The past year for La Plata County real estate was a steady one in sales, a slow one for in-town builds and a diverse one for new and advancing projects.
For the first time, partially because of several multi-million-dollar ranch property sales, overall sales in 2016 in La Plata County reported to the Multiple Listing Service surpassed $1 billion in dollar volume, up 14.6 percent from 2015.
Three days before the new year, the MLS recorded 2,890 sales for 2016, reflecting a 5.5 percent increase from 2015. And keeping with the trend of the past few years, in-town Durango home sales were up about 9 percent.
The entry point in the market hovered around $400,000 and will likely go up in 2017, yet sales indicate demand continues to be for homes listed at $500,000 and below.
Rising building material costs and the lack of available lots that are able to be developed will also push market prices, real estate agents predict.
Land sales saw a slight increase in conjunction with an increase in building, which was strong in the county and in Bayfield. However, in-town Durango builds over the summer were the fewest since 2012.
The Confluence, the 100-unit apartment complex at Three Springs, reached 100 percent capacity in summer 2016 and the community will continue to grow in the year ahead.
Several large projects also are poised to make headway in 2017:
The city of Durango approved nearly 200 apartment units this year for the corner of Baker Lane and Escalante Drive.Lots at Twin Buttes west of town were finally placed on the market.A luxury RV resort across from Cascade Village, an unprecedented project for the Durango area, was given a green light to move forward.Real estate agents agree 2017’s real estate problems and successes will be similar to 2016’s.
“Our biggest challenge over the last year and the next will be inventory,” said John Ralph, a local agent. “Even though these numbers are up, most of the sales are in what we consider the lower range – $500,000 and down. The main reason: We don’t have anyplace to go out and start building a lot of homes other than Three Springs.”
The same is true for parts of Bayfield, where sales reflected a growing interest in the town’s cheaper real estate compared to Durango. In the last days of 2016, there were just 10 in-town parcels on the market in Bayfield, including commercial properties, Ralph said.
Rising interest rates, which could slow buyers’ borrowing power, have created an uncertain outlook for the year ahead.
“This year has been good from a general market standpoint,” real estate broker Jim Wotkyns said. “We are planning for things to be pretty even next year, but that is all a little bit dependent on inventory and whether those bigger deals materialize. I don’t see numbers changing too much.”
“We’ll see a strong year throughout the country,” Ralph said. “And we’ll see the same here, barring uncontrollable outside influences. I think we’ll see more sales. But if you want to buy into real estate, do it sooner rather than later.”