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Steamboat Springs real estate trends

Although real estate demand across the Rockies continued into 2020, COVID-19 motivated many able to work remotely to flee for small mountain towns like Steamboat Springs, resulting in an even bigger uptick.  

Still, buying a residence here is more affordable than it is in nearly any other top-tier resort area in the Rocky Mountain West.

In 2019, the average sales price of a residential property in Steamboat Springs was $792,524. Not bad, considering the average single-family home in Aspen fetched over $4.34 million, and properties in eight other resort areas topped more than $1 million. Aside from Steamboat, only Crested Butte had prices averaging under $1 million in Colorado resort areas.



Specifically, Steamboat has experienced a steady, consistent increase in market activity since bottoming out in 2009. But values didn’t improve until 2013. In 2019, the market saw a slight 2% drop in transactions, yet dollar volume increased 6% over 2018. The drop in transactions is most likely due to the 1% decline in listings between 2018 and 2019, which gave buyers fewer properties to choose from.

Single-Family Residences



Purchases of single-family residences in Steamboat decreased by 19 to 169 in 2019, yet median prices increased 11% to $850,000. In Stagecoach, purchases increased by two to 26 in 2019, with prices increasing 1% to $475,000. The South Routt County communities of Oak Creek, Yampa, Phippsburg and Toponas saw a 37% increase in purchases to 41, with median prices only increasing 2% to $251,450.

In western Routt County, there were seven fewer sales in Hayden to 47, yet median price jumped 9% to $321,250. The 35 transactions posted in northern Routt County (including Clark, Hahns Peak Village, Steamboat Lake and Columbine) was one less than 2018 posted, and median price stayed relatively neutral at $664,000.

Condominiums

Condo sales in 2019 numbered 344, an 11% increase from 2018. Four of those condos sold in Stagecoach with a $163,500 median price. Four sold east of Steamboat on Rabbit Ears Pass (Timbers Condos) at a median price of $209,750.  The remainder sold in Steamboat, where the median price increased 7% to $391,000.

Townhomes

Townhome transactions increased 2% in 2019 to 182. In Steamboat, purchase activity declined 4% to 152, yet median price increased 7% to $642,000. After hitting a low median price of $65,000 in 2012, median prices of Stagecoach townhomes increased to $260,000 with 14 transactions.

Land

In the 2000s, land sales hit an all-time low in 2009 at 51. They slowly climbed out from their slumber and topped out at 240 sales in 2017, before slipping to 209 in 2018, then seeing a 29% drop in 2019 to 148.

The reason for land’s fall from grace is mainly due to building price increases, which went from $250-$300 per square foot in 2006 to $400-$500 per square foot today, due to material, labor, government permitting, and more expensive building requirements. The standing inventory of completed homes is a more affordable endeavor than purchasing land and building (and taking two years to do so). Furthermore, inventory for land within the Steamboat city limits has been dwindling.

General Thoughts

The graph below shows the four major property types and their annual transactions. The three residential types have kept their same market share since the market began improving in 2011-12 and after the recession, but land has lost its luster from times gone by.

After 11 years of adjustments, the gap between supply (Listings) and demand (Transactions) has flipped, as seen in the following graph.

Should this correlation continue, price appreciation will continue for many segments, but due to higher demand within town limits, look for more substantial increases in Steamboat’s condominium and single-family home market than elsewhere.

The COVID-19 pandemic initially froze the real estate market – then heated up to a point where, nearing the conclusion of 2020, it is anticipated record highs will be set for annual transactions and dollar volume, along with a record low for listing inventory. Should the trend continue, look for double-digit increases in certain market segments.  But as we know, nothing stays the same.

—Douglas N. Labor is a 36-year real estate veteran broker and manager of Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty downtown office.

What brokers say

Lisa Olson, Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty

“While the first half of 2020 started down 23% in sales volume due to the pandemic, the second half of the year has more than made up for it. With inventory almost half of normal levels — and increasing demand from people realizing they can work from home, want to live in a desirable location and record low interest rates — Steamboat is in high demand. Properties are seeing multiple offers, sometime within hours of hitting the market. Buyers should be prepared jump on their dream home with an aggressive offer. The pandemic showed us all how amazing Steamboat is if you have to be stuck at home.”

Chris Paoli, Colorado Group Realty – The Paoli Group

“One of Steamboat’s greatest assets is the community. With the pandemic expediting the remote working trend and instability in urban environments, Steamboat is seeing a consistent influx of all types of buyers. From condos to luxury homes, demand is high. Steamboat is a unique town and people are realizing the value offered by the mountain lifestyle.”


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