DENVER – January 20, 2015 –REcolorado, Colorado’s largest MLS and the provider of REcolorado.com, today released its 2014 Annual Report on the Denver Area Housing Market. The report includes 2014 data from REcolorado’s 16,000 members who operate throughout the Denver Metro and surrounding area.
In 2014, job growth and low mortgage rates encouraged consumers to enter the housing market, fueling strong sales. Sales volume increased from previous years’ levels with many Denver area communities seeing double-digit gains. A very active condo-townhouse market was a contributing factor, with strong gains in most measurements. Tight inventory levels and strong demand drove average and median sales price increases throughout the region.
“With average sales prices reaching all-time highs and inventory levels dropping to levels lower than we’ve seen in a decade, 2014 was a record-breaking year for the Denver area housing market,” said Kirby Slunaker, president and CEO of REcolorado. “The 2015 housing market will undoubtedly benefit from a continuation of historically-low mortgage rates and strong growth in the Denver Metro area. With a little more inventory, we could see a terrific home buying season.”
Interest rates stayed lower than expected, helping to fuel buyer activity. In general, sales moved away from the lower-priced and distressed properties, toward upper-end and traditional sales.
“We enjoyed strong sales in 2014 as consumers became more confident in the job market, the housing market, and the economy in general,” said Jan Reinhardt, REALTOR® with RE/MAX Alliance. “I anticipate we will see continued strong sales in 2015, as consumers feel increasingly confident in their ability to purchase a new home.”
For the fourth consecutive year, Denver area single family home sales were up. In 2014, a total of 56,407 homes sold, one percent more than 2013 and a 93 percent increase from just four years ago. The highest sales volume occurred in June, with 5,854 sold listings.
Many Denver Metro areas saw impressive gains in the number of sold listings:
- Bennett (E. Arapahoe & Adams): +19%
- Castle Pines +11%
- Englewood +21%
- Franktown +12%
- Henderson +254%
- Idaho Springs +32%
- Larkspur + 13%
- Lochbuie: +14%
- Pine +36%
- Wheat Ridge +12%
Following the national trend, Denver area foreclosure and short sale activity continued to decrease from peak levels seen in 2011. Just three years ago, lender-mediated properties (properties in foreclosure, short sales, HUD or bank owned) accounted for approximately one-third of all sales. In 2014, 4.8 percent of sales were lender mediated, a 57.3 percent decrease compared to 2013.
Prices experienced another year of gains in 2014. Overall median sales price rose 8.2 percent to $274,900 for the year. Average sales price also rose in 2014, reaching an all-time high of $324,282.
“There was a nice increase in home values in 2014, a welcome sign for those who have been waiting to achieve positive equity,” said Cheri Long, REALTOR®, MB-Priority Properties, Inc. “With interest rates remaining low and inventory levels increasing, I expect an early start to an active 2015 selling season.”
The areas with the greatest year-over-year increase in median sold price include:
- Arvada +10%
- Aurora +13%
- Bailey +12%
- Brighton +11%
- Broomfield +15%
- Centennial +12%
- Cherry Hills Village +26%
- Commerce City+17%
- Conifer +10%
- Lafayette +34%
- Lochbuie +20%
- Lone Tree +20%
- Morrison +18%
- Northglen +12:
- Wheat Ridge +15%
The price range with the most sold listings was $200,000 to $300,000. The price range with the strongest one-year change in sold listings was $300,001 to $500,000, which had a 15.9 percent increase in sales.
Homes in the $500,000 to $1 million and higher price range saw prices and sales volume rise for the third consecutive year.
“Increases in sales volume, prices, and demand, contributed to a very positive luxury home market in 2014,” said Peter Niederman, CEO of Kentwood Real Estate. “With Denver and its unique neighborhoods becoming some of the nation’s most sought-after areas to live, all signs are pointing to a very strong 2015. “
Following an active summer selling season, inventory levels dropped throughout the fourth quarter of 2014. Weeks of inventory began the year at an 11 week supply, hovered around eight weeks throughout the summer selling season, and ended the year at a record low six-week supply. Homes spent an average of 35 days on the market, 13 days less than the 2013 average, with homes in the $150,000 to $300,000 price range selling the quickest.
The year ended with 5,352 active listings on the market, less than half the number seen at 2011 year end, and lower than we’ve seen in over a decade.
In 2014, a total of 65,714 new listings came on the market, slightly lower than what we’ve seen in the Denver area in previous years.
“Although inventory levels were low in 2014, we saw a steady stream of new listings coming on the market as higher prices encouraged more homeowners to sell,” said Jo Pellegrino-Ellis, REALTOR® with RE/MAX Professionals. “With construction of new homes picking up, interest rates remaining low, and more home owners in positive equity situations, I’m optimistic we will see more inventory in 2015, bringing more opportunities for buyers.”
