By Rich Laden
Colorado Springs-area home sales surged again last month, remaining on track for a record year.
A total of 1,431 single-family homes were sold in October in the Springs area, up 13 percent over the same time last year, the latest Pikes Peak Association of Realtors' market report said. Last month was the best October on record for sales, and homes sold in an average of 29 days - nine days faster than a year ago.
Through the first 10 months of the year, single-family home sales totaled 13,878 - up 7.7 percent over the same period last year, the Realtors Association report shows.
Year-to-date sales now are 1,440 shy of last year's record total of 15,318. That mark should be easy to break: the demand for homes is expected to continue as long-term interest rates hover around 4 percent and the local economy stays strong.
"Unless there's some major news that I don't know about coming from around the corner, I don't see what would cool this off," said Rick Van Wieren of Re/Max Properties in Colorado Springs. "Interest rates might trickle up a little bit, but nobody seems to think they're going to jump anytime soon. And jobs? We've got jobs."
Prices, meanwhile, continued to climb.
The median price - or midpoint - for homes sold in October rose to $280,538, or nearly 10 percent higher on a year-over-year basis, the Realtors Association report shows. Median prices have risen for 35 straight months.
"I'm still seeing strong prices, strong sales," said Debbie Howes of Re/Max Performance, the association's incoming board chairwoman.
An exceptionally low supply of homes for sale is having a ripple effect on the market, Van Wieren and Howes said.
The number of homes for sale in October was 1,939, or almost 13 percent less than the same month last year. By comparison, October listings in the years leading up to the Great Recession typically topped 3,000 and were as high as 4,000.
If more homes had been available for purchase, sales would have been even higher, Van Wieren said. The tight supply, combined with the ongoing demand, also is helping to drive up prices.
Why so few homes on the market? One big problem is potential sellers fear they won't be able to find a house to buy, Van Wieren said.
With the historically low supply of homes, competition becomes fierce. Young homeowners looking to move up to $300,000 homes and baby boomers seeking to downsize all are competing for the same houses, Van Wieren said.
Entry-level homes in the $250,000-and-under range are practically nonexistent, Howes said.
"It's scary," she said. "We do have folks who need to move in and find places to live."
Don't expect the supply problem to improve anytime soon, Howes added. As the holidays arrive, many people are too busy to sell and don't want strangers walking through their homes, she said. Sales also typically slow in the first few months of the year.
"People still will need to move," Howes said. "And people will be buying and selling, and then we'll see our inventory go back up hopefully in the March time frame."