September inventory reverses 2007 trend

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— Ten months ago, Steamboat's inventory of properties for sale was at a five-year low. Things have changed.

When all categories of real estate are taken into account, the 2,100 properties on the multiple listing service represent a two-year supply, said Doug Labor of Buyer's Resource Real Estate.

"The five-year average is 1,338," Labor said. "We're up 159 percent."

Labor was careful to say that his two-year-supply calculation is based on the assumption that transaction volume in the second half of 2008 will roughly match the 462 sales through the end of June, effectively doubling the number to 920 sales at year end.

The category that stands out most to Labor doesn't reflect the biggest 10-month percentage jump in inventory.

Noting that condominiums typically represent second homes more than other categories - single-family and townhomes - Labor observed that the number of listings has increased from 135 on Nov. 1, 2007, to 320 at the beginning of September 2008.

"That's huge," Labor said, with the caveat that almost two months remain in the selling season, offering a chance that the inventory will be further reduced.

Comparing this year's inventory to that of 2007 could be misleading, Labor said. The record $1.59 billion in dollar volume last year naturally resulted in inventory shrinking by the end of the calendar year.

"We still don't have many slopeside condominiums. It's not a two-year supply in that category," Labor said.

Notably, the number of condominiums in the sub-$250,000 range has jumped by 433 percent, from nine to 39, with deed-restricted units such as those at First Tracks in Wildhorse Meadows coming on line.

It's hard to discern rhyme and reason in inventory trends among the various categories of real estate and the price ranges within them. The inventory of single-family homes priced between $500,000 and $1 million is up 192 percent while the number is up 80 percent for homes priced between $1 million and $1.5 million.

Townhomes priced between $1.5 million and $2 million are up just 6 percent, to 18, and townhomes priced between $2 million and $3 million are up 383 percent, from six units to 29.

The crowded market for single-family homes priced less than $1 million could be indicative of the national lending crisis hitting close to home. Those are typically primary residences, Labor said, and it's possible the number of homeowners listing homes in that range is indicative of five-year adjustable rate mortgages maturing.

Whether people view Steamboat's increased inventory of properties as a positive or negative development depends on whether they are buyers or sellers, Labor said.

"For buyers, it's great," he said. "Things are finally starting to loosen up. They don't have to make an offer the first day they identify a property they want. Sellers will either have to have patience or reduce the price to where it's going to sell quickly."

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