Valley home sales near 2006 levels |

Valley home sales near 2006 levels

by Scott Neuffer

Home sales in Carson Valley are nearing pre-recession levels, but home prices are the lowest they’ve been since 2001, according to yearly data released by the Douglas County Assessor’s Office.

Approximately 697 homes were sold in 2011 in the East Fork Township, which includes Carson Valley and the Topaz Lake area. The year’s total is up 102 units from 2010’s total of 595 – a 17 percent jump. It’s the highest sales number since 2006, when 776 homes were sold, and up 42 percent from 2008’s low of 492.

But higher volume of sales has come with the lowest home prices in 10 years.

The median sales price for a home in Carson Valley in 2011 was $189,900, a 12-percent drop from 2010’s median sales price of $216,770. Last year saw the lowest median sales price since 2001’s figure of $184,000. For comparison, the median sales price peaked at $398,000 in 2006.

The average sales price of a Carson Valley home fared about the same, hitting $233,695 for the year, or an 11 percent drop from 2010’s average price of $261,821. Last year saw the lowest average sales price since 2001’s average of $207,740. Like the median price, the average sales price also peaked in 2006 at $467,252.

In other words, the average sales price of a home in Carson Valley has fallen 50 percent in the last five years.

Re/Max Realty Affiliates agent Jim Valentine said the local market is pivoting toward a seller’s market.

“There is three months supply of residential inventory,” he said. “Six months is generally considered an even market.”

More than six months is conducive to a buyer’s market, he said, while less inventory makes for the seller’s advantage.

“Theoretically, it’s now a seller’s market,” Valentine said.

“It’s statistically there, but psychologically it hasn’t hit the market place. Savvy buyers recognize it. We’re seeing offers from investors 10-20 percent below list prices, sensing it’s near the bottom, looking for one last buy. As soon as sellers recognize it, they’ll raise or hold prices as aggressively as buyers were on the other side.”

Valentine hopes that 2012 will produce “a sensible market,” where prices match demand. He said recent developments in the lending industry will help stabilize the marketplace.

“More people are getting successful loan modifications than before,” he said. “Suddenly banks are receptive to working with them.”

According to new state legislation that took effect on Oct. 1, before a financial institution can record a notice of default, it must produce contact information for every entity that shared ownership of the asset, Valentine said.

“We’re seeing fewer foreclosure sales and values returning,” he said. “We won’t see that blight on neighborhoods that we’ve seen the last three to four years. That blight has driven down values dramatically.”

Valentine said that low prices and interests rates continue to lure buyers into the market. A new seller’s market, however, may push prices back up.

“This is a beautiful area to live in with a high quality of life. It’s a niche market in Carson Valley, historically considered recession-proof. We got caught this time, but I think you’ll see us recover more quickly than other areas,” Valentine said. “The whole market is starting to show a lot more confidence. Things are looking good.”