Is the Housing Frenzy Over? | Guest Post

Months of Inventory for May landed at 0.67 percent or 20 days. A balanced market, when supply equals demand, is defined by six months of inventory. Yet, on the street, real estate agents and buyers “feel” like we are headed towards a balanced market.
Nicole Rueth

Months of Inventory for May landed at 0.67 percent or 20 days. A balanced market, when supply equals demand, is defined by six months of inventory. Yet, on the street, real estate agents and buyers “feel” like we are headed towards a balanced market. Close-to-list price came in at 105.33 percent, telling us buyers are still paying more than asking on average. If you look at over $1 million homes, those went for 107.12 percent close-to-list, and median days on market was still a hot four days.

Yet some listings had few to no showings their first weekend on market, and the median closed price dropped 0.24 percent. 197 more homes sold, and 631 more homes went under contract than last month, while 72 fewer homes came on the market to choose from.

Given these numbers, it’s obvious that the active listings count pulled on the last day of May, a Tuesday, would jump 14 percent from last month and 76 percent from last year, giving buyers 3,652 homes to choose from. Right?

Buyer demand, as measured by the United States MBA Purchase Index, dropped 12.3 percent during the month of May. Per the Mortgage News Daily survey, mortgage purchase applications softened as interest rates hit an average of 5.62 percent for a 30-year fixed mortgage on May 7th. Application numbers remained muted even while rates dropped 0.5 percent during the second half of May. With all the graduations and holidays, did buyers not notice?

Buyers and sellers alike are trying to figure out how to time this market. A market in transition is sending mixed messages. Inventory is still painfully low. Closing 5,445 units last month means we need 32,670 homes for sale for a balanced market, an unrealistic number given Denver’s propensity for being a seller’s market. I’d be thrilled with even the 10,527 average active listings we’ve seen in May from 2008 through 2022. There is a third of that today, but rising inventory will be the tell-tale sign of an easing market. We would expect to see rising inventory, given a consumer inflation of 8.3 percent and mortgage rates above 5 percent, which should cool buyer demand.

Mortgage rates are expected to stay above 5 percent through 2022 as the Federal Reserve kicks off quantitative tightening on the first of June and plans on raising the Fed Rate 0.5 percent in June and again in July. We will know more as the Fed releases their Dot Plot Map at their June meeting, giving us clues as to where they see the Fed Rate going for the rest of 2022 as well as 2023 and 2024. Many economists expect rates to stay where they are or even go a little higher as inflation continues to prove less transitory and is weighted more on longer-lasting wages, housing, and the geopolitical events happening around us. These higher borrowing rates, on top of our 18.42 percent year-to-date higher median closed prices, could and should yield us longer days on market, higher active inventory counts and softer month-over-month price growth as buyers become more discerning and slower to pull the trigger.

Sellers will need to adjust their strategies to continue to attract more buyers. 8.3 percent of closed transactions this May reduced their asking price prior to receiving an offer. This compares to 6.9 percent in May of 2021. Those properties that reduced their price spent a painful average of 28.4 days in the MLS compared to 7 days for those with no price reductions. Sellers with homes on busy streets, odd layouts or deferred maintenance might have missed their winning opportunity. For the rest of sellers, pricing right and staging well will continue to reap rewards given our current months of inventory and close-to-list price because buyers are still buying and willing to pay a premium.

Despite consumer confidence dipping 2.2 points, retail sales are up 0.9 percent month-over-month and 8.2 percent year-over-year. Luxury sales, travel and housing are all winners in the eyes of today’s buyers. As the number one hedge against inflation, housing will continue to remain strong even as we move inches towards a balanced market. While the wealthy are spending $195 million on Andy Warhol prints of Marilyn Monroe and $143 million for a 1955 vintage Mercedes Benz as hedges, the rest of us can count on a good home growing at a good pace and providing stability and financial security as our hedge against inflation.

Until next time, that’s a wrap for this month’s Market Trends update. It’s my pleasure to keep you updated,

Nicole Rueth of The Rueth Team of Fairway Mortgage


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