High-end home sales took off in the second quarter of 2020, but the number of condos and townhome sales in Durango plummeted as COVID-19 made its impact felt on La Plata County real estate.
Overall, the median home price for a single-family home in La Plata County increased to $422,500 in the second quarter, an 11.6% increase from $378,500 median price the same period in 2019.
In Durango, the median price declined to $499,000 in the second quarter from $499,250 in the same period in 2019.
According to statistics provided by Rick Lorenz with The Wells Group, through the first six months of the year, 48 homes priced $800,000 and higher sold in the county compared with 32 last year. Pending sales of homes under contract at $800,000 or higher were 42 at the end of June compared with only 17 at the end of June 2019.
“When you think about (pending sales), that’s more than double, it’s like 2½ times the number from last year. You tell me, where else are you seeing that kind of action,” he said. “People are kind of fleeing urban areas and the chaos you’ve been seeing in cities.”
Repeatedly, in talks with other brokers, Lorenz said, virtually all report dealing with multiple clients seeking to relocate from urban areas.
“I’m just one broker out of what, 300? But something I’m hearing a lot is: ‘We’re working with three, four maybe seven different buyers looking to get out of cities,’” Lorenz said.
He noted on Tuesday he just put a house under contract for $875,00 with a buyer from Phoenix.
Chris Bettin, owner and managing broker of Durango Land and Homes, also is seeing more activity in the high-end sector.
“I do think we seem to have hit a sort of a tipping point for those folks who are secure enough in financial means that they can make a decision to move in a time of a global pandemic,” he said.
He added that the number of condos and townhomes sold in Durango dropped to 41 in the second quarter of 2020 from 67 in the same period in 2019. Fewer condo and townhome sales, he said, indicate middle-class workers and families have less flexibility to move in an era when COVID-19 wiped out jobs across the country, including Durango.
“I think it’s a price-point issue,” Bettin said. “At the higher end, you’re seeing sales, but at the lower end, Durango condos and townhomes are down substantially. And those are the price points that are entry level. And so you know, those folks are perhaps saying, ‘You know, am I going to have stable employment? Is this a good time for me to make a big financial decision?’ And some of these people are obviously staying on the sidelines.”
Also, the drop in condo and townhome sales might reflect coronavirus-influenced buyers looking for more space with single-family homes and their yards compared to tighter quarters in condos, he said.
Heather Erb, managing broker at Coldwell Banker Heritage House Realtors, reported sales of homes priced from $1 million to $2 million climbed 48% in June 2020 compared with the same month last year.
“The greater Durango area is seen by non-locals as a stable yet remote area, inviting to people now considering accelerated life plans,” she said in her real estate newsletter.
Through the first six months of 2020, Lorenz reported 460 residential sales in La Plata County compared with 475 sales in the first six months of 2019.
He attributed the slight drop in sales to a lack of inventory, especially in homes priced between $200,000 and $500,000.
“If you’d ask any Realtor before the stats came out, they would have said sales are way down, but a decrease of 15 units on 475 sales is not way down, that’s 3.16%,” Lorenz said.
Erb also was not overly concerned about the drop in total sales, noting the homes were not being shown for a month as commerce slowed to deal with the novel coronavirus.
Residential listings were down by 18% year-to-date, and low inventory is still a factor capping the total number of sales,” she said.