Building season has arrived, and new housing starts have begun in La Plata County.
Contractors pulled 13 building permits in Durango for single-family residential homes so far this year. For Durango, that’s the lowest number of permits for that time period since 2012. In the first quarter of 2015, 24 permits were issued, compared to 22 in 2014.
It’s a slightly slower start, though local contractors say rising supply costs, in step with national trends, haven’t deterred them from building.
In Durango, the median build price for single-family residences in 2014 was $182,635. There were 60 permits that year. That rose to $193,983 in 2015, when 62 permits were issued.
The median cost of improvements for single-family homes in Bayfield was $150,000 in 2014 for 13 permits, compared to $190,000 in 2015 for 17.
Edgewood Construction owner Steve Martin works on remodels for low- and high-end homes. In Edgemont Highlands, his houses range from $500,000 to $600,000 and prices are “creeping up,” partly because of rising building costs.
“In Edgemont, the land varies from $100,000 to $200,000 depending on the size of the lots. If I pay $140,000, that’s a good medium,” Martin said.
He estimated the cost to build a spec house, like the one under construction on Window Lake Trail, averages $180 to $220 per square foot, which is higher than the national average of about $125.
Frank Enea with Classique Builders has built in Durango for 10 years and works on spec and custom homes in Edgemont Highlands, Glacier Club, Purgatory and Three Springs.
“We’re seeing $600,000 to $800,000 as the busiest price level for us, though we have projects across the board, from in-town remodels in the $300,000 range to $2 million,” he said.
But first-quarter sale statistics released by the Durango Area Association of Realtors indicate buyers are going for lower- and mid-range homes. Twenty-two Durango homes sold in town at a median price of $415,000. The median price is down from $425,000 in town last year. A total of 186 county homes sold at a median price of $353,450. Six in-town Bayfield homes sold at a median price of $186,500.
The majority of sales are for existing homes, and more construction is needed, particularly in Bayfield.
“With the economic changes we’ve had, builders have gotten busier in Durango and rural La Plata County,” The Wells Group co-owner John Wells said. “But inventory is really low in Bayfield.”
There are 12 single-family, in-town homes in Bayfield on the market today, some of them still under contract, with a price point of $200,000 to $375,000 and a median of $289,900, Wells said. That compares to a median selling price of $579,000 in Durango, including Three Springs.
“It’s definitely cheaper than Durango,” said Isaac Fleener, a broker and owner of Bayfield Realty. “A lot of lots in town (in Bayfield) are being bought up and put under contract. One thing we’re seeing is that we’re running out of lots, which has driven up lot prices for sure, and new construction has seen an increase in price over last summer.
Comparing first-quarter sales of 2016 to 2015, single-family home sales in-town in Durango are down 40.5 percent because of low inventory, but they’re up 20 percent in Bayfield.