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Denver’s Real Estate Market Heats Up as Restrictions Lift and Businesses Reopen

The market is picking up serious steam as the impact of COVID-19 eases, but listings are still down from where they were at this point in 2019.

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What began as a strong start to the year for Denver’s real estate market quickly changed when stay-at-home orders were implemented in-person showings were restricted. But as state and local orders were lifted in May, businesses began to reopen and the housing market started to pick up.

The metro area saw 7,312 new listings in May, up 56 percent from April but still down nearly 17 percent compared to last May, according to the report released by Denver Metro Association of Realtors (DMAR) this week. Active listings in the 11-county Denver metro were also up 4.6 percent from last month, yet still down nearly 20 percent year over year. The marketing is recovering from slowdowns seen in March and April, but we’re still feeling the impact of the pandemic.

“The way we’re trending, [the real estate market] will be returning to pre-COVID[-19] levels quickly,” says Jill Schafer, chair of DMAR’s Market Trends Committee. “We are almost there but not quite. I expect that what the virus has done is essentially pushed our early spring market into summer a little bit.”

Early spring and the beginning of summer are historically busy times for the real estate market, but a 56 percent increase in new listings is uncommon. “I think a lot of people waited to put their houses on the market,” Schafer says. “I think a lot of people also withdrew their houses when [showings stopped], and put them back on the market once they started.”

Homes sold in May declined nearly 20 percent from April, but Schafer says not to worry as home sales are an indicator of what happened 30 to 45 days prior, or in this case during stay-at-home orders. The 6,809 pending sales in May paint a more optimistic picture and reflect a nearly 115 percent increase month over month, according to the DMAR report. “The demand is certainly there,” Schafer says.

The metro is still a seller’s market, even though the average price of a home sold in May dipped slightly below $500,000. “For as much as it’s a seller’s market, buyers are directing the show,” says Nicole Rueth, a DMAR Market Trends Committee member. Buyers are asking more questions and often visiting a home multiple times before putting in an offer–something not commonly seen in the last few years.

The luxury market, though, is softening and shifting to a buyer’s market, especially when it comes to condos, Schafer says. There’s a “significant amount” of high-end condos for sale but jumbo loans were hard to come by during the stay-at-home order.

In short, people are more eager to buy or sell a home than they were a few months ago. Mortgage purchase applications, used by people instigating a sale, are up 18 percent year over year and significantly up from mid-April. “There are some who say this is just pent up demand,” Rueth says. “I think it shows the resiliency of the housing market.”

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