By two different measures, Summit County's real estate sales slipped slightly in November, the most recent month for which records were available at the Summit County Assessor's Office.
Of course, the housing estate market remains historically tight in the High Country, pigeonholed by few listings and rising prices. Still, there's some room for optimism on the horizon, with one local real estate agent eagerly awaiting the release of some new homes, even though few people believe real estate prices will come down here anytime soon.
As previously reported, Summit County's real estate listings were at a record low in October. That trend, which tends to drive up prices, has apparently continued into November, according to statistics provided by Land Title Guarantee Company of Summit County.
In fact, the company's director of sales and marketing, Brooke Roberts, said that November's numbers were down compared to November 2016, both in terms of the monetary volume of all real estate sales and for the actual number of transactions, which she's attributing to the low inventory.
Roberts regularly tracks Summit County real estate transactions, and she said that the total volume of sales was 18 percent behind what it was in November 2016. At the same time, the actual number of transactions was off by 14 percent, she said.
Despite November's decline, Roberts was careful to point out Summit County remains 17 percent ahead in total sales volume and up 4 percent for the actual number of transactions in year-to-date comparisons.
"October was phenomenal, but it's a tight market," Roberts said of the current real estate picture in Summit County. "Listings are way, way down, and there's just not a lot that's for sale right now at all."
The winter months generally aren't the best time to sell or buy a house anyway — largely because of the cold weather, a reduced number of sellers and buyers, and the holiday season — but "what is on the market goes pretty quick," Roberts said.
She is still seeing a large number of "pocket listings," in which buyers find properties before they've ever been included in Summit County's catalog of active listings.
"We're still pacing ahead of last year," Roberts said of the market before diving into statistics. "We're just really low on inventory."
As of Dec. 12, she said, there were 324 active listings for residential units and 184 for vacant land in Summit County. That's 508 active listings total, the fewest Roberts has seen so far in 2017, a year that's already set records for its low number of listings.
As for Summit County's luxury housing sales, defined as any sale at $1 million or more, the market has "demonstrated balance with 26 homes with a price tag of more than $1 million selling in both November 2016 and November 2017," according to a Dec. 19 market report prepared by LIV Sotheby's.
Citing other statistics from Summit Board of Realtors, LIV Sotheby's also has noticed the total sales volume of luxury homes is up 11 percent year-over-year. Also, the number of days the average luxury home spends on market is down 61 percent, which LIV Sotheby's characterized as "an excellent time frame for the resort luxury home market, where properties typically stay on the market longer."
It might not be nearly as concrete of an indicator, but Paul LaFontaine, whose moving business is closely linked to the local real estate industry, said he has noticed another interesting trend here that he believes might be related to the tight market.
LaFontaine owns two moving businesses based in Summit County — Majestic Mountain Movers and Freedom Movers — and he said he's noticing more and more homes are being staged nowadays than have been in the past.
"It seems like prices have gotten to the point that people really have to stage their homes," he said, adding that the moving business has been busy this year with "very solid" growth.
At the same time, Cody Thomas, a broker associate with Paffrath and Thomas Real Estate, said he wholeheartedly agrees with anyone who says that Summit County's real estate listings are unusually tight right now.
"There's just not much out there to sell," he said. "That about sums up our market."
However, for Thomas there's some optimism on the horizon because he believes "a lot of new inventory will be coming on" from new construction that's taking place right now in Summit County.
There should be a good mix of deed-restricted workforce housing units in addition to market-rate homes that come up for sale in the near future, he said, adding "that's good because we need it."
NOVEMBER BY THE NUMBERS
221: Total real estate sales
256: Total real estate sales (2016)
$148.9 million: Total value of sales
$142.9 million: Total value of sales (2016)
$3.5 million: Most expensive sale
26: Sales of at least $1 million
TOP 5 SALES: NOVEMBER
1. $3,500,000 — Silverthorne, Lot 9 at Silverthorne Heights (condominium unit)
2. $3,050,000 — Breckenridge, Lot 11,12,13 and 14, Block 10, at Abbetts Addition (single-family home)
3. $2,805,000 — Breckenridge, Lot 6 at Swan River Ranch at Summit Estates (single-family home)
4. $2,799,800 — Breckenridge, Lot 56 at Summit Estates (single-family home)
5. $2,600,000 — Lot 67 Highlands at Breck-Highlands Park (single-family home)