Summit County Real Estate Sales Volume Rises But Dollars Decline

July showed mixed results for real estate sales in Summit County. Transaction volume was up 6 percent versus a year ago with 215 sales but dollar volume declined by 11 percent to $104.6 million. Both figures showed modest declines from June.
Those results were consistent with the national trend according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report for July. Nationally, in a survey of 53 markets, 49 showed June to July declines averaging 13.1 percent. Year to date home sales are down 8.8 percent while unit sales in Summit County are down 3%.
The lower end of the market was quite active. Sales in the month below $400,000 accounted for 53.4 percent of all residential sales versus 46.9 percent in all of 2015. The average price per square foot in this segment is up over 20 percent from July of 2015 and the average days on market have been cut in half to 27 days. Many of these properties are getting multiple offers and selling in less than a week.
At the higher end the $1-1.5 million range was pretty active with 16 transactions representing 9.1 percent of all sales or nearly twice its 2015 share. The mid-tier price points and very high end were both below their historical levels.
The average single family home price in the county rose to $941,735, up 1 percent from June and 9 percent from a year ago.
Multi-family ASPs fell about 1 percent both year over year and month to month. That is reflective of the mix shift with more low end sales rather than an actual deterioration in prices.
While inventories have shown seasonal improvement, the gains were quite modest in July with multi-family units actually falling. Overall, inventories are down 23 percent from a year ago. Higher prices and lower inventories are the key contributors to the lower year over year volume.

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Sales stumble in June

Summit County real estate took a major tumbled in June when compared with the year ago month. Dollar volume declined 13 percent to $113 million and transaction volume was off 16% with 220 sales. However, things aren’t as bad as those numbers may imply as the year ago period was a blockbuster month having registered gains of 86 percent and 69 percent in dollars and transactions respectively. Even with the decline from 2015, the 2016 figures showed a 62 percent gain in dollars and 42 percent increase in transactions over the 2014 levels.
The average year to date selling price for a single family home in the county held fairly steady versus May at just short of $937,000. That mark is up 8.4 percent from a year ago and up 9.4 percent from the year end figure. Multi-family properties had an average selling price of $393,575 down about 1 percent from May of this year and off about 2 percent from the 2015 year end number.
While there were a couple of sales above $3 million, the $1-3 million range was a little soft. In June, that range represented 7 percent of transaction volume versus 8.3 percent in the prior 5 months and 9.2 percent all of last year. Conversely the share of the $700,000-$1 million range was ran a couple of points ahead of last year as did the $200,000 to $300,000 range.

I have had a number of people ask me about the apparent slowdown in the higher end of the Summit County market. It would appear there are several factors contributed to the lull.
Oil and gas prices would be first on my list of causes. The dramatic drop in prices over the last several has had a significant negative impact on petroleum related investment, employment and income. Oil and gas has been a major industry for Colorado, from which half our buyers hail as well as Texas one of our largest sources of non-Colorado buyers.
A second factor is home prices. While the lower end of the market is up modestly, higher end home prices have moved up dramatically. As an example, the Highlands is the largest concentration of high end homes in the county. In 2011, the average price per square foot of a Highlands sale was $287. In 2015 that number had risen 38 percent to $397. That increase was nearly twice that of homes priced under $1 million.
A third factor is the sluggish economy. So far we are experiencing the slowest economic recovery since the great depression with 11 straight years of sub 3 percent growth for the first time ever. With the last two quarter averaging 1.2% it’s a good bet that 2016 will be sub 3 percent as well.
On top of all this we have a Presidential election with neither candidate generating overwhelming support, even within their own party.

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Seasonal Improvement but weaker YOY Results

May continued the pattern of seasonal improvement in Summit County real estate sales but the year over year comparisons were less than spectacular for the third month in a row. Total volume rose to 197 transactions up from 155 in April. The May 2016 number, however, was 4% below the level of a year ago.
Dollar volume also rose nicely month over month from $89 million in April to $114.9 million in May. Again, however, May 2016 was down from the year earlier month, declining by about 1%.
With three months in a row of lackluster year-over-year comparisons, the year to date numbers also are showing little progress. Total dollar volume is up 3% to $420.5 million while transactions are essentially flat at 738 vs 740 at this point last year.
While recent sales growth has been tepid, new listings have exploded. As a result, inventories are up sharply. This is especially true for single family homes. Across the county 49 single family homes went under contract. Over the same 30 days, there were 121 new listings. As a result the inventory of single family homes is up better than 20%.
So far this year, the average selling prices for single family homes has been up quite substantially. Year to date, that number stands at $934,437. That is up 8% from a year ago and 9% from the full year 2015 figure. With the rising inventories and sluggish sales growth, that number is likely to drift lower in the coming months if sales activity doesn’t improve.
Multi-family pricing hasn’t kept up with the gains seen in the single family market. In fact, so far this year the average price for a multi-family property was $397,071 versus $399,499 at this point last year and a similar number for all of 2015.
Year to date the mix of sales has skewed a little upward. Lower priced properties – under $400,000 – are running behind the level of a year ago while properties over $1 million are somewhat ahead. This year there have been 4 sales over $3 million totaling $18 million versus 6 totaling $20 million all of last year.

