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Wyoming Realtors Say 20% Down Payment For House Is A Myth

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The time-honored belief that homebuyers need to have a down payment of 20% to purchase a home is just a myth which, according to some, has its roots in home selling practices.

ReMax agent Adrianna True told Cowboy State Daily that although she and her father are both realtors, even her mother believed True needed a 20% down payment when she bought her first home in 2019.

“It’s such a myth, but everyone still believes it,” True said. “My mom said that I hadn’t saved enough money to buy a house, since I didn’t have 20%. I had $10,000, but she didn’t think that was enough. It was really eye-opening for me.”

True said on average, for conventional borrowers and those taking advantage of first-time buyer programs, the down payment can be from 3.5% to 5%.

Cindy Bradley, a mortgage lender for Wallick and Volk, told Cowboy State Daily those numbers are similar to what she advises.

True said that the 20% down payment myth is rooted in a racist real estate practice called “redlining,” where services are withheld from potential customers who reside in “hazardous” neighborhoods, ones that are usually populated with racial and ethnic minorities and low-income residents.

The National Board of Realtors has pushed to end redlining and ensure real estate is available to all, she said.

Bradley said that the 20% rule started decades ago when banks did not have mortgage insurance. As a result, if a person defaulted on a loan, the bank would lose money.

“The bank says, ‘OK, I’ll let you do 5% down instead of 20%, but now you have this mortgage insurance, so that’s our guarantee that everything will be whole in the end,'” Bradley said. “The bank isn’t at risk, because the mortgage insurance will make them whole, so they allow for less down payment.”

Conventional loans require mortgage insurance until a homeowner’s equity in a home raeches 20%, but the Federal Housing Authority loan, aimed at first-time homebuyers, requires mortgage insurance for the lifetime of the loan, although its cost falls every year.

While True said that having 20% down for a house is not a bad thing, a person should not let the lack of that money stop them from pursuing house buying. She added that it has been around 20 years since the 20% down payment rule stopped being so rigid.

“It’s so frustrating to me to see these myths perpetuated, especially for young people,” she said. “I cannot tell you how many times my phone has rang and someone is looking for a rental, because they don’t think they have enough of a down payment for a house. They’ll tell me they have a 720 credit score and $10,000 saved, but they still don’t think it’s enough.”

She pointed out that a 620 credit score is the minimum required to qualify for the first-time homebuyers’ loan in Wyoming, but also noted that the higher a person’s credit score, the better off they will be.

In 2021, the National Association of Realtors found that the average down payment on a house or condo was 12%, but for home buyers 30 and under, the average down payment was 6%.

Bradley said that more and more people are choosing to make lower down payments and let the rest of their money sit in the bank and collect interest.

“It’s really a matter of asking is it important to keep your mortgage payment low or can you afford the higher mortgage payment and get in for as little as possible?” she said. “It just really depends on a person’s situation.”

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Wyoming Has More Than 160 Homes For Sale Over $1 Million; Realtors Say This Is Becoming More Common

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming has more than 160 homes for sale with an asking price of more than $1 million, a figure realtors say is becoming more and more common.

Unsurprisingly, some of these homes are in Jackson, but Zillow real estate listings show multiple million-dollar homes for sale in Cody, Dubois, Laramie and Cheyenne, ranging anywhere from $1.1 million to $12 million.

“Since Jan. 1, 2021 to [Thursday], there have been 11 homes that have sold for more than $1 million in Cheyenne and Laramie County,” Realtor Wendy Volk told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday. “We’ve never had that happen here.”

Volk said that as of Thursday, there were three homes in Cheyenne for sale that were priced at more than $1 million. The average price of a home in Cheyenne is around $315,000.

She noted that any house for sale in Cheyenne that comes with a $1 million-plus price tag will come with at least some acreage, allowing for the owner to spread out on the space.

For example, one of the Cheyenne homes available on Zillow listed at $1.3 million comes with five bedrooms and five bathrooms and sits on 1.5 acres of land. It also has a “stunning” wine room, an “opulent” domed entry and ceiling windows, according to the Zillow description.

A house in Casper listed for $1.8 million comes with six bedrooms and six bathrooms and sits on 1.3 acres. While the lot size is technically smaller, this house also comes with its own dance studio, movie theater, gym and walking path.

One house in Sheridan that is listed for sale at $4.9 million features four bedrooms and four and one-half bathrooms and sits on almost 16 acres of land. It also has a guest house, a meat locker and enough garage space for eight cars.

Sheridan real estate agent Victoria Haun primarily deals in ranch and land deals, so it is not uncommon for her to see deals priced at $1 million or more.

Like with Volk, Haun noted that any home in the Sheridan area that’s going to sell for $1 million will come with at least some acreage.

Both Volk and Haun said they were seeing an increase in clients coming in from out of state.

“We’re seeing a lot more interest in properties with a lot of land in this area, and I think it’s appealing to people in a higher tax bracket who see that Wyoming doesn’t have a state income tax,” Haun said. “It would essentially be a pay raise if they can move out here and claim a Wyoming home as their primary residence.”

According to the Washington Post, the total number of cities where the typical home is priced above $1 million is now 481.

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120-Foot ‘Tiny Home’ For Sale in Story, Wyoming For $150,000

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

If off-the-grid living in one of the most beautiful places in Wyoming is appealing, then potential buyers could be in luck. There’s an affordable option.

The home is located at 17 Lodore Ave in Story, Wyoming and listed at $150,000, this fully-furnished and equipped home is about one-third the cost of other homes in the area.

The only issue might be the living space. It’s 120 square feet.

But it’s cute.

Tiny homes have become the rage in many areas of the country.  There are TV shows, websites, and social media groups all following the tiny home market.

