Real estate: Strongest year, ever?

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  • Crested Butte saw one of its hottest real estate years ever in 2020.
    Crested Butte saw one of its hottest real estate years ever in 2020.
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I grew up on a family farm my maternal great grandparents settled in the San Luis Valley during the Dust Bowl on a relocation land grant given to those whose farms were literally covered up by wind on the Eastern Plains. I will never forget sitting in their poorly lit living room in a small, two-story farmhouse surrounded by trees and a farm literally born out of nothing by their bare hands.

I was fascinated by stories of horse troughs filled with sand overnight, laying wet wash cloths in the window seals and towels over the baby’s crib to keep the dirt out. My wife’s favorite story from her great grandparents, who lived through the same, was living in the chicken coop while they built their house and a new beginning.

I wonder if my grandkids will sit on my couch someday and ask me about the craziness of 2020 in much the same way.

2020 was one for the books for seemingly all the wrong reasons. The local real estate market was, too, but with a little more upbeat melody.

Median home sales are up roughly 10% across all market segments except the north valley condo market which, as we’ve discussed in prior months, has seen a bit of a correction after speculative buying related to Vail’s purchase of CBMR saturated the market. Everywhere else, we’re seeing very low inventory and strong sales values.

Look at the north valley SFR (single family residence) line: 84 sales in 2019 vs. 174 in 2020. Literally double the number of sales while still maintaining more than 11% value gain. Those numbers sound as crazy as anything else 2020 themed and the same could be said for the Lake City market.

The current MLS system only allows for search history back roughly 15 years, but speculatively speaking, 2020 could have been the strongest real estate sales year in the north valley, ever. It may be a bit of a Jordan vs. Lebron debate but the case could certainly be made.

Elsewhere, the headline generally reads “nothing to buy.” Quality, affordable (whatever that means to you), reasonably priced inventory was snatched up as fast as it became available. Crested Butte South quite literally has no inventory and in the other areas one has to consider active listings include listings that are big projects, overvalued, and/or less desirable by the market (think off grid or 100 year old home that needs some TLC). When those listings are subtracted, there’s not much left for the taking. 2020 was a seller’s market.

You could have likely sold your home for a small mint, but what were you going to do when you did because there was nowhere to go. I chat with multiple brokers nearly daily and they all say the same thing: Listings are the name of real estate agents’ game right now. It’s a cutthroat business but those who have risen to the top had a banner year.

Hopefully they saved up their pennies though because how long this trend will hold or what future affect COVID will have on our market is uncertain at best. Here’s to 2021! May your year be full of — well, anything not 2020.

Like my wife’s great grandparents, 2020 was our year to live in the chicken coop and now time to build that new beginning. Unless you sell real estate, then here’s to more of the same but maybe a vacation first.

Numbers derived from the Multi List sytsem, private transactions and non-arms length deals may not be accounted for

Values represent median sales prices as is typical in the appraisal profession as medians are less likely to be influenced by anomolies

Data compiled by Ryan Johnson in care of Appraisal Group of Western Colorado LLC for informational purposes only-should not be used to make finicial decisions.

*Small sample sizes can have large effects on data