Interest rates today are at a near 15-year high, casting downward pressure on purchasing power and a psychologically gloomy effect on homebuyers across the nation. But take heart, the traditionally best season to buy a house – fall – offers upsides worth exploring.
Okay, let’s get the downsides out of the way. According to Realtor.com, headwinds are strong, including high interest rates, inflation and “overall economic volatility not seen since the Great Recession in 2008.”
Yet, “early fall is usually the best time to buy,” says Realtor.com economist Jiayi Xu. Traditionally, fall has fewer buyers in the market, upping the choices of homes and lowering the competition among homebuyers.
Four key indicators are impacting the fall housing market nationwide – interest rates, home prices, number of homes for sale and time on market. Right out of the gate, two strong forces are at work: higher mortgage rates and home prices.
The national home price median as of October 8, 2022 is $427,000 and prices rose 13.3% compared to the same week in 2021, reports Realtor.com. Double-digit price growth marked its 41st straight week – representing almost 80% of the year. Boulder County median sales prices increased over last year as of September 2022 in all Boulder County metros, ranging from a rise of 38% in Niwot to 1.9% in the plains area, according to statistics from the Boulder-Longmont Realtors trade association (BOLO Realtors).
Compounding the financial impact of double-digit price growth, mortgage rates doubled this year from around 3% to 6%-plus, according to Freddie Mac.
But housing markets typically seek “balance,” and this year is no different. As mortgage rates increase, skyrocketing price growth has begun to recede. “The pace of year-over-year growth has remained slow,” says Xu. Additionally, time on market is rising in some areas – with a nationwide increase of seven days compared with a year earlier. As a result, the long-pressured housing inventory is seeing signs of relief. Realtor.com notes a “wider selection of homes on the market” with nationwide inventory up 31% over last year.
Boulder County days on market through September 2022 compared to the same period in 2021 shows a mixed picture. Single-family homes spent fewer days for sale except in five locations. Erie, Lafayette, Lyons, and Superior showed an increase of 11%, 3%, 14%, and 9% respectively, while Louisville’s increase is significantly higher at 42%, reports BOLO Realtors. In other areas, homes are spending fewer days for sale, signs of a still active buyer’s market.
The nationwide signs point toward a “rebalancing” of the market — which many view as a positive, healthy sign for the housing market.
What does a balanced market mean? Since the COVID-19 pandemic restricted our lives to our homes, housing prices across the nation have soared. And in Boulder County the effect was amplified, since home prices were already on a hot rise, even before the pandemic.
Balancing the market levels the playing field with homes staying on the market for a longer period of time, putting “buyers and sellers on a more even footing,” expresses Realtor.com.
“As both buyers and sellers adjust to the rebalancing market, expectations shift, reducing the sense of urgency in the market and reinforcing the trend toward longer sale timelines,” says Xu.
In addition to current economic factors, some point to an as-yet recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Reporting on the national housing market, Realtor.com writes, “Today’s inventory level may be 30% higher than a year ago, but it still falls 40% short of the housing stock available in 2019.
The housing market continues to be challenging for home buyers and sellers alike, especially in Boulder County where price increase and low inventory exceed national averages. Experts suggest patience and a knowledgeable Realtor help navigate these unprecedented market challenges.
Tom Kalinski is the broker/owner of RE/MAX of Boulder, the local residential real estate company he established in 1977. He was inducted into Boulder County’s Business Hall of Fame in 2016 and has a 40-year background in commercial and residential real estate. For questions, email Tom at [email protected], call 303.441.5620, or visit boulderco.com.