The year of multi-million-dollar home sales

Market hits $1.5 billion in 2007

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— One year after the Routt County real estate market exceeded $1 billion for the first time, the market has dusted $1.5 billion. And the market pushed through that threshold while the number of transactions was declining.

The dollar volume for 2007 "is 141 percent over 2006, while the amount of units sold went from a total of 3,477 for 2006 to 2,555 for 2007," Bruce Carta of Land Title Guarantee Company said. Carta tracks month-by-month real estate trends and compiles them at the end of the calendar year. His figures are based on closings, so monthly figures are generated by contracts four to six weeks earlier. Consequently, contracts written in December 2007 are not immediately reflected in his year-end totals.

Thanks to a couple of large ranch sales in December, Carta said, the local real estate market finished strong and reached $1.587 billion by year's end.

Of all the statistics one could pull out of 2007, one seems to explain how Routt County saw dollar volume make such a leap while the number of sales was dropping: the sales of multi-million-dollar homes. In 2007, 45 homes priced at $2.5 million or more were sold. They represent an aggregate value of $167.8 million.

If one includes all of the homes valued at $1 million that sold last year, the number of transactions jumps to 214, with an aggregate value of almost $416 million.

It would be wrong to assume that all of the 2007 action in Routt County was at the high end of the price spectrum. There were 107 improved residential units that sold for less than $200,000, and another 281 priced between $200,000 and $300,000. In terms of unit volume, the biggest price point resided between $300,000 and $500,000, where 426 residential units were sold last year.

There are signs that the availability of homes priced at less than half a million dollars will be tight in the future.

"For December 2007 we had 48 sales of residential improved units of $500,000 and below, compared to 66 last December," Carta said.

"You wonder where some of these people are going to be displaced to," Doug Labor of Buyers Resource Real Estate said.

Labor said the price of entry-level real estate in Routt County's smaller communities also is increasing dramatically.

Most of the condominiums in Stagecoach date to the 1970s, but the median price for a condo in that unincorporated South Routt neighborhood increased by 47 percent last year to $184,000. Similarly, sales prices of Stagecoach townhomes increased by 36 percent from $199,000 to $270,000, Labor said.

In Steamboat, the price of townhomes increased by a comparable percentage, but the jump was from a median sale price of $450,250 to $629,500. The price of land in Steamboat is driving that increase, Labor said.

"The size of townhomes here has grown substantially," he said. "Land costs have gone up so much you have to maximize" the opportunity.

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