By the numbers
Top five 2009 real estate buys by percent of discount from asking price
Type — Location — Description — List — Purchase — Discount
■ Land — South Valley — 57 acres — $4.995M — $2.5M — 50 percent
■ Commercial — Downtown — Yacht Club Rest. — $3M — $1.9M — 37 percent
■ Ranch — North Routt — Seedhouse Ranch — $2.2M — $1.4M — 36 percent
■ Land — Stagecoach — 0.94-acre lot — $21,500 — $14,000 — 35 percent
■ Land — Steamboat — 0.3-acre lot — $189,000 — $125,000 — 34 percent
Source: Doug Labor, of Buyers Resource Real Estate
Steamboat Springs At $113.41 per square foot, the log-sided home at 250 Hillside Drive likely qualifies as one of the best Routt County real estate buys of 2009.
If he wanted to resell the house, “the investor who bought it could complete extensive remodeling, price it aggressively ahead of that neighborhood and still come out ahead,” said transaction broker Beth Bishop, of Prudential Steamboat Realty.
The house measures 6,472 square feet, 5,555 of which are finished (the price per square foot was calculated on only the finished space in the home). A standout design feature is the large turreted roof on one wing.
The seller was Chase Bank, which acquired the home through its acquisition of Washington Mutual. WaMu previously had put the house in foreclosure.
Original owner Marcus Williams spoke to the Steamboat Pilot & Today in early summer 2009 about the foreclosure. He said Washington Mutual had not responded to his efforts to contact them and work out a payment plan that would make him current on his mortgage.
Bishop said she and colleague Lisa Olson had listed the home in July 2008 for $1.395 million and that the asking price was supported by a current appraisal. The two Realtors, who work as a team, lost the listing when it went into foreclosure but didn’t forget about the property.
“Lisa and I had the original listing,” Bishop said, “so we had that familiarity with the property. It’s beautifully designed, and it’s a beautiful space. We just kept getting it out there.”
When it came back on the market at $697,500 last year, Bishop showed the house to a client who had been searching for the right property for the right price for several years.
If there was a catch to the home situated between downtown Steamboat and the ski mountain, it was that when the original owner moved out, it was left without cabinetry, appliances and light fixtures. The condition of the house might have deterred most buyers and certainly most lenders, Bishop said. Lenders are wary of property that isn’t livable because it would be difficult to resell the note on the property.
Her buyer saw an opportunity to upgrade the finishes in the house.
“It enabled him to add significant improvements and upgrades, so it really would be a luxury home,” she said. “It was almost easier without everything else.”
Ironically, even though it was the seller, Chase Bank would not make the mortgage loan for the purchase because it didn’t think the debt would be marketable, Bishop said.
“The buyer had to come up with the cash, which he was able to do,” she said.
Bishop’s deal may not be typical of the Steamboat market last year — the Hillside Drive house sold for less than its appraised value at the time of the contract — but the deal is emblematic of a challenging year when some buyers were landing on unprecedented bargains, and many sellers declined to budge on their asking price. Realtor Doug Labor, of Buyers Resource Real Estate, said the 467 transactions posted by the Steamboat Springs Multiple Listing Service were the lowest in 15 years.
However, even as some buyers were finding bargains, Labor said the 2009 average purchase price of $571,000 ranked third to the all-time high of $625,000 and came close to the second spot on the list — the average price of $580,000 paid in 2007.
“The year ending total shows 2009 was one of the worst years ever,” Labor said. “But a short-term look shows a turnaround has begun to take hold.”
Since the first quarter of 2009 posted just 62 sales, three successive quarters have shown growth in sales. The 163 deals that closed in the fourth quarter of 2009 — the highest of the year — are significant, Labor said, because the fourth quarter usually ranks third lowest of the year.
Another encouraging sign, Labor said, is that the number of listings on the market declined throughout last year by 15 percent, to 1,959.
Bishop said foreclosures and short sales clearly are getting the attention of bargain hunters in the Steamboat market but that they are not the only sources of value.
She and Olson have a 1,990-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bath duplex/townhome in West End Village listed for at $445,000, or $223 per square foot. It has an extra family room with a kitchenette, a gas fireplace and a two-car garage on an alley behind the house.
She cited a Pamela Lane home listed by Ray Wright, of Steamboat Village Brokers, when it sold this winter for $450,000. Built in 1996, the 1,940-square-foot home was owned by an agency that provides housing for federal employees. The selling price translated to $231 per square foot.
There was also a noteworthy sale in a neighborhood off Fish Creek Falls Road in October when a 1,568-square-foot house built in 1991, and not in foreclosure, sold for $410,000, or $261 per square foot.