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Only Two Homes In Jackson Under $1 Million; Real Estate Prices Doubled In Last 18 Months

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Real estate prices have more than doubled in Teton County in the past 18 months and properties selling for less than $1 million are increasingly rare in the county’s limited housing inventory, according to a report by a Jackson real estate company.

Prugh Real Estate, in a report on real estate conditions in the first quarter of the year, said of the county’s 39 active residential listings, only two have an asking price of less than $1 million. The next least expensive 13 properties are on the market for from $1 million to $3 million. 

The residential property with the highest sale price currently on the market tops the $19 million mark.

In his 20 years of selling, Greg Prugh, broker and owner of Prugh Real Estate, said this is the lowest inventory he’s seen at such high prices.

Where last year a three-bedroom condo in Jackson sold for $775,000, the same property today was just sold for $1.5 million, Prugh said. His own house in downtown Jackson has more than quadrupled in value in the eight years since it was built.

The housing shortage is not a new situation, Prugh said, but the current shortage exacerbates a growing problem in supply and demand identified by a new Teton Region Housing Needs Assessment. 

The assessment, which looked into the housing needs of Teton County and surrounding communities of Teton County, Idaho and northern Lincoln County, identified an estimated need for about 5,300 new affordable housing units to address anticipated demand through 2027.

Despite a handful of new housing projects, the community is nowhere close to meeting that demand.

“We’ve always had a housing problem,” Prugh said, “but it’s more acute today.”

Influx of Out-of-State Buyers

Prugh said a dramatic increase in the housing sales occurred in March 2020 when panic buyers – mostly from other states such as California, New York, Texas and Florida – began gobbling up properties, buying at a much faster pace than had been seen before.

According to the input from local realtors included in the March housing assessment, many of these properties were purchased as second homes or “safe havens” to ride out the pandemic as work-from-home policies made it possible to live and work anywhere.

The influx of out-of-state buyers far outpaced local buyers, according to the report.

By the same token, locals took advantage of market dynamics and sold their local properties to purchase homes on the Idaho side of Tetonn Pass, many paying for these homes in cash.

However, rising home prices in Teton County predate the pandemic and can be traced back to 2015.

On average, housing prices have been rising by 16% per year since 2015 for single-family homes and 9% per year for attached condominiums and townhomes.

A more significant leap was seen in more recent years.

Between 2019 to 2020, the price for a median single-family home has jumped 44% — 27% for condominiums and townhomes, the report said.

In the first 10 months of 2021, the median sale price of a condo or townhome was $422,000 while the price for a single-family home averaged around $750,000.

The prices, combined with limited supply, have made purchasing a home below $1 million nearly impossible for many locals in Teton County and surrounding areas.

Changing Dynamic

Prugh said he is conflicted about the current market. While he and his firm have profited from 30 deals in the first quarter, he said it’s a bittersweet situation.

“We are happy, but we don’t know what the second quarter looks like,” he said. “It’s like eating all your Halloween candy in one setting. It tastes sweet and good but you’re going to get a stomach ache immediately following.”

Part of his discomfort is knowing that every sale drives someone else out of the valley where he was born and raised.

“I worry about the service providers, the guy who changes your tire and the nurse with a family whose rent just went from $3,000 to $5,000 a month,” Prugh said. “We have to protect our local population.”

The current housing shortage implies a larger problem in the future — what happens to Jackson when all the locals have been pushed out and the town no longer has restaurants, coffee shops and local businesses because service workers cannot afford to live in Jackson. It’s not good for the locals or tourists, Prugh said.

“You have to worry that Jackson becomes a cruise ship in the future,” he said. “People come to Jackson because they want to meet locals. They don’t go to meet other tourists. They are coming to experience Jackson and the community. We need both the working and leisure class.”

Teton Commissioners Reverse Course, Approve WYDOT Employee Housing Request

in Housing
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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

The Teton County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a Wyoming Department of Transportation request for a zoning change that will allow the department to build employee housing on its land in Jackson.

The agency has proposed building 28 residential units on its 14.4-acre site to house highway patrol troopers, snowplow drivers and other staff in the Hog Island area to better serve the community. Currently, more than half of the department’s 36 employees live outside Teton County due to high housing costs and a lack of vacancies, according to department Director Luke Reiner.

WYDOT’s zoning request was initially rejected unanimously by the Teton County’s planning commission in December. Among the concerns voiced by the commission were the fact that the Hog Island neighborhood is currently in the midst of being rezoned. Without knowing what impact those zoning changes might have, commissioners said they were hesitant to make a decision on WYDOT’s request.

In an earlier interview with Cowboy State Daily, Chris Neubecker, director of planning and building services for Teton County, said that the commission also had concerns about traffic and water quality as well as the size and scope of the project.

Speaking to the board on Tuesday morning, Keith Compton, WYDOT district engineer, reiterated the advantage that on-site housing would have in recruiting and retaining employees.

He also noted the housing would address some safety concerns stemming from having so many department employees live outside the county.

Compton pointed specifically to the nine highway troopers for the area, only one of whom lives in Teton County. The rest live in communities such as Afton and Victor, Idaho, despite statewide policy that requires employees to live within 10 miles of their duty station. 

Teton is the one county in the state, Compton said, where the department has had to modify those rules to stretch the boundaries to accommodate troopers living beyond that 10-mile limit.

“This creates problems for troopers in terms of after-hours response in Teton County,” he said. “Response times (now are) about an hour-and-a-half on a good day and roughly two hours in bad weather depending upon which troopers are called out.”

Having workers in-county, he added, would improve those response times of troopers and snowplow drivers to arrive at accident scenes quickly to help victims in vehicle accidents and also prevent further crashed by more quickly clearing the roadways from debris and other hazards.

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