Summit County’s real estate boom shows no signs of slowing down

Data shows a majority of buyers are from the Front Range and out of state

Located at 460 Timber Trail Road in Breckenridge, this 7-bedroom, 7.5-bath home sold for $17 million in June 2021, setting a new record for Summit County. The home has a heated driveway, over 2,000 square feet of heated outdoor patio space, an 18-person in-ground custom hot tub, a three-car garage and ski-in, ski-out access at the base of Peak 8.
Photo from Jonathan Huffman / Summit Media

“I think that everyone wants to say there’s no inventory and everyone is fighting for the same listings, but the fact is that we’re selling more properties than we have in the last…(two years),” said Dana Cottrell, real estate broker for Summit Resort Group and past president of Summit Realtors.

Based off of Land Title Guarantee Company’s April report, Summit County’s real estate market shows no signs of slowing down.

As Cottrell said, the sheer volume of transactions is already outpacing what it was in 2019. According to the report, during the first four months of this year there were 632 residential real estate transactions. That’s a nearly 43% increase in transactions compared to the same time frame in 2019, the so-called last normal year of sales, when there were 443 transactions.

That difference jumps even more when compared to 2020. According to Land Title’s report, there were only 387 transactions from January through April 2020, meaning this year’s transactions are up about 63%.

“Everyone wants to talk about how there’s no inventory, and there’s no inventory because as soon as the property hits the market, within a couple days, it goes under contract,” Cottrell said.

Dennis Clauer, broker and owner of Real Estate of the Summit Inc., said this is because buyers aren’t going through some of the traditional steps usually taken during the buying process.

“We’re seeing very short supplies (and) people bringing cash to the table to close,” Clauer said. “That’s why the time, once it goes under contract to close, is being shortened so dramatically because buyers are not requiring, necessarily, inspections, appraisals or a loan. So with those three items the time factor can be reduced significantly.”

To their point, part of the issue in buying a home in Summit County isn’t because there’s limited inventory available but because the inventory is moving quickly due to buyers’ swift decisions.

According to the report, in April, there were 191 residential transactions alone, amounting to a total of $203.5 million in gross sales volume. About 64% of the homes sold were in the $1 million-plus category.

Comparing March 2021 to April 2021, the amount of homes sold in the $2 million-plus category also slightly increased. In March, 26% of the homes sold were sold for $2 million or more, while 27% of homes fell within this category in April.

Even more telling about the expensive market are homes sold between $1 million and $2 million. In March of this year, 33% of the homes sold fell within this range. Just one month later, that number was 37%.

“The price range of that $1 to $2 million is 37% of the market,” Cottrell said. “…That’s a pretty big chunk. (It’s) crazy that over $3 million in sales is 14%. That’s huge. That (category) is definitely going up.”

In general, the price of single-family homes in April was up 14% compared to 2020.

So who is buying these residential properties? According to Land Title’s report, 46% of the properties bought in April were from people who live in the Front Range and about 29% of the properties sold were to out-of-state domestic buyers.

This means very few locals make up the buying pool. In April, only 25% of the properties sold were to locals, and in March, that was even lower at 18%.

Looking at year-to-date statistics for the first few months of the year, the numbers paint a similar picture. From January to April of this year, only 20% of properties sold were to locals, 47% were bought by people from the Front Range and 33% were bought by people who are domestic, out-of-state buyers.

This is definitely a new wave that Cottrell said she’s been noticing for a while now.

“I used to always say that we were about a third local, a third Front Range and a third out-of-state and international,” Cottrell said. “The international and out-of-state (portion) has stayed pretty similar to that 33% (year to date). But where it’s really changed … locals are only making up 20% of that, so that has just been dropping, dropping, dropping.”

Among the non-Colorado buyers, the states with residents most frequently buying properties in Summit County are Texas, Florida, California, Missouri and Illinois.

Clauer said he believes this jump in buyers is due to those who were looking to make a lifestyle change, a phenomenon that was largely ignited by the pandemic.

“I think there’s been a compression of individuals that considered buying in the future — and by the future I mean individuals and families that have considered buying real estate in the mountains sometime in the next two-to-five years — and I believe COVID has compressed that,” Clauer said. “People have taken more of a stock of where they’re at in their lives, where they’re at in their careers and where they want to be. And to some degree, people are looking more at what they want to take back out of life rather than what they want to necessarily put into their careers. And what they want to take out of life is more family time and an opportunity to change the lifestyle that they’ve become accustomed to, perhaps in a city.”

A graphic shows the origins of homebuyers in Summit County this year along with the evolution of single-family home prices in the county.
Sawyer D’Argonne /

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