Steamboat Springs The Routt County real estate market jumped to a record $1.39 billion in year-to-date sales in October despite absorbing a 20 percent hit from last October's record of $124.7 million for the month.
Steamboat saw $100.5 million in dollar volume last month and did it with 70 fewer transactions than were recorded in October 2006, according research conducted by Bruce Carta of Land Title Guarantee Company.
Realtor Jon Wade of Colorado Group Realty tempered the news by looking at the three-year trend.
"We were still 25 percent ahead of October 2005, so I'm not concerned," Wade said. "One thing that makes me happy is the fact that we're still seeing strong price appreciation in our closings."
Wade said he interprets this fall's moderation in the market as a return to seasonal ups and downs in the local market. However, he said the large number of contracts being written this year on pre-construction condominium projects could rewrite that return to "normalcy" in 2008 and 2009, when all of those units - perhaps $300 million worth - are expected to close.
Carta reported that October transaction volume was down from 266 units sold in 2006 to 196 in 2007. Despite that fact, Realtor Colleen de Jong of Prudential Steamboat Realty said she's not convinced the trend indicates that inventory is down across the board.
"Obviously, the inventory of in-town lots is down," de Jong said. "But while inventory in some categories is down, overall, I think inventory is probably not down. We have shortages in some areas, but we have a lot of inventory on the Multiple Listing Service. We do know the average price is up quite a bit, especially in condos."
One place where inventory definitely is down is in the sub-$400,000 market, she said. Entry-level properties continue to account for a big chunk of the transaction volume - October saw 18 residential properties closing between $200,000 and $300,000, and 44 between $300,000 and $500,000.
De Jong may have noted a sign of things to come in the entry-level real estate market here - several Craig brokers have joined the Steamboat Springs Multiple Listing Service in order to expose their listings in the city 42 miles west of Steamboat to this market.
De Jong described clients who looked at real estate in Stagecoach and Hayden before buying a home in Craig where they have room to raise a growing family. One spouse in the family will commute to work in Steamboat.
One trend that leapt out at Carta was a substantial increase in sales in the $1 million to $1.5 million price range. Throughout the entire year of 2006, when the Routt County market topped the $1 billion level for the first time, 124 residential properties sold for $1 million and up. Through October of this year, 188 already have sold. But the increase was more pronounced in the narrow range from $1 million to $1.5 million where all of 2006 saw 56 sales. So far this year, 89 residential units in that range have sold.
Wade takes it as a positive sign. At prices above $500,000, Realtors sense increasing sophistication on the part of their clients. That business-savvy index makes another leap at $1 million.
"They're money managers, they run a business, they trade stocks," Wade said. "They understand Wall Street and the credit markets. And they are voting with their dollars."
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