Market hits record $1.156B

Dollar volume blows by 2006 with four months remaining


— One quarter remains in the 2007 business year, and the Steamboat Springs real estate market has already surpassed last year's record $1.12 billion in transactions. The new record was accomplished with only 54 percent of the unit volume, or transactions, needed to set the old standard.

Bruce Carta of Land Title Guarantee Co. compiled statistics from Routt County records and reported that as of Aug. 31, the county has already seen $1.156 billion in transactions this year.

Every month of 2007, save February, has seen transactions rise above $100 million. If sales in the final four months of the year were to match the corresponding quarter in 2006, the 2007 total would exceed $1.5 billion.

Pam Vanatta of Prudential Steamboat Realty expects the trend to continue through the end of the year and beyond.

"We feel the last quarter of 2007 will remain strong in comparison to the last quarter of 2006," Vanatta said.

David Baldinger Jr. of Steamboat Village Brokers said historically low inventory is fueling the rise in prices here.

"When there are more buyers than sellers, prices go up in big increments," Baldinger Jr. said. "You get an unprecedented price every time. In my opinion, this trend will probably continue in terms of dollar volume. But the number of transactions will continue to go down (for two or three years), especially in terms of mountain condominiums."

Steamboat's new record dollar volume was achieved with 1,869 transactions, compared to the 12-month total of 3,477 needed in 2006 to reach $1.12 billion.

Big sales near Ski Area

The statistics compiled by Carta show that the "mountain area" at the base of Steamboat Ski Area has contributed 46 percent of the dollar volume in the market year-to-date. However, it's worth remembering that the $534.5 million generated by the mountain area in the first eight months includes some very large transactions, which are very different than smaller purchases, such as one family purchasing a vacation condominium. Interpreting the significance of Starwood's purchase of the Sheraton Steamboat for $57 million, or Cafritz Investment's purchase of Thunderhead Lodge and Ski Time Square for $53.9 million, for example, is tricky. And pieces of institutional deals sometimes aren't recorded for months or even years.

Of the $1.15 billion in transactions, residential units account for $685.57 million.

Low price, fast sale

The current statistics show 148 sales of homes priced at $1 million or more this year. Yet, across Routt County, homes priced between $200,000 and $500,000 account for much of the unit volume. Home sales priced between $200,000 and $300,000 total 208 through August, and anot-her 299 priced between $300,000 and $500,000 have sold. They represent 25 percent of the residential market this year.

"Average sales prices are higher, and as a consequence, properties under $500,000 are selling quickly," Vicky Hanna of Prudential Steam-boat Realty said.

Forty-three homes priced in the $300,000 to $500,000 range sold in August alone, for an aggregate value of $17.7 million.

Baldinger Jr. said the Steamboat market has been relatively immune to the turmoil in the national home lending markets.

"The sub-prime (mortgage) crisis doesn't have much effect on us," he said. "There have been very few transactions that haven't closed because of a financing issue."

Baldinger Jr. said even at the lower end of the Steam-boat market, people buying $400,000 and $500,000 homes are either comfortably purchasing a second home or are local homeowners using equity in their homes to trade up.

Banking on the 'Boat

Baldinger Jr. is confident he perception of Steamboat as an attractive place to invest is influenced by all of the activity here, from Intrawest's purchase of the ski area in March and subsequent capital improvements, to major developments announced at the mountain and the number of construction cranes changing downtown's modest skyline.

As accountants advise baby boomers to use their inheritances to diversify in real estate, Steamboat, with its track record of growth in prices over the long term, looks like a good bet compared to depressed markets in other parts of the country, he said. They even get the bonus of a desirable vacation destination along with an investment that outperforms the stock market.

Although August totaled $152.6 million in transactions, it felt moderate compared to the $176 million in July, Hanna said, and that's not all bad.

"Nothing indicates a market that is not healthy and ongoing," Hanna said. "If there is a slight measure of reserve in the market, it is good news to see a moderating market."


Snowhugger 9 years, 7 months ago

Codos for those that made some $$$ !!!

Left many of us out. SOme will say it is our fault for being late or not being able to make it happen. Oh well I will miss the Boat!! Can't help but wonder how this will turn out. i know I missed the boat, but it is really a bigger issue than that. HOW can the town attract the working class?? And retain them and their families? I don't see it any more and have decided to start else where. I will miss the boat, but have to face reality!! Not the town I fell in love with and it is only becoming more Aspenish by the day!

