The nationwide median error rate for the Zestimate for on-market homes is 1.9%, while the Zestimate for off-market homes has a median error rate of 7.5%.
Now don’t get me wrong, my calling out of the inaccuracy of Zestimate’s off-market pricing is not a dig at Zillow. I am a big fan of Zillow, it’s marketing capabilities, and the forethought the company has to how real estate will be acquired in the future. As an agent, landlord, buyer and seller I too use Zillow and the innovative tools it offers it’s visitors. Homeowners and buyers have become accustomed to the process of engaging with Zillow before they even think about engaging with a real estate agent or lender. Because of the technology and simplicity Zillow provides, sellers can do their own homework on the potential list price of their property compared to other properties in their neighborhood. Buyers are able to visually see what homes they may be interested in purchasing or not purchasing. These are all actionable steps that help an agent down the road when the listing and buying process beings.
There is a gap though. A gap of about 7.5%. On a $400,000 house that 7.5% error in pricing is $30,000. Would you buy a home that is listed $30,000 more than it’s true value? I would guess not. Data goes like this….. junk in, junk out and Zillow’s data shows just that while they are using the information that is currently available to them. So while Zillow is gathering more accurate input, Zillow is working toward delivering a more accurate output. But until the day comes that Zillow can close that 7.5% gap, it is your real estate agent that is going to get you to a listing price that aligns with the market and your objectives.
When working with my clients, Zillow is always a discussion. I come to the table with my numbers and my sellers comes to the table with their (aka Zestimate’s) numbers. It is my job to help my client see the true value in their home. Zillow only uses data, they don’t take into consideration the amount of funding that is going into your community to build new schools, or the concrete plant that is being built between your million dollar home and that breathtaking mountain view that adds a significant premium to your home’s value. Real estate agents are equipped to advocate for their clients, to do the in-depth research that Zestimate cannot and establish realistic prices. Continue to use Zillow and Zestimate, but know that your agent is necessary in helping you set a fair-market price and navigate the process of negotiating against that price.
The following analysis of the Metro Denver & Northern Colorado real estate market (which now includes Clear Creek, Gilpin, and Park Counties) is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere agent.
The Colorado economy continues to grow, adding 69,100 new non-agricultural jobs over the past 12 months, which represents a solid growth rate of 2.6%. That said, we are continuing to see a modest slowdown in employment gains, but that is to be expected at this stage of the business cycle. My latest forecast suggests that Colorado will add a total of 65,000 new jobs in 2019, representing a growth rate of 2.3%.
In November, the state unemployment rate was 3.3%, up from 3% a year ago. The increase is essentially due to an increase in the labor force, which rose by 77,279 people. On an un-seasonally adjusted basis, unemployment rates in all the markets contained in this report dropped between November 2017 and November 2018. The highest rate was in Grand Junction, but that was still a very respectable 4%. Fort Collins and Boulder had the lowest unemployment rate of 2.9%. All the regions contained in this report are essentially at full employment.
HOME SALES ACTIVITY
- In the fourth quarter of 2018, 12,911 homes sold — a drop of 13.8% compared to the last quarter of 2017 and down 22% from the third quarter.
- The only market that saw growth in sales was Clear Creek, which rose by 3.8%. This is a small market, however, and is prone to rapid swings in price as well as sales. There was a significant drop in sales in the Denver market. I will be watching closely to see if this is an anomaly or a longer-term trend. At this time, I believe the former to be true.
- Interestingly, this decline in sales in Denver came as inventory levels rose by 37%. For now, I attribute this to seasonality and expect to see sales growth return in the spring.
- Inventory growth continues to give buyers more choice, allowing them to be far more selective — and patient — before making an offer on a home. That said, well-positioned and well-priced homes are selling relatively quickly.
- Despite the rapid rise in listings and slowing home sales, prices continue to trend higher, though the rate of growth is slowing. The average home price in the region rose 6% year-over-year to $454,903. Home prices were 2% higher than in the third quarter.
- In all, the data was not very surprising. As with many markets across the country, affordability is starting to become an issue. However, the recent drop in interest rates likely stimulated buyers at the end of 2018 and I expect to see good price growth in the first quarter of 2019.
- Appreciation was strongest in Park County, where prices rose 28.2%. We can attribute this rapid increase to it being a small market. Only Gilpin County saw a drop in average home price. Though this, too, is due to it being a very small market, making it more prone to significant swings.
- As mentioned, affordability is becoming an issue in many Colorado markets and I anticipate that we will see some cooling in home price appreciation as we move through late 2019.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home in Colorado rose by one day compared to the final quarter of 2017.
- The amount of time it took to sell a home dropped in four counties: Boulder, Larimer, Gilpin, and Park. The rest of the counties in this report saw days on market rise relatively modestly with the exception of the small Clear Creek market, which rose by 20 days.
- In the fourth quarter of 2018, it took an average of 38 days to sell a home in the region, but it took less than a month to sell a home in five of the eleven counties contained in this report.
- Housing demand is still there, but buyers appear to have taken a little breather. I anticipate, however, that the spring will bring more activity and rising sales.
The speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.
For the fourth quarter of 2018, I continue the trend I started last summer and have moved the needle a little more in favor of buyers. I will be closely watching listing activity in the spring to see if we get any major bumps above the traditional increase because that may further slow home price growth — something that would-be buyers appear to be waiting for.
As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.
Well, it depends!
First, let’s define each market. According to research, a buyer’s market exists when there is more than 4-6 months of inventory on the market.
If it would take longer than 4-6 months to sell out all of the inventory currently for sale, then it is a buyer’s market.
This calculation is obviously a function of the amount of inventory on the market and the current pace of sales.
A seller’s market exists if it would take shorter than 4-6 months.
So, which is it?
It depends very much on the price range.
Here are the numbers for Northern Colorado:
• $300,000 to $400,000 = 0.9 months
• $400,000 to $500,000 = 1.9 months
• $500,000 to $750,000 = 2.3 months
• $750,000 and over = 5.8 months
So, most price ranges are a clear seller’s market. It’s not until $750,000 and over that the market starts to approach a more balanced state.