Lack of info is bad for business
SUMMIT COUNTY – A lack of accurate information about Summit County’s real estate transactions is costing the area dearly, or so says Breckenridge real estate broker Andrew Biggin.
Biggin pleaded Monday with the Summit County Commissioners to revive “Summit Profiles,” a quarterly county publication that died during last year’s budget cuts. Biggin, formerly president of the Summit Association of Realtors, wasn’t just talking. He brought money to the table.
“I had my board approve $5,000 to collect the back data,” he said, referring to information that hasn’t been reported in the past 11 months, “and $200 a month going forward. (Summit Daily News’ publisher) Mike Bennett is willing to donate $6,000 (initially) and $500 a month going forward.
“It’s very, very important for the PR of the county, to encourage businesses to invest. If you have somebody like Bubba Gump’s come in, they want to know the demographics of the county. And when (the information) comes from the county, it’s a legitimate, trusted source.”
The commissioners asked County Manager Ron Holliday to sit down with Biggin and come back to them with a recommendation.
Summit County code enforcement officer Jerry Vest, formerly the county’s statistician, for years compiled information for “Summit Profiles.” Previously called “After the Facts,” the booklet reported and published data for 26 years. Last year, Vest’s position was cut to half time, and the publication was eliminated.
Summit Profiles included quarterly numbers on building permits issued, retail sales tax revenue collections, sales of multi-family, duplex and single-family units, and average price per unit sold. Those statistics were broken down by town and basin, then added together to show Summit County totals in each category.
In the publication’s absence, Biggin said he was overwhelmed last year with phone calls from people seeking the data.
“Misinformation was printed in the Front Range newspapers, which I felt was detrimental,” Biggin told the commissioners.
One of those stories, he said, reported lots that had once sold for $200,000 were now listed at $65,000.
“I’ve got reporters saying, “You’re going down the tubes,’ and it’s just not true,” Biggin said. “We’ve had a rough time real estate-wise. We’ve had a stagnation in our market, but it hasn’t depreciated to the scale reported in Front Range newspapers.”
The Summit Association of Realtors, he said, doesn’t have “the time and expertise Jerry had” to pick up the responsibility. Additionally, the software Vest used to compile the information belongs to the county, Biggin pointed out.
County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom said with the money Biggin discussed, an effort to revive “Summit Profiles” shouldn’t come at much – if any – cost to the county.
“I’m certain we will find a way to do it,” he said. “It’s important public information. It’s all public record, and everyone should have access to it. The problem is, the software that was developed by our IS (information services) department is what Jerry needs to create the data.”
Commissioner Tom Long, however, said he believes the real estate community stands to gain the most from Biggin’s proposal.
“(Biggin) said it benefits the public, but frankly, the realtors have been the only ones that I’ve heard talking about that information,” he said.
Holliday said Biggin’s proposal has a few potential solutions, including licensing Vest to use the software for such purposes.
Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at email@example.com
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