        GO   MONTANIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                                                BIG    SKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

id04sp 9 years, 7 months ago


The truth is that realtors make money from everybody except the working class that cannot afford to buy a house. Real estate commissions run from 4% to 6% (depending on your agent and your relationship with them and the total selling price, etc.) and 4% of a million bucks is a lot more than 6% of $200,000.

The bottom line is that our fate is being decided by the market and the marketing. What we end up with is anybody's guess, and regardless, the realtors can always take their money and go live somewhere else.

These, I believe, are the facts that are driving our community. If you're interested in my more cynical point of view, just ask.


id03sp 9 years, 6 months ago


I've seen your comments on the site for some time and I finally had to log in today and say something. Seems like you rarely have anything good to say about anyone, and never a good word about Realtors.

If you had ever worked in any part of the Real Estate industry including the lending side or the processing of closings, you would understand what an important service the Realtors provide. The general public really doesn't have much of a clue about the Real Estate closing process. The deadlines and attorneyspeak in the contract is enough to make their heads spin.

How many Realtors do you know in our community who actively list, show and close their real estate deals then take their money elsewhere? They don't. They are active members of our community who live and work right along with us. They spend the 4%-6% you are so sore about right here in our local businesses. They also spend their time and money for numerous charitable causes.

When is the last time you went to a fundraiser in Steamboat for any purpose and didn't see at least 10 or 15 agents there?

Next time you think about opening your mouth and badmouthing someone, why don't you think about what your kindergarten teacher told you when you were five. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

There are plenty of slackers around this town who milk it for everything it's worth and give anything in return. I think your angst toward the real estate community is misguided.


id03sp 9 years, 6 months ago


Having spent nearly two decades of my life working for both title companies and now in the mortgage lending industry and handling thousands of closings, I'll say a closing with a realtor is a much smoother transaction than a FSBO.

Why do you think the title companies charge more for FSBO closings. Because people with your attitude turn the closing into a real headache for them when a realtor is not involved. Think about that the next time you take your FSBO to a title company and see the inflated closing fee on your settlement statement.


id04sp 9 years, 6 months ago


Stings, don't it?

I'll have you know that, in my lifetime, I have owned eight houses, sold six of them, and built one of them from the ground up. There were fourteen real-estate transactions involved in all of that, and eleven of them have involved licensed realtors.

Anyone who doesn't know that you can go to a title company and close a real estate transaction without a broker should look into it. It's the buyer who should benefit from this arrangement by getting a lower price. In my own transactions without a realtor, I have 'split' the realtor's fee with the buyer and we both won, because I got more and they paid less.

A reputable home inspection service, appraiser, mortgage lender and title insurance company can and do replace the realtor's role in many transactions.

Should a first-time buyer and seller use a realtor. Probably. Will I use a realtor when I sell my house in North Routt. Probably. The reason is that out-of-town buyers with money to spend NOW will probably go through a realtor, and when the parties are not living in the same town a realtor certainly does provide a valuable service. It's just not really true, however, that a realtor earns $20,000 - $30,000 for listing a house for three or four days before it sells.

I stand by my assertion that Steamboat realtors are not making any money from the working class people who cannot afford to buy houses. I don't see any realtors putting their personal fortunes to work to develop housing for the working class. Do you? There's no reason they SHOULD, but the fact is that realtor-developers are going after the high-end market because they can sell in the higher price ranges. Even a fisherman knows that you have to fish over there where the fish are . . . .

So, to all you realtors, I know you are only doing what somebody else would do if you didn't do it. You're not bad people because you want to make money. I just think it's ironic that a person can spend six months building a house and then make the same amount of profit as the realtor who lists it for a week before it sells.

A properly priced house will sell itself. That's what a realtor adds to the equation in 99% of the sales around here. It's just that paying a realtor $1000 an hour or more for what they actually do is the end result in many cases. The realtor's cut often makes the difference between what a buyer can and cannot afford. $1000 or even less can be a deal breaker for somebody who has to get a mortgage to go with their down payment, and that's often where the working class people fit into the equation.


id04sp 9 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, it would be like, $750 instead of $500. So I spend $250 and save $20,000.

That's hardly worth the trouble, is it?

See, this is the weird thing about it. Anything that's financed seems like "funny money" to buyers, because they only worry about the monthly payment.

Like I said, first time buyers and others without a clue should use a reputable realtor. A good realtor can really help you avoid getting screwed if you don't know much about the process yourself.

I don't care if a few realtors go to fundraisers. How many of them are taking their big luxury home commissions and investing that money in land to develop working-wage homes? NONE OF THEM! There's no money to be made from hourly wage workers.

Realtors are in business to make profits. Good for them. I could do it too if I wanted to. It's just that they have no personal profit motive to encourage development of low end housing in the Steamboat area. Their money is going to be made at $500,000 and above for the forseeable future.

