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Area real estate market trending upward

By Emery Cowan Herald staff writer

The winter cold didn’t put a damper on the local real estate market during the last three months, according to statistics released Wednesday by the Durango Area Association of Realtors.

The number of homes sold in the county increased by 17 percent, and median prices increased by 9 percent to $304,900.

Local activity mirrored a speedup of the statewide market. The median sales price in Colorado was up 15 percent over the same period last year, and days on the market decreased from 115 days to 90 days, according to data from the Colorado Association of Realtors released today.

Homes in Colorado sold for a median price of $225,000 during the first quarter of this year. The market in Southwest Colorado lagged behind the statewide market, with the median sales price increasing 12 percent to $206,500 but days on the market increasing from 206 days to 219 days.

Statewide, days-on-the-market numbers compare to levels seen in 2007, said Tyrone Adams, vice president of member services with the Colorado Association of Realtors.

Low inventory levels meant the number of in-town Durango home sales were flat compared with the first quarter of 2012, but sales of country homes increased 30 percent.

The increase in country home sales isn’t necessarily caused by a tight in-town market, though, because in-town buyers usually are set on that location, said Denise Storm, president of the Durango Area Association of Realtors.

“I haven’t seen a tight Durango market push up county sales,” Storm said.

The median price of Durango in-town homes has stayed steady at $330,000 compared with the first quarter of last year. That’s attributable in part to a movement by builders at Three Springs to offer smaller homes. The area has seen the median house price drop by $25,000 as builders respond to an increased demand for smaller single-family homes, Storm said.

Land sales, though a relatively small portion of real estate deals in the county, saw the biggest increase compared with the first quarter of last year. The number of land sales increased 300 percent, from three in the first quarter of 2012 to nine in the first quarter of 2013. Meanwhile, the median price declined 16 percent.

Buyers who have been eyeing land for a few years are convinced prices have hit rock bottom and are deciding to take the plunge, Wells Group Broker Justin Osborn said.

Many people are buying land as investments to build on in the future, he said. The rising prices and low inventory levels in the residential real estate market also push up demand for land as people realize they can build new for the same price as buying an older in-town home, Osborn said.

In other parts of the county, the median price for Bayfield in-town homes jumped 56 percent from $171,000 in the first quarter of 2012 to $266,500 during the first three months of this year, though the data is based on just five sales in the area. Storm said she expects more Bayfield in-town homes to sell during the second and third quarters of this year especially as local builders get active in the spring and summer season.

The resort market continued to struggle with only one Durango mountain home sold during the first three months of the year. Condo sales were more robust, though the median price fell 37 percent. The condos at Tamarron are dragging down the rest of the market, Storm said. Twelve condos in the complex each sold for nearly $36,000 less than what eight condos sold for last year, she said.

ecowan@durangoherald.com

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