens, Big 5 Sporting Goods and Petco.

  Winter heat: Residential real-estate market up After years of limp sales and drooping home prices, Colorado Springs residential Realtors say they’re looking forward to a bullish 2013. The Pikes Peak Association of Realtors reported almost 9 percent more home sales in the last quarter of 2012 than in 2011. On top of that, the average sales price climbed nearly 10 percent year-over-year from $216,817 in the last three months of 2011 to $238,337 in 2012. Home inventory is also the lowest it has been since 2001. There were only 2,954 homes listed for sale in Colorado Springs in December, 10 percent fewer than at the same time in 2011, according to a report from the Peak Dream team with RE/MAX Properties Inc.

Colorado College Towns Rebuff Housing Slump Reports Ashford Real Estate Colorado Springs The college towns of Colorado towns have been able to stay strong during the nation's real estate collapse. Home values among those areas were able to hang in, avoiding dramatic drops that many around the nation felt. Only home sales took a dive, and even that statistic is now improving. There were 752 total sold in Boulder between November of 2011 and the end of 2012's October. The 23% increase was welcome news compared to the same period prior, according to the Boulder Area Realtor Association, in their Wednesday release. SBWire (

  Outsiders and infighters add to housing drama Pam Simon, the Authority's asset management supervisor, says she always follows up on police calls to Authority buildings. "Sometimes we found out that some of these assaults, it could have been out in the parking lot," she says. "It could have been two [people] that were not related to the building at all that were walking by." Simon notes that private apartment complexes often deal with similar problems. (Indeed, a check of four private complexes located within the vicinity of an Authority senior building revealed one with an impressive rap sheet.)

MPF Research: Denver-Boulder rents up 5.9 percent

According to MPF:

Rents were up for the third consecutive year in 2012 and are forecasted to rise again this year, according to MPF Research. Apartments rents increased 3 percent in 2012, a slower pace than in 2011 where rents rose 4.8 percent. The historical norm for the past two decades in rental increases is 2.5 percent per year.According to MPF, many property owners weren’t as aggressive in asking for higher rents in 2012 as they were in recent years. 

Radar Logic: It's Still Too Early to Call a Housing Recovery

I have not read Radar Logic's full report, so I cannot say how their data applies to local markets. But in their statement for the November report, Radar Logic does make a few statements are are worth of consideration for future analysis.


 1. 2011 was a very poor year for sales and prices, so 2012 increases over 2011 reflect a very low base to start from.

2. "[T]he year-on-year increase in broad-based housing price indices has been largely driven by a shift in the composition of sales rather than appreciation in the value of individual properties."

3. "We believe this shift in sales mix has been driven by institutional investors seeking to build large portfolios of rental properties."

Here's their release:
It has been widely reported that housing price metrics have increased considerably over the last year, but we believe the public discussion has missed a critical point. While the 25-MSA RPX Composite price has increased considerably over the last year (9.2 percent as of November 21) this gain must be viewed in the context of unseasonable weakness during the second half of 2011.

NAHB Forecasts Continued Improvement in 55+ Housing Market

Some interesting projections from NAHB:

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 23 - The segment of the housing industry that caters to those home buyers and renters who are 55+ years old will continue to improve in 2013, according to industry experts at a press conference held today at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builders' Show in Las Vegas. This trend is expected to continue as the share of U.S. households age 55+ will increase significantly through 2020.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Housing News Digest, January 17

Recovery of commerical real estate in Colorado Springs remains elusive COLORADO SPRINGS —Colorado Springs' housing market rebounded in 2012, but the same can't be said for commercial real estate. Vacancy rates remained historically high late last year for Springs-area commercial buildings, while rents fell, according to a fourth-quarter report by Paul Turner of Turner Commercial Research in Colorado Springs. The report suggests the commercial market has far to go before it recovers from the area's economic downturn. The combined vacancy rate for local offices, shopping centers and industrial buildings was 11.9 percent in the fourth quarter, up slightly from 11.6 percent a yearearlier, Turner's report shows.

  $230 million Schwab campus part of emerging trend Charles Schwab plans to build a 950,000-square-foot, $230 million campus in the 3,500-acre RidgeGate community in Lone Tree, officials announced on Wednesday. Coventry Development Corp.— the developer of RidgeGate, which has long heralded its community as providing urban-like features such as being walkable in a suburban setting — considers Schwab’s announcement the latest in an emerging trend of large corporations embedding themselves within mixed-use master-planned communities.

