The Summit County real estate market is anything but easy for first-time home buyers

Longtime local real estate agent Leah Canfield and Coldwell Banker Mountain Properties realtor smiles outside a Wellington neighborhood home in Breckenridge on Saturday, September 25. Canfield recommends first-time home buyers to set aside at least six months to give themselves time. to find a property in the county.
Ashley Low / For the Daily News Summit

Soaring prices, high inventory turnover and cash offers are all proof that the Summit County real estate market has been hot for some time now, but what has it done for home buyers? a first home?

In the case of Dillon resident Alex Cole, that meant waiting up to seven months to find a property that met his minimum requirements and was on budget. Cole lived in Denver and had spent a few winters in the county before deciding he wanted to move. He was looking for a property that had to be within county limits, within his budget, and that was a two bedroom property in a quiet neighborhood.

“As of February, it’s just been a game of patience,” Cole said. “I feel like you are starting to build your pieces of the puzzle. I knew it was Summit County. Now I had to figure out, given my price, what was the specific neighborhood? “

At first Cole said he researched Breckenridge before focusing on Wildernest and then Dillon Valley, where he recently bought a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath condo.

Leah Canfield, real estate agent at Coldwell Mountain Banker Properties, said it was not uncommon. In fact, buyers recommended by Canfield give themselves six months to find a property. To move the process forward, Canfield said buyers should work closely with their agent using the multiple listing service’s database to set realistic expectations before moving forward.

“I would recommend that they look into MLS and pick up anything that has sold in the last six months that meets their criteria and is on budget, and if there are a couple of places that have sold out, that means there’s not a lot out there, “Canfield said.” It means they’re looking for something that doesn’t exist. “

Cole closed his house at the end of September. According to the Summit County Appraiser’s Office, the condo’s selling price was $ 530,000.

Price is another factor that makes it difficult for first-time buyers to gain a foothold in the market. Silverthorne resident Andrea Perry said she has lived in her family’s vacation home in Leadville for five years, which has helped her save enough for a down payment. Even then, she said her parents gave her financial assistance during the shutdown.

“The only reason I was able to do this was with the help of my family,” said Perry. “Being able to rent a house from them and having my parents help with the down payment has really made this possible, and a lot of people don’t have the resources to help them buy their first home. It is a really difficult process. “

Perry said she was one of many bids vying for his two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in Wildernest. She believes it was a letter to the sellers, along with a short registration period, that helped sway their decision in her favor.

“I had offered her the asking price and wrote a letter about being a local and being a first-time home buyer, and I think all of that and the short duration of the list was the only reason for which I was able to get the spot, ”says Perry.

While writing a letter has worked in Perry’s favor, Canfield said it falls into a gray area and some officers will try to discourage writing and receiving letters as it could result in lawsuits for discrimination.

Perry said it was difficult to find something that worked for her in the available inventory. She was looking for a two bedroom condo with a washer and dryer, and she ended up finding one in Wildernest. According to the Summit County Appraiser’s Office, the condo’s selling price was $ 549,000.

Among first-time buyers looking to enter the county’s real estate market, Canfield said a majority of them already live in the county. Canfield said she has heard of the expansion of families currently rented out and sometimes interested in buying a home, but it’s hard to save enough for a down payment due to high rent payments. Some others who currently live in a house are reluctant to sell because their house is likely to be devoured much sooner than they can find a new location.

As for the cheapest inventory in the county, the latest report produced by Land Title Guarantee Company indicates units in the Dillon Valley. The average transaction price for a unit here is $ 382,292. However, unit prices in traditionally cheaper areas continue to rise. Canfield said A-frame homes in Blue River were once considered affordable, but some of them hit the million dollar mark. According to the Land Title report, the average unit transaction price in Blue River is $ 747,900.

There are resources for first-time home buyers to help them enter the market. In addition to various federal programs, the Summit Combined Housing Authority offers three different down payment assistance loan programs for residents of Summit County. These loans are only available for the purchase of a primary home and require a 1-1 match of up to $ 25,000.

Rob Murphy, executive director of the Summit Combined Housing Authority, said the organization typically grants three to seven loans per year and this year has been quiet with just one loan granted. Murphy said he attributes this to the low interest rates and the fact that few people know about these programs.

Even with programs like these available, Canfield and Cole said first-time homebuyers should be patient once they start looking at the market.

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