Single Family Detached
In 2014 there was less inventory in the Denver area single family attached market. A total of 48,803 new listings came on the market in 2014, an 8.4 percent decrease compared to 2013. As a result, the number of sold listings was 41,363, down 6.6 percent compared to last year.
Single family detached sold prices saw welcome gains. Compared to last year, median sales price was up 10.9 percent to $350,000, and average sales price was up 8.3 percent to $360,335.
Condo-Townhome/Single Family Attached
The condo market saw gains in most areas in 2014. The number of sold listings totaled 15,044, up 31.5 percent compared to last year. The number of new condos-townhomes that came on the market was 16,910, up 24.5 percent compared to 2013. Prices were up as well. The average sold price was $225,157, up 13.7 percent and the median sales price was up 13.1 percent to $181,000.percent to $350,000, and average sales price was up 8.3 percent to $360,335.
According to Justin Knoll, president of Madison and Company Properties, “The condo market had a banner year in 2014. After several years in a down cycle, we saw a great deal of activity from first-time home buyers, investors, and those looking to downsize or find a second home in the city. Because condos offer opportunities for a variety of groups and price ranges, I expect 2015 to be another strong year.”
REcolorado is the largest multiple listing service (MLS) in Colorado, supporting the largest network of REALTORS® with the most comprehensive database of real property listings throughout the state. Consumers know REcolorado.com as Colorado’s most comprehensive and up-to-date home search tool. Powered by 16,000 real estate professionals, REcolroado.com is updated every 15 minutes to deliver the most accurate listings of homes for sale in Colorado. Additionally, REcolorado.com offers consumers mortgage resources, information about Colorado neighborhoods and cities, sold listings, open houses, and a comprehensive database of real estate professionals.
For more information, visit www.REcolorado.com
WASHINGTON — Can you be charged interest on your mortgage even after you’ve fully paid it off? Can the meter keep running when you owe the bank nothing — your principal balance is zero?
Surprise! Much to the chagrin of large numbers of home sellers and refinancers, the answer for years has been yes. If your loan was insured by the Federal Housing Administration and you paid it off before maturity, at closing you’d be expected to cough up a full month’s interest, no matter what day of the month you actually settled.
Even if you closed on March 2, for instance, you’d be charged interest by your loan servicer through March 31, potentially adding hundreds of dollars to your costs in the transaction. The FHA’s practice has been unique among major players in the housing finance marketplace. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Department of Veterans Affairs all require interest to be collected only to the day of principal payoff. After that, the meter stops.
But change is on the horizon. Thanks to a regulatory mandate from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the FHA has agreed to end its controversial full-month interest policy, but only for future borrowers. The FHA has until Jan. 21 to make the switch, so sellers and refinancers who currently have FHA-insured mortgages are cut out of the deal. Many will still get hit with extra interest charges.
Here’s a quick overview of what’s behind the agency’s belated retreat. For the last decade, homeowners and realty brokers have complained that the FHA’s interest payment policy amounts to gouging. Not only were many sellers unaware of the FHA’s odd requirement, but they didn’t factor the extra costs into their financial plans.
The National Assn. of Realtors, which began publicly criticizing the practice in 2004, said that by insisting on full months of interest payments, the FHA effectively has been squeezing tens of millions of dollars in unjustifiable extra charges out of sellers. In one year alone, 2003, according to the association, FHA borrowers paid an estimated $587.4 million in “excess interest fees.”
In 2011, complaints from constituents prompted Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) to introduce legislation that would have banned full-month interest charges and required FHA loan servicers to compute payoffs on a per-diem basis.
Cardin’s bill ultimately went nowhere. The FHA brushed off its critics, arguing that by guaranteeing bond investors a full month’s interest on mortgages, its interest rates were slightly lower than its competitors’ rates. One mortgage industry estimate put the rate break at roughly 0.10% to 0.15%.
Real estate industry experts, however, said the true beneficiaries of the long-standing practice were loan servicers, who could earn interest on the “float” — the money they collected from borrowers and had free use of until the end of the month, when they had to disburse final interest payments to bond investors.
But financial system overhaul legislation passed by Congress in 2010 — the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act — got in the way of this game. The law empowered the new consumer bureau to write regulations banning prepayment penalties. Under the rule the bureau adopted, the FHA’s full-month interest policy amounted to such a penalty — essentially a fine on borrowers who couldn’t or didn’t pay off at the end of the month. Since home buyers rather than sellers typically schedule closing dates, many sellers were unable to control the exact date their FHA loans were paid off — leading to hefty interest penalties under the consumer bureau’s definition.
