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April 18, 2013
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Summit leads Western Slope in home value recovery

Assessed property values in Summit County declined only 3 percent on average during the last valuation period, a number that puts the local housing market at the forefront of price recovery on the Western Slope.

It will mean a smaller savings for taxpayers, but adds to the growing list of positive trends in the local real estate market.

"We are stabilizing," Summit County Assessor Beverly Breakstone said in an email. "Originally when we started collecting the data in July of 2010, we were a little concerned, but values have increased slowly but continuously over the two years."

Property values were assessed between July 2010 and June 2012 to determine property taxes due in 2014 and 2015.

Property values plummeted 17 percent between 2008 and 2010 in the midst of the recession and have continued to decline as much as 4.35 percent in some parts of the county. But the latest data seems to indicate the downward spiral is coming to an end locally, while Summit's neighbors to the west, including Eagle County, are still in free fall.

Eagle County and other counties on the Western Slope saw 12 percent to 28 percent drops in property values during the last assessment period.

"I do think it's going to be a low-end price recovery," said Allison Simson of Summit Real Estate in Dillon. "It's going to start from the low end, and our county has always been price-per-square-foot and overall price lower than those other counties."

The number of property sales in Summit County has climbed slowly but steadily over the last several months. Recently real estate agents have seen multiple offers come forward on appropriately priced properties, something that was very rare a few years ago. Sale prices have been slower to improve, particularly on the south end of the county, industry experts report, but they are beginning to move in an upward direction.

"Generally speaking, I think it's becoming a healthy market," Remax real estate broker Butch Elich said. "New properties are coming onto the market at prices that seem realistic and they're being absorbed. ... I think the future's bright."

Trends from the Front Range seem to agree.

A market dominated by second homes, Summit County tends to lag 18 months to two years behind the housing trends in the Denver metro area. If that pattern holds true, the local real estate market may in fact have good times ahead.

Counties across the Front Range have seen modest improvements in property values over the last two years and local real estate agents say sales have accelerated.

Still, if Summit County's market does continue on a positive track, industry experts don't expect it to be one instant upward surge but rather a gradual climb.

"I think we're going to see what I'm calling a sawtooth recovery," Simson said. "We'll see things go up a bit, and then people who've been waiting to put properties on the market will and that will make prices come down a bit. This year will be a bit of that sawtooth of uncertainty, but generally moving in an upward direction."

So far, Frisco has led the charge in home-value recovery, with valuations improving slightly less than 1 percent in the last assessment period. The north end of the county has generally done better - or rather less badly - than the south end, and new construction has also made a comeback in recent years, according to information from the assessor's office.


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The Summit Daily Updated Apr 18, 2013 11:57PM Published Apr 18, 2013 11:55PM Copyright 2013 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.