A modest stream of new inventory sales in downtown Steamboat Springs has contributed to 71 percent growth in dollar volume this year compared with 2009.

Photo by Tom Ross

A modest stream of new inventory sales in downtown Steamboat Springs has contributed to 71 percent growth in dollar volume this year compared with 2009.

Luxury buyers return to Steamboat market

Total dollar volume for sales is up 71 percent from 2009

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— Colorado Group Realty broker/owner Jon Wade told more than 200 of his associates and fellow Realtors last week that real estate trends are moving in the right direction.

“The 2010 total dollar volumes sold in all areas of the market are down significantly from the highs of 2007 — over 60 percent,” Wade said. But things are improving year over year, he said.

Through the end of Septem­ber and the third quarter of 2010, Bruce Carta, of Land Title Guarantee Co., reports dollar volume of $389 million compared with $227 million at the same benchmark in 2009, a 71 percent increase.

Wade was speaking during the annual Real Estate Roundup hosted by his firm. Carta, who did some of the statistical research for the event, previously reported that 2007 was a record year for the Routt County market with $1.587 billion in dollar volume, up $600 million from the dollar volume just two years earlier in 2005.

In contrast, 2009 saw total dollar volume of $439 million.

Wade told his office that the return of the luxury market this year has been a significant factor, boosting overall sales volume and skewing average prices per square foot.

Average price per square foot for single-family homes here peaked north of $400 in 2008, Wade said, compared with about $225 in 2006. However, average prices per square foot have remained strong in 2010 at about $290, largely because of sales of million-dollar homes.

“The average sales price has increased from 2009 as higher-end buyers have returned to the market,” he said. “However, any particular property is probably lower than last year. The overall number is influenced by the return of the luxury market.”

Unlike single-family homes, Wade said, condominiums and townhomes saw prices per square foot drop this year from 2008 and 2009 as sales of new product tapered off.

Lower-priced condominiums also have staged a modest comeback this year, Wade said.

“There is actually good financing available for these as primary residences, and we’re seeing sales get done,” he said.

Steamboat and Routt County still are buyers’ markets, Wade said.

“It’s easy for buyers to wait in this market, so they wait until property looks like a value,” he said. “On the sellers’ side, the strategy of price it high and wait for an offer and then negotiate just hasn’t worked.”

Distressed properties account for 17 to 20 percent of sales year to date, and that share could increase next year, he said. To his knowledge, there have been only nine foreclosure sales where someone other than the bank wound up with a property.

Looking into 2011, Wade said depending on the type of property, market conditions are becoming more favorable for sellers who bought before 2006.

“This could be the year they get off the fence,” he said.

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