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Steady Seasonal Improvement in Summit County Real Estate

As is normally the case, sales activities have seen small but steady increases from the typical low point in January. April transaction volume stepped up to 155 sales from 136 in March, an increase of 14%. The year over year increase was a far more modest 1%. Dollar volume in April rose to 89.0 million versus $86.3 million in the prior month. That dollar volume, however, was down from the $92.4 million of a year ago. Helped by the very strong February results, year to date transactions are up 1% to 541 while dollar sales have increased 5% to $305.6 million. While these are solid numbers, something is going to have to change if we are going to match the overall gains of last year when unit volume rose 18% and dollar volume was up 28%.
One statistic that has shown strong growth so far this year is the average selling price for single family homes. That figure was $855,925 for all of last year. So far this year, the number stands at $951,609. Pricing at the high end of the market appears to be particularly strong.
Multi-family housing has not seen the same kind of gains. For all of 2015, the average selling price of a multi-family property was $399,232. So far this year, the number stands at $394,000.
So far this year, the buyer profile has skewed a little more towards the local buyer with 31% of buyers coming from Summit County. Front range buyers represented 37% and out of state were 33% including 1% international. For all of 2015, local buyers were 25% of all sales.

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February sees strong YOY gains on easy comparisons

February is typically a seasonally slow month.  In six of the last 8 years, February has averaged a 20.2% decline from the prior month.  This year generated the third exception to that trend  in the last 9 years with both transaction and dollar volume showing gains, albeit modest ones.

Transaction volume this February at 126 sales was two deals ahead of January but up 18.9% from February of the prior year.  Dollar volume for the month reached $67 million, up modestly from $63.2 million in January but up 33% from a year ago.  The solid YOY February gains offset a weaker January leading to year-to-dates gains of  11% and 7% in dollar and transaction volume respectively.

The average selling price (ASP) for a single family home so far this year stands at $848,954.  That is modestly below the $855,925 for all of 2015 but about  4% ahead of the level a year ago.  The multi-family ASP at $402,989 is up about $4,000 from all of last year but down $6,000 from a year ago.  It is quite interesting that, with the tight inventories we are still experiencing, prices in general haven’t felt more upward pressure.

Mix wise, there were no particularly strong or weak areas when compared to last year or the prior month.  Year to date under $500,000 was 59.3% of the sales versus 59.9% a year ago and sales over $1 million were 9.1% versus 9.4% in 2015

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Santa came to Summit County this December

Santa Claus was kind to the Summit County Real Estate market in December bringing the strongest sales gains of the year.  Transaction volume in the month rose 48% to 276 sales. While that wasn’t the highest level for any month in the year (September had 301), it was the highest December since at least 2007.  Dollar volume rose an even more spectacular 57% to $141.4 million and was the highest December in at least 9 years. This strong finish was particularly notable after the paltry results posted in November.

With the strong finish, full year numbers were quite impressive.  Transaction volume was up 18% to 2,537 sales.  Dollar sales increased 30% to $1.37 billion.

New construction was a notable contributor to the gains for both the month and the year.  For December, new home (single and multi-family) sales nearly doubled from 14 units and $14 million to 27 sales and $26 million. For the full year, units were up 43% and dollar volume rose 57%.

Average selling prices (ASPs) also showed strong gains for the year.   The single family ASP for the full year closed at $855,925 up 9% from the prior year.  The Multi-family ASP rose 11.6% to $399,232 while land rose 17.1% to $372,794.  Sales mix in the month skewed a little more toward the lower end with the closing of a number of workforce/deed restricted units in Frisco.

