Despite August downturn, Routt County real estate market up in 6 of 8 months

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— A preliminary report shows that August 2012 real estate dollar volume in Routt County will be down about $3 million, or about 6.4 percent — compared with August 2011, which saw $43.48 million in sales — breaking a summerlong trend of rising volume.

June 2012 was up more than 64 percent to $65 million, and July was up 5.7 percent. Still, the local market has posted gains in six of the first eight months of the year, according to Stan Urban, of Land Title Guarantee Co.

Realtor Jon Wade, of Colorado Group Realty, wrote this month in a blog post that the local market is far from strong but that he sees encouraging signs.

“We have seen prices stabilize and, in some cases, improve as distressed property has been reduced in different parts of our market,” Wade wrote. “This has been happening in enough parts of our market that we have a good idea when other parts are about to recover.”

Wade added that inventory was down about one-third in early September and down by one-half for banked-owned and short-sale properties.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, wrote on the association's website this month that there is a relationship between inventory supply and time on market.

“As inventory has tightened (nationally), homes have been selling more quickly,” he wrote. “A notable shortening of time on market began in the spring, and this has created a general balance between homebuyers and sellers in much of the country.”

Yun told an audience of Steamboat Realtors on Aug. 10 that by 2014 or 2015, fewer homeowners will be upside down in their homes, home prices will have continued to rise, and homeowners’ equity will have increased, making it easier to sell real estate.

Yun also wrote on the website that the current market equilibrium is supporting sustained price growth nationally and that correctly priced homes tend to sell quickly while those that aren’t often languish on the market.

At the end of July, there was a 6.4 month supply of homes on the market at the current sales pace, which is 31 percent below a year ago, when there was a 9.3 month supply, he added.

Wade observed that the Steamboat market tends to lag the national market by one to two years.

“In reality, we follow the markets our buyers come from,” he wrote. “The Front Range of Colorado makes up about 50 percent of our nonresident owners and buyers, and (the Front Range) has been recovering since early 2011.”

The other half of Steamboat’s buyers outside Routt County comes from markets that clearly are on the road to recovery, Wade added. Those markets include Minneapolis, Florida, New York and California, among others.

Urban pointed to a report by the Land Title Association that delineates a trend that is hindering the market on a national basis. The association reports that in August, the length of time needed to close a real estate transaction increased to 47 days from 43 in August 2011. And the average time to close a refinance of a mortgage increased by two weeks to 51 days.

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

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