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.”

Contact John Spina at 732-5911, or @JHNGtown.

Cody Cottier covers town and state government. He grew up with a view of the Olympic Mountains, and after graduating Washington State University he traded it for a view of the Tetons. Odds are the mountains are where you’ll find him when not on deadline.

(7) comments

Cody Brinton

Judd Less than 3% of this county is privately owned most of that has ben conserved and the rest heavily regulated. Forcing someone to build deed restricted property on private lands isn't the freedom this country was built on. It socialism/Communism. Id not not one of the contributors here point their finger at the biggest problem in available space in this valley- the Jackson Hold land trust and the conservation again that are stealing the only available land in the valley--- We cant build closer to lot lines, or build higher or many other things because the strangle hold regulations have on the building industry. How about the resorts and tomahawk shops provide housing for their own employees and quit asking public funds to build their workers housing so they can further rape this wonderful place?

Judd Grossman

I agree that employers should house their own employees. No public funds.

I disagree in that I think the Land Trust and to a lesser extent the Conservation Alliance has done useful work to preserve the natural environment and small town / rural feel of the valley.

Even though the Libertarian in me would prefer no government intervention in land use, I recognize that Jackson Hole is an international treasure that could be destroyed by overdevelopment. We are already overpopulated. I believe that landowners are entitled to make use of their property as they see fit under current regs. I would do away with the current need based affordable housing tiers and make all the affordable housing deed restricted based on workforce occupancy. Anyone should be able to own one, but only local workforce should be able to live in one. They shouldn't have any price or income caps, and any landowner in the urban core should be able to build one without height, parking or FAR limits, but each unit should be restricted in size.

That's my take on how to protect valley character without rewarding people for bad choices or punishing people for good choices.

Judd Grossman

More suburban sprawl will destroy the character of Jackson Hole and still not solve the housing problem. We need to restrict commercial and free market residential growth, and only allow local workforce based deed restricted housing from now on. Let the businesses provide housing for their own employees and leave the taxpayers out of it.

John Sinson

LOL... high prices are a sign of SUCCESS people. It's only a crisis if you forgot to buy a while ago. Guess what, there's a a shortage in Aspen, Malibu and Manhattan too. Are they talking about the crisis? You people live in bizarro world. You make it very hard to build here, then you complain there's nowhere to live.

Janet Olson

Forgot to buy a while ago? Are you kidding? How can all the crucial jobs such as healthcare workers, teachers, public service staff that maintain a community be sustained if there is no way to house them?

John Sinson

Pay them enough.

James Peck

Why do we always ask a real estate agent what's best for housing? Isn't it completely obvious that low inventory=fewer sales for real estate agents? How can they be objective? Isn't there a new subdivision coming to the old Forest Service property? There is NO WAY we can build our way out of this. The writer is right, permanent change has come, whether we like it or not. Let's not make it worse.

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