Western Slope Bucks Housing Trends

A home construction slump and falling prices are the norm on the Front Range as in the nation, but it couldn’t get any better on most of the Western Slope.The national averages on a price of a new home have dropped as much as 10 percent in the past year, the largest amount since the mid-1970’s real estate bust or perhaps the Depression. Home sales have not done much better. Further declines are expected for all types of single-family homes in 2007.  In Detroit, homes are selling for less than a luxury vehicle.

Denver home sales have reflected this national downward turn buoyed by the rising number of single family home foreclosures. A medium priced Denver area home in November of 2006 was $240,000, a loss of value from $274,600 in October of 2005.

Home construction in the Colorado Springs region is fairing no better. Numbers fell sharply in this first quarter and single family home building permits dropped about 45 percent compared to last year’s figures.

Colorado’s Western Slope is a whole different story. Housing shortages, second home sales, oil and gas exploration, Latino buyers and retiring baby boomers are all contributing to boom times in real estate sales and increasing home values. The Roaring Fork area, between Aspen and Parachute which includes Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin Counties, is a good example of a HOT HOT seller’s market.

In Garfield, the dollar volume has increased over last January by 73 percent with total dollar volume at $92 million compared to $53 million in 2006-which in itself was a record year that saw a total sales volume over the one-billion dollar mark. The Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported:

Across our neighboring resort communities 2007, with the exception of Summit County, is starting the year off well over pace from last year. Pitkin County surpassed Eagle County, reporting the highest volume at $253 million for the month of January. They were followed by Eagle County at $173 million, then Routt and Garfield Counties at $100 million and $92 million respectively. Summit County reports $82 million for the month.

Our neighboring mountain communities continue to report much higher than average sales than the rest of the country, reporting January averages as follows: Routt County reports an average of $1 million and Summit County is in the low $700’s, Eagle County at $1.4 million and Pitkin County $5.5 million. Garfield County started the year reporting the average home sale at $357,743. The total dollar volume for January for Garfield County reported $92,346,900 from 237 transactions….

… Martha Brooks of Land Title Guarantee Co. reported in the Jan. 26 edition of Home Focus that the median home price for residential homes in Rifle had increased 40 percent since 2003. The median single-family home price last year was $253,200, a 36 percent increase from 2003.

Some realtors have acknowledged that homes for sale in Rifle are $50,000 over-valued right now, but the demand is high because of the oil and gas workers moving into the area. More new housing developments aren’t expected on the market until 2008.

Another example of boom times is in Willits, a housing development area in west Basalt. The asking price for a three-year old 3,000 sq ft home with four bedrooms and three baths was $875,000 when it went on the market in May 2006. The seller increased her asking price by $225,000 in November and on Jan. 2nd it sold for the asking price of $1.1 million, according to the Post Independent.

A medium-priced home in Carbondale, once a struggling town when the coal mines closed in the 1970’s, is over $480,000 now. One Carbondale home buyer said she could have sold her house for a profit before her own closing papers were processed.

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Leslie Robinson

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