The explosive escalation of real estate sales in Summit County – and all of Colorado’s Central Rockies – has continued to astound and amaze both real estate experts and longtime locals. Prices and transactions are at an all-time high and show few signs of slowing, even as last year’s pandemic-inspired buying spree shifts gears.

Debbie Nelson, owner/broker at Nelson Walley Real Estate, said the momentum generated in 2020 has certainly carried over into the spring of this year, with year-to-date transactions once again setting records. Inventory is also low, as huge demand has dovetailed with skyrocketing prices.

“Right now, 139 residential properties are on the market in Summit County, and only 42 of those are under $1 million,” she said. “And as of April, we only had 2.1 months of supply – whereas six months is a balanced market.”



A hot market has led to extremes

Ned Walley, Nelson Walley’s co-owner/broker, said the situation is even more extreme in the pricier luxury locations, such as Aspen and all of Pitkin County, which saw its overall sales volumes more than double from 2019 to 2020, with more than $4 billion in sales. Nearby Eagle County also set real estate records. But the $226 million in sales alone in March 2021 in Summit County is double any other March.



Working with an experienced team of experts can help both sellers and buyers navigate the challenges of the Summit County real estate market. (Photo courtesy of Nelson Walley Real Estate)
Working with an experienced team of experts can help both sellers and buyers navigate the challenges of the Summit County real estate market. (Photo courtesy of Nelson Walley Real Estate)

The result, Walley explained, is a climate which is both an unbelievable opportunity for sellers and, unfortunately, has become a very challenging proposition for local working families to compete – so much so that the Town of Frisco recently declared a housing state of emergency.

“If you’re not a property owner, you’ll end up renting forever and run the risk of being kicked out,” Walley said. “We rely on people continuing to move here, and this has created a void in our whole community.”

In a time of extremes, Walley said a sense of balance is required. But for those owners who also sense this as a time to maximize on their home’s sales potential, Walley also said that working with experienced real estate experts can help get the most out of our runaway market.

Buyer trends have also shifted

And while prices continue to spike, Walley noted that the entire dynamics of Summit County buyers has also shifted considerably in the last nine months, with far fewer local buyers involved in transactions, and even less traditional Front Range-based buyers.

According to Land Title records, in March of 2019, some 25{28ab41d673507bfe0daf970418d2e81f9476b3e139564442359ad7402c370b16} of buyers were based in Summit County, with Front Range purchasers making 50{28ab41d673507bfe0daf970418d2e81f9476b3e139564442359ad7402c370b16} of transactions and out-of-state U.S. buyers capturing the remaining 24{28ab41d673507bfe0daf970418d2e81f9476b3e139564442359ad7402c370b16} of purchases.

In March 2020, that split began to shift more heavily to out-of-state buyers, with 28{28ab41d673507bfe0daf970418d2e81f9476b3e139564442359ad7402c370b16} of purchases made by non-Coloradoan buyers. This March saw things go to a very different extreme, with 35{28ab41d673507bfe0daf970418d2e81f9476b3e139564442359ad7402c370b16} of purchases made by out-of-state buyers; Front Range buyers dropped to 47{28ab41d673507bfe0daf970418d2e81f9476b3e139564442359ad7402c370b16} and local purchases were only 18{28ab41d673507bfe0daf970418d2e81f9476b3e139564442359ad7402c370b16} of the entire pie, the lowest locals percentage Walley can remember.

Very few local real estate professionals could have anticipated those sort of changes, Walley said, and that’s where it is critical for sellers to work with a team whose expertise can help navigate such unprecedented demand, and focus sales attention where it is needed.

“I’ve never seen anything as crazy as the last four to five months,” Walley added. “Unless you’re doing a high amount of sales volume, it’s very challenging to notice all these little nuances in the market. This is an area where we excel, which helps us make the most for our sellers. I consider our role to be that of a real estate investment advisor.  Your home is most likely one of your largest financial assets, and our job is to help you maximize your return.”

Navigating the boom with expertise

Nelson said the endless spree of record prices may certainly remind some buyers of past real estate spikes, and cause them some concern. But she firmly believes things are different in 2021.

“The last time we saw a real sales peak like this was in 2006 and 2007 when practically anybody could get a loan, and then the market totally crashed,” Nelson said. “Are we in a bubble, again? No. This time, more people are getting out of the city, and we have a much more appealing geographic location than Vail or Aspen for people who want to work at home, but still need to easily get to Denver periodically.”

While the current sales environment may prompt some potential sellers to feel like they have to act impulsively to cash in on the boom, Nelson Walley Real Estate takes a more strategic approach.
While the current sales environment may prompt some potential sellers to feel like they have to act impulsively to cash in on the boom, Nelson Walley Real Estate takes a more strategic approach.

While the current sales environment may prompt some potential sellers to feel like they have to act impulsively to cash in on the boom, Nelson Walley Real Estate takes a more strategic approach.

“We’re experts in in-home staging, and it usually takes 10 – 12 days minimum to put all our staging and marketing together, if you want to get it totally perfect,” Nelson said. “That will bring more money to the seller.”

“I’m an impatient, gotta-have-it-yesterday kind of sales guy myself, but even I have learned to pull back and let everyone on our 6 member team work their specific magic,” Walley added. “Sellers are going to get maximum value by taking the right steps, and following our formula. We had one client we worked with over a three-month period to perfectly get their home ready. This skill set of ours is fairly unique for Summit County.”

Past market experience has also given Nelson and Walley some extra insight into subtle market fluctuations, which again can help produce prices for sellers they might not find with larger brokerage firms.

“Everything’s changing on a daily basis, so we’re watching the news to see how that might impact just one listing,” Nelson said. “People are going to get that personal attention and knowledge from us – we’re not just going to pick a number out of the air.”

Nelson Walley Real Estate welcomes the opportunity to help anyone and everyone in Summit County achieve their real estate goals.