Homes for sale in La Plata County are priced higher and stay on the market longer than others in the region and the state, according to real estate data released this week.
The report, released by the Colorado Association of Realtors, is the first-ever compilation of local real estate data from the entire state, said Don Ricedorff, a real estate broker with the Wells Group.
Previous reports by the statewide association reflected only a sampling of home sales, but the newest report uses data from about 90 percent of the Multiple List Services, or MLS’s, in the state, making it the most complete and accurate picture yet of the state’s real-estate markets, Ricedorff said.
The list was born from a desire to give more accurate and localized market information than non-Realtor or national-scale sources were providing, said George Harvey, a real estate broker in Telluride and past president of the Colorado Association of Realtors.
The effort was “consumer-driven,” to enable people to do “comparison shopping with more accurate data,” he said.
The data show that homes in Southwest Colorado and in Durango were on the market much longer than Colorado as a whole.
According to year-to-date statistics for the third quarter, La Plata County homes were on the market an average of 218 days between 2010 and 2012. The average for Southwest Colorado was 191 days while the Colorado average was 103 days.
Part of the reason is that second homes make up a significant portion of La Plata County’s real estate market, Ricedorff said. Second homes or vacation homes in areas like the Glacier Club or Rockwood Estates stay on the market an average of 378 days while properties in Durango take an average of 186 days to sell.
Another reason is market size, Ricedorff said. Colorado’s statistics are heavily skewed by metro real estate markets that are larger and include more buyers, and more populated areas lead to inventories that move more quickly than a smaller rural areas like La Plata County, he said.
Home prices in the county also were higher than the state or region. Since 2010, median home prices have been an average of $44,000 higher than the state, according to data for the first three quarters of the year.
So far this year, the median sale price for Colorado homes was $270,000 while the median sale price in La Plata County was $300,000.
Ricedorff said the area’s local amenities combined with a geography that limits increased development pushes up home prices.
Since 2010, median home prices during the first nine months of the year have varied in La Plata County and statewide.
County home prices declined 2 percent during the last year and stayed relatively flat between 2010 and 2011. In Colorado, the median home price for the first three quarters of the year dipped slightly in 2011 then increased by 10 percent in 2012.
Meanwhile, the numbers of homes sold locally and statewide have been on a steadier, positive trend since 2010.
An increase in properties sold is a good sign for the community, Ricedorff said.
“For a healthy community, the number of homes sold (as opposed to median prices) is the best indicator,” he said. “It means the population growth is stronger and employment is stronger.”