But little houses don’t appear to be a big thing in Wyoming.  Yet.

Victoria Haun, however, thinks they will be.

A real estate agent by trade, the tiny home in Story is hers. She believes that based on her observations of the market and the popularity of such bite-sized dwellings in surrounding states like Montana, South Dakota, and Colorado, Wyoming is on the cusp of joining the trend.

And it’s not necessarily folks wanting to live in these full-time, although she says there are plenty of people who do. It’s the red-hot rental market that is drawing people to these investments.

“They are really popular for the Airbnb potential especially in this economy,” she said, noting the high costs of building materials and land prices in the area.

Haun said she and her husband, a construction foreman, built a home four years go for $87 per square foot. If they were to build the same house now, she said the cost would be more than $200 per square foot.

Haun believes the tiny home will be most appealing to younger people who are a little bit more spry as to get to the bed, since a ladder is required.

But there’s indoor plumbing. Sure, it’s a bit more rustic as it’s a composting toilet like would be found in an RV.

And unlike days of the distant past, when nature calls, the homeowner doesn’t actually have to visit nature to answer. The home comes complete with an indoor toilet — and disposal is powered by the sun.

“Everything goes down into a holding tank,” she explained. “Inside of that tank is a hot plate that evaporates everything. With full-time living, you would have to empty it every four to six weeks. Part-time living, it takes care of itself.”

Everything else about the home looks like a regular house — except much, much smaller.

There’s a stove, TV, washing machine, microwave, seating area (with expanded seating if you count the toilet), shower, and plenty of windows. It’s powered by the sun and by two 100-gallon propane tanks that come along with it.

But $150,000 for a 120 square foot house on about one-third of an acre?  It’s worth it, Haun said.

In South Dakota, with the same amount of land, she said the would cost from $150,000 to $175,000.

The return for the investor could be pretty good, Haun said, noting that about 80% of the rental properties in Story are occupied.

“Average rental in the area goes for about $120 to $140 per night,” she said. “If you’re looking at that and you financed it at 20% down, then you would easily be getting over a 20% return on that investment.”

Why doesn’t she keep the property and cash in herself? She’s buying more land and needs the income to finance that.

There’s a lot of interest in the home already, she said.  It’s only been on the market for three days and she’s received a lot of calls.

Long-term, as soon as she sells this property, she’s thinking of creating a tiny home business.

“My husband has the experience building homes and I sell real estate so it would be a nice mix of what both of us do,” she said.

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What Do Real Estate Agents Do When They Run Out of Inventory?

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

When a market is sold out, with no properties available for potential home buyers, what does a real estate agent in Wyoming do?

It’s not the leisurely life one might think, said three agents who spoke with Cowboy State Daily.

“Because inventory is so tight, they’re really having to dig deep to find listings, and to help buyers find those properties.” said Jim Hickey with Engel & Völkers Real Estate in Jackson Hole. “It’s like an Easter egg hunt. It’s very difficult because there’s just so little out there.”

“It’s very, very slim pickings right now,” said Zack Cummins, who is the chairperson for the Sheridan County Board of Realtors. “There were times I’ve worked in this market where we’ve had over 300 active listings, and I think, total active residential listings this year, we’re at 120, or something like that, which, a good portion of those are probably under contract. 

“I had one of my agents the other day tell me she had four pages of (potential buyers) … and couldn’t find anything to show them,” he added.

Hickey said in the last two years, his inventory in Sublette County has dwindled down to almost nothing.

“I had quite a few listings ranging from commercial property to vacant land, more ranch and recreational listings, and in the last two years, from the beginning of 2019 through 2021, we sold through the lion’s share of those,” Hickey said. “We’re down to a handful of single family lots in the subdivision, and a larger piece that either could be subdivided or create that sort of trophy ranch.”

“We’ve got a really good number of ranches that are under contract that will close this year,” said Mike Fraley, a realtor who primarily sells ranch property with Hall and Hall in the Buffalo/Sheridan region. “But we’re feeling like it’s a carryover from last year, and it’s unknown what the market will do this year. If there’s a desirable ranch or a ranch that’s on the market right now, if it’s still on the market, it’s probably two things: it’s overpriced, beyond what a buyer deems reasonable to dig into; or there’s some problems with it, it maybe has some easements or encumbrances or things that are not desirable.”

Additionally, the prices for the property that has sold has skyrocketed in the last couple of years, Hickey told Cowboy State Daily.

“We sold single family homes, or single family homes on some acreage, and then literally six months later, or not even a quarter later, similar property might come up … $100,000 or more in price,” Hickey said. “Sometimes they sold, sometimes it didn’t, but the prices were just moving up at a rate I can’t even explain.”

Cummins shared data that the Sheridan Board of Realtors recently compiled that showed from 2020 to 2021, the number of active residential listings declined from 950 to 857, about a 10% reduction. New listings dropped from 776 in 2020 to 748 in 2021, about a 4% reduction. 

The value of property sold during the year increased by 26%, which Cummins attributed to the increase in average sales price, as the number of properties sold increased by only 1%.

“And that’s because there was a 25% increase in average sales price,” he said. “The average sales price for 2020 was $323,790. In 2021, the average sales price for that year – and this is just residentially speaking – was $403,900.”

Because of the lack of inventory, realtors are turning to other methods to find properties to sell.

“I would say almost a third of our business, probably even a little more, has been what we call private listing stuff,” said Fraley. “Things that are not actively marketed. Maybe a high profile seller comes to us and says, ‘Hey, you know, I’m probably a seller at the right price point. I just want to keep it on the down low.’”

“I know realtors that are sending out mailings to neighborhoods that say ‘We’ve got buyers in your neighborhood,’” Cummins said.

