Broker: 'It's like a frenzy'

Data show Steamboat market remains extremely hot

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Real estate inventory continues to shrink and prices still are on the rise.

The first quarter of 2006 fell just two transactions shy of the record number of sales that occurred during last year's first quarter, according to data gathered from the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. Time-share sales are not included in the data.

"The market hasn't slowed down from last year," said Doug Labor, statistician for the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors and broker-owner for Buyer's Resource. "If we had as much inventory this year as we did this time last year, we could have seen the number of transactions increase."

The trend is good news for sellers, but means there is less for buyers to choose from, Labor said. It also appears higher interest rates did not have much of an effect on the Steamboat market, he said.

The lowest sale was a half-acre unbuildable lot near Steamboat Lake. The highest sale was a $2.97 million renovated home on a three-acre lot in Dakota Ridge.

"It's a very healthy market," said Tom Valicenti, owner-broker with Steamboat Real Estate. "The demand for the low-end stuff is crazy. It's like a frenzy."

Valicenti said he has never seen the Steamboat market so hot. In the past, it was a good sign when a house went under contract in a week, he said.

"We're getting five offers in a day on them," said Valicenti, who has worked in this market for 15 years. "You can't build new for what they're selling them for."

Valicenti does not see the Steamboat market stumbling anytime soon.

"The people buying in Steam--boat, they have a need for the property, so it's quality of life growth," he said. "Every week, we sell something and something else comes on the market in the same complex and it's $20,000 more."

The only first quarter data that surprised Labor were land sales.

Land sales dropped 22 percent this quarter compared to the first quarter of 2005. Of the 71 land sales, close to 80 percent were outside Steamboat city limits. There were 31 land sales in Hayden, 25 in Stagecoach and 12 in Steamboat.

The median lot sale price also dropped about 48 percent compared to last year's first quarter. Labor said this is because the land sales were in areas that are less expensive than Steamboat.

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