  Candelas construction under way with housing options New homes — and much more in the coming years — are starting to pop up in west Arvada. The homes are part of the Candelas residential and commercial development. Candelas is at Indiana Street and Candelas Parkway, just north of Coal Creek Canyon Road. The proposed Jefferson Parkway would run generally southeast of the residential area. The residential portion of Candelas is being developed by Terra Causa Capital and GF Properties Group.

  Colorado's 'best performing cities' ranked Denver ranks 30th out of 200 large metro areas on a new list of the nation's "best-performing cities" from the Milken Institute, released Thursday. The Denver-Aurora-Broomfield metro area improved in the new 2012 ranking by the nonprofit economic think tank from 44th in 2011, 63rd in 2010 and 55th in 2009.

  Affordable housing open house coming up Fort Collins is moving forward with plans to encourage more affordable housing. The city has scheduled an open house next week to review and invite comment on a draft affordable housing strategy plan. The draft addresses ways to preserve existing affordable housing, with an emphasis on mobile home parks. It also addresses potential changes to the city’s and property owners’ responsibilities to residents when redevelopment projects cause the displacement of people from mobile home parks.

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. 

Broomfield, Arapahoe, and Denver counties lead state in multifamily permits

Year-to-date through November of 2012, 89 percent of all new multifamily permits issued have been issued in Arapahoe, Denver, Broomfield, Larimer, El Paso and Douglas counties. 47 percent were issued in Denver county alone.

According to new county-by-county multifamily permit data for Colorado, 8,099 multifamily permits have been issued from January through November of 2012.* 7,247 of them, or 89 percent, were issued in Arapahoe, Denver, Broomfield, Larimer, El Paso and Douglas counties. There were 3,885 permits issued in Denver County alone, during the same period.

Recent multifamily permit data shows that new permit activity is largely confined to counties that have recently showed either stronger job growth, such as Larimer County, or overall higher incomes, as in Douglas County.

El Paso county, which has a relatively high unemployment rate, is nevertheless experiencing a fair amount of multifamily construction following a long period of very low levels of multifamily construction. However, this year, Douglas County, which has fewer than half as many households, has issued about the same number of multifamily permits as El Paso County.

Downtown Denver and the northwest corridor of the metro area, which includes Broomfield, have reported significant rent growth in recent years, and developers appear to be capitalizing on high demand in those markets.

Total multifamily permits issued, Jan-November 2012
Adams 220
Arapahoe 742
Boulder 349
Broomfield 742
Denver 3,885
Douglas 590
El Paso 597
Jefferson 150
Larimer 691
Mesa 7
Pueblo 92
Weld 34

With so little demand for new condominiums right now, it is safe to assume that the lopsided majority of new multifamily permits being issued are for rental housing. The apartment vacancy rates in Colorado continued to decline into the third quarter, and this will lead to sustained demand for additional construction.

Change since 2011

Many counties have reported much more activity this year than last year. There was no multifamily permitting from January to November of last year in Adams, Broomfield, Pueblo and Weld Counties, while there was far more activity this year in all those counties.

From January-November 2011 to the same period this year, multifam permit activity increased 294 percent in Arapahoe County, 238 percent in Boulder County, 181 percent in Denver County,  395 percent in Douglas County,  and 49 percent in Larimer County.

Declines in permitting: Permitting over the period declined 70 percent in Jefferson County, 9 percent in El Paso County, and 89 percent in Mesa County.

*These totals do not add up to the totals found in the statewide estimates due to a difference in methods used to produce estimates.

Singlefam permits pick up steam in Douglas, El Paso, Weld and Larimer Counties

Of the 9,979 new single-family permits issued during the first eleven months of 2012, more than one-third of them (37 percent) were issued in El Paso and Douglas counties alone. According to new single-family November permit data by county, released by the Census Bureau, the counties with the largest numbers of single-family permits issued during the first eleven months of 2012 were El Paso, Douglas, and Larimer, Weld and Denver counties. El Paso County reported more single-family permits than any other county with 2,208 permits.

See here for recent posts about building permits.

New single-family permits during January-November 2012
El Paso 2,208
Douglas 1,571
Larimer  1,039

Adams 652
Arapahoe 881
Boulder 252
Broomfield 114
Chaffee 77
Denver 990
Elbert 43
Jefferson 742
Mesa 323
Park 69
Pueblo 161
Routt 48
Teller 35
Weld 955

(Note: All permits discussed in this article are single-family permits.)