There have been a few instances of “buyer remorse” that these agents have witnessed in the last year from buyers from outside Wyoming who purchased properties without having experienced a Wyoming winter.

“I’ve talked to one of my Bozeman partners,” said Fraley. “He said they’re starting to see some of these guys that came out in the COVID crunch and wanted some room, and now they’re out here and are like, ‘Huh, not quite the amenities and the weather I was thinking.’” 

“The most extreme example would have been July of 2020,” recalled Cummins. “We sold a nice residential house. And in October of that year, we had a week long cold snap that got to like, 10 below, 15 below, something like that. It was just crazy cold weather for October, and the gal from California that had bought the house in July, turned around and put it on the market in October. So, she didn’t last very long at all.”

Despite the lack of inventory, Hickey said that no one should be feeling sorry for real estate agents.

“Realtors have done very well buying and selling real estate for their clients lately,” he said. 

“Right now, all indications are there are still buyers,” said Fraley, “and there’s still cash out there and they’re trying to find someplace to put it. The inventory is the problem.”

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Average Home Price In Cody Has Increased By 45% In One Year; Rentals Almost Impossible to Find

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

It’s hard finding an affordable home in northwest Wyoming. 

From Jackson to Cody, residents on a tight budget are finding it more difficult to rent or buy houses – which Is driving some families to move out of the area entirely.

“We’ve watched people leave this marketplace who are our primary service sector workers,” said James Klessens, CEO of Forward Cody, the economic development agency in Cody. “That’s been estimated between 280 and 320 people who have just vanished. And the biggest problem is that people just couldn’t afford to live here.”

Those vanishing residents take more than just their housing dollars with them.

“We’ve lost those kids in the school system, we’ve lost those people in the restaurants and the retail sector, throughout our community,” Klessens said. 

As reported in Cowboy State Daily earlier this week, there are more than 1,000 applicants on a waiting list for rental units in Teton County — and when rentals do become available, the cost is exorbitant, with studio apartments starting at $2,000 per month.

Just east of Yellowstone National Park, rentals in Cody are almost as hard to find. Currently, Zillow lists just two rentals in Cody – a three-bedroom, two-bath townhouse for $2,000 per month and a two-bedroom. two-bath house for $2,500. 

“I think last year, an average home price was about $265,000,” said Klessens, “It’s probably crossing $380,000 this year.”

Because of these rising costs, Klessens said some workers in the service industries are forced to live in other nearby communities and commute to Powell.

“We watch our service sector slowly get shifted to other communities, having to commute back to work here, if they even will,” Klessens. 

Jake Ivanoff, president of the Northwest Board of Realtors, said that unlike Jackson, Cody does accessible communities exist nearby from which people can commute if necessary.

“One thing that Cody has that I believe that Jackson doesn’t is that we have so many other communities like Powell (25 miles away) and even Burlington (35 miles away) and Greybull (53 miles away) that we can expand into,” Ivanoff said. “We also have a lot of land right outside of Cody that we can potentially expand to.”

“In Jackson, every morning, five or six buses show up with people from Driggs, Idaho, or from Star Valley,” said Klessens. “And they drop people off and they go on to do their job. And then at (6 p.m.), they climb on the bus and they go home. Those people do not belong in the community any longer. I mean, they become part of another community.”

Klessens said local leaders are aware that something must be done to address the issue.

“We have to come up with ways that we can create some affordability,” he said. “And I think we can do that by using some public finance for things like infrastructure. I think we can work a lot with people on home buyer education, financial literacy.”

Last year, a group was formed in Cody to develop solutions to the high cost of living.

However, a big hurdle, according to Klessens, is that there’s not a way to find out exactly how many people are in need of affordable housing.

“How do we get the community to talk to us about what they need?” he said. “The scary thing is, is maybe we missed the window, and those 320 people don’t live here anymore. And maybe they don’t want to come back. You know, we don’t know how many people are actually out there knocking on doors, asking for and looking for housing.”

Klessens said that ultimately, it comes down to community partnerships.

“We need to look at people who have resources available to be able to assist in that regard,” he said. “And that may mean you have land that you’d be willing to make available reasonably so that affordable housing projects can be done. I think that we also need to think about the increase in the number of manufactured or modular homes in the community. A lot of people don’t like factory built because they think it’s a lesser quality, and so there’s going to be some paradigm shifts that are going to have to happen.”

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Despite National Cooldown, Wyoming Housing Market Still Pretty Hot

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Even though the national housing market is cooling off, Wyoming’s market is still fairly hot, two realtors told Cowboy State Daily this week.

There also isn’t a slowdown in sight when it comes to home prices, which have been steadily appreciating for the last 18 months, Cheyenne realtor Dominic Valdez told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.

“We’re in a little bit of a plateau right now, which is honestly good, because the pace we were going at this summer just was not sustainable,” Valdez said. “We have a lot of people moving to Wyoming, but the inventory is low.”

Supply chain issues and a lack of home builders are contributing to the inventory shortage, Valdez said, because houses are not being built at the same pace as normal.

Valdez said that he has seen an influx of both people moving to Wyoming and looking to buy houses, as well as first-time home buyers.

However, those looking for homes are eyeing the same houses as investors who are looking to flip houses or rent them out, he said.

The end result is since demand is high and supplies are low, prices have increased.

While there have been some price reductions recently in the housing market, realtor Adrianna True told Cowboy State Daily that the change was due largely to sellers pricing their homes higher than recommended, so now they are getting a little more realistic and reducing the sales price.

Houses in Laramie County are selling for an average of about $412,000, True said.

“We’re seeing a lot more people move to Laramie County and just a lot of growth in general,” she said. “I think prices will continue to increase, just not as quickly as they have over the last 18 months.”

Rising house prices is the reason for the cooldown in the housing market nationally, according to Business Insider.

