The number of homes sold in La Plata County and Durango continues a multi-year decline in most categories, while median and average prices appear to be plateauing, at least temporarily, according to second-quarter statistics from the Durango Area Association of Realtors.
“Feeder markets on the Front Range have slowed for a while now, and that’s starting to affect us. We’re a little behind the Denver area,” said Shane Dawson, associate broker at The Wells Group and president of the DAAR board of directors.
The biggest category of homes tracked by DAAR, La Plata County homes, saw a drop in the number of sales for the quarter covered from April to June to 489 sales in 2019, down from 513 in the same period in 2018. The median price for La Plata County homes declined to $378,500 in the second quarter of 2019, down from $385,000, a 1.7% decline, from the same quarter in 2018.
The number of sales of in-town Durango homes declined from 78 to 62 from April through June in 2019 – a 20.5% decline – compared with the same three months in 2018. The median price for in-town Durango homes dropped to $499,250 for the quarter from $520,000 for the same quarter in 2018, a 4% decline.
Rick Lorenz, associate broker and team leader at The Wells Group, said some of the numbers on the surface may seem surprising, such as a drop in median prices in some categories while the number of sales also was falling.
“When you have less inventory and the same number of buyers, simple economics would tell you that the price should go up,” Lorenz said.
However, in 2019, he said, 14 $1-million-plus homes sold in La Plata County for far less than their asking prices – “60 cents on the dollar,” he estimated. Lorenz suspected those 14 sales were skewing median prices for Durango and La Plata County homes.
Four of the 14 sales of $1 million-plus homes went at auction, for much lower than the listing prices, Lorenz said.
Dawson said, “The high-end market can be dynamic. It’s such a discretionary purchase for someone with that income who is able to buy a second home. They’re very selective when they buy, and when the market softens, it tends to be the first category that gets impacted.”
The impact of 14 sales on the median price of homes also serves as a reminder that statistics for a market with such few sales can be skewed by only a few big purchases.
Heather Erb said in her real estate newsletter, “Because of our small data pool, seemingly ‘big’ changes ... can be affected by just a few buyer decisions, such as deciding to live in one community over another.”
For Durango country homes in the second quarter, the number of sales was relatively flat with 109 sales in 2019 compared with 106 in the same quarter in 2018. The median sale price for Durango country homes increased to $500,000 in the second quarter of 2019 compared with $472,000 for the same quarter in 2018.
For in-town Bayfield homes, the number of sales dropped to 10 for the second quarter of 2019 from 30 in 2018. The median price increased to $333,500 for the second quarter of 2019 from $324,500 for the same quarter in 2018.
The frigid winter, Dawson suspected, also played a role in reducing the number of total sales so far in 2019.
“We had a slow first quarter, it was so cold, and we’re only now catching up,” he said. “Things are starting to pick up. I think sellers, early in the year, just didn’t get their houses ready as they normally do.”