Among the predictability of all the COVID guidance and restrictions, there was a smattering of unforeseen events in 2020. If someone on the 13th of March 2020, (when we went into full lockdown), had given me a snapshot of what the remainder of the year would have looked like for Summit County, I would have thought that they were crazy. Who would have foreseen that we would have a relatively successful summer for business? Indeed, the reality was very different from our normal way of life, but it does have to be said that the new normal that we encountered this summer was generally better than anticipated.


The fall did bring with it the much anticipated and predicted uptick in COVID cases and around Thanksgiving, the tough decision was made to impose some stringent restrictions on most types of business and in particular the restaurant industry, that was closed to all indoor dining. It was testament to the resilience of local business owners and also our loyal visitors that you could see people having meals outdoors, either in temporary yurts and tents, or simply alfresco - even with dropping temperatures!


Fortunately, the county as a whole came together and our cases are currently falling and as I type the decision is being finalized to move us from red to orange on the State COVID dial, which will allow two households in rental properties, 25% occupancy in restaurants and 50% occupancy in retail stores.


The clear beneficiary in 2020 as a whole, and I use that term carefully as it feels awkward in the current times of a pandemic, was the real estate industry. The graphic below for November 2020 tells the story for June (when lockdown restrictions were eased) through the end of the year.



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The reality is that this surge in activity has essentially ‘cleared the shelves’ of inventory and we are looking at low inventory for all of 2021 and beyond. The typical ownership lifecycle of mountain homes is 3-5 years and this means that looking forward, many of the properties that were bought in 2020 will not be hitting the market for a while. This low inventory cycle will offer a lot of support for current pricing and also encourage price increases. In addition to the effect of low inventory, low interest rates are allowing people to afford significantly higher valued homes and the prospect for rates staying low well into 2023 is strong.


Whilst the market would appear to favor the seller in 2021, it is interesting to note that buyers have been willing to step up to the plate, hedging that pricing is no doubt continue to increase and also that if inflation reappears in the future, real estate offers excellent insurance against this trend.


So, in general terms, my view is that the remainder of this winter will be a little grumpy and lumpy with improvements to the Summit County business climate in early summer, as vaccinations hopefully become more widely administered and the weather improves.


Wishing you all the best for 2021 and continued good health.


James Shingles