The median price for an existing home jumped to $356,700 in August, a 14.9% increase from the same period last year and the 114th month in a row of year-over-year gains, the outlet reported.

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Cabin Or Mansion? Here Is What Kind Of House You Can Buy For $500K In Wyoming

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Buying a house can be anxiety-inducing as thoughts turn to things like mortgages, escrow and other terms I do not understand because I’ve been a renter since moving out of my parents’ house.

But I do know that window shopping is fun. I also know that $500,000 is a lot of money. So I took those two tidbits and had more fun browsing Zillow, pretending be in a market for a house, than actually looking for somewhere to live.

So,here’s what $500,000 could buy you in six cities in Wyoming.

Cheyenne:

For exactly $500,000, this 2,600 square foot home could be yours!

This house was built in 2016, but the Zillow listing did note that everything had been updated, whatever that means. It has five bedrooms and three bathrooms, a brand new basement that features two of the five bedrooms and a family room that “can fit even the largest of families,” so you can invite the cast from “19 Kids and Counting” and not worry about having enough space!

It also has a brand new deck that goes along the entire back of the home, a walk-out basement with a covered patio, a “gorgeous” master bedroom and a tankless water heater, which sounds strange and confusing.

The estimated mortgage payments are $2,080 a month.

Casper:

This (not quite finished) two-story home in Casper is priced at $487,900 and has just over 3,300 square feet. It is scheduled to be completed in January.

According to the listing, it has an open floorplan, vaulted ceilings and granite countertops, along with a covered porch and a master bedroom on the main floor. It has also been upgraded with a third-car garage, a fireplace with granite surrounding it, luxury vinyl tile flooring in the living room and bathrooms and enlarged and upgraded windows.

The estimated mortgage payment is $2,031 per month.

Rock Springs:

This brand new home can be yours for the low price of $445,000, so you’d have a little bit left over to spend on home furnishings!

According to the Zillow listing, what is pictured is a model home and can be customized, but it currently features three bedrooms and two bathrooms (the master bathroom has double sinks and a separate tub and shower!), wood floors, a large master bedroom and a “deep” three-car garage.

The estimated mortgage payment is about $1,800 per month. The house is about 3,500 square feet.

Cody:

This Cody home, built in 1995, is estimated to cost $480,000.

According to the listing, it has five bedrooms and three bathrooms, with two attached garage spaces. The house has been well-maintained and has lake and mountain views and sits on 1 acre of land.

A shallow well is used for the yard, and there are corrals and fences for animals. The estimated mortgage payment would be around $2,000 per month.

Gillette:

This house, built in 1991, is estimated to cost just barely under $500,000, coming in at $498,000. It is just over 5,000 square feet.

This five-bedroom, three-bathroom ranch style home features a large living room with a high vaulted ceiling and a fireplace. It also boasts an eat-in kitchen, plus a large private dining room, if you’re one of those people who has friends and likes to entertain. (Who wants to do that? Get out of my large house!)

There is an extra large lower level family room, which is “great for entertaining with a walkout basement, wet bar and gas fireplace.” This area also has two offices and two large storage rooms.

It also comes with a maintenance-free deck (this sounds like something out of a science fiction story, maintenance free??) and a private fenced backyard. It also comes with a $7,000 carpet allowance, which I assume means the carpet is going to go on an amazing shopping trip once a year.

Jackson:

OK, yes, this house is significantly cheaper than the others featured in this list, but let’s be real: we all knew that there are virtually no homes for sale in Jackson under $1 million.

So think of this cabin as the best of both worlds: you get to live in Jackson AND you won’t have spent all of your $500,000, so you can live in the most expensive city in the state for a little while longer.

This 960 square foot A-frame cabin is estimated to cost $275,000 and is located in the Granite Creek Drainage area. However, the sale is only for improvements and permit only, no extra land is included in the purchase price. The listing states that the cabin was built in 1965.

According to the listing, it’s just downstream from the Granite Hot Springs and is a “great spot to get away and unplug.” It is one bedroom and one bathroom and there are no structures between the cabin and creek.

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Housing Market Remains Hot In The Big Horn Basin

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By Kevin Killough, Powell Tribune

Starting around the spring of 2020, the Big Horn Basin housing market began heating up. The sudden uptick in housing sales at a time COVID was creating a lot of economic uncertainty was a welcome sight. 

Flash forward to today and realtors report that, while sales are cooling ever-so-slightly, they remain busy. 

Travis Swenson, broker/owner of Metzler & Moore Realty, said it’s normal for the market to slow down this time of year. 

“My prediction is that this spring it will light back up like a wildfire again,” Swenson said. 

Swenson has nearly 20 years in the area’s real estate market, and said he’s never seen it like this. Typically, the Big Horn Basin has a very stable market because people who live here want to stay here. Things have changed in the past couple of years as a result of people moving to the area.  

“It’s not the frenzy it was like it was in the spring and before,” said Eric Paul, broker/owner of Heart Mountain Realty, “but there’s still a lot of people coming in.”

Besides the usual relocators from northern Colorado and California, Paul is seeing more interest from Washington and Oregon — even some from the eastern United States. 

Holly Griffin, broker/owner of The Real Estate Connection, is continuing to see buyers from outside Wyoming.

Griffin is seeing some difference from several months ago. Any house for sale $250,000 and under is gone in a flash, Griffin said, but buyers looking at houses $500,000 and up are seeing a bit more competition. Last year, the houses in that range would sell sight-unseen, but now buyers are giving the options some more scrutiny. Still, the properties are selling. 

“The market still keeps going. It’s not coming to a stand-still at all,” Griffin said. 

Swenson said he doesn’t see a lot of difference in sales along various price ranges. From $250,000 homes, which is pretty much the bottom of the market, up to $900,000, it all is selling pretty well.

