Condo sales down 36 percent in 2009, signs of recovery in national housing market may help local real estate activity in 2010
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — It’s no big surprise, but 2009 was the worst year overall for the U.S. real estate market in more than a decade, and preliminary year-end figures for Summit County reflect those statistics.
Based on data from the county’s multiple listing service, the total number of single-family home sold in 2009 in Summit County was 291, the lowest number since 1993. By contrast, the record number of single-family homes sales (750) was in 1998. (The data from the MLS does not include partial ownership, land and commercial transactions). While the decline from peak numbers at the peak of the market seems dramatic, it wasn’t a huge drop from 2008, when 324 single-family homes sold in the county.
As of mid-January there were 455 single-family homes listed for sale in Summit County. At the current pace of sales it would take about 18 months for those homes to be absorbed by the market.
The average sales price for a single-family home in Summit County was $991,878, with that number including the sale of several multi-million dollar homes like the recent record deal on an $8.25 million home in Breckenridge.
Due to a number of factors, local condo sales were more affected by the fallout of the recession. Financing is much more difficult for condo purchases, said Frisco ReMax broker Lana Cordier.
In a monthly real estate update she compiles for her customers, Cordier said condo sales plummeted by 36 percent in 2009, to 412 from 648 the previous year. Hardest hit was the Copper area, where 2009 condo sales declined by 52 percent from the previous year (not counting pre-construction sales at the resort’s latest development project).
It’s not clear how the ownership change at Copper will affect real estate sales, as Powdr Corp shut down the resort-run real estate office as of Dec. 31. Several brokers at Copper said the company has clearly said it’s not interested in running a real estate sales office at the resort.
Carbonate Real Estate owner Tom Malmgren said the change probably won’t have a huge impact on sales at Copper Mountain. Several of the former brokers associated with Copper Real Estate have moved into the Center Village office and are doing business as Copper Real Estate Brokers.
The all-time record for Summit County condo sales was 1,409 in 2005. Cordier said you have to back to the 1980s to find numbers similar to 2009. Right now there are 741 condos on the market, enough supply for 21 months at the current sales pace.
“Keep in mind that inventory levels are at a seasonal low,” Cordier said. More properties could come on the market in spring and summer, driving the absorption rates even higher, she explained.
Under the simple law of supply and demand, the glut of condos on the market drove prices down by 19.5 percent from 2008, the first dip since 2002. The average condo sales price countywide in 2009 was $356,208. Average condo sales prices declined by as much as 30 percent in Breckenridge.
Cordier said most of the action in Summit County was on aggressively priced properties. Even though the national housing market is showing some signs of recovery, she isn’t sure that the Summit County market has hit bottom yet. But the growing optimism in other parts of the country is helping spur more interest again in resort real estate, she said.
“Most of the interest in Summit County is from people coming from other areas that have already started recovering,” she said.
National housing market
Across the country, the real estate market showed some signs of recovery in the second half of 2009, with prices increases in major urban areas like Cleveland, Denver and San Francisco. The turn-around came after a steady three-year decline in the national housing market that quietly preceded the recession.
Nationwide statistics compiled by the National Association Realtors showed gains in existing home sales late in the year, with first-time buyers moving to take advantage of tax credits. Existing home sales climbed 7.4 percent in November 2009 from the previous month.