As 2009 was called a “challenging year” for real estate throughout the nation and resort areas, hopefully 2010 will be looked back on as the bottom of the market  – at least for Winter Park and many other Colorado ski resort towns.  Many of us are breathing a sigh of relief that 2010 closed out the year without much fanfare and that we all survived to do it again in 2011.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly…

The Good – it is a great time to be a buyer and there is a wide selection of properties available.  Prices in all sectors of the market are still down or flat from the highs of 2007/2008. In fact, the average sales price of single-family homes, townhomes, duplexes and condos are back to 2005/2006 prices.  Inventory is at 2006 levels (it peaked in 2008) but the total number of sales and total sales volume is at about half – meaning there is good selection of properties on the market and buyers can take their time to make a decision (unlike the market of ‘07/’08 when buyers had to make offers immediately, and sometimes sight-unseen for fear of losing the property to another buyer).  Buyers should keep in mind though that all sellers are not created equal – meaning there are many reason a seller could be selling his/her property and it isn’t necessarily because they are in dire financial straits. Many property owners in the Fraser Valley are fairly affluent and it is simply time for them to sell. They are savvy and just as familiar with the market as buyers.

The Bad – it is not the best time to be a seller if you are looking to get top dollar. As a seller you should study your market competition and price yourself at the bottom of recent sales in your sector (if not below the last sale) if you want to have any chance of getting an offer – let alone getting your property sold.   The number of sales and sales volume is about half of the market high in 2006 and total number of properties that are available is identical. At the height of the market we had almost 3 years inventory of properties, now we have almost 5 years of inventory. And while we are beginning to see the number of sales increase, thereby slowly decreasing inventory, the average sales price is still significantly down.  For the Winter Park area the average price of single-family homes, townhomes and duplexes is down 20.9% from the high of $612,525. Even if we saw price gains of 5% per year it would take 4 years just to recover. The average price of condos in the Winter Park area are down 39.5%.

The Ugly – short sales, short sales, short sales. These are ugly for buyers and sellers and require PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE and then more PATIENCE.  Horror stories abound. Most buyers and sellers involved in short sale transactions inevitably will say, “Wow, you warned me this would be painful and ridiculous but I had no idea…”  As a REALTOR it is my job to help you purchase (or sell) a property regardless of whether or not it is a short-sale and WILL take 3+ months to close.  As a buyer this means you cannot lock your interest rate until you have short-sale approval. We don’t want to scare you off from purchasing your DREAM vacation home, but…we encourage you to consider ALL properties listed for sale – not just short-sale and bank-owned.  More and more banks are holding tight for “market value” and they are NOT giving real estate away.  In our market, you have a better chance of finding a “person” seller who will actually negotiate below market value (because they have equity) AND you can close in 30 – 45 days.  On the flip side, sellers, we are involved in many short-sale transactions right now (and trust me we are learning A LOT) and we are assisting sellers with the process.  The short-sale process works best if you begin the process early and don’t wait until you are a month or two away from foreclosure. The most successful short-sales have time on their side.