However, when permit totals are adjusted to the number of existing housing units in each county, the counties with the largest amounts of permit activity were Douglas, Weld and Chaffee counties.These three counties have reported the highest permitting rate for several months.

New single-family permits per household (x1,000):

Douglas 15.0
Chaffee 10.4
Weld 10.0
Park 9.6
El Paso 9.1
Larimer 8.4
Mesa 5.5
Elbert 5.1
Broomfield 5.1
Routt 4.9
Adams 4.1
Arapahoe 3.8
Denver 3.6
Teller 3.5
Jefferson 3.3
Pueblo 2.5
Boulder 2.0

During the first eleven months of 2012, the metro counties with few new single-family permits relative to the size of the existing stock are Pueblo, Jefferson, Denver, and Boulder counties.

It is also helpful to see which counties have shown the largest increases and decreases in permit activity. In the list below, we see that comparing January-November 2011 to January-November 2012, several metro counties reported year-over-year increases of 50 percent or more. No metro counties reported decreases, unless you count Teller County as part of the Colorado Springs metro area. In Teller, SF permitting dropped 5.4 percent from 2011 to 2012 for the period of January-November.

Largest increases among metro counties:

Douglas 76 percent
Jefferson 80 percent
Larimer 61 percent
Weld 56 percent
Arapahoe 57 percent

Smallest increases among metro counties:

Mesa 20 percent
Adams 33 percent
Boulder 40 percent

El Paso 49 percent
Denver 53 percent
Pueblo 46 percent

Multifamily permits surge again during November 2012

Through November 2012 in Colorado this year, building permits issued for multifamily construction were up 101 percent, year over year, while permits issued for single-family construction were up 42.1 percent for the same period. 

During November 2012 alone,  930 multifamily permits were issued in Colorado, and 1,079 single-family permits were issued. 

During November 2011, there were 186 multi-family permits issued, and 724 single-family permits issued. The first graph shows permit activity for the first eleven months of the year since 1999. Through November of this year, there have been 12,352 single-family permits and 7,104 multifamily permits issued.

For November alone, multifamily permits are up 400 percent and single-family permits are up 49 percent, compared to November 2011.

The first graph shows cumulative totals from January through November of each year:

The second graph shows that multifamily permits dropped off significantly in September and October following several months of robust growth, but bounced back in November. MF family permitting tends to show big changes throughout the year, but the 2012 trend is clearly one of growth over 2011.  Single-family permits, however, tend to have a more reliable seasonal pattern. Single-family permits were fairly resilient for a November total and continue to show growth over recent years' activity. 

During November 2012, the number of new multifamily permits was still down from August's very high total, although the November total was up considerably from the November totals from 2009 and 2010. 

Single-family permits for November were at a five-year high and were inching back toward the levels seen during 2007.  

In this report, single-family permitting has behaved as expected, showing slow ongoing growth. Multifamily has doubled over 2011. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Statewide 'Housing Snapshot' now available

The statewide Housing Snapshot is now available. The statewide snapshot is a brief look at recent trends in employment, rental housing, home prices, and permits.

Click here for the latest issue.

Housing News Digest, January 10

Local home sales post best year since 2007 Increased single-family home sales and rising prices last month capped off the best performance for the Colorado Springs-area re-sale market in five years, a Pikes Peak Association of Realtors report shows. Home sales totaled 702 in December, a 7.8 percent increase over the same month last year, the association’s report showed. For all of 2012, sales totaled 9,146 — the most since 9,995 in 2007

  Douglas County housing director takes Peace Corps post And when Bonnie Osborn assumes her duties in Southeast Asia as a Peace Corps volunteer, she will do so with the hope that she can make a difference in the world and the awareness that she'll never be the same again. Osborn came to Douglas County in 2008 as the executive director of the Douglas County Housing Partnership, following her six-year stint as executive director of the Summit County Housing Authority.

  Suthers: Hotline necessary to decrease number of Colorado foreclosures Since its inception in 2006, more than 165,000 calls were logged by the Colorado foreclosure hotline — a resource for helping Colorado homeowners avoid foreclosure. And Thursday, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said that the work of the hotline is more important than ever "if we plan to continue the trajectory of decreasing the rate of Colorado foreclosures and educating homeowners about their options early in the foreclosure process.

