This is a wonderful time to reflect on last year and look at what it may mean for the next year as suggested in this quote by Jonathan Lockwood Hule, “Celebrate endings for they precede new beginnings.” One of my professors from Fort Lewis College, Tom Eckenrode, taught us that we study history to help us predict the future, and with that thought, let’s look at the real estate market for 2015.
The market was not linear in performance, and in fact, the first six months provided the highest median price at $350,000 and $345,500 for the remainder of the year. Residential sales were up 16.3 percent for the first six months, and they were up 4.6 percent for the remainder of the year. It is my opinion the Gold King spill severely impacted home sales in October and November, but sales in December were similar to the previous year. Pending sales were up significantly in December, which suggests a strong start to the new year.
The median price in the county posted a new record of $345,000 for all homes sold. It surpassed the old mark of $340,000 in 2006, and it was up 2.6 percent over last year. The number of homes sold in the county was up 6.6 percent to 1,098, which is the second best result, only surpassed by 2005. Although the market in La Plata County is growing, it has not seen the same pace as the Denver metro market. That market has been up in median price for several years, and it was up again in 2015 with a 12.9 percent increase.
Single-family homes in-town Durango decreased 6.3 percent in the number of homes sold, but the median price was up 8.3 percent to $433,025. As a comparison, the Durango in-town condo and townhouse market was up 20.8 percent in number of sales, and the median price was up 6.5 percent to $276,725. It appears the benefits of lower prices compared to single-family homes, coupled with the amenities of living in-town Durango, spurred additional growth for the condo and townhouse market.
The Durango rural market posted a gain of 14.5 percent in the number of single-family homes sold, and the median price remained even at $400,000. The median price for homes in-town Bayfield increased by 9 percent to $272,000, and the median price for the Bayfield rural market was up slightly to $265,000, with 62 percent of these sales in Forest Lakes. The Ignacio market is rather small, with more affordable homes. The median price is $188,500 for the in-town market and $250,000 for the rural part of the market.
The resort area, which includes Tamarron, Glacier Club and Purgatory, posted disappointing numbers. Single-family home sales were down 27.6 percent, and the median price was $472,000. The condo and townhouse market was down 2.5 percent in number of sales, and it was down 20.5 percent in median price. The change in median price is a reflection of the mix of properties sold, rather then values dropping. For example, the least expensive condo units in Tamarron affected the median price of the condo and townhouse market. There were 15 Tamarron condos sold in the main lodge in 2015 and only five the previous year.
As mentioned in the beginning, the real estate market is off to a solid start, with pending sales up for the end of December. The market has not been overheated like the Front Range of Colorado, which provides a better balance between the needs of sellers and buyers. Interest rates have risen slightly, but they are still near historic lows. The Federal Reserve has made public its plans to continue to increase rates through the coming year. Informed buyers may want to make decisions earlier in the year to save on interest rates.
Don Ricedorff is a Realtor at The Wells Group in Durango, and a past president of the Durango Area Association of Realtors. He can be reached at email@example.com.