Listings down, prices up in mountain towns
The pandemic helped boost home sales in mountain towns this fall, particularly quick and competitive sales of single-family homes
Josh and Toni German from Denver had dreams for years of living full-time in a mountain town, but jobs kept them tied to the Front Range.
During the pandemic’s work-from-home requirements, the Germans took the step to relocate to a quiet neighborhood west of Steamboat Springs.
“We were working remotely because of COVID, and basically we decided we were going to make the leap and let our bosses know,” said Toni German, who works in brand management. “If they needed us to come back in, we agreed to be willing to visit the Front Range offices several times a month.”
Similar pandemic stories helped boost home sales in mountain towns this fall, particularly quick and competitive sales of single-family homes.
“The single-family home market is as tight as it gets,” said Steamboat Springs Realtor Ben Blonder.
Real estate experts say pandemic influences include pent-up demand from buyers, limited availability as potential sellers choose to remain in place, interest rates as low as 2.5% for a 30-year mortgage, and significant increases in location-neutral workers who have proven productive. The active summer buying season extended into fall after limited in-person showings in spring.
Colorado Association of Realtors spokesperson Kelly Moye said the single-family home market in the popular, smaller resort communities in Gunnison, La Plata, Routt, San Miguel and Summit counties showed an average 10% fewer listings in September 2020 compared with the previous September.
“With higher demand from buyers, these markets appreciated an average of 12% since this time last year,” Moye said.
Realtor Dana Cottrell in Summit County reported only 14 free-market single-family home listings priced at less than $1 million across the county in mid-September, a more than 50% drop from the previous year. Similarly, Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors CEO Ulrich Salzgeber reported five single-family homes in the greater Steamboat Springs area less than $1 million compared to dozens a year before. Salzgeber said single-family homes that might take four months to sell in past years now may go under contract within 48 hours.
“You have to pull out all the stops to get your offer accepted,” Blonder said, including offering more than asking price and being willing to purchase a property “as is.”
Realtor Jarrod Nixon in Durango said current transactions involve little negotiation on prices and repairs, except in cases of safety issues.
“I’ve never experienced a market like this. It just boggles the mind in the amount of activity and the buying frenzy,” said Nixon, a broker in Durango since 2003. He said the market is experiencing bottlenecks for timely services from appraisers, title companies and inspectors.
Buyers wanting to purchase this fall need to be prepared to maneuver faster to compete against other offers with their down payment on hand, no contingency of their own home to be sold and a fully pre-approved loan.
The tight single-family home inventory and price appreciation have put dreams to relocate on hold for some.
“The alternative is you rent and you wait, or you buy a townhome,” Blonder said. “But really the answer for most people is just wait.”