The number of home sales lagged slightly but median prices continued to rise across most of Durango and La Plata County, according to third quarter sales data released Wednesday from the Durango Area Association of Realtors.
Homes in Durango continued to have healthy increases in value with the median price for an in-town Durango single-family home hitting $484,500 for the third quarter of 2018, an 11 percent increase from the $436,500 for the same quarter in 2017.
Total sales dropped to 136 in the third quarter of 2018 from 147 in the same quarter in 2017, according to DAAR’s data.
“It’s not a surprise,” said Rick Lorenz, a broker with The Wells Group in Durango. “There’s not a big surplus inventory in town. There just isn’t anything cheap out there.”
La Plata County homes account for the biggest slice of the home market pie, accounting 848 sales in the third quarter of 2018, a 2.9 percent decrease from 873 sales in same quarter of 2017. The median price for a La Plata County home hit $387,687 for the third quarter, a 6.2 percent increase from the median price of $365,000 in the same quarter of 2017.
The supply of homes continued to be a problem in Bayfield – with Bayfield in-town home sales dropping to 32 in the third quarter compared with 52 sales in the same quarter of 2017.
Heather Erb, managing broker at Coldwell Banker Heritage House Realtors, said a number of speculation homes sold in 2017 in Bayfield, with many purchases made before the homes were completed.
“The cheapest lots are gone. The inventory is not there, so I think buyers went to other communities,” she said.
A general trend of a slight decline in sales in most markets, Erb said, could be attributed to a lack of inventory.
“The newly released MLS third quarter and year-to-date La Plata County real estate sales statistics shows our inventory crunch continues,” she said. “The decrease in sales directly correlates to fewer listings available in the marketplace. In other words, less choice for buyers equals a decline in sales.”
She noted total sales tracked by DAAR were down 2.2 percent compared with 2017, and that reflected the total number of all new third-quarter listings, which also declined 2.8 percent compared with the third quarter of 2017.
The median price for Durango mountain homes hit $790,000 for the quarter, a 2.4 percent increase from the $771,500 median price for the same quarter in 2017.
J.R. Spies, sales manager with The Wells Group, said a strong national economy is benefiting real estate sales in La Plata County.
“After the fire we saw a bit of a dip and a quick recovery,” he said. “What we are seeing on the national level is so robust this year, and we’re benefiting from it. Durango is a big second-home market, and what you’re seeing in our feeder markets – Texas, California, the Front Range – is so strong that the push back you might have expected from the fire just wasn’t as significant.
“I expect we will continue to benefit from a strong national economy for awhile,” he said.
In addition, the sales environment for homes during the 416 Fire was better than the Missionary Ridge Fire in 2002, Spies said – noting that insurance companies never stopped issuing home policies in Durango’s ZIP codes – something that slowed sales during the Missionary Ridge Fire.
Erb agrees that a strong national economy can overwhelm any other variables in the market.
“I’ve been in the market for a while. I was getting my license during the Missionary Ridge Fire, when we saw a dip and a quick rebound. The Gold King Mine (spill) did not affect the real estate market.
“When people decide to make the jump and come to Durango, they’ve pretty much made up their minds. A fire could delay a sale for a while, but overall the market is more robust than that,” she said.