Record-breaking real estate sales send prices soaring and create intense competition among buyers

Realtor: 10% increase in average single-family home price an all-time record

A "for sale" sign is posted outside a real estate office in Frisco on March 25, 2020. The average price of a single-family home went up over $130,000 in 2020 amid a record-setting year for real estate.
Photo by. Liz Copan / Studio Copan

The Summit County real estate market set a record in 2020 for breaking the $2 billion mark in sales. A shrinking housing inventory coupled with unprecedented demand in the past year has left Summit County with soaring prices.

According to Land Title Guarantee Co. data, the average price of a single-family home was $1.39 million in 2020, up more than $130,000 from the 2019 average of $1.26 million.

Jack Wolfe, broker at LIV Sotheby’s International Realty in Breckenridge, said the 10% increase in the average single-family home price between 2019 and 2020 is an all-time record. He added that there was a 45% increase in homes sold over $1 million in 2020 as well as a 97% increase in homes sold over $2 million.

“The prices are definitely moving up; there’s no question,” Wolfe said. “And the momentum of 2020 is carried over to 2021.”

Demand for Summit County homes is clearly exceeding supplies, Wolfe said. Aniela Wasmanski, broker associate at LIV Sotheby’s, added that low interest rates also are fueling a competitive homebuying market. Wolfe said many of his clients are attracted to homes in the area because they are working remotely and living in Summit County is appealing.

Wolfe said some of the shift in the market is here to stay, giving the example of a client who was told she likely would never work in person again, so her family is looking to permanently relocate to Summit County. Wasmanski said the type of clientele purchasing million-dollar homes in the area often are in a position in their company where they can make the decision to permanently work remotely.

Wasmanski said sellers are motivated to put their homes on the market because there are a lot of buyers looking to make a purchase and a high likelihood that the home will sell quickly for a high price.

“We’re coaching our clients to be ready to go, have their track shoes on,” Wolfe said. “We’re just in a situation where if you hesitate, you may not get the home. So some examples might be, if a client can buy with cash versus with a loan, that puts them in a better position with the seller.”

Clients are also advised to get prequalification letters if they cannot pay in cash, Wolfe said. Wasmanski said she has been FaceTiming with clients to show them a home.

“It’s probably the fastest buyers have ever had to make a decision on purchasing,” Wasmanski said. “… The people that are positioned and ready to go are seeing success. In this market, we’re seeing people act same day up to the $3.5 million homes.”

Leah Canfield, broker associate at Coldwell Banker Mountain Properties, said that because of the high demand in Summit County right now, buyers are more likely to make aggressive offers and sellers are more likely to ask a higher price. Competition is through the roof, and Canfield said she is seeing as many as 10 offers on a single property. That compares with the past decade, when Canfield said Summit County just wasn’t the type of place where it was common for properties to get multiple offers. She added that properties are going under contract in the first 24 to 48 hours, and if there’s a cash buyer, properties can close in as few as 10 days.

“We’re seeing properties going for $100,000-plus over the asking price. We’re seeing, unfortunately, … a lot of loan buyers just pushed to the sidelines because there’s a lot of cash buyers that can outcompete them,” Canfield said. “As a broker, we’re starting to see stuff that we haven’t seen in ages, which are buyers who are really not just competing on price but terms. People are waiving inspections. People are waiving due diligence. They’re doing whatever it takes to make their offer the most competitive.”

Canfield noted that Summit County tends to lag behind Front Range trends. She said that 12 to 18 months ago, the Denver area was starting to see a highly competitive real estate market, similar to what Summit County is experiencing now. While there is an uptick in both in-state and out-of-state buyers, Canfield said the pool of international buyers also has increased, which is another indicator of rising prices. Sellers who were considering selling their home prior to the soaring market are now eager to jump in.

“We’re getting a lot of the same message from sellers, which is that, ‘Hey, we were thinking about selling for a bit,’ or ‘We’ve been needing to make this move’ or ‘We’ve been needing to make this change, and the market is just so strong right now that we just feel like now is the right time,'” Canfield said.

Alongside a highly competitive market-rate housing arena, Summit Combined Housing Authority Executive Director Amy Priegel said the county has seen unprecedented demand for deed-restricted housing. In the most recent lottery for the next round of homes in the Silverthorne Smith Ranch neighborhood, she said 3.5 applications were received for each available unit, the highest interest in a workforce housing lottery in years.

“There certainly does seem to be a very strong correlation between what’s going on with the market inventory and pricing and the increased demand for deed-restricted homes,” Priegel said.

Priegel said the Housing Authority also has heard from a lot of people who live and work in Summit County that they make too much money to qualify for existing deed-restricted properties but are getting outbid on market-rate homes by investors and cash buyers. Plus, Priegel said there’s a huge price gap between the highest priced deed-restricted property and market-rate homes.

In addition to a difficult housing market, she added that people are also having a hard time finding residential units for rent.

“Rentals are still tough for folks, too,” Priegel said. “We’re still getting a lot of calls, particularly now, (saying), ‘My rental is coming up in April, and my landlord isn’t going to renew my lease for a variety of reasons,’ some of which are related to landlords wanting to sell while the market is hot.”

The good news, Priegel said, is that rental units are the focus of developments in the works. For example, Breckenridge’s Alta Verde workforce housing development will feature 80 rental units.

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