Routt County real estate volume up 14 percent in 3rd quarter

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— The latest analysis of real estate trends in seven Colorado mountain counties for the third quarter shows Routt County ranked in the top two with dollar volume up 14 percent compared with the same period in 2012

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At No. 1 was Summit County, with a 22.2 percent increase in the period that ended in September, according to the Land Title Guarantee Co. analysis.

In addition to Routt and Summit, the other counties include Garfield, Pitkin, San Miguel, Grand and Eagle.

The average cost of a home here was up 5.68 percent in the third quarter when compared with the same period in 2012. That’s when townhomes and condominiums are included in the mix. At the same time, the median price of a home here declined by 2.17 percent in the third quarter.

How can the average price go up at the same time the median (middle of the range) price went down?

Realtor Ulrich Salzgeber, who represents buyers at Buyer’s Resource Real Estate in Steamboat Springs, said it’s likely sales of million-dollar homes that is skewing average prices. At the other end of the market, the increased availability for financing modest condominiums has created a good deal of activity in the low end of the housing market, pulling the median price down.

“We are finally seeing some attractive financing for the condominiums,” Salzgeber said. “And we’ve seen an increase in sales of affordable condos, which were most likely purchased by people who required financing.”

He explained that during the real estate downturn earlier this decade, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lumped all resort condos into the “condo-tel” category and refused to purchase mortgages on condos, causing major lenders to drop out of the market.

It’s once again possible to finance a condo purchase, Salzgeber said, but not all prospective buyers are aware of that.

“Once word gets out that there’s no financing condos, it takes a long time to get over those perceptions,” Salzgeber said. “Now, there is financing for the first time in quite awhile.”

Third quarter trends suggest Routt County is seeing more purchases by local residents than is the case in many resort markets with 44.5 percent local, just 12.5 percent from the Front Range and 42.3 percent from outside Colorado.

In contrast, Summit County, with a market a little larger than Steamboat’s, saw 26.7 percent of buyers coming from within the county. Situated closer to Denver and straddling Interstate 70, Summit County saw 38.2 percent of its buyers coming from the Front Range in the third quarter and 34 percent from out of state.

Eagle County’s reputation might seemed to be based on the luxury Vail/Beaver Creek market, but 54.5 percent of its third quarter buyers were local, perhaps from cities like Eagle and Gypsum, with 14 percent from the Front Range and almost 30 percent from out of state.

Other positive trends for Routt County when the third quarter of 2013 is contrasted with the same period in 2012 show the number of transactions is up 7.8 percent, but the number of bank sales is down 51.4 percent to 17 in the quarter. The downward trend in banks sales held up in the other six counties.

Salzgeber said there remains a perception gap in Routt County between buyers and sellers.

“We are in an interesting time right now as the perception of the seller is that the market has fully recovered while the perception of the buyer is that they can still get a pennies-on-the-dollar deal. Neither of these perceptions are accurate,” Salzgeber said.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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