Builders, developers and realtors would lose money by being involved in building lower cost housing because the available pool of buyers will snap up everything that's offered at $500k and up. Why make a 15% or 20% profit on a $300,000 house when you can get the same percentage on a $500,000 house? That's just how it works.


id03sp 9 years, 6 months ago

That's because the title company closing fees are filed and regulated by the Colorado Division of Insurance. Believe me, for the headaches involved with FSBO closings if they could legally charge you more on a FSBO they would.


id04sp 9 years, 6 months ago


The tax is in effect. The federal government taxes such transfers, which is why so many people use the quit claim deed method to hide the transaction from the feds. Unless you deal with a title company, bank, etc., which are required to report transactions over $10,000.00, the feds will never know about it. If this underground black market in land was taxed, there would be a smaller deficit and more realistic prices for home buyers.


id04sp 9 years, 6 months ago

So unless you are chained to your desk or are otherwise being blackmailed into working in the job you have, GO ELSEWHERE OR REFUSE TO HANDLE FSBO TRANSACTIONS. Somebody else will take the gig and be grateful for it.

Realtors do not have any God or State-given right to control real estate transactions if people choose not to use them.

Hey, I'm not going to take one cent less than the market will bear when I sell my place, and neither should anybody else. I'll probably list with a realtor I've used before and ask for a point or two off the going rate because I've paid commissions to them before.

High-end builders and developers take a risk until the home is sold, and then their risk is over. Building low-end is risky too, however, because the opportunity cost of building for prices under the going market lasts forever. You NEVER get to see that money at all.

Realtors, builders and developers are money suckers who don't provide for low income buyers because they don't have to. There's nothing wrong with it. However, they are still money suckers and the low-end of the market is being driven out of town. That's the only way that the realtors and developers can continue to stay in business and make enough money to live here.

Your arguments are a very classic example of how people who are already comfortable don't give a rat's @$$ about anyone else's financial struggles. I vividly remember a couple of ladies behind the counter at an energy supplier having some nasty comments to make about people who "don't pay their bills." It must be VERY nice in a place like Steamboat Springs to have never, ever, been in a tight spot because of seasonal employment, business issues, etc. People with steady, cushy jobs who have been in the same house for 15 or 20 years and don't have to worry about their next paycheck might be the ones who need to keep quiet, eh?


Vince arroyo 9 years, 6 months ago

Just think if that real estate transfer tax was in effect today. $$$$


id03sp 9 years, 6 months ago

04 what the heck are you talking about. We don't have a transfer tax like a lot of towns in Colorado. When selling property in Frisco, Breckenridge, Vail, Avon and numerous other towns in Colorado you pay a transfer tax right off the top to the tune of 2% there is not such transfer tax in effect anywhere in Routt County.


id03sp 9 years, 6 months ago


Get your facts straight before you start spouting off your infinite wisdom about real estate. First, I'd like to know where you've been able to get a bank to process the sale of a property? It just doesn't happen. I think you are just blowing smoke.

And second, it's not the title companies responsibility to report anything other than the sales price to the IRS. It's the responsibility of the person who sold the property to accurately report their profits from the sale on their federal income taxes.

And you say you've bought and sold how many houses???


armchairqb 9 years, 6 months ago

Boy talk about a cat fight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Life's a little short. and I just wasted ten minutes of it reading the debate between 03 and 04


id04sp 9 years, 6 months ago


Yeah, me too. 03 is bore-sighted on her own rice bowl, and that's about it.

3 -- Banks are required to report deposits in excess of $10,000 to the IRS. I said nothing about them processing real estate transactions. I was making the general point that certain types of businesses are required to report transactions over $10,000.

There are thousands of real estate transactions in the records of the Routt County Clerk and Recorder where more than $10,000 in value has changed hands via quit claim deed for only $10.00. Those transactions are the way to hide money from the IRS when you trade property. They are done without a title company for a reason -- because title compaines have to report the sale price to the IRS.

The IRS knows a transaction has taken place, and they screen returns for information relating to the transaction. Try not reporting the sale on your tax return after you've sold a house, and see the nice letter you get from the IRS wanting 15% of the sale price, interest and penalties.

So, the transfers are indeed taxed, but whether or not the tax is paid is another matter. I know that Steamboat does not directly tax the transfers, but the feds and the state do through income tax.

You sound very bitter about what you do for a living. You'll be a happier person if you learn to deal with human nature instead of declaring people who don't close real estate transactions every day of their lives stupid for not having the process memorized . . . . sheesh


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