Attractive area

Most of the people moving from other states are either retirees or people with families who have sold their first homes. Paul said it’s these second-tier buyers who have a lot of pent-up demand. 

“There’s just not much out there for them right now,” Paul said.

First-time home buyers are not finding much on the market, either. They might get prequalified for a $175,000 home, but there’s not much in that price range. In the first week of October, the cheapest home in Powell was a $130,000 two-story townhome. The cheapest single-family home was $189,000.

John Parsons, co-owner of 307 Real Estate, said the market has slowed “just a tick” but people from other states are still showing interest in living in Wyoming. 

307 Real Estate has offices in Buffalo, Sheridan, Cody, and Powell and “this whole corridor is extremely attractive to these out-of-town buyers,” Parsons said. “They’re looking for a quality of life.”

Cody Regional Health

Griffin said many of the out-of-state buyers are working remotely, so they have a lot of flexibility with where they live, as long as they have good internet. As such, the lack of inventory and high prices in Cody are pushing more interest into Powell; buyers who don’t find what they want here may look in Lovell and Greybull. 

 New building

New houses, unfortunately, are not helping to meet the demand. Griffin said almost all new construction is custom homes, with little spec housing being constructed. She said that’s partly due to the high cost of creating subdivisions, as well as material costs. It’s a hard time to keep costs down.

“Those homes are definitely needed, but I don’t know where they’d go,” Griffin said. 

Likewise, contractors are sometimes booked out for two years, leaving them little time to build on spec, even if they are so inclined. 

Parsons said there are a handful of spec houses being built, but they’re off the market before they’re finished. 

“If they [home builders] do start a spec home, by the time they get the foundation in the ground, it’s sold,” Parsons said. 

Griffin said residents who don’t plan to sell and move out of the area are stuck in the homes they’re living in, so many are hiring contractors for home improvement projects. 

Swenson said one thing that keeps the market rolling is that not everyone who moves to Wyoming stays in Wyoming. This opens up a few options here and there for buyers. 

“People love the glamor of summertime Wyoming, but they don’t like the nastiness of wintertime Wyoming. So we help them move in and then a couple years later, we help them move out,” Swenson said. 

Ultimately, the Big Horn Basin remains a sellers’ market, and realtors don’t see this ending any time soon. 

“Inventory grows and the demand wanes a little bit, but it’s still very much a sellers’ market,” Paul said. 

He added there’s about a month’s worth of inventory on the market, and it takes at least a few months’ worth to have a really stable market. 

All in all, Paul said the slight cooling of the market is a good outcome — if it’s the result of more buyers finding homes and leaving more inventory on the market. If demand is falling because of rising interest rates or other pressures on the market, then it’s a problem. 

“Less demand is never a good thing for the market,” Paul said. 

For the foreseeable future, things look good for the area’s housing market — at least if you’re selling. Swenson said he thinks it will remain fast and busy for some time to come. 

“All in all, I’m very optimistic about the real estate market,” he said. “I started when it was in a lull, so I know what it’s like when it’s slow. So, this is pretty nice.”

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Wyoming Real Estate Market Cooling Down Just a Bit; Homes in Mountainous Areas Still Hard To Find

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

The housing market has been on fire in Wyoming since the pandemic last year persuaded city-dwellers to look to this mostly rural state to escape the restrictions of urban life.

But if one takes a look at real estate listings right now, there is a much wider selection than there was at this time just a few months ago — depending on where you’re looking.

Lance Bower, a Cody real estate agent, said high-quality homes that are ready to move into are still difficult to find in towns that are close to picturesque, mountainous areas.

“Well maintained properties are challenging for buyers to find in these mountain corridor towns,” Bower notes. 

Bower’s observation holds true in Sheridan, where a search of home listings garners just one with a price between $200,000 and $500,000 — described as a “timeless home in a great location… settled on an 11,900 square foot lot with mature trees, alley access, a one car tuck-under garage.” Built in 1959, it lists for $349,900.

But in the other corners of the state, there area a few more options. 

A search revealed 13 single-family homes between $200,000 and $500,000 in Evanston, where the highest-dollar option is a “spacious 6 bed/3.5 bath home on a quiet cul-de-sac. The kitchen, living, and dining rooms boast extra tall vaulted ceilings…” for $495,000.

If you’re looking in a smaller town, your housing dollar goes a bit farther. 

In Buffalo, for example, there are 36 listings in the $200,000 – $500,000 price range. You can choose in town or in the country, on one acre or on 43; brand new or established. Take this house on a large lot, for just $250,000.

In a similarly-sized town, Douglas has 22 listings under $500,000 – including this five-bedroom, custom-built, 4,000-square-foot home on the banks of the North Platte River for $495,000.

Rock Springs is also wide open for the under-$500,000 housing market. There are 36 listings here, ranging from a beautiful 6-bedroom home with a 4-car garage for $465,000 to a brand-new, 5-bedroom, 2-bath home for $239,000.

Cheyenne has a wide range of housing available right now, as well – especially if your standards aren’t set too high or you’re looking for a fixer-upper. 

Take this 2-bedroom home with just over 1,000 square feet. The yard needs some work, but the property has potential – and it’s only $130,000.

But there are literally dozens of homes on Zillow for under $500,000 in the immediate Cheyenne area, including a seven-bedroom, two-bath home for $485,000… which indicates that the shortage of available homes for sale that has plagued the real estate industry since the pandemic began may be coming to a close — at least, in some parts of the state.

“It continues to be a seller’s market, you know, under $500,000,” Bower reports. “Well maintained property are challenging for buyers to find in these mountain corridor towns. So a lot of buyers, once they realize that they can’t find something in the mountain corridor towns, they’re having to pull back into other areas, which do provide a few more choices.”

