Photo by John F. Russell
In 2010, there were 303 foreclosure fillings in Routt County. About 50 of those were withdrawn or resolved. This year hasn’t started off any better with 40 notices on the books, which is a record for January.
Steamboat Springs Jon Wade, of Colorado Group Realty, told an audience at a business outlook breakfast last week that an increased number of foreclosures seems inevitable in 2011, but he also pointed out some more encouraging signs in Steamboat Springs’ housing market.
“Distressed properties will continue to define the market,” Wade said. “It will continue to consolidate, and short sales and foreclosures will increase significantly. It’s not pleasant, but the sooner we work through them, the better values will be — the longer foreclosures go on, the lower values will go.”
His concerns about foreclosures were backed up by the latest statistics available from county government.
Routt County Public Trustee Jeanne Whiddon said she expects January foreclosure filings, called notices of election and demand, to reach 43 by the end of the month, a record for the first month of the year. Already, she has 40 in the books.
There were 303 notices in 2010 (with about 50 withdrawn or resolved), a record for Routt County.
In spite of those sobering numbers, Wade said, he’s showing properties to an increasing number of location-neutral professionals and people getting ready to retire who have reached the conclusion it’s time to buy.
“Buyers have been saying that to me for the last few months, and that is a big change.
“People want to retire here for our lifestyle, our hospital and because their family wants to visit them here,” Wade said. “Only so much more can be built here, and there’s little appetite to grow.”
Custom home construction could see a modest rebound in 2011, Wade predicted.
“Custom building will turn on a little faster than most expect as land prices adjust and people moving here start to have a hard time finding what they are looking for,” Wade said. “It won’t be big, but the best builders will start to see more work. Building prices won’t get significantly lower than they are now.”
Wade said he doesn’t see multifamily projects coming back for at least three to five years, in part because even developers with plans on the books would be likely to go back through the city planning process to redesign their buildings to fit market conditions.
Wade said he thinks some home sales recorded in the fourth quarter 2010 will push more homeowners toward foreclosure. As an example, he cited the recent sale of a 1,500-square-foot original Stagecoach townhome for about $70,000. He knows about a second, in better condition, that is due to close for a similar amount.
“What happened late last year put a lot more people underwater” in their homes, meaning their homes now are worth significantly less than what they paid for them, Wade said. “Some people have been hanging on with reduced employment. Some of them are going to start walking away from their homes. At some point, you have to move beyond it. This summer will be very telling.”
The Stagecoach townhomes that got Wade’s attention sold in the $80,000 range in the 1980s and peaked at $262,000 in 2008, he said.