BOULDER, Colo. –
Twenty single-family homes sold in Boulder during each of the months of January and February, marking the seventh month in a row of sales volume declines for the city, according to area real estate figures.
Compared with February 2008, the city’s sales volume declined 60 percent, according to recent statistics from the Boulder Area Realtor Association.
“That’s probably one of the slowest starts we’ve seen going into a new year in some time, but it’s obviously reflective of the market,” said Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor Association.
Hotard added the past two months are an “aberration,” and cautioned that month-over-month comparisons can be volatile.
During the 12-month period that ended on Feb. 28, home sales in the city of Boulder and the entire Boulder area were down 25 percent and nearly 16 percent, respectively, according to Camera calculations of the Realtor association’s figures.
The area’s biggest hit has been in sales volume, but not in values, Hotard said.
The median value of a single-family home in Boulder for the 12-month period that ended on Jan. 31– the most current 12-month statistics offered by the Realtor Association — was $551,375. For the month of February, the median sales price was $541,000, according to the report.
National figures released Wednesday show a somewhat rosier outlook for the rest of the country’s home sales.
The Commerce Department said sales rose 4.7 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 337,000 from an upwardly revised January figure of 322,000. Even after the revision to January’s sales results, that month remained the worst on records dating back to 1963.
Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected February sales to fall to a pace of 300,000 units.
Since the report reflects signed contracts to buy new homes rather than completed sales, it could reflect the early impact of a new a new $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers signed by President Barack Obama in mid-February.
Despite fewer homes selling in Boulder, Hotard and others in the area’s real estate community said the spring buying season is coming into bloom.
Lower interest rates, recent national home sales gains and effects from the federal stimulus package seem to be spurring activity and confidence, said Jim Bodin, owner of Bodin Realty International in Boulder.
“If you called me a couple months ago, I would’ve said, ‘Yikes.’ … But (real estate activity has) turned the corner,” he said.
Re/Max of Boulder hopes to stimulate activity in its own way, by launching a campaign noting its intentions of buying down interest rates further, said company broker/owner Tom Kalinski.
“I think people are starting to feel better about buying, especially with the lower rates,” he said.
The average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was 4.63 percent, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s March 20 report.
On Wednesday, David Sparks, 55, of Alaska, walked through a couple of new condos at The Walnut, a new development off 17th and Walnut streets. Sparks sold his construction business two years ago and wanted a place that was close to his family, a place that would be “low-maintenance.”
“With the market today, it’s better than it was three years ago,” he said.
Sparks said he is looking in the $1.5 million to $2.5 million range, a high-end market that has seen increasing softness and substantial price reductions, said Osman Parvez, owner of Silver Fern Homes in Boulder and author of a local real estate analysis blog at boulderrealty.blogspot.com.
Jumbo loans — those larger than the federally mandated caps on what some mortgage companies may buy — have been difficult for some to attain during the credit crunch, said the Realtor Association’s Hotard. However, he said he is optimistic about some movement by lenders in recent weeks to add on more high-end loan products.
Bank of America officials last week said they are looking to bring down rates on jumbo mortgages and issue more of those loans this year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.