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Now Californians Are Driving Up Home Prices Wherever They Move

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By Cole Lauterbach, The Center Square 

A popular gripe about Californians moving into nearby states is they bring their politics with them. The newest complaint could be they’re bringing high home prices as well.

Property data provider CoreLogic released its monthly Home Price Index on Tuesday, reflecting May values. It showed home prices in every state increased from average listing prices in May 2020. In states with a disproportionate number of relocated California residents, home prices increased well above the national average of 15.4%.

Of the 165,355 California taxpayers that left in the tax year 2019, 29,050 taxpayers and their dependents moved to Arizona. CoreLogic’s report showed Arizona’s home prices grew 23.4% from May 2019 to May 2020.

“Strong buyer demand coupled with scarce for-sale inventory have accelerated home-price gains, with the Phoenix metro especially hot,” CoreLogic Chief Economist Dr. Frank Nothaft said. “With mortgage rates continuing to hover near 3%, we expect home prices to continue a double-digit rise through the summer.”

Arizona’s increase was a greater increase than every state but Idaho. Residents there are dealing with a 30.3% home-price hike from the same period. Recent U.S. Census Bureau migration data showed Californians comprise the majority of newly branded Idaho residents. Utah, the CoreLogic report said, had a 20.4% year-over-year increase as “home buyers seek out more affordable locations with lower population density and attractive outdoor amenities.” Census numbers show Californians account for the lion’s share of their new residents as well.

The increased demand from well-heeled California ex-pats and others also is creating record home inventory shortages.

“Valley-wide, we normally have 20-25 thousand active homes on market,” said Jan Leighton, president of the Arizona Association of Realtors. “As of this morning, we have 5,799.”

Leighton said people used to sell their homes in five to seven years, but they seem to be moving more toward selling after seven to 10 years.

Arizona homeowners have been getting frequent calls for month from companies willing to offer cash for their properties, presuming they will continue only to increase in value.

The increased prices also could push first-time homebuyers back to the sidelines, meaning the demand would be prolonged.

“First-time buyers are hitting a wall in many places around the country as the pace of home price rises outpace the benefits of lower borrowing costs. Younger and first-time buyers, including younger millennials, are faced with the challenge of having sufficient savings for a down payment, closing costs and cash reserves,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic.

“As we look to the balance of 2021, we expect price rises to continue which could very well push prospective buyers out of the market in many areas and slow home price growth over the next year.”

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Looking For A Home In Wyoming And Have $70 Million, There’s A House For You

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

To many people in the rest of the country, Wyoming is where cowboys still fight Indians, where we still use outhouses and electricity is a relatively new concept.

But Wyoming is more than just wide open spaces and a “down-home” attitude — there are homes here that have a “Wow” factor rivaling anything seen in Beverly Hills.

Pricepoint: $70 Million

Take this riverfront cottage, for example – for just under $70 million, you can have a rustic home in the woods north of Jackson. 

Amenities include striking views of the Grand Teton range, Snake River frontage, spring creeks, ponds, exquisite landscaping and “ultimate privacy.” 

The main house covers 7,984 square feet and includes a 540-bottle wine room. The property also includes 242 acres of pristine wildlife habitat, multiple guest houses and it comes fully furnished.

$17 Million Price Point

If $70 million is a little out of your price range, you could consider this lovely log cabin, also near Jackson — it’s just $17 million.

There’s a significant reduction in the square footage as well. This one encompasses just under 5,000 square feet, but it also fronts the Snake River, and includes a guest house on its 37-acre parcel.

$16 Million Price Point

Perhaps the above two homes are too small or ordinary for your tastes. Maybe you would find living in Teton County to be revolting.

Not to worry. You can build your own home and live 300 miles away from Jackson with this 1,400+ acre property near Newcastle, Wyoming.

Plus, you’ll save money. This property has a price tag of just $16 million. But there will be an extra cost for the home you build.

If so desired, you could put a used mobile home on it for $20,000. Or you could spend millions designing your own state-of-the-art home, pool, guest house, golf course, helipad, shooting range, etc.

Price Point $44 Million

Let’s revisit that high-dollar mark again. This incredible home, once again near Jackson (actually, it’s in Alpine), lists for a cool $44 million. 

It’s all worth it though because it has a private airstrip on the property and hangar for storing your planes. Think of all the money you’ll save by flying yourself instead of booking flights and flying commercial. Plus, there’s no commute time. Roll out of bed, stumble out the front door, and load yourself up into your plane. Within 2 minutes of waking up, you’ll be airborne.

Worried about power outages? Not anymore. This property has a solar-powered energy system plus its own sewer and water system. You’ll be fully operational while your neighbors are using their iPhone flashlight.

Pricepoint $1.5 Million

But if you’re on a budget, you might consider residing in another corner of the state. For example, this bargain (at only $1.5 million) fronts the Bear River near Evanston

Granted, this one may not look like much but you are really paying for the land and the water.

This 219 acre ranch has alfalfa, brome and timothy hay currently being produced along with plenty of grazing land for livestock.

There are also several ponds on the property registered with the State of Wyoming and can be stocked for fishing.

Plus, the water rights date back to 1895.

Pricepoint $1.4 Million

Or you might want an even more rural address – how about this lovely spot near Powell? It is listed for a mere $1.4 million, and is set up to accommodate a full farming/ranching operation, complete with warehouses, outbuildings and barns on 159 acres.

Don’t worry, that green, glowing outline in the above photo isn’t nuclear waste. It just outlines the property which is currently growing alfalfa, sanfoin/orchard grass, and sorghum.

Plus, there’s an updated farm house and large shop conveniently located in the center of the property with great Mountain views.