  Plenty of Positives in Northern Colorado Economic Forecast Many of the findings will be presented at their annual economic forecast Thursday. A team of reporters consulted with experts in eight main industries: Real estate, health care, banking, tourism, technology, agribusiness, renewable energy, and oil and gas. For the most part the outlook for the coming year is positive, says NCBR publisher Jeff Nuttall -- depending on the field.

  Woodland Park awakens from development slumber The earth is moving in Woodland Park — and it feels good. Construction crews are working on the west end of town, erecting two new stores — O’Reilly Auto Parts and Family Dollar — near the Country Lodge. Central Woodland Park is seeing the first phase of a downtown makeover with Woodland Hardware and Rental breaking ground this month. And crews farther west are nearly half-complete on a massive Bible school campus expected to attract 1,000 students

Pueblo Snapshot: Single-family housing and foreclosures

The Pueblo area has shown a less robust market in homeownership and home sales than the metro Denver area, and the state overall, in recent years. Home prices, foreclosures, and releases of deeds of trust, while suggesting recent increases in demand for purchase housing, also show that the region is behind the metro Denver area in home price growth and other variables.

Pueblo home prices were down year over year during the third quarter of 2012, and have been down year over year in every quarter since the fourth quarter of 2010.

The first graph shows the FHFA's home price  index for both Pueblo and the metro Denver area. According to the index, home prices in the Pueblo area are still heading down , and the overall trend has been downward since the second quarter of 2007.

The second graph shows the year-over-year change in the index. While the home price index has increased year over year for the past three quarters in metro Denver, they have continued to move down in Pueblo.  The index decreased 1.4 percent, year over year, in the Pueblo area during the third quarter. During the same period, the home price index increased 2.8 percent in metro Denver. However, the third quarter's decline in the home price index for Pueblo was one of the smallest declines reported since 2007. 

The third graph shows foreclosure auction sales in Pueblo County and in all metro counties combined. Auction sales are the step in the foreclosure process when the home is sold off to investors or back to the bank. Since 2010, the combined total has declined significantly, but the Pueblo trend has generally been flat. For 2012, foreclosure sales have varied substantially from month to month, but do not show a significant decline from 2011.  For the first 11 months of 2012, there were 736 foreclosure sales in Pueblo county, which was an increase of 2.9 percent over the 715 that occurred during the same period of 2011. 

The fourth graph shows new foreclosure filings for both the combined metro total and Pueblo County. Foreclosure filings are the first step of the foreclosure process and are an indicator of future foreclosure auction sales activity. Since 2009, foreclosure filings 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 year over year by 6.5 percent in  the combined metro total, compared to the same period last year. Filings were down by 5.1 percent over the same period in Pueblo County. 

The fifth graph shows new releases of deeds of trust in Colorado and in Pueblo County. Since 2000, Pueblo County has shown less release activity than the state overall. (Releases occur when a mortgage loan is paid off, and is an indicator of refi and home sales activity.) Overall release activity has not grown nearly as much in Pueblo as in the state overall over the past decade. As the index shows, both the state and Pueblo county were still below year 2000 totals as of 2011, although by year's end, the statewide total may return to 2000 levels. There were During 2000, there were 12,934 releases of deeds of trust in Pueblo County, and there were 2,686 during 2012, up through September. by the end of the year, 2012 will likely exceed 2011 totals, but still be well below 2000 levels. 

And if we look at release activity since 2008, We find that Pueblo County has not experienced as much release activity as the state overall. In other words, since 2008, Pueblo County has not seen as much refi and home sales activity as the state overall. Growth in release activity in Pueblo county has consistently been below statewide levels since 2009, and Pueblo releases have not returned to 2008 levels although statewide releases exceeded 2008 levels during the first and third quarters of this year. There were 2,265 releases in Pueblo county during the first quarter of 2008, and there were 1,676 during the third quarter of this year. 

Although home prices and foreclosures appear to have stalled in the Pueblo region, single-family unit production nevertheless is showing some signs of growth. From November 2011 to November 2012, single-family permits increased 82 percent, although the numbers were very small. There were 14 single-family permits issued for single-family units during November 2012. As the graph shows, single-family permits obviously remain down well below peak levels. Specifically, they were still down 88 percent from peak levels during November.