Real estate transactions hit levels not seen since 2007; vacant land sales up | SteamboatToday.com

Real estate transactions hit levels not seen since 2007; vacant land sales up

Many buyers seeking vacant residential, commercial land

This 0.25-acre lot in the Heritage Park subdivision listed with Ron Wendler of Colorado Group Realty recently sold for $155,000. Vacant lot sales in Routt County have increased in the past year.

— Real estate transactions during the third quarter of 2015 surpassed levels not seen since the third quarter of 2007, much to the surprise of some real estate brokers.

According to a third-quarter market report from longtime Steamboat Springs broker Doug Labor, the 326 transactions that took place in the third quarter (July through September) of 2015 were greater than 318 that took place in the third quarter of 2007, a year with more transactions overall in Routt County than any time in the past 20 years.

A look at total first-through-third quarter transaction numbers shows a steady increase in transactions from year to year since 2010.

"I think it's pretty comforting to know," said Labor, manager of Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty's downtown office. "You look at that graph, and it's just slowly but steadily coming up to where we were back then."

Considering all transactions by quarter over the past 20 years, fluctuations between quarters have also become less sporadic, another sign of a healthier market.

"It's a steadier market on a quarterly basis, so maybe that's showing us that there are more people buying throughout the year," Labor said.

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Labor said that, although transactions have gone up and prices of various property types have increased, dollar volume for the year has actually decreased. This decrease is likely because single-family home transactions have decreased — due in part to rising costs and limited inventory — while vacant land transactions, which typically generate less dollar volume, have been more common.

"The single-family home product has certainly not been as active, and land sales are picking up," Labor said.

In the first three quarters of 2015, there were 107 land transactions, up from 86 during the same period in 2014. There were 101 single-family home transactions in the first three quarters of the year, compared to 115 during the same period in 2014.

Broker/owner Ron Wendler, of Colorado Group Realty, said he's noticed a clear uptick in the number of buyers seeking vacant land, including families wanting to build homes, builders seeking land for speculative homes or buyers seeking to develop commercial land.

"There's a lot of people trying to pick up inexpensive lots under $200,000," said Wendler.

Wendler agreed part of the interest in vacant land comes from buyers who aren't finding their ideal homes on the market.

"The single-family home market on the low end is very tight with inventory. There's not a lot to choose from," Wendler said.

Labor said it appears some buyers seeking single-family homes have turned to Stagecoach, an area that saw a 100 percent increase in transaction activity over the first three quarters of 2014.

"With list prices increasing in Steamboat, single-family home buyers may be going outside of town to find affordable homes," Labor said.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow