You know those people who say housing has always been a problem in Jackson? Well, it’s never been this bad.
According to the Jackson Hole Report’s year-end review, which compiles and analyzes data from every free-market real estate transaction in Jackson Hole each year, the available housing inventory is the lowest it’s been in more than 30 years. That’s driving costs to record levels and reducing turnover, which creates an economic cycle that greatly overvalues real estate.
“This combination of factors has created a limited supply, and prices have accelerated to the point where most local buyers can no longer afford to enter our market,” the report reads. “After reviewing the 2017 stats, it’s become very clear that we have entered into a new normal for Jackson Hole.”
The numbers are clear. Last year, there were 31 percent fewer sales in Jackson Hole than in the years before the Great Recession, and the median sale price was $1.3 million, tied for the highest ever. There were only 14 listings under $500,000, none of which were single-family homes. The median list price for single-family homes was $2.65 million, also the highest on record.
The least expensive home in the area is a 608-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bath condo built in 1978 in the town of Jackson for $345,000. The least expensive single-family home is a two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath, 1,388-square-foot house built in 1980 on a 0.17-acre lot in Rogers Point near Hoback Junction; it’s listed for $575,000.
According to David Viehman, an associate broker at the Clear Creek Real Estate Group who produces the Jackson Hole Report with fellow brokers Devon Viehman and Luke Graham Smith, unless something major happens the trend is going to worsen.
While 55 percent of sales in 2017 were between $500,000 and $1 million, that segment of the market is slipping away as locals who already own real estate are no longer trading up or building new homes. The year ended with 79 home sales under $1 million, down 30 percent from the previous year; there are just 14 homes in that price range, with only five listed under $750,000.
Viehman also noted that the new tax law is likely to drive more high-end clients into the valley along with baby boomers willing to spend a little extra for a picturesque place to retire.
The solution? Viehman said the only real option is to open up the county for denser developments and new subdivisions. While new development regulations in town will help the rental market, building affordable housing simply isn’t worth developers’ time when land is so valuable.
“Unless the county changes its regulations, things will never be like they used to be,” Viehman said. “If not, there won’t be another Rafter J or Melody Ranch to increase inventory and keep prices low, and if we don’t have people flipping homes or building new ones, we’re basically waiting for people to retire. It’s not exciting, but it’s reality.”