Despite closures and restrictions due to the pandemic, Summit County’s real estate market had a record-breaking 2020.
Summit Realtors data show real estate sales in the county amounted to more than $2.06 billion, which is the first time in history the county has surpassed $2 billion.
“We have never done that before. It’s really amazing,” said Dana Cottrell, former board president of Summit Realtors and a broker with Summit Resort Group. “All of us felt it. We were all so busy because we went from nothing to hanging on by the seat of our pants.”
The total 2020 sales volume was 32% above 2019’s numbers, which came out to about $1.5 billion. If you asked Realtors in March if they expected the county to break $2 billion in 2020, many would have said, “no way.”
The pandemic essentially put a pause on all real estate sales for the majority of March and April. It wasn’t until Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order April 27 allowing for one-on-one showings that agents began to see one of the busiest summers on record.
Many of the sales were driven by people buying in the luxury market, which tends to start at around $2 million to $2.5 million. The county saw a total of 1,264 sales priced at or above $1 million in 2020, which is a 45% increase from 2019, according to Summit Realtors data.
“A lot of those properties even just five years ago that were selling for well under a million are now selling for well over a million,” Coldwell Banker Mountain Properties real estate agent Leah Canfield said. “Just by the nature of our rapidly appreciating market, a higher percentage of our homes are worth over a million now.”
While the increase in prices is a reason for the increase in sales volume, there’s something to be said about how the pandemic made a mountain lifestyle seem more appealing.
“We live in this beautiful place that has all kinds of recreational opportunities from summer to winter,” Cottrell said. “We just have so many options for people to not just be stuck in your home.”
Last year saw what many in the industry are referring to as an “urban exodus.” With remote work becoming the norm, people who could afford to buy a home in Summit County decided that 2020 was the time to go for it.
However, that trend also exacerbates wealth gaps within the county and on a national level.
“A lot of the first-time homebuyers, they’re struggling right now,” Canfield said. “A lot of people have lost their jobs and are having a tough time in this new economy. The people who are not struggling are those who can buy a second or third home for however many millions.”
As the county settles into 2021, both Canfield and Cottrell said they’d like to see a more balanced market. At the moment, inventory is so low that buyers have to act quickly if they like a home, and agents often don’t have many homes to show them.
“I wonder if we’ll run into buyer’s fatigue with wanting to buy and having to be so quick,” Cottrell said. “Buyers need to be ready. Everywhere pretty much in the state, when you’re ready to buy now, you need to be preapproved with your letters in place … because of multiple offers and short time on the market.”
The competitive nature of the market makes it so agents are having to act quick to keep up.
“It’s a flurry of activity, and that’s a lot for everyone involved,” Canfield said. “I always love to see a balanced real estate market where we have sufficient real estate inventory. If a buyer wants to see properties, we show them five to 10 and not one or none.”