If you’ve got millions of dollars burning a hole in your pocket, don’t waste your fortune on pricey properties in New York or Los Angeles – you can find big-city price tags right here in the Cowboy State!

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Wyoming Real Estate: “Red-Hot Market” Due to Out-of-State Buyers

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

It’s a seller’s market.

That’s what Wyoming real estate agents are saying after an influx of out-of-state buyers has all but decimated the available properties in the last year. 

For example, in Cody, there are 193 active licensed realtors – but only 20 available residential properties in the city limits.

Jake Ivanoff, president of the Northwest Wyoming Board of Realtors, said rather than a buyer’s market, in which the supply is greater than the demand, it’s now a seller’s market.

“A year ago, up to even eight months ago, I was still hesitant to call it, you know, a seller’s market, but now it is 100% no question,” Ivanoff said. “It was probably like, November, that we started realizing, oh, man, we’re almost out of inventory.”

Ivanoff’s company, 307 Real Estate, has offices in Cody, Buffalo and Sheridan. He said the influx of buyers from other parts of the country means there are fewer properties available — especially in Park County.

“I think it’s mainly people trying to get out of the cities,” Ivanoff said. “And we’re seeing a lot of younger people moving to town here, because they’re working remote. We have couples from Florida we’re working with now, California, Minnesota — just really all over the board.”

The market isn’t quite as tight in the northeast part of the state. According to the Northeast Wyoming Board of Realtors, there are 230 active real estate agents, and 444 available properties (including those under contract). 

But Ivanoff pointed out that across the state, some areas are more popular than others for those looking to relocate.

“The Bighorn Basin, Park County, and the Sheridan-Buffalo area, those are really good markets right now,” he points out. “Lander’s always been good — and, you know, Jackson, of course, is its own world.” 

Ivanoff said now that so many properties have been snatched up, there’s been a shift in the market — which means that because their property is more sought-after, potential sellers can increase the prices on their homes. 

According to the state Department of Administration and Information’s fourth quarter 2020 economic summary, the price single-family home in Wyoming price increased 8.4% in the fourth quarter of 2020 from one year ago. 

Construction of new homes has increased as well. The economic report shows that single-family building permits issued for new privately-owned residential construction in the fourth quarter of 2020 increased by 21.5% over the previous year in Wyoming. 

But according to Ivanoff, building is more expensive than it used to be.

“Prices to build are just crazy right now,” he observed. “I know there’s at least one piece of land that’s for sale out on the Greybull highway area out there, and I know there’s some new developments coming up. But with interest rates and stuff it all still kind of makes sense.”

However, the state Department of Administration and Information predicted that the red hot housing market will slow down this year because of lower affordability and higher mortgage rates, which may contribute to a cool-down in housing demand. 

But for the 1,490 active real estate agents in the state of Wyoming, there’s still hope, Ivanoff said.

“I think we have five agents in Sheridan, and three in Buffalo,” he said, “and those guys are still finding stuff to sell. I think this is the first year we’re actually going to see a spring market.”

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Wyoming Real Estate Market On Fire; Coloradoans & Californians Moving In

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

The heat wave that Wyoming experienced last weekend was one for the record books. But Wyoming’s real estate market is even hotter.

Not only were single-family home prices up 8.4% in 2020’s fourth quarter over the previous year but new construction prices are up a whopping 21.5% according to the Wyoming Economic Summary report.

The surge in pricing — and many local realtors are saying that 2021’s prices are even higher — is due to high demand and a lack of inventory. 

Dominic Valdez, a real estate agent in Cheyenne, told Cowboy State Daily that competition for homes in many parts of the state is “intense.”

He said as of Wednesday there are 66 homes for sale in Cheyenne. The average is usually between 400 and 500.

“It’s ridiculous and it’s not just Wyoming. It’s all across the country,” Valdez said.  “High demand and low inventory is really pushing prices up.”

Valdez said many of the new buyers are from outside of Wyoming, coming from areas including Colorado, California, and New York.

At many price points, he said, new construction is the route buyers are taking, but it can take 10 to 12 months to complete a home.

“The builders are going as fast and as hard as they can,” he said.  “But there is a shortage of skilled laborers — plumbers, electricians, roofers, framers, and sheet rockers.”

Valdez said the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors credits the economic downturn a decade ago for the lack of inventory.

“The recession put so many builders out of business and the builders that survived cut back on their production considerably,” Valdez said.

“The whole time we were trying to recover [from the recession], kids were graduating from college and entering the workforce. The buyers were still being produced but the inventory was not,” he said.

Valdez said prospective buyers should try to qualify for the highest price point they can, as prices won’t be going down.

“It’s still a good time to buy as interest rates are still historically low,” he said.  “It’s tough on buyers but if you can get it, the way we are appreciating, you will end up ahead of the game in two, three, five years down the road.”

Buyers should expect to get beat out on offers as the demand is high, but Valdez said not to get discouraged and “keep on trying.”

Max Minnick, president of Wyoming Realtors, told The Center Square that the real estate market is affecting all areas of Wyoming.

“We have a lot of people coming in from out of state right now, getting away from the bigger cities and into the Wyoming way of life,” Minnick said.

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London Firm Builds Zillion Dollar House in Jackson; Might Be Available For Next Wyoming Project

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Good news if you are looking to fix up your house.

A firm from London recently constructed a home in Teton County for a young out-of-state couple and perhaps now that they’re done with this project, they’ve got extra time on their hands.

The McLean Quinlan firm is responsible for Joanne and Rico Zorkendorfer’s new house which was recently promoted by Architectural Digest’s Twitter account.

Like many of us in Wyoming, when we go home we want to escape the real world.

So the house, according to the magazine, “perfectly answered the Zorkendorfers’ request for a true refuge.”

