Rocky Mountain Realtors pow-wow at Keystone
KEYSTONE – Real estate brokers from around the Rocky Mountain Region gathered at Keystone Friday to compare notes on real estate trends around the region, acknowledging that certain unique attributes characterize mountain resort markets, setting them apart from other types of real estate markets.The conference was sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Resort Alliance (RMRA), comprised of more than 3,000 real estate agents from nine real estate boards in Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and British Columbia, Canada.Nearly all the speakers from the various resort areas agreed that inventory is tight, with the law of supply and demand keeping prices high.In fact, Realtors from Park City, Utah, said inventory in their region is “non-existent” in some segments, following a boom last spring, with only two condos under $600,000 listed for sale.Sales pressure has also resulted in a crunch on worker housing in the area, with older properties quickly being sold, remodeled and put into the daily rental market, leaving some resort workers sleeping their cars, according to a Realtor from the Park City area.The RMRA representative from Whistler, B.C., reported a similar housing crunch that could get worse as the region gears up for the 2010 Olympics. Right now, the area only has one-third of the work force it needs to cover the projects that are already on the books, with much more in the way of Olympic-related capital improvement projects slated for the next few years.The Whistler area is also facing a shortage in high-end homes, with strong demand pushing prices in that segment of the market to record highs.In neighboring Vail, the name of the game is redevelopment, with $1 billion in private investment, along with $50 to $60 million in publicly funded improvements on tap. As recently reported by the Vail Daily, Eagle County is looking to set all-time real estate sales records, and has nearly doubled annual sales in the last two years.Reporting from Teton County, Jack Delay said it’s a little harder to track sales figures around Jackson Hole because Wyoming is a non-disclosure state, meaning sales prices don’t have to be reported publicly. Many multi-million dollars deals show up on the books as $1 sales, Delay said, explaining that the best source for analyzing sales data comes from county tax records.But based on total sales volume, the area could soon be headed for a record first-ever $1 billion sales year. Figures to date show $772 million in total sales for 2005, already up 40 percent from $478 million in 2004. A new development near the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort base will include a 40 percent employee housing component, which should help ease the perpetual worker housing shortage that seems to be an issue in all resort areas.A redevelopment trend could be thwarted in Steamboat Springs, said Dennis O’Connor, explaining that residents of the Routt County town recently elected a city council with a 4-3 anti-development tilt that has already banned real estate offices in certain high-traffic locations in town in order to strengthen the retail sector.As such, O’Connor said there is strong public sentiment for historic preservation and against tearing down any old buildings in the downtown area. A nine-month moratorium on building in the vicinity of the ski area base was recently lifted, and several large-scale developments will likely begin there soon.Overall, O’Connor described the Steamboat market as affordable, compared to some of the other areas, with median home prices (including multi-family units) sitting at about $266,500. The median price for single-family homes is $376,000, compared to $600,000 in Summit County, for example.In other developments in the Steamboat area, O’Connor said affordable housing rules were recently relaxed, now requiring developers to dedicate 15 percent (down from 30 percent) of any new project for affordable housing.Winter Park’s real estate sales for the entire year ($505 million) didn’t equal Vail’s November totals, said Realtor Gary Glenn. But the trend in Grand County is also up, especially with Intrawest on the scene.The mountain pine beetle epidemic has hit Grand County especially hard, with 75 percent of the forest turned brown in some areas. As a result, real estate agents are dealing with that issue in terms of contracts and disclosures, Glenn concluded.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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