The Cycle of Des Moines Real Estate

One Year Ends and Another One Begins in Des Moines Real Estate


Welcome to a new year in Des Moines real estate! The month of January has proved to be challenging to say the least weather-wise. The month started off mild and seasonably warm. The honeymoon ended quickly with a cold blast that ended the month with all time low temperature setting records not to mention several inches of snow mid month. I never thought I would ever say that I was looking forward to the month of February for the anticipated warmer weather. That little rodent from Punxsutawney had better not see his shadow on groundhog day! Either way, we will forge ahead.


This is an exciting issue of SimplyDesMoines Real Estate. This edition includes a comprehensive review of the 2018 real estate business broken down by single family, condo-townhome, resale and new construction activity. This will be a yearlong resource to refer to as 2019 rolls along. It is delivered in a new web based format that allows you to jump to the area of interest, from an overall review down to 22 of the local metro communities. Also this month is the roll out of the 2019 new market statistics also broken down by property type and construction type. Everything is available here in this newsletter and also on my new Statistics-centric Facebook business page That site is dedicated specifically to market statistics only. Links and graphics that appear in this email newsletter will also be posted there for easy reference.

Click This Link or the Graphic Below to go to the 2018 Des Moines Real Estate Year End Market Recap

Please let me know your thoughts and suggestions. This is the beginning of my 11th year producing and analyzing local real estate market statistics in the Des Moines real estate market and I truly enjoy bringing every graph and chart to you each month.

One Year Ends and Another One Begins in Des Moines Real Estate

The 2018 Des Moines real estate market year-end homes sold count looked very much like 2017, however if you dig deeper, you will see that in many circumstances, it was actually different from previous years. 2018 sale units were just over 2 ½% lower than 2017, the price of homes continued to rise, and the closed volume of all sales was $3.2 billion, up 1% over 2017.

The Cycle of Real Estate
There is a measure of real estate over time called the Cycle of Real Estate and there are four phases that can spread out over the course of 10 to 15 years. This cycle will sometimes follow an economic cycle but can also act on its own. The four phases are Recovery, Expansion, Over Supply and Recession.

Where is the Des Moines real estate market in this cycle as of January 1st, 2019? In order to discover this, let’s go back to the last real estate recession of 2008 (the bottom of the real estate cycle). 2009, 2010 and 2011 were recovery years and 2012 began to see more buyers return to the market. Listings, however continued to remain low as many sellers stayed out of the market. Despite the low inventory, home mortgage rates were at historic lows and a growing economy helped push us into the expansion phase through 2017.

Back to 2018
Home sales this past year did not exceed the previous year for the first time since 2009. Home prices did continue to rise in 2018 but not at the pace of the previous 5 years. 2013 saw the largest jump in Average Sale Prices gaining 8% over 2012. The Average sale price in 2018 was $222,000, a modest increase of 3.8% over 2017.

2018 was the year that the sellers began to return to the market. On paper it doesn’t look like a big increase in listing counts, but in fact, the increase fed enough hungry buyers to bring our year-end sales close to 2017. As a result, the number of days on market pushed lower in 2018 in the most coveted price points of the under $200,000 range. With the Months of Inventory levels favoring sellers in that price point, it’s a wonder we had any homes to sell under $200,000 at all.

New construction and the higher price points, especially above $400,000 was the opposite market in 2018. With close to 40% of the entire listing inventory as new construction, a Buyer’s Market ruled. There were the occasional quick sales in the upper price ranges for resale properties, but nothing like the frenzy in the lower ranges. Expect this same scenario to repeat in 2019.

The Real Estate Cycle for Des Moines
I believe that the overall real estate market in the Des Moines is nearing the end of the Expansion stage. Whether the market will peak in 2019 will remain to be seen, however if I were to apply this same cycle to just resale and new construction separately, my prediction would be that for resale properties, in particular under $300,000, there is more expansion to happen into 2019 and possibly into 2020 barring any national or economic event. I believe that home sellers in this price point will come out in higher numbers in 2019 as soon as the weather breaks and we should expect to have an even busier spring/summer market than last year. This will also lead to a modest increase in home pricing but tempered by higher mortgage interest rates.

New construction and the higher price points above $300,000 however is another story. It is my opinion that the number of new homes for sale hit the peak of the curve and is moving toward the Over Supply stage. This segment of the market is not anywhere close to the Recession stage but an oversupply of homes for sale coupled with a shallower buyer pool, higher mortgage interest rates and the ever-increasing cost to develop land and material costs will make it a challenge for builders in 2019. If new home pricing takes a turn downward, it will make it harder for the resale inventory in the upper ranges to compete. The best time to be an existing home seller in the upper priced market is early spring and be prepared to price your home compellingly.

Final Words
2018 was most likely a slight dip year overall in the real estate cycle. The bulk of the market activity in 2019 will be in the under $300,000 price range. The “hot” market communities will continue to be Waukee, West Des Moines, Ankeny and the Northwest suburbs of Des Moines.

For an even more in-depth analysis of 2018 Des real estate activity broken down by metro communities and also by single family – condo/townhome, resale – new construction, go to the most comprehensive real estate statistical resource at


~Les Sulgrove, Vice President

If you are interested in selling your home or purchasing a home, give me a call! I will help you determine your best strategy based on your local market data.

About Les Sulgrove

Les is an Iowa native born in Des Moines and raised in the southwest Iowa town of Bridgewater. He has been a resident of Des Moines since 1982 and has been married to his wife Linda for over 35 years. Together they have 3 grown children, 7 grandchildren and make their home on Des Moines south side. He has been a licensed REALTOR® since 1990 and is Vice President at VIA Group, REALTORS®. Les is the 2011 Past President of the Des Moines Area Association of REALTORS® (DMAAR) and received the award of Salesperson of the Year by DMAAR in 2007 for his involvement and service to the Association. Additionally, he is active at the Iowa Association of REALTORS® and serves on local, state and national committees. He also owns and operates the national technology networking group CyberProfessionals. This group of real estate professionals meets twice annually across the United States to learn from each other and share new marketing ideas with heavy emphasis on current and future technologies and their use in the real estate business. Les’ hobbies include golf, photography and sarcastic humor. He and Linda spend many Saturday mornings from Spring to Fall at the Des Moines Downtown Farmers Market. He enjoys spoiling his grandchildren at every opportunity.

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