Luckily for the Zorkendorfers, they found a house that “occupied an extraordinary position on four elevated acres” over looking the Jackson Hole valley.

So they did what we would all do: bulldoze it. After all, it was old.

Like so many of us, the Zorkendorfers wanted a house that felt “restorative, serene, and elemental”.

To achieve that, they brought in home furnishings using “robes de llengües textiles from Mallorca and Otomi embroidered fabrics from Mexico.”

That’s a great idea. Sadly, when we checked the Home Depot website, they didn’t seem to have any “robes de llengües” textiles but maybe that’s because we weren’t able to type-in an umlaut on their page.

Regardless, the Zorkendorfers had the same issue we all have whether you are building in Wamsutter, Lusk, Shoshoni, or Jackson: how to design a home based on your “cultural roots”?

The Zorkendorfers had a real dilemma.

“I have a love affair with New Zealand’s wide-open beach houses, and Rico has an affinity for chalets, so we wanted to create something that was a marriage of those two things,” Joanne explained.

Oddly, we had that same conversation when we were at the Deerehaven Liquor and Lounge in Moorcroft last summer.

Our solution was to build a shed in the backyard by the outhouse. 

The Zorkendorfers took another approach:  “[Build] a central living space bordered by expanses of glass and accessing intimate zones for dining, napping, and the like.”

And then there’s the age-old question of what to do with the inside of the house. Thankfully the McLean Quinlan firm figured that out as well.

“Fir and hemlock predominate, their golden tones complemented by more stone and pebbles sourced from the Snake River, a waterway that whiplashes across the valley below,” the author explains.

That’s actually helpful because we were wondering what to do with our neon Blatz beer sign we won at a carnival back in ’97.

“It’s a privilege to live in Jackson Hole,” Joanne told the magazine. “We are surrounded by national parks, and there is an incredible Native American history here too. Building a house in an area like this demands that you create something really special.”

That’s good to hear. We feel the same way. That’s why we purchased six tires instead of four. It gets really windy and the extra weight should help to keep the roof attached to the house in January.

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How Will the Coronavirus Affect Wyoming’s Real Estate Market?

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By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

American housing markets are rife with uncertainty amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but as national listings see downward trend, Wyoming could flip to buyer’s market, according to economists in the state.

“We won’t know what the coronavirus will do to the housing market until we see all the data, but there is less data coming in right now because of the stay-at-home orders,” said Linda Thunstrom, a University of Wyoming economist. “If this drags on, and we have second waves, then all sectors, including housing, will be affected.”

According to a recent analysis conducted by www.realtor.com, the nation’s inventory of housing for sale declined about 16% compared to last March, but houses sold quicker this March and the median listing price was up about 4% compared to last year.

The more concerning number, Thunstrom said, is the nation’s skyrocketing unemployment claims. Without jobs, people are less likely to dive into a new home and more likely to fall behind on mortgage payments. 

The pandemic is leading to a real risk of the housing market being flooded with cheaper houses if the U.S. experiences a spike in foreclosures, which could further complicate the nation’s mounting financial crisis and reduce property values across the board, she explained.

“We need to see a real effort from banks and governments helping low-income earners pay their mortgages,” Thunstrom said.

As an economist and a legislator, Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, said the housing market influences numerous aspects of Wyoming’s economy — from construction jobs to revenue for local schools and governments.

“It’s a giant industry and a very important sector of our economy,” Case said. “It’s bound to be depressed by the impact of this virus.” 

Not only are people being encouraged to stay home, decreasing home viewings and consequent sales, but people might be hesitant to meet with realtors and view listed homes currently being inhabited. As sales decline, property values decline.

“It’s a documented effect that if the value of your house declines, you feel poorer,” Case explained. “If you feel poorer, you spend less.”

Most of Wyoming’s property taxes, which are based on property values, go to school districts, Case said. If property values decline, property tax revenue would follow suit, and school districts would be more reliant on state funding, he explained. 

“The virus has compounded Wyoming’s economical problems,” Case said.

Rob Godby, the director for UW’s Energy Economics and Public Policies Center, said the pandemic’s full impact on the housing market might not be known for at least a year.

“We’re still seeing new listings on www.zillow.com in places like Cheyenne and Laramie, so I don’t think COVID-19 has fully hit home yet,” Godby said. “But, looking at the national numbers, it’s hard to say with certainty those declines are caused by the pandemic, because we’re still only a couple weeks into this thing.” 

Wyoming was a seller’s market going into 2020, Godby said, but the longer the outbreak lasts, interrupting the economy, the more likely buyers will see prices and supply flip to their favor. 

“Part of the problem is there’s very little data about how local markets are doing,” he said.

At a time in American history when data influences nearly every choice people make, the lack of data could cause potential home buyers to lose confidence and put off buying a home until things begin to feel normal again.

Case, Godby and Thunstrom agreed the U.S. is headed into a recession that could eclipse the 2008 collapse, but with conditions changing day to day, determining how long the recession will last is challenging.

“I think (the pandemic) will have major impacts on the housing market for the next four months,” Case said. “But, I don’t think it will be better until next year.”

Thunstrom speculated, “I’m not sure there will be any lasting effects, or at least, I’m hoping not.”

And Godby said, “We’re still at that stage of people questioning if this is serious. It is, but people are still unsure.” 

A glut of foreclosures on a national scale led to the Great Recession of 2008, so economists are keeping a close eye on the housing market. But with low interest rates and the potential of people returning to work once the worst has passed, there is a sliver of hope this recession will not hit the housing sector as hard as the last one, Godby added.

“It’s hard to imagine lots of foreclosures,” he said. “The last thing a bank wants to do is foreclose on a house, because it’s almost a certain loss by incurring costs of taking over the home, marketing it and selling it.”

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