January Inventory Hits 12-Month Low; Prices Up Slightly Year Over Year

The steady gutting of the inventory is making buyers desperate in Denver. I’m getting calls from agents not looking to advertise their listings (which would be normal), but rather asking for pocket listings or ideas of people who are on the fence about selling. They’re just not finding the inventory they need on the open market.

A recent conversation I had with a home owner reinforces that. I’d heard that she was possibly interested in selling, and I’d heard correctly. In fact, she’d already been contacted by several other agents as well and as a result of the blatant demand, decided to try to sell on her own for two weeks before hiring an agent and listing it on the MLS.

Inventory nearly halved since last year
The story in Denver in January was all about buyers not having much to choose from. The number of single-family homes in Denver fell 10.6% from the previous month and 48.6% from January last year, to 1,263.

Given the pace of sales and the number of homes on the market, it would take 3.5 months to sell through the current inventory, a term known in the industry as “months of supply.” In a market balanced between buyers and sellers, we’d expect to see 5-6 months of supply, so this represents a strong advantage for sellers in Denver, but still an improvement on December’s 12-month low in months of supply. As you’ll see in the chart below, the market for condos and townhomes is more balanced that that for single family homes.

Sales drop by 24% in January
We’ve all heard that real estate is seasonal, and one look at the chart of the number of home sales reinforces that. There were 440 sales in Denver, representing a sharp decrease of 23.6% since December 2011, but up 12.2% since January 2011. This is mostly due to the fact that not many people are out looking for homes during the holiday season, and so there are less people ready to buy early in the year.

Denver Median Sale Price Down Slightly for the Month
The median sale price for a single-family home in Denver was $195,000, down 4.2% from December 2011 and up 3.4% year over year from January 2011. The per-square-foot price was also down 4.5% month over month, to $126, but up 1.6% year over year.

Denver is #3 on Redfin Heat Index
Want to know how the Denver real estate market is doing compared with the rest of the country? Take a look at the Redfin Heat Index*, which shows that Denver is the third-hottest market that Redfin serves right now:

Redfin’s housing market data combines public records, local multiple listing services, for-sale-by-owner and other verified sources. The data is validated by Redfin analysts to ensure it is comprehensive and accurate. Redfin publishes these reports each month on or around the 10th of the month, for the previous month. As a tech-focused broker, Redfin is the only company with access to this level of data.


  • The Redfin Heat Index (Beta) uses listings, sales, and price changes to determine the relative “heat” of a given real estate market. We set a baseline Heat Index of 75.0 at 6.0 months of supply and +5 % price change year-over-year.
  • Every percentage point increase in prices above the 5% baseline will increase the heat index by two points, every percentage point decrease in prices below the 5% baseline will decrease the heat index by two points.
  • Every one month of supply increase above the 6.0 baseline will decrease the heat index by seven points, every one month of supply decrease below the 6.0 baseline will increase the heat index by seven points.