High-dollar homes represent 32 percent of all single-family sales in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

High-dollar homes represent 32 percent of all single-family sales in Steamboat

— Homes priced greater than $1 million have claimed a growing percentage of all single-family home sales during the ongoing recession in Steamboat Springs.

Doug Labor, of Buyer's Resource Real Estate, said this week that during the first half of 2010, 27 million-dollar-plus homes have sold, representing 32 percent of all single-family sales in the period. That compares to a 21 percent share for all of 2007 with 90 homes (excluding townhomes and condominiums) sold. Dropping back another three years, Labor said, 31 million-dollar-plus homes sold corresponding to 9 percent of the single-family home market.

Price drops are a factor, even in the higher reaches of the market, Labor said.

"There have been some major price drops," he said. "Homes that were once listed at $3 million to $4 million could be reduced by $500,000."

When it comes to luxury homes that have been foreclosed on, the cuts go deeper.

Randall Hannaway said the bank-owned Adirondack home in Stonebridge Park, which he co-listed with Nick Metzler, sold for $3.2 million this week in a cash transaction. The house, in the only gated community in city limits and within listening distance of Fish Creek, originally was listed for more than $6 million.

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Hannaway said his sense is that some of his clients are concerned about how the federal government might change tax policy in the next year, and that nervousness actually could bring some money off the sidelines into Steamboat real estate.

In addition, Hannaway said now that many of Steamboat's high-end homes are priced below replacement cost, there's a growing sense that, at least in that segment, the market has hit bottom.

"There's not a whole lot of room below that," he said.

Hannaway's colleague, Jon Wade, said people want to have a home in Steamboat as much as they ever did, but they are being very careful as they return to the market. They're seeking measurables (price per square foot) and intangibles — homes with great views and a great feel, he said.

Wade said the reality of the marketplace leads him to guide clients to developer-owned luxury homes because people who built spec homes two and three years ago are highly motivated to get out from under the carrying costs.

"You can get a brand new home with beautiful finishes for less, in some cases, than you can purchase an older, owner-occupied home," he said. "Homes that had been priced at $500 to $700 per square foot are selling in the $300 (per-square-foot range)."

Single-family home prices here have not dropped as much on a percentage basis as they have in other mountain towns such as Park City, Utah, Labor said. The average single-family home price here during the first six months of the year was $609,656, just slightly lower than where it stood for all of 2006 as Steamboat's market began to seriously overheat.

Percent price drops vary

Labor would prefer to measure home prices here on a per-square-foot basis by subdivision, and ideally compare them to 2004, when the market hadn't begun its dramatic rise. However, he is working to recover 2004 data from the Multiple Listing Service, and the best comparison he can make is to 2007.

In the Sanctuary luxury home subdivision adjacent to Rollingstone Ranch Golf Cou­rse, homes sold for an average of $444 per square foot in 2007. By June 2010, that number had dropped 11 percent to $395 per square foot. The drop was much steeper in the older Tree Haus subdivision, just south of the city limits on River Road. The per-square-foot price there dropped 31 percent from $309 to $212 between the end of 2007 and this summer.

Of course, the trend is taking shape in a difficult market that saw 85 homes sell January through June. That compares to 330 home sales in all of 2004 and 425 in the boom year of 2007. And transaction volume doesn't appear to be getting better in July.

"The third quarter is usually our busiest quarter," Labor said.

Although the most expensive homes in Steam­boat are accounting for a growing share of sales, inventory still is thick with listings in that market. There are 73 homes on the Steamboat Springs Multiple Listing Service priced at more than $2 million.

"That's a lot," Labor said.

And when you tally all of the single-family homes priced higher than $1 million, the number is 165, or 29 percent of the 578 single-family homes on the market this week.

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