The elephant is still loitering in the corner of my home office as the COVID pandemic continues its upheaval of the local real estate market. I find it hard to remember myself the timeline of how the pandemic has played out in our state. As a refresher, our first confirmed Colorado case occurred on March 5th and Governor Polis declared a state of emergency on March 10th and the National Emergency was declared on March 13th. Prior to those announcements, there was national discussion of the pandemic and how it would affect the US. It appears from our local numbers, that our real estate market first took substantial notice of the pandemic at the end of February. We’re now at the stage of conflicting State, County and Municipal orders for what real estate services we can and can’t provide.
Discussing showing counts at this point is not very informative as showings aren’t allowed in many places and the concept of what is and isn’t a showing has become blurry when compared to previous time periods. To me, the most informative thing we can look at right now is the Under Contract numbers. Total listings and Available listings can be distorted by seller motivation and COVID restrictions on photography and staging. Sold numbers are delayed 30-45 days due to contract length and won’t show what’s happening right now. Overall Under Contract numbers though, can give us a snapshot of the true activity in the market right now, even though they are also likely distorted by showing restrictions, inventory restrictions and sight unseen offers waiting to fail.
So, here’s what the UC numbers are telling us. Pre-pandemic, we were running about 20% ahead of the 2019 numbers for the same period. Now, at the end of April, we’re running almost 40% below the 2019 numbers, a drop of about 60% in buyer activity compared to last year. Total listings down about 30% and Available listings down about 10% from their pre-pandemic levels. So, Buyers are definitely reacting to the pandemic by being less active right now. The big question for the rest of the year, will those waiting buyers come flooding back to the market when restrictions are lifted or have buyers been financially scarred by the pandemic and need time to rebuild confidence, jobs and finances.
Many market experts are debating the shape of our recovery, I’ve heard of a “U”, a “V”, a “√” and a “L”. We’re still in the beginning stages of this and still trending downwards, so hard to guess yet at the shape of the upswing. I believe that our Under Contract numbers will be the first and most accurate indicator of the shape of our upswing when it occurs.
Be healthy everyone!