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Median home prices soared in the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado in October as the region continued to experience declining inventories and pent-up demand from economic shutdowns this year.

Data released by Information and Real Estate Services LLC, the Loveland-based multiple listing service for the region, shows strong activity throughout the region, with gains in median home prices nearing or exceeding 10% compared with October 2019.

In Boulder, the median price for single-family detached homes once again topped $1 million, at $1,047,750. That’s up 13.89% from $920,000 in October 2019 and up from $987,500 in September 2020. It marks the fifth time in 2020 that the city’s median price exceeded the million-dollar figure.

Active listings for Boulder fell to 153 in October, down 31.7% from the same period a year ago and down from 186 in September. Boulder’s monthly sales volume totaled $109.7 million in October, up 62.72% from $67.4 million a year ago.

Higher prices are being driven by declining inventories and strong demand, said Ryan Carter, president of Boulder-based 8z Real Estate.

“I think it really can be summed up in a sentence, and that is, ‘Continued high demand and low inventory,’” he said. “The demand is just outpacing the supply, as those numbers represent, which is causing upward pressure on pricing. And that is reflected in active listings being down, showing low inventory, which is causing that increase in pricing and high buyer demand. So volume is up as a cause of that.”

Boulder’s sales-trend is mirrored elsewhere in the region.

  • Fort Collins saw a 10.6% increase in median price from October 2019 to October 2020, with the median price reaching $460,000, up from $416,060 the year prior. Active listings totaled 449, down 35.6% from October 2019. Fort Collins monthly sales volume reached $182.3 million, up 66.8% from $109.3 million a year ago.
  • Greeley-Evans recorded a 10.9% increase in median price, to $340,000 in October, compared with $306,650 a year ago. Active listings numbered 222, down 22.6% from October 2019. Monthly sales volume totaled $59.8 million, up 23.7% from $48.4 million in October 2019.
  • Longmont’s median price reached $475,000, up 10.5% from $430,000 in October 2019. Active listings totaled 153, down 31.7% from the 224 active listings in October 2019. Monthly sales volume totaled $64.6 million, up 44.9% from $44.6 million during the same period a year ago.
  • The median price in Loveland-Berthoud reached $445,000 in October, up 20.2% from the $370,250 recorded in the same period in 2019. Active listings totaled 285, down 37.9% from the 459 listings in October 2019. Sales volume totaled $132 million in October, up 74.9% from $75.5 million a year ago.
  • Estes Park’s median price increased 9.8% to $549,500, from $500,500 in October 2019. Active listings numbered 84, down 31.7% from the 123 listings of October 2019. Sales volume totaled $28.8 million, up 42.5% from $20.2 million a year ago.

Carter said the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the region’s housing market in a couple of ways.

“The pandemic has played into people reevaluating what their lives look like through the filter of ‘home,’” he said.

As people work remotely from home, “A lot of buyers are making decisions about that and looking to upsize or to get into space that accommodates working from home. That’s one channel that’s driving increased demand.”

Carter said that the pandemic-related shutdown of April and May has pushed many sales to later in the year.

“That pent-up demand has really pushed forward,” he said, “so we’re seeing unusually high volume in transaction activity in October, which would normally be starting to slow down for some seasonal slowdown, but we’re not seeing that because of the pent-up demand and closures earlier in the year pushing to later in the year.

Carter said he expects some seasonal slowdown in November, December and early January. But he said the same forces are likely to be in play next year, with low inventory, strong demand and increasing prices, especially with low interest rates and rebounding unemployment.

Brandon Wells, president of The Group Inc. Real Estate based in Fort Collins, said the pandemic has demonstrated the attractiveness of Northern Colorado, especially with more people working remotely from homes.

The ability to work from home has caused some buyers from the Denver market to explore Northern Colorado as a housing alternative, he said, noting that Denver recently has been the No. 2 source of online home searches for The Group.

Additionally, he said, inventory has been low in Northern Colorado for years.

“Inventory has continuously been a problem, even going back toward the end of the Great Recession,” Wells said. “Builders really got beat up. Many were leery about getting back to development. … We were well behind, and we have been every year over the last decade. That’s really being exacerbated now in the marketplace,” he said.

Wells said an untold story in Northern Colorado has been a surge in higher-priced home sales of at least $1 million. He said that through Nov. 1, Larimer and Weld counties had already experienced 210 sales of at least $1 million, with another 50 expected to close by year’s end. That compares with 159 such sales for all of 2019, he said.

He attributed that shift to the Federal Reserve again purchasing mortgage-backed securities, thereby driving down interest rates, as well as stimulus packages passed by Congress.

“Most of these people effectively got a 20% increase in affordability with where interest rates ended up [in the low 3% range],” he said.

Wells agreed that pandemic-related closures affected sales in April and May, with demand shifting toward the fall. Additionally, he said, the normal cycle of a demand curve bracketed by the school year has been shifted, creating strong demand in months that normally would have been slower for home sales.

“We’ve never seen a September or October that we’ve seen,” he said.

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