Colorado Real Estate in Mountain Areas is Rising

According to some real estate agents:

The real estate market in Colorado’s high country is finally stabilizing as it emerges from the darkness of the past three years — although sales at the highest end remain soft.

Sales in six of Colorado’s seven resort-anchored regions are up year-to-date over last year, rising a combined 2.8 percent through July. But sales remain a fraction of the peak boom times seen in 2007, when Routt, Eagle and Pitkin counties each surged past $1 billion in sales by the end of July.

Those heady days may be gone, but steady sales so far this year indicate a rebound from 2009, when the high-country real estate market hit bottom. The new normal is sitting well with brokers ready to get off the roller coaster.

“I think we are finally recovering noticeably. Yeah!” Telluride broker George Harvey said.

Telluride’s San Miguel County saw its real estate market fall from a peak of $442 million in sales in 2007 to $118 million in 2009 as resort-area buyers stopped spending at the nadir of the recession.

A surge in sales in 2010 — particularly in mountain regions’ more affordable locations — gave hope that the recession-pinched real estate market was recovering, but 2011 saw yet another dip, with sales falling about 10 percent across the high country.

A strong start to 2012 rekindled optimism that the bleakness was behind the resort real estate market.

“It’s looking like we have hit some sort of solid bottom,” longtime Aspen broker Bob Ritchie said.

High-end sales are buoying Aspen — 15 sales over $10 million over the past year — but sales for Pitkin County are down about 10 percent through July, compared with the same period in 2011.

Ritchie said wealthy buyers are “keeping their hands in their pockets for a while” as economic uncertainties swirl around the upcoming presidential election.

“It’s a real black-and-white picture our buyers have right now,” Ritchie said. “There’s going to be a good shot at returning to a reasonable economy or they are not going to invest. Election years are tough if you are in the real estate market up here.”

The wariness over political change casts a shadow over sellers as well as buyers.

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