Routt County real estate market suffers at end of 2013

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— The nationwide drop in home sales toward the end of 2013 has been blamed partly on cold weather.

In a news release, the National Association of Realtors chief economist, Lawrence Yun, attributed the 8.7 percent drop in the pending home sales index for December to “unusually disruptive weather.”

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But when it turns cold and 60.25 inches of snow falls in December at Steamboat Ski Area, it’s cause for celebration here.

Routt County’s real estate market, however, was not as enthused.

According to a report from Land Title Guarantee Co., December’s dollar volume was down more than 53 percent compared to 2012 and a 27 percent drop from 2011.

There were 110 transactions in December 2013 while there were 130 in December 2012.

The end of 2012 was an aberration compared to the rest of the year, with a number of large, one-off sales closing in December, but December 2013’s comparison to the same month in 2011 further illustrates the drop off in sales.

June to October was solid for 2013, Colorado Group Realty broker/owner Jon Wade said. There were only four months in 2013 that saw a lower dollar volume than last year, according to Land Title’s report.

But in December, Wade said, the number of pending sales showing up in the Multiple Listing Service dropped as low as 88 from highs between 130 to 140 in the fall.

“People didn't seem to be looking as much in late October, November and December,” he said.

Buyers could have been taking advantage of the great snow, or as Wade suggests, they could’ve been taking some time to “digest after some solid activity in the fall.”

Heading into October, Routt County’s dollar volume for the year was up 14 percent compared to 2013, but the market ended the year only about 4 percent up.

However, Wade is hopeful that January marks a return to the activity seen in the fall.

Wade said Thursday there were 114 pending sales showing up in the MLS.

“In December, at 88, we’re really down,” he said about the pending sales. “But being back to 114, that’s a big jump.”

Wade said that it’s a good time for sellers and buyers. Sellers are seeing more offers that wouldn’t have been there in past years, buyers still can take advantage of prices that have yet to jump significantly and historically low interest rates benefit buyers and sellers who are looking to get back into the market.

“Home prices rising faster than income is also giving pause to some potential buyers, while at the same time a lack of inventory means insufficient choice,” Yun said in the National Association of Realtors release. “Although it could take several months for us to get a clearer read on market momentum, job growth and pent-up demand are positive factors.”

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

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