As Thanksgiving arrives, top agents carve up record year, are optimistic about 2014


Top real estate agents around Denver have lots to be grateful for as they sit down around the Thanksgiving table. “This is the best year I’ve ever had,” says Ken Caryl Valley specialist Eva Stadelmaier with RE/MAX Professionals, who will be seeing pretty close to $40 million in sales as the year closes.

RE/MAX Professionals agent Jackie Garcia recently recorded the highest sale of a custom home in Parker in recent years.

“People are getting a little nervous now, but those rates are still low, and I see people coming into town from the Midwest and California.”

Thanksgiving also marks what traditionally is a tapering-off as people move into the holidays – a moment when agents take stock in what they’re anticipating for January, when buyers re-focus on housing and when companies carry out a larger-than-average proportion of relocations. A year ago during that lull, Stadelmaier sensed that 2013 would not be a tepid year. “A week before Christmas and I had six appointments in one day,” she recalls. Sure enough – spring became a barn-burner for agents, a frenzy of sales that wasn’t to lighten up until late summer.

And things still look pretty good. “It’s still crazy,” says RE/MAX Professionals’ Jackie Garcia, who just scored the highest custom home sale in Parker — $2.23 million — seen during the past two years of market recovery. “I have the lowest inventory since I started business,” she adds, showing off the pretty 5-acre estate just east of Pine Drive…a neighborhood with proximity to the Bronco’s training site that drew showings to football players and staff.

RE/MAX Professionals, with 395 agents and a market strength centered from downtown and Highlands through the southern suburbs, gives a wide perspective on what lies ahead, after a year with solid price appreciation but also some cautionary events. “The market was over-exuberant from March to August, but with the (government) shutdown the third week of September we saw a difference in activity,” says Broker-Owner Alan J. Smith. “Consumer confidence took a shot.”

Smith and other top agents now see that pace picking up, and are feeling cautiously optimistic about what’s ahead. “We’re seeing a very confident buyer,” he said as he and agent Scott Matthias, wrapping up a term as outgoing president of the Colorado Association of Realtors, left an economic seminar. Single-family home inventory, which hit a drought-low of 5,600 units in May, had climbed back to around 8,200 in recent months, but was tapering off. “Some sellers feel they missed the boat and are waiting until after the first of the year. But there’s a buyer need and the supply is still solid.”

“The $750,000 to $1-million market is the weakest link,” Smith added. “Above a million, the volume is up 35% year-to-date, yet prices are still flat. When you have that kind of activity and prices didn’t go up, that means buyers are looking for value.”

But buyers, agents say, are back out there again. “Inventory will rise a little, but sellers are now feeling some equity, and can sell,” says Matthias, counting over 100 deals this year, heading for $35 million. Agents, he notes, have concerns about whether the federal government will further restrict the cautious lending market; and further budget battling could make buyers reticent. “But the key is that you can now buy a house cheaper than rent,” he adds. “There just aren’t many rentals, and they’re getting premiums.” He is currently shopping on behalf of a buyer transferred to Denver from Montana by BNSF Railway. “He told me, ‘I wanted to rent, but it doesn’t make financial sense to rent when I can buy.’”

Meanwhile, agents anticipate that they may not get much of a break between Thanksgiving and Christmas. “I think we’ll have another 30 days of good activity,” said Smith. “Sellers tell me they expect to list in January, and I tell them, ‘Are you sure you want to wait?’”

“It’s not as busy as spring, but it’s still steady,” adds Ken-Caryl Valley’s Stadelmaier. “I’ll get no showings one week and ten the next. To people from California, we’re a deal. They realize they can move into fantastic amenities and schools, and pay $700,000 for what in California would be $1.3 million.”
-END-