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Summit County sales cooling with the weather

As the temperatures have cooled so has activity in Summit County real estate. November sales had the poorest year over year performance of any month in 2015. Dollar volume rose a modest 5% to $109.9 million. While in absolute terms that dollar volume did beat the volumes recorded in each of the first four months, this was the first month in the year where the increase from a year ago fell into the single digits.
Transaction volume faired even worse actually declining 5% to 205 sales. That was the first negative comparison since August of 2014.
For the year to date, the numbers are still impressive. Transaction volume is up 15% to 2,261 sales while dollar volume is 27% higher than this time a year ago at $1.23 billion.
As the dichotomy in the sales numbers suggest (dollars up, transactions down), demand in the month shifted toward the higher end of the market. Properties below $500,000 saw their share of sales drop 5 percentage points to 55.9% of sales while sales in the $700,000 – $800,000 range increased their share by 4.6 percentage points to 10.1%and sales of $1-2 million increased by nearly two points to 9.5 percent.
Pricing within property types did not change materially during the month. Year-to-date the average selling price (ASP) for a single family home was $859,565 up about $2,000 from October and 9.5% ahead of the figure for all of 2014. Multi-family ASPs were just over $400,000 up 11.9% for last year. The average lot sale so far this year is $365,844 up 14.8%

Inventories have been steadily tightening in 2015 and as we enter the ski season and units are taken off the market to be rented, the issue has only gotten worse.
As of December 30, there were only 141 condos listed for sale in the county compared with 988 sales so far this year. That equates to only 1.7 months of inventory. The numbers for townhomes are even tighter with 30 active listings against 291 sales. That is about 1.2 months of inventory. Generally, the break point between a buyer’s and seller’s market is about 6 months of inventory. Clearly we are in a seller’s market for multi-family properties. Single family homes are less likely to be taken off the market for rentals so the situation is not quite as bad for them. Nevertheless, there are only 168 single family listings representing about 4 months of sales.

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Are mountain rental properties a good investment?

I’m often asked, “is buying a rental property in the mountains a good investment”. If one is expected to generate a positive cash flow from a fully mortgaged property, the answer is likely no. As a rule of thumb, investors need to put down 50-60% equity to be cash flow positive on a property that will be marketed and managed by a third party. If you are going to do your own marketing and management, that number might be closer to 25-30% down. In general smaller properties, say a slopeside studio condo, will provide higher returns than larger properties like a 3 bedroom townhome or large single family house. Of course this analysis doesn’t include the tax benefits of renting (assuming limited owner use) and the potential for price appreciation. If you purchase the right property, manage it well , exploit the tax advantages and have a favorable market, owning a rental property can be a good investment.
If you are thinking of buying an investment property, I have a proprietary model that can estimate your potential returns. I would be happy to put together an investment analysis for your property of interest and refer you to a number of property management companies that can estimate your rental potential (if no history exists) and describe their management services.

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Summit Count real estate sales up but at more moderate pace

Like September, Summit County real estate sales saw solid, though not spectacular , gains in the month of October. Transaction volume rose 7% to 284 sales while dollar volume increased 21% to $156.9 million. On the surface those number appear impressive but they are well behind the year-to-date gains of 18% in transactions and 30% in dollars.
Year-to-date average selling prices did not vary substantially from the prior month for any of the three major categories, single family-homes, multi-family properties and land. However, all three are up nicely versus year-end 2014 levels with single family pricing rising 9% to $857,481, multi-family up 12% to $399,825 and raw land up 18% to $375,690.
On a price point basis, the lower end of the market, i.e. sub $400,000, ran a little below the prior 9 month pace at 46.2% of the monthly volume versus 45.3% as of September. Conversely sales in the $600,000-$900,000 were up to 25.2% of the total versus 16.9% and the volume of very high-end properties, greater than $1.5 million, also was up at 4.8% of the total volume versus 4% in the prior nine months.

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Sales cool in September but still show gains.

Summit County real estate sales gains moderated in September but the month still represented the highest activity this year. Dollar volume in the month rose 13% year-over-year (YOY) to $165.7 million dollars. Transaction volume rose a more modest 5% to 301 transactions. As occasionally happens the completion of a major multi-family project did help skew the numbers upwards. The second phase of the high end Water House complex was completed and 17 properties totaling almost $17 million in dollar volume closed during the month. Without those sales, both dollar volume and transactions would have been down slightly from a year ago but still would represent the highest numbers so far this year.
Year to date, dollar sales are up 32% to $964.6 million and transaction volume has risen 19% to 1,772 sales.
The year-to-date average selling price (ASP) for single family homes stands at $855,027 up a few hundred dollars from August but up 10% from this time a year ago and up 9% for all of 2014. The multi-family ASP figure rose by $5,100 to $398,617 and now stands about 11% ahead of the 2014 figure. The Water House helped contribute to that rise with its 17 units averaging $990,000 each.
During the month, the price point mix of sales did not vary dramatically though the $300,000 to $500,000 range represented 26.4% of sales versus its prior 2015 average of 31% and the $1-2 million range rose to 10.2 % versus 7.3% in the prior eight months.
snow making

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