The second quarter of 2004 was almost the best quarter ever in real estate sales volume, continuing the upward trend in real estate activity in the area covered by the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.
At more than $118 million, second-quarter sales missed the record mark, set in the third quarter of 2003, by about $100,000. Realtors expect the booming business, which started about a year ago, likely will keep them hopping through 2004.
"The market is as active as I've ever seen it, and I don't think it's going to slow down ... barring any major catastrophes," said Doug Labor, owner/broker of Buyer's Resource Real Estate and president-elect of the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors.
Labor tracks MLS statistics encompassing real estate in Routt County and parts of surrounding counties. About 10 percent to 20 percent of real estate in the area is not tracked by the service, he said.
The last quarter set a second-quarter record for the number of transactions with 342 sales -- almost double the number of sales during the same quarter of 2003.
Consumer confidence, which picked up in the third quarter last year after the war in Iraq, continues to fuel real estate activity, realtors said.
Buyers also are taking advantage of low loan rates, which may rise because of the Federal Reserve Board's cutting of short-term interest rates in the face of inflationary concerns.
"A lot of people wanted to get settled in Steamboat before the interest rates rise," said Pam Vanatta, broker associate and co-owner of Prudential Steamboat Realty.
Townhomes and second homes priced at less than $1 million sold very well in the second quarter, she said.
Labor noted baby boomers ages 45 to 65 comprise the population swell in the United States and the bulk of people looking to buy second homes, a trend he projects will continue through 2010.
Jiles Howard, a broker with Coldwell Banker Silver Oak Ltd., is optimistic that vacation home sales will be consistently good in the third and fourth quarters of 2004.
"Unless something terrible happens, people can remain positive, and that's what makes them buy second homes," Howard said.
An improving stock market also has driven real estate activity, Labor said, noting that many investors are reclaiming money they lost and reinvesting it in other ventures.
"They are seeing real estate and resort properties as a good way to do it," he said.
Real estate transactions in the second quarter of 2004 were more than double the number of sales in almost all areas of Routt County in the first quarter. A lot of activity and interest in Stagecoach and Hayden properties has contributed to the numbers, Labor said.
The trend is fairly consistent with historical data, which shows real estate business typically increases after the first quarter, with the third quarter topping out the year, he said.
With MLS inventory at the end of July at 1,472 listings, buyers have a lot to choose from. However, increased real estate activity means they have less room for negotiation than last year.
Sale prices in 2004 average about 94 percent of the listing price, compared with sales prices at the beginning of 2003, which averaged about 86 percent of listing prices, Labor said.
And while area real estate values may seem excessive compared to other parts of the state, Labor noted Steamboat is still one of the most affordable resorts.
The average sale price of condos in Steamboat during the second quarter was $236,000. Looking at other resorts, condo sales averaged $363,000 in Park City, $459,000 in Telluride and more than $500,000 in Vail, according to Labor's statistics.
Condos offer the best comparison because they are centrally located at the base of ski areas, as opposed to homes scattered throughout larger areas, Labor said.
-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail email@example.com