Thursday, January 20, 2005

Property sales hit record in 2004

The Jackson Hole real estate market fell shy of an expected $1 billion in sales for 2004, but broke records anyway, a valley appraiser and industry analyst said this week.

Sales reached about $904 million said David Viehman, author of The Hole Report and owner of Jackson Hole Real Estate and Appraisals. That figure includes "probably 97 percent" of sales he said, not including affordable housing which are not free-market transactions. A few sales "we couldn’t put our finger on," he said.

Viehman’s 2004 review is posted on line at

The market reported records in several areas, Viehman said. The dollar volume of more than $900 million passed the previous high of $700 million in 2000. The median sale price for a single-family home also reached a new high – $615,000 – up from the 2000 peak of $565,000.

The highest priced real state transaction also was recorded – the sale of the Bar B C Ranch from the Mead family to Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillwood development company, although Viehman doesn’t specify the price. It was listed for more than $100 million, sources said.

The number of free-market transactions was a record at 938, up from 900 in 1999. In the million-dollar category, there were 158 transactions, up from the previous record of 145 in 2000.

Viehman also notes a record number of condo/townhouse sales at 379, an increase from 312 in 2003.

Looking back, the appraiser said the opening of the Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole, the entry of Hillwood, and the establishment of new golf courses further define Jackson Hole’s future. The three factors will continue to draw the wealthy to the valley where they may become real estate customers.

Viehman sees a turnaround from a triple shock in 2000-2001 when NASDAQ crashed, the 9/11 terror attacks occurred and the dot-com bubble burst. Now, inventory is becoming scarce and prices are climbing, he said.

"Current overall available inventory has, for the second year in a row, continued its downward trend with 8 [percent] less real estate for sale at year’s end, compared to the same period in 2003," he wrote. "This reduction in inventory is again helping the average listing price climb (up 36 percent), and setting a record in the valley for an overall average price of properties listed at $2.44 million and a median asking price of $1.25 million."

While increasing prices might make living in Jackson Hole difficult, the market performance "had its best performance ever," Viehman wrote. "The dollar volume was up 65 percent, the number of overall transactions was up 24 percent, the average sale price was up 21 percent and the median sale price was up 16 percent, when compared to the overall market performance in 2003."