Steamboat Springs Sales of entry-level homes here slowed markedly in March even as the sales levels of the most expensive homes were close to last year's unit volume or greater.
Overall dollar volume in Routt County declined steeply in March from the record set during the same month in 2007. Sales in March, including sales that were not made through the Steamboat Springs Multiple Listing Service, were $52.3 million compared to $141.8 million in March 2007, said Bruce Carta of Land Title Guarantee Co.
Carta said the March 2008 totals were bolstered by a $9 million sale of a new timeshare condominium building at the Village at Steamboat, to its affiliate, Worldmark Club.
"There is little doubt that the Steamboat Springs real estate market is not as active as it was during its record-setting pace a year ago," said Doug Labor of Buyer's Resource Real Estate.
Still, 16 homes priced between $1 million and $1.5 million sold in March compared to 13 a year ago. And four homes priced between $2 million and $2.5 million sold this March compared to six in March 2007.
Labor said first-quarter sales handled through the MLS totaled $116 million. That figure is 46 percent below the first quarter of 2007, but it still is 27 percent above the average of all years since 2000. March 2008 dollar volumes gleaned from Routt County records by Carta were lower than those posted in 2005 and 2006.
The decline in dollar volume in March that was attributable to residential units was from $80.3 million to $29.66 million. That includes single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums.
The price point between $300,000 and $500,000 accounted for 16 percent of the total home sales in March 2007 and nowhere was last March's drop more pronounced than in that price range.
Thirty-two homes selling between $300,000 and $500,000 contributed $12.5 million to March 2007 totals. In 2008, 15 homes in that range produced gross dollar volume of $6.04 million.
Although real estate inventories during the first quarter increased twofold to move closer to historical trends, Labor said scarcity of homes in the low end probably played a role in the decline.
"I think inventory was a factor," Labor said.
Sales at lower price points saw a significant decline in March, according to Carta's research. Home sales priced at $300,000 or lower totaled 52 in March 2007, but just 12 in March 2008.
The latest statistics don't mean there aren't condos and townhomes available this spring at prices lower than $500,000. Labor said 157 homes are currently listed below $500,000. Of the total, 127 are condos, including nine or 10 at Shadow Run and Walton Village on Whistler Road as well as at the Rockies on the other side of the ski base. A half-dozen Mountain Vista Townhomes recently have come on the market for prices from $449,000 to $479,000.
After helping investment clients develop 16 new homes priced from the mid- to high-$200,000s in Hayden's Sagewood subdivision throughout the past 3 1/2 years, Realtor Douglas Wipper has shifted his attention farther west, to Craig.
Wipper is with Coldwell Banker Silver Oak Real Estate in Steamboat.
Before they broke ground on the Sagewood homes, Wipper said he researched the average household income in the area and set out to deliver a product for which those average-income families could qualify.
They were stick-built homes on lots that began at $38,000 at the time and were constructed by contractor Dale Kruse.
"They're nice homes that we knew people would like," Wipper said.
Today, Wipper and his investment clients have three pre-sold single-family homes under construction in Craig.
"I'm in Craig because that's where people can afford to buy," Wipper said.