Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Real estate sales hit hard by 2013 fire

Volume was down but median sales price increased

Express Staff Writer

    The Beaver Creek Fire last summer apparently had a strong impact on the real estate market in the Wood River Valley in 2013, apparently leading to a sharp drop in the number of sales, and a sharp increase in number of for-sale listings.
    “There was a lot of momentum in the marketplace before the fire,” said Sun Valley Board of Realtors Chairman Dan Gorham.
    Data supplied by Gorham through Windermere Real Estate show that the number of total sales in the valley decreased 3.2 percent in 2013, compared to 2012. However, the median price of homes sold in the valley increased by 26 percent, from $206,000 to $265,000.
    The number of sales dropped off most sharply at the low end, under $500,000, and the high end of the market, over $2 million.
     Gorham attributes the drop in sales at the lower end of the market (nearly 50 percent) to a lack of inventory after a two-year period of high sales from distressed sellers following the real estate market crash.
    Gorham said the drop in sales at the higher end of the market (28 percent) is due to a “lack of buyers.”
    Despite a moderate drop in monthly sales last winter—4.75 fewer average sales per month from February to May—median sales prices increased for eight of the 12 months of 2013.
     The summer months showed a steady increase in the number of sales, from June until August, with 26 percent more total sales in August 2013, with 77, compared to August of 2012 with 61.
    The Beaver Creek Fire was sparked by lightning on Aug. 7, 2013, and raged for more than two weeks on the west side of the Wood River Valley. Many people were evacuated from homes and several major events were canceled during a time when real estate agents are usually busy showing homes.

There was a lot of momentum in the marketplace before the fire.”
Dan Gorham, chairman
Sun Valley Board of Realtors

    “We do quite well when we have people in town, but when you evacuate the town in August, there are consequences,” Gorham said.
    Total sales dropped off from September to October, with total monthly sales down an average of almost 17 percent per month. Also, the number of new listings in August and September dropped sharply by 13 percent and 25 percent respectively, compared to summer of 2012.
    The number of new listings then increased sharply following the fire, with 111 new listings in October and 95 new listings in November, an increase of 38 percent and 22 percent respectively over 2012, perhaps from people eager to make sales following the fire.
    Gorham said he saw at least one “fire sale discount” notice on a listing in the Knob Hill area of Ketchum.
    The downward trend in sales numbers continued into December 2013, with that month’s sales totaling 43, nearly 40 percent less than the number of sales in December 2012, which totaled 71.
    Gorham said since the lackluster holiday season, 2014 may be showing signs of recovery in the number of sales, especially at the higher end of the market.
    As of Jan. 20, there were six properties priced over $2 million each under contract, and four of those were over $3 million. In addition, two homes valued between $2 million and $4 million have sold since Jan. 1.
     “That is pretty substantial,” Gorham said. “We are already running ahead of last year.”
Tony Evans:

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