Steamboat real estate trends hint at healthier market

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— The $1.52 million sale this week of a luxury condominium in One Steamboat Place at the base of Steamboat Ski Area is a reminder that in the midst of a struggling national economy, some people still are investing in high-end vacation homes.

The downward trend in prices for homes in the Yampa Valley coupled with the number of distressed properties that still must be absorbed color public perception of the local real estate market. But Realtor Doug Labor, of Buyer’s Resource Real Estate, has come up with some statistical information that he says puts Steamboat’s real estate market in perspective.

Through June, dollar volume through the Steamboat Springs Multiple Listing Service was $167.3 million, the sixth highest ever. That figure compares to $143.3 million at the same time in 2011. And with the average sales price down from last year, it’s safe to assume that a relative handful of high-end sales play a significant role in the overall market.

It’s natural to compare dollar volume through June to Steamboat’s all-time benchmark of $519.8 million set in the first six months of 2007. But in historical terms, only the five years from 2004 to 2008 achieved higher first-half numbers than 2012.

Of course, economies and markets must grow, and real estate inventory must be absorbed at a reasonable rate to have a healthy market. The number of listings on the market at the end of June — 1,868 — was the fourth highest. Still, that number is down 8 percent from 2011, and transactions — 379 — were up 38 percent from 2011.

The average price for real estate sold here in the first two quarters of 2012 — $441,577 — was down 16 percent from 2011. But that average price is down just $14,000 from the five higher first-half years of 2004 to 2008.

“I give more weight to transactions and absorption rate (than to high-end sales), where the latter is coming close to what we were seeing in the first half of 1998 to 2003,” Labor said.

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

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