Real estate marked by slow, steady growth in 2013

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— Routt County’s housing market for 2013 was defined by slow, steady growth.

“Still slow and still steady is probably the direction that we’re going,” said Doug Labor, of Buyer’s Resource Real Estate of Steamboat.

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Real estate transactions showed linear growth while transactions showed the same decline throughout the year.

Labor said for prices to increase this past year, Routt County had to have three things happen: inventory decrease, activity to pick up and foreclosures to stop driving the market.

“Inventory continues to go down,” Labor said. “Interest has certainly gone up from the prior year.

“It’s amazing how linear it is ... it’s very steady and consistent with going up and inventory going down.”

Foreclosures continued to drop in 2013 and are no longer driving the real estate market.

The local market stopped hemorrhaging in 2012, Labor said, and 2013 saw base prices rise.

This past year “is where we found the bottom, so to speak,” he said. “In some areas, things are starting to ratchet up.”

Median prices were up over last year for townhomes, condos, single-family homes and land, according to data from Labor.

Out of a list of nine market indicators compiled by Labor, the only one showing negative movement was rising interest rates for mortgages.

And he said he would expect more of the same steady growth for 2014.

One possible issue, Labor said, is the diverging mindsets of buyers and sellers.

“I was seeing some of that this past year,” he said. “Sellers thought that the market was better than it was, and buyers thought it was worse.”

The frenetic pace that Denver’s real estate market went through in the first part of 2013 could bode well for Steamboat.

“We’re usually a year to a year and a half behind the Denver market,” Labor said. “Knowing how well they did this last year, that should be another indication that things will continue to improve.”

Also in 2013, Labor said, Steamboat saw almost the same number of condo sales as occurred in 2002. While new condo inventory came on the market in 2002, no major developments were completed in 2013, he said.

The lack of condo projects on the horizon could lead to an inventory shortfall in the near-term, Labor said.

One number that continues to lag is the number of Realtors in the Steamboat area.

The Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors had more than 435 members in 2007. Now, it has 306 members.

“It’s not an easy business,” Labor said. “The amount of time you have to put into it and money it takes has to pan out.

“It’s not the semi-order taking that was being done in '05, '06 and '07. It’s very competitive.”

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

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