Looming fiscal cliff adds urgency to Routt County real estate market

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— The distinct possibility that capital gains taxes will go up in the new year if the federal government allows itself to go over the fiscal cliff has generated a strong sense of urgency for buyers of Routt County real estate eager to get their purchase contracts closed this month.

“There’s a real big push,” Stan Urban, of Land Title Guarantee Co., said Friday.

If title companies are able to complete title searches in short order and get more transactions closed in the holiday week ahead, it just might be enough to allow the local market to carry out the equivalent of a two-minute drill in football and surpass 2011 in total dollar volume.

Final volume in 2011 was $450.6 million, with the help of $47 million in closings in December. Year-to-date sales in 2012 are $410.5 million, meaning the Routt County market needs to crack $40.1 million this month to surpass 2011.

Urban issued his analysis of November sales Tuesday and reported that 2012 dollar volume through Nov. 30 was up over the same period in 2011 by just 1.73 percent.

“Last year’s December was a big month, and this year’s December will make or break the year end,” Urban predicted in an email.

Doug Labor, of Buyers Resource Real Estate, said some positive signs at year’s end include the fact that the number of listings — 1,678 — on the multiple listing service is down 9 percent from the end of 2011.

“From talking to other Realtors, and in my own experience, in some market segments it’s tough to find property right now,” Labor said.

Labor said the number of transactions made through the Steamboat Springs Multiple Listing Service in 2012 is on track to surpass 2011, with 780 compared to 704 last year at this time.

After October 2012 dollar volume was up 37.4 percent to $43.4 million, November’s results came as a disappointment to the real estate community with $32.6 million in sales, down 19.7 percent from November 2011.

However, December has staged a rally with significant numbers of home sales in the $400,000 to $500,000 range. Unofficially, 13 homes in Routt County have sold this month for prices between $400,000 and $600,000. And the $6.4 million sale of the Walgreens property from one development company to another in Massachusetts also will bolster December numbers.

A half-dozen building lots have sold this month — a modest number, but one that could signal an upturn in new home construction, said Realtor Darrin Fryer, of Prudential Steamboat Realty.

November saw 55 homes sold with an aggregate value of $24.7 million. Five home sales of $1 million or more accounted for $7.34 million of the total. Fifteen homes that sold for between $300,000 and $500,000 accounted for $5.9 million in volume.

In that vein, there is a foreclosed home in Old Town Steamboat on Crawford Avenue listed for $367,500 by the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae). Because it is a Fannie Mae Home Path property, it can be purchased with as little as 3 percent down. The 2,016-square-foot home has four bedrooms and two bathrooms.

There were 18 sales of less than $200,000 in November, and of those, five were among the seven bank sales during the month.

Labor said a reason for optimism going into 2013 is the 90 pending contracts right now, which is within a dozen of what the market typically sees in busy months like August and September.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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