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‘You have to watch and be ready to pounce’

Agents predict housing prices in 2022 will continue to increase, but not at 2021 rates

The closer to Steamboat Springs, the higher the housing prices in Routt County. So county neighborhoods such as Heritage Park (foreground), located about two miles west of Steamboat, are experiencing significant price escalations.
Charlie Dresen/Courtesy photo

As the COVID-19 pandemic is easing in Colorado with fewer pandemic-inspired home buyers in the mix, Routt County could see some associated easing of intense local housing price escalation throughout this year, local real estate professionals say.

But that doesn’t mean prices aren’t continuing to rise.

Realtor Charlie Dresen, who has worked in real estate in Routt County for 16 years, believes the prices for homes in Steamboat Springs and throughout Routt County will continue to increase, but not at the exaggerated rate increases seen in 2021.



“My opinion is that the market may slow down a little bit in real estate value appreciation,” Dresen said. “Locals are still being priced out, but it may not go up as fast as it did in 2021.”

“Price appreciation or total dollar volume of sales will not be as bad as last year,” said 15-year Realtor Amy Williams, who has lived in Hayden for 32 years.



Although brokers do not anticipate prices of homes across Routt County dropping this year, interested buyers might see a mellowing in the volume of competing offers. On the other hand, the volume of homes and options on the market could remain tight this year, local professionals say.

A March 16 update from the Colorado Group Realty office in downtown Steamboat noted that the inventory across Routt County is inching up currently, with 69 residential offerings compared to 51 in February. However, that translates to a countywide supply of homes for sale that would last only two months, compared to a balanced supply of inventory of about six months, according to the realty group.

On Thursday, only one single-family home, located on 43 acres and priced at $869,000, was listed for sale in the Hayden zip code, Williams said. Before the pandemic, the availability in Hayden was usually about 15 single-family homes, compared to an average two or three on the market this winter, she said.

“Prices have continued to go up in Hayden, and buyer demand is still strong. We don’t have vast supply of new product coming on the market in Hayden,” Williams noted.

Williams believes pressure on the Hayden housing market is coming from multiple directions, including residents in Craig wanting to shorten work commute time to Steamboat, buyers moving from Steamboat hoping to stretch their housing dollars, and some remaining pandemic-inspired buyers seeking more rural living.

“You have to watch and be ready to pounce because there just aren’t many coming on the market,” Williams said.

Realtor Shelley Stanford, in the business for 22 years and a 45-year resident of Routt County, said inventory around Clark is equally tight now. On Friday, Stanford reported three housing listings in the Clark area zip code starting at $1.2 million. Before the pandemic, that zip code usually included around eight options at a time, priced from $400,000 to $800,000, she said.

One current aspect that may be helpful to potential home buyers who already live locally: the number of pandemic-inspired, out-of-town buyers looking to relocate to Routt County is slowing down, local professionals say.

“There are still COVID buyers out there, but it’s calmed quite a bit,” Dresen said. “In summer 2021, we had new buyers entering our market every day.”

Some buyers are getting priced out of the market the longer they wait, Stanford said. She currently has a client list of some 15 active buyers waiting for the right option in Routt County.

“And some have been in multiple offer situations already where they have lost out,” she said.

Many potential home buyers without deep pockets have historically been advised to seek out opportunities on the north, south and west sides of Routt County. Essentially, the closer to Steamboat, the higher the housing prices.

For example, a 2,500-square-foot, single-family home in the Old Town neighborhood in Steamboat may cost $2 million, while an equivalent house in Stagecoach could be half that price, Dresen said.

“For every 10 minutes, you save a couple hundred thousand dollars,” Dresen said.

Some county neighborhoods closer to Steamboat, such as Heritage Park about two miles west of Steamboat, have experienced significant price jumps. Earlier this month, Dresen listed a 2,500-square-foot, two-story home in Heritage Park for $1,250,000. The home, built in 2006 and backing to open property and good views, sold for $1.14 million cash to an out-of-town buyer who committed from a virtual tour. The home was on the market for one week.

Since his house sold quickly, the outgoing seller of the Heritage Park home offered one piece of advice: families should not put their existing home on the market unless they have a confirmed place to move into next.

Dresen agreed.

“It’s much harder to buy than it is sell, so that’s why a lot of people are not selling because they don’t know where to go,” he said. “Whatever property replaces the home, those prices are going up as well.”

Local Realtor Doug Labor, who has been in real estate since 1983 and is considered a local statistics guru, called the real estate market in 2021 “unpredictable and unprecedented.”

The Steamboat Springs Multiple Listing Service hit record low inventory with 303 total housing properties available at the end of 2021. Steamboat MLS transactions ended with 1,796 sales in 2021, which bested the prior record set in 2007 by 67 sales, Labor said.

“Unprecedented is we broke a record for total sales the same year we broke a record for the lowest number of listings,” Labor said.


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