Home sales up, but prices tanking in Summit County | SummitDaily.com

Home sales up, but prices tanking in Summit County

Caddie Nath
Summit Daily News
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

As its neighbors suffered from a mid-summer home-sales slow down, Summit County saw a healthy increase in real estate transactions in July and August, though values have continued to drop.

Pitkin and Routt counties hit six- and eight-year lows respectively in home sales volumes in July, while Summit’s sales grew 18 percent in the last two months compared to the same period last year, according to data from the Summit County Assessor. As transactions countywide hit 767 sales year to date – up from 698 sales at the same point in 2010 – Breckenridge boasted a 21 percent year-to-date increase in re-sale tax revenue this year over last.

The trend indicates, at least when it comes to sales volume, Summit County may be sidestepping the summer real estate woes suffered in Eagle, Pitkin, Routt and San Miguel counties, as reported by the Denver Post this week.

While home values in parts of Aspen showed an increase this summer from last, volumes and values in much of Pitkin County suffered this year. Carbondale experienced an average home price drop of 75 percent in July of 2011 from the same month 2010. Routt County saw a 63 percent decline in real estate sales in July.

But local real estate professionals say Summit County weathered the tough summer well,

“We shouldn’t be lumped in,” said Daniel Johnson, of Resort Brokers Real Estate. “We’re doing a lot better (compared to other markets).”

In terms of sales, that’s true. But prices in Summit County have continued to soften in recent months, falling to an eight-year low in July.

The median sale price of a Summit County home fell from $386,000 in September of 2010 to $350,000 this month. Square footage fell from a median value of $270 in 2010 to $250 this year.

While the numbers are simple enough to track, the reasons for Summit’s recent success in sales volume is less clear. Some guess it has something to do with the fact that quality of life, rather than the opportunity for appreciation and investment, is what attracts homebuyers to Summit County, insulating the market from some of the broader economic instability.

“Here, buyers buy because of a lifestyle,” said Allison Simson, owner of Summit Real Estate. “That will never change. No matter what the market’s doing, people will want to connect with their families and find their spirit in the mountains.”

Real estate professionals say buyers these days are not investors, but individuals looking to purchase a house they will one day pass down to future generations or will get plenty of use out of themselves.

“(My theory is that) we have a broad base of buyers and we don’t rely nearly as much on the really high-end person as Vail and Aspen do,” Johnson said. “Our buyer base is maybe more solid than the person whose fortunes are drastically influenced by Wall Street.”

The Denver Post contributed to the reporting of this story.

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