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FAQ's About Colorado Springs Housing
Colorado Springs News and Views:
Home sales rebound in the City of Colorado Springs.
GOOD NEWS...HOME PRICES ARE ON THE REBOUND AND COLORADO SPRINGS IS LEADING THE WAY
Realtor.com just published their Monthly Housing Summary which shows that, on the national level, inventory of for-sale single family homes declined by -21.48% in March, 2012, compared to a year ago, and declined in one month in all but two of the 146 markets covered by Realtor.com.
The median age of the national inventory fell 19.82% on a year-over-year basis last month and the median national list price was up by 5.56% last month, compared to March 2011.
These positive indicators contrast with the situation at the beginning of the 2011 home buying season, when the median list price was down by 4.81% on an annual basis and the age of the inventory was up by 26.14%.
In the Realtor.com report, Colorado Springs comes in at #55 out of the 146 national markets covered, which puts us in the top third of all markets. In fact, in a year-to-year comparison, our median prices were up 6.9% over last year.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said, “The recovery is happening. We have seen nine consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases. With job growth, low interest rates, bargain home prices and an improving economy, the pent-up demand is coming to market and we expect housing to be notably better this year”.
The bottom line: Realtor.com predicts that 2012 could well mark the beginning of a broad-based housing recovery.
SO, WHO’S HAPPY ABOUT THE REBOUND?
Well, it’s obvious that Sellers are very happy with the rebound in home prices. They have gone through several years of seeing the value of their homes decline. They have seen their homes stay on the market for unreasonable lengths of time while receiving offers that were unacceptably low.
Sellers are now recognizing the improved market and are beginning to demand offers that reflect the recent increase in home values and sales activity. (Just last week, we worked with a buyer who ended up having to pay full list price for a local home. …That’s a very encouraging sign for all prospective sellers.)
Colorado Springs Real Estate Services
A midyear look: Picture has brightened for local housing market
For the first time in more than five years, the Pikes Peak region’s housing market is heading in the right direction, industry members say.
Midway through 2012, the pace of home construction is way up from the same period last year, putting Colorado Springs-area builders on pace for their best year since 2007.
On the re-sale side, sales in the first half of the year rose from a similar period last year, while slumping prices have turned around and jumped each of the last several months.
And while properties continue to fall into foreclosure at historically high levels, the pace has slowed.
“Housing is just stronger,” said economist Fred Crowley of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
The return of Fort Carson troops from overseas and the lack of additional deployments have given a boost to the local economy, Crowley said. Their spending — on homes, cars and the like — has helped produce gains in employment, albeit small ones, he said.
Rising household incomes, improved consumer confidence — although it’s faltered of late — and record-low mortgage rates all have led to increased buying and building, he said.
“Thirty years and 3 1/2 percent,” said Crowley, whose wife works for a local homebuilder. “How can you not go out there and buy a house?”
The second half of the year should mean more of the same for the housing market — although there are potential problems that could slow gains or prevent greater strides forward.
Europe’s ongoing debt crisis and its possible effect on the U.S. economy, for example, could shake consumer confidence, said John Bissett, co-founder of JM Weston Homes, who will become board president of the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs in November.
“We’ll get the flu if Europe gets sick,” Bissett said.
And while jobs are being added, the area’s unemployment rate stood at 9.4 percent in May and roughly 29,000 people were without jobs.
The military remains a backbone of the local economy, as Crowley said, although an aerospace industry trade group concluded this month that looming Department of Defense spending cuts could lead to layoffs this fall at Springs defense contractors.
Despite some of those concerns, Crowley said, “there’s nothing hinting that we should go into recession again, not at this time. You ask me the same question a month from now, things might change.”
Still, Crowley said, “as long as we’re not going into recession, as long as we have the strong presence of the military... I don’t see any disruption to the growth improvement, the turnaround in housing activity that we’ve seen over the last year.”
Here’s how key sectors of the housing market are faring:
What a difference a year makes.
In June, single-family homebuilding permits — a measure of construction activity — totaled 217, a nearly two-thirds increase from the same month a year earlier, Pikes Peak Regional Building Department figures show. The permits were issued for homes to be built in Colorado Springs and El Paso County.
For the first half of 2012, permits totaled 1,025, a 51.2 percent spike over the same period a year earlier and the highest number of permits since the first half of 2007.
