The median sales price for a single-family home in Cortez is $212,000, up 21% year-to-date as of Sept. 31. At $244,000 in Montezuma County, the sales price is up 9.7%.
The numbers come from the statistics of single-family home sales for September released by the Four Corners Board of Realtors, which covers residential sales for Montezuma and Dolores counties.
The numbers show the median sale price year-to-date as of Sept. 31 for a single-family home was up 0.5% in Dolores at $271,250, down 9.7% in Mancos at $330,644 and up 26.4% in Dove Creek at $115,850.
In Dolores County, the average sales price year-to-date as of Sept. 31 dropped 3.4% to $142,567.
Bonnie Leighton, a broker associate with Southwest Realty and president of the Four Corners Board of Realtors board of directors, noted the number of homes sold has decreased slightly. In Cortez, the number of homes sold dropped to 167 for the year through Sept. 31 compared with 185 in 2018. In Montezuma County, the number of homes sold dropped to 299 from 326 in 2018.
“We’ve (Four Corners Board of Realtors) discussed the lower amount of sales, and I don’t know if there’s a consensus, but we don’t have as many listings on the market. We lack a good quality inventory,” Leighton said.
Some people who might want to move up in size with a growing family or others who have sent their adult children out into the world and are looking to downsize may be hesitant to put their homes on the market because the current lack of inventory might leave them with too few choices.
“They’re worried they’re not going to find something,” she said.
Builders are targeting houses that start around $225,000 for new construction, and that’s often a stretch for first-time homebuyers looking to convert from renters to homeowners, Leighton said.
The market dynamics, including increased costs of labor and materials, mean homebuilders building on speculation are unlikely to make much of a profit on any new house that sells for less than $225,000, Leighton said.
Another reason for fewer home sales year-to-date, Leighton said, is the amount of snow the region saw this year – with snow shovels still in use in late May.
“It was pretty hard to show homes until May, even June,” she said.
Montezuma County remains far more affordable than La Plata County, where the median price for a single-family home hit $385,000 year-to-date as of Sept. 31, a 0.7% decline from 2018. In-town Durango homes hit a median price of $504,250 as of Sept. 31, a 4.1% increase from 2018.
Leighton expects retirees discovering the area to keep the home market, if not strong, at least stable going into 2020.
Additionally, the rise of telecommuting will add another source of people looking to relocate to the region, a region already appealing to young workers for its wealth of outdoor opportunities.
“We appeal to people who love the outdoors. We’re between Moab, Telluride and Durango. If you want to bike in the winter, you can go south. We’re kind of a hub. We just have to get fiber-optic throughout the county,” she said.
Preston Dillon, owner of Eagle General Contracting, said demand for new building has been strong in Montezuma County for the past four years, and he sees that continuing into 2020.
Dillon normally builds about six new houses a year, and he said he’s already contracted to build four houses in 2020, so he expects to once again build about six houses next year.
Finding labor, particularly for drywall, tape and texture, is difficult, he said. Subcontractors for plumbing and electrical work are also tight, but they can usually be found. Typically, they must be scheduled at least a month in advance.
“Next year, I’m cautiously optimistic,” he said. “The building market has been fairly strong and that should continue. Potential trouble spots could be an election year and people wait to make big purchases and tariffs might increase building costs.”