Tucked away in a Federal Register notice announcing its plan to change the policy, the FHA finally came clean on whether the tiny interest break that borrowers received was ever worth the extra interest amounts they could face if they prepaid the loan. New borrowers next year “can expect to pay a slightly higher rate,” the agency said, “but they would also receive full benefit from lower interest costs [at closing] when they prepay … in most cases more than offsetting the cost of the higher rate.”
Aha! So in fact under the old practice, the FHA’s customers paid more than they should. And presumably some of the estimated 7.8 million existing FHA mortgage borrowers who are not covered by the forthcoming policy change will continue to be vulnerable to paying more than they should.
The only way around it: If you are a seller or refinancer paying off an FHA loan, insist that your closing is at the end of the month, not the beginning.
These homeowners take recycling to the next level by living in recycled homes.
Converting airplanes, water towers, even satellite stations into living spaces is no easy task, but it’s done all the time around the country. By salvaging these otherwise unusable spaces, unique homes are created frequently for a lot less than buying new.
From churches to missile silos to fire houses, here are nine of the best (and, sometimes, most strange) home conversions out there.
Despite their humble beginnings, barn conversions are some of the more expensive home conversions out there, mostly because the barn is just a shell, so an extensive amount of work must go into making the space a true home. This home in Bryn Mawr, Pa. utilizes the exposed barn beams and rough-hewn hardwood floors. But its windowed entryway, four bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, built-in bookcases and gourmet kitchen make it feel more modern.
Most converted water tower homes are located in Europe, but there are a few in the U.S. including this one in Sunset Beach, Calif. The home offers a 360-degree view of the mountains and the ocean and has an aquarium desk, circular fire pit, dance floor and Jacuzzi. The home is now featured as a special vacation rental — for $600 a night.
Warehouses or factories
What may be the oldest home conversion trend, the warehouse or factory conversion is fairly common in cities around the country. The Oriental Warehouse Loft building, in San Francisco’s South Beach neighborhood, added beautiful, modern spaces into an old warehouse while keeping many of the industrial details intact and the exterior untouched. The building offers units with one to three bedrooms priced at just under $1 million.
Fire station conversions are fairly common. Fire departments frequently outgrow their old stations as their communities (and even the size of their fire engines) grow, leaving behind a historic building with plenty of space. This 2,500-square-foot San Francisco home, worth nearly $2 million, was converted from a fire house, but it retained much of the original look including the “Commercial Fire Dispatch” sign and the front garage doors.
Believe it or not, this converted commercial airplane home isn’t the only one of its kind in the nation. JoAnn Ussery’s Benoit, Miss. home was destroyed in an ice storm and instead of rebuilding it, she purchased a salvaged Continental Airlines Boeing 727 for $2,000 and over four months, converted it into a 127-foot-long home for about $30,000 in the mid-1990s. The home has three bedrooms, a living/dining room, kitchen, laundry area and a master bathroom with Jacuzzi in the cockpit area. She’s joined in her aviation love by Oregonian Bruce Campbell, who lives in a Boeing 727, and Californian Francie Rehwald, who converted a Boeing 747 into a home in Malibu.
Houseboats are nothing unique, but a houseboat that no longer functions as a boat is a rare find. Nonetheless, ingenious homeowners across the country have salvaged old boats and turned them into homes. Some are just houseboats, stuck on land while others, such as the Benson Ford in Put-In-Bay, Ohio, are converted from a real boat. The boat was stripped of its engine and settled into an island in Lake Erie. It has a six bedrooms, sitting room, living room, dining room, kitchen bar area, garage and laundry room over four floors.
Branching off from the small home movement, converting shipping containers into homes or offices has become a bona fide movement. Whether using just one or dozens of stacked shipping containers, designers and architects around the country have transformed these humble vessels into elaborate homes. This home in Flagstaff, Ariz., used five recycled ocean-going shipping containers in a crisscross pattern that opens to an atrium space.
Old brick schools have become a popular residential conversion lately. Through population shifts, budget cuts or rebuilding efforts, thousands of schools across the country are shut down and left abandoned. Savvy developers have bought up these buildings for their strong bones and converted them to artists’ lofts, apartments and condo buildings. The Oak Street School Lofts in Buffalo, N.Y. feature one-bedroom apartments, including the original chalkboards, though they have been painted over.
Old government buildings
Decommissioned missile silos, former army barracks and even old prisons have been converted into homes, apartments or hotels, but perhaps the most unusual government building conversion is the Jamesburg Earth Station in Carmel Valley, Calif. The satellite dish, originally commissioned by the Kennedy administration to send and receive messages from space during the Apollo 11 moon landing, was converted into a 21,000-square-foot home in the mid-2000s.