The median price of a single-family home in La Plata County increased by 20% in the first quarter of 2020, but the median price of a home in Durango dropped 7%, while the number of sales held relatively stable compared with the first quarter of 2019.
Christine Serwe, president of the Durango Area Association of Realtors and a broker with the Wells Group, said a lack of inventory and more affordable homes in the county are pushing the number of sales and the median price of La Plata County homes higher.
Only a few days of sales in the first quarter were hindered by Gov. Jared Polis’ stay-at-home order, and the first quarter was not affected by COVID-19 restrictions, she said.
In La Plata County, 208 homes sold in the first quarter of 2020 compared with 188 in the first quarter of 2019. The median price jumped from $366,750 in the first quarter of 2019 to $440,000 in the first quarter of 2020.
“What you are seeing is simple supply and demand – more affordable homes in the county (than in town) are selling. There is also a lack of inventory in the first quarter, and we will see more homes go on the market in the spring, as we do each year,” Serwe said in an email. “These new listings have been delayed by the stay-at-home order, but now that we will be shifting to ‘safer-at-home’ guidelines and are allowed to show properties again starting (this) week, we will start to see many more properties going on the market.”
In Durango, the number of homes sold in the first quarter increased to 34 from 27 in the same quarter in 2019. The median price dropped from $522,000 in the first quarter of 2019 to $482,000 in the first quarter of 2020.
In Bayfield, the number of homes sold jumped from nine to 12 and the median price increased from $318,500 to $330,500. The number of country home sold in the Bayfield area jumped from 20 to 22 and the median price from $300,000 to $317.000.
First quarter statistics were released Wednesday, April 22, by DAAR.
Heather Erb, managing broker at Coldwell Banker Heritage House Realtors, said March single-family home sales were strong, up 25% compared with the same period in 2019, and single-family sales for the first three months were up 10.6% – driving the median price of a homes higher in most segments.
“Last year, our county was buried under an unusually heavy snow season. It was difficult for buyers to look at property and sellers were not eager to face moving under those conditions, accounting for most of the change. Currently, low interest rates likely had a strong influence on the sales numbers, as well,” she said.
Erb said the ban on showing homes put in place for about a month in late March, could suppress the number of sales in the second quarter of the year, but she said first quarter statistics were too early for COVID-19 restrictions to be reflected in the data.
“Restrictions put in place in late March will eventually lead to diminishing sales numbers for the second quarter. As ‘stay-at-home’ restrictions subside, we feel confident the market will rebound with pent-up demand from buyers and many sellers on the sidelines who are ready to put their homes up for sale, Erb said.
“We will start to see the impact of COVID-19 in the second quarter numbers and more will be revealed as the year goes on. It’s just too early to know the impact,” she said.
Serwe cautioned against “reading too much” into one quarter of data, noting the small number of sales can cause large swings that will moderate as more sales are completed during the year.
She noted that in the Durango mountain homes category, the median price increased from $554,000 in the first quarter of 2019 to $842,500 in the same quarter in 2020, a 52% increase, but that was based on only eight sales in 2020 and two sales in 2019.
The limited number of sales in quarterly data often skews the numbers. A better picture of the market emerges in comparing annual sales data, Serwe said.
The pace of future home sales will be interesting to watch to see the extent that COVID-19 restrictions affect the Durango and La Plata County markets, Erb said.
“Some feel that a downturn in the economy will affect the real estate market and prices, but we see no indication of that happening,” she said. “If anything, Durango and our rural areas seem more appealing, and we have an optimistic view of the rest of 2020.”