“There just seems to be a buzz in the air this year,” Bissett said.
Low mortgage rates, of course, are a big reason for the increase in building, Bissett said. But pent-up demand on the part of buyers who have been waiting for the economy to improve, along with a recognition by consumers that prices are starting to rise after being flat for years, also are driving their decisions to purchase a home now, he said.
“People have been sitting on the sidelines for six years now,” Bissett. “We (builders) began seeing a decline in the market six years ago.”
Aside from concerns about Europe’s debt crisis hurting consumer confidence, Bissett said he expects homebuilding in the second half of the year to continue its momentum, albeit slowly.
Many consumers seem to have the attitude that economic conditions won’t get worse, so they’re open to buying, he said. He also doesn’t expect the November election to have much effect on buyer decisions.
“We’re all hopeful that this trend is going to continue,” Bissett said of homebuilding gains, “but I also believe that we’ll see this as being a very slow and steady increase over multiple years.”
Crowley, meanwhile, doubts that homes being rebuilt after the Waldo Canyon fire will have much of an effect on this year’s building permit totals.
It will take time for homeowners to deal with their insurance agents and mortgage companies and to obtain the necessary building permits, he said. Also, home sites will have to be cleaned and utility lines — such as power and water — will have to be re-examined to make certain they’re OK before construction takes place.
“It’s got to be next year” before rebuilt homes have an effect on the housing market, Crowley said. “We might see a couple things happen in the fall, but it’s going to be a while.”
After a year of falling prices, home prices have increased for four consecutive months. June’s median price rose to $211,214, a 14.2 percent year-over-year increase, according to the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors. Not only have prices increased, but monthly medians have surpassed $200,000 after having plunged to as low as $180,000 in January 2011.
In addition to the turnaround in prices, home sales have risen in 10 out of the last 12 months. For the first six months of this year, sales are up nearly 4 percent.
The inventory of homes for sale has stayed below 4,000 for each of the past nine months, and that’s been a major reason for signs of life in the market, said Hank Poburka of The Platinum Group Realtors and incoming board chairman of the Realtors Association.
Because inventory has remained in check (monthly listings regularly exceeded 5,000 from 2006-2010), and with low mortgage rates, sellers are able to increase their asking prices, Poburka said. Not only are they getting them, but sellers whose properties are in top condition are fielding multiple offers, he said.
“This is the lowest inventory we’ve had in five years,” Poburka said. “That’s really the key to everything.”
Home prices also might be on the rise because fewer inexpensive homes are available for investors to buy and re-sell, said Tony Rose of Rose Real Estate, the Realtor Association’s current board chairman. That means higher-priced homes are being bought and sold, driving up the monthly median, Rose said.
While the local economy is still struggling, neither Poburka nor Rose see any reason the re-sale market will falter in the second half of the year.
The area’s unemployment rate remains high, Poburka acknowledged, but low inventories and mortgage rates will overcome consumer skittishness. If job growth were to take off in the area, the recent increase in prices would shift into high gear, he said.
“I just feel pretty good about our housing market being stable — as long as those inventories stay low,” he said.
For the past several years, foreclosures and short sales — homes sold at prices below what’s owed on the owners’ mortgages — have forced down prices and provided tough competition for the new home and re-sale markets.
Foreclosures remain a problem, although their numbers have eased. For the first half of 2012, the number of Springs and El Paso County properties served with foreclosure notices totaled 1,777, up 2 percent over the same period last year.
Even so, the pace of filings is down from the last few years, and El Paso County Public Trustee Tom Mowle still expects 2012’s total to fall below last year.
The nation’s foreclosure crisis of the past few years was driven, in large part, by non-traditional mortgages handed out to many homebuyers with bad credit.
Now the pool of bad mortgages and buyers with financial hardships is being exhausted, leading to fewer local properties falling into foreclosure, Crowley said. Filings this year will still top 3,000, he predicted, but they had averaged nearly 5,000 a year from 2008-2010.
Poburka said the area hasn’t seen the last of short sales and foreclosures, but he doesn’t worry that distressed properties coming back on the market will blunt the momentum of the housing market.
He expects that lenders who are putting distressed properties back on the market will do so at a measured pace; lenders don’t want to dump properties all at once for fear that they’ll inflate the supply and force down prices, Poburka said.
“They’re (lenders) being smart about this,” he said. “They’re letting them out on the market in smaller bunches.”
Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228 Twitter @richladen
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Colorado Springs, CO
There is much to do in Colorado Springs, which makes it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state of Colorado. Aside from the fact that it is only a few miles from Pikes Peak, there are many breathtaking geological formations to appreciate and explore, such as the Garden of the Gods, which is a favorite for advanced rock climbers and photographers alike. The city is located close to many fabulous recreational areas. Hiking, cycling, skiing, or golfing, when it comes to playing outside, Colorado Springs has it all and then some.
Colorado Springs is also a great place to visit if you are a history buff. The city buildings and residential areas are still much like they were 100 years ago, and the museums are plentiful and diverse. A tourist can spend weeks in Colorado Springs and still not experience everything it has to offer.
In 1858, a group of miners from Kansas founded El Paso, Colorado, which one-year later changed its name to El Dorado City. A large community was constructed and by the end of the decade, several hundred homes had been built and El Dorado City became Colorado City.
William J. Palmer, a Denver and Rio Grande Railroad tycoon, wanted to build a community that was modern and civilized. In 1871, he acquired 10,000 acres of land east of Colorado City. He called his new community Colorado Springs, originally known for a short time as Fountain Colony. Saloons and gambling houses were not welcome in Colorado Springs, and if one wanted alcohol, they had to travel to the more unruly Colorado City, or nearby Manitou Springs, to get it. In fact, the production and/or sale of alcohol was illegal in Colorado Springs until 1933, when prohibition was lifted.
Palmer’s original plan was to keep upscale Colorado Springs separate from Manitou Springs, but a road was built between the cities about one year after Colorado Springs’ first buildings were put up. . Soon after, he founded the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, a critical regional railroad. Palmer and his wife saw Colorado Springs develop into one of the most popular travel destinations in the late 1800s. The railroad companies molded the town into a vacation area, by advertising and promoting the healing mineral waters and milder climate of Colorado Springs, and the tourists came. The road between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs made it easy for them to visit both places.
Colorado Springs quickly grew into a high-class resort community complete with golf courses and polo fields. “Little London”, as Colorado Springs was soon nicknamed, attracted Europeans and easterners by the droves. Mansions lined the wide streets and towering trees were planted all through the city. Many sanatoriums, complete with giant porches, were built into the hillsides for tuberculosis patients, who moved into the area to take advantage of the climate and air quality. Because of the healthy natural scenic beauty, mineral waters, and extremely dry climate, Colorado Springs became a tourist attraction and popular recuperation destination for medical patients. In 1920 the population of Colorado Springs was 30,105, a bustling town and growing.
The flow of gold and silver ebbed as the decades passed, and Colorado City's economic fortunes faded with it; the miners and those who processed the ore left or retired. In its earliest days of 1859-1860, Colorado City was a major hub for sending mining supplies to South Park, where a major strike in the Pike's Peak Gold Rush was found. Eventually Colorado City was processing much of the gold ore at the Golden Cycle Mill using Palmer's railroads. The affluent did not stay in Colorado City but built their large houses in the undeveloped downtown area of Colorado Springs. Colorado City remained the county seat of El Paso County until 1873, when the courthouse moved to Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs continued to grow as a resort town, but by the 1940’s Fort Carson and Peterson Air Force Base were built, and the military moved in. In 1954 the United States Air Force Academy was constructed. In 1954 a new and growing Army post, an Air Force Base, and the Air Force's military academy together jump-started Colorado Springs' growth. The military boom continued and in 1963, NORAD's main facility was built in Cheyenne Mountain. This placed NORAD directly next to Colorado Springs and permanently secured the city's military presence. Military presence was further increased in 1983 with the founding of Schriever Air Force Base, a base primarily tasked with missile defense and satellite control. Fort Carson and Peterson are still growing and continue to contribute to the city's growth.
Colorado Springs has continued to grow as a tourist town. Much of the architectural design in the downtown area remains as it originally was, and most of the buildings that have been remodeled have been done so as to keep the ambiance of early Colorado Springs alive.
As with a lot of desirable cities, urban sprawl has invaded Colorado Springs, with many miles of carbon copy housing developments spreading to the east and south, as far as the eye can see. Even so, the many recreational and historical activities one can partake in, make Colorado Springs a number one tourist destination. In July 2006, Money magazine ranked Colorado Springs the best place to live in the big city category.
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