A huge December pushed 2012 High Country real estate sales to their highest levels since 2008.
Three years after the resort real estate market cratered in 2009, sales in six Colorado resort counties have rebounded.
Realtors say the rebound was supercharged in the last few months of the year, with December sales ranking as one of the strongest since the boom times of 2007.
In Pitkin County, where average prices in tony Aspen were $4.2 million in 2012 and most high-end deals are done in cash, December sales reached $270 million, up 116 percent over December 2011.
Aspen broker Tim Estin said uncertainty over tax changes planned for 2013, primarily estate and capital gains taxes, "likely fueled a number of these transactions before the end of the year and trumped the uncertainty caused by the 'fiscal cliff' debate."
In Eagle County, where December sales climbed 90 percent, buyers whittled away at a dwindling supply of properties.
"It was a combination of people searching for a good investment and watching a market near the bottom," said Vail broker Gil Fancher, who posted his best month ever in December with a mix of high-end, midmarket and fractional sales. "People are realizing I can park money in this area and come and use it or I can rent it and I can even gain a little back on my investment when the market returns."
That return has been slow, especially to the levels seen in 2007. Back then, real estate sales in Eagle, Grand, Pitkin, Routt, San Miguel and Summit counties topped a record $10 billion. Two years later, the economy reeled, resort-area foreclosures reached record levels and prices plummeted. Total sales in those counties in 2009 barely hit $3.6 billion. Last year, sales in the six counties reached $4.9 billion, still less than half of 2007 but 22 percent ahead of 2011 and 37 percent ahead of the 2009 low point.
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