Questions about the Denver real estate bubble that keep us up at night

Questions about the Denver real estate bubble that keep us up at night

How long will our fierce, low-inventory, deep seller’s market last? Will it slowly ramp down or will it crash overnight? Are we keeping up with new construction? These are the questions that keep real estate professionals and home buyers up at night!

How is inventory looking?

Every day I look over new homes that hit the market for our clients, a task that used to take up the length of a nice cup of coffee. Now, I can’t even finish my coffee before I run out of properties to view! Over the last seven days, there have only been 204 new listings in Denver and 411 have gone pending. Typically, we measure inventory in months, but we are just shy of 40 days of inventory — days! Denver had 318,445 households as of 2019. An average of 29 homes hit the market each day, which means that only .002% of Denver households are hitting the market each month. Things are certainly tightening up.

How are rising interest rates affecting the market?

As interest rates go up, buyers in the lowest price ranges find themselves forced out of the market. As more of a monthly payment goes toward higher interest rates and not towards purchase power, everyone is shuffled down the totem pole. This reshuffling will reduce buyer demand, but not enough to reshape inventory and get us to a balanced housing market. To significantly increase inventory levels to quell increasing prices, work must be done on the supply side of the equation.

(P.S. We’ll be keeping an eye on the 10-year treasury rate, which mortgage rates have historically been tied to. Glen Weinberg at Fairview Commercial Lending recently published a great write up on the recent inflation jump reported on this month’s CPI Index report and what that means for real estate.)

Can we turn to new construction?

This is where Denver has a severe disadvantage to other cities where “urban sprawl” is an option. Denver is locked in by other municipalities and unable to develop large tracts of land. We aren’t the only city with this problem; as a nation, home building has dropped significantly over the last decade, from an average of 26.3 million homes built per decade from 1970-2010, to only 5.8 million new homes built from 2010-2019. That’s a 77.8% change in the wrong direction! Denver needs new homes to add to the inventory to supplement existing home sales. The city can’t build out, so we have to build up. Increasing density via high- to medium-rise condominium development and finding a compromise to construction defect laws must happen.

Will the market crash?

Lending practices have been corrected since the great housing crash of 2008 and those buying homes are now generally well-qualified. As interest rates increase, I do believe things will start to slow down, but not crash. I mean, we are living through a pandemic that has rocked the world and our housing market is still going straight up! Now, we just need homes to build upwards as well.

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