Fewer homes were on the market in December but prices were not up, Denver Metro Association of Realtors says

It seems we’re flouting the rules of supply and demand.

Little houses for sale at Audrey's Gifts From Afar, a booth at Skyline Park's Christkindl Market, Dec. 4, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Little houses for sale at Audrey's Gifts From Afar, a booth at Skyline Park's Christkindl Market, Dec. 4, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Donna Bryson. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Perhaps buyers in the Denver area just can’t do it any more.

That could be part of the reason prices aren’t exploding even though fewer homes are on the market, defying the rules of supply and demand.

According to a report released Monday by the Denver Metro Association of Realtors just over 5,000 homes were on the market in December. That was down almost 28 percent from the previous month, which also had seen a steep drop in inventory, and down almost 10 percent from the end of 2018. Those 5,037 active listings in December of 2019 is particularly striking when compared to metro Denver’s average over 30 years: 12,262.

The report covers 11 counties — Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Gilpin, Jefferson and Park.

December’s median home price of $418,000 was barely changed from the previous month. The median price was up 4.5 percent over December of 2018, compared to increases of 8 to 9 percent earlier in the 2010s.

Jill Schafer, who chairs the realtors’ group Market Trends Committee and is a Kentwood agent, added that throughout last year buyers were increasingly pressing sellers to drop asking prices and that homes were spending more time on the market, developments that also aren’t usually connected with low inventories. It all leads Schafer to question whether buyers have hit a ceiling in “what they are willing to pay or are able to pay,” choosing instead to keep renting or, if they do own, stay put rather than look for a new home.

“I think that the high prices have spooked a lot of people,” Schafer said. “They’re only willing to buy if they think they’re getting a deal.”

She said buyers may also be feeling cautious because the coming elections are creating political and economic uncertainty. That may also be contributing to the hesitancy sellers have shown about putting their homes on the market.

It may be some time before trends and what they mean are clear, Schafer said.

“It will be interesting to see what 2020 brings,” she said.

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