Area home sales steady, prices up through summer | PostIndependent.com

Area home sales steady, prices up through summer

The usually busy summer home sales season in Garfield County saw some ups and downs, but the overall trend is encouraging, according to area real estate observers.

"Historically, we do see more inventory that comes on the market as spring approaches, and a stronger selling season through the summer months," said Bob Fullerton, who works for Glenwood Brokers Ltd. and is the outgoing president of the Glenwood Springs Association of Realtors.

"It was a good summer, but I wouldn't say it was exceptionally higher than last year," he said. "Things started strong, and then kind of plateaued."

Especially in Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, sales started off strong in June, dropped some in July, and picked up again in August.

For the year to date, though, median sales prices across the county are up.

Better pricing and more availability from New Castle west to Parachute and Battlement Mesa helped boost summer sales in that portion of the county, Fullerton noted.

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Laura Gee, managing broker with Woodbridge Realty based at the upscale Aspen Glen community, agreed with that assessment.

"The downvalley market, from Glenwood west, has done well. And as you work your way upvalley we've had more discrepancy in the numbers," Gee said.

"New Castle in particular blew everybody out of the water with some of their numbers," she said.

The number of transactions through the summer months in New Castle was about the same as last year at 50, according to market statistics through August reported to the Aspen and Glenwood Springs-area Multiple Listing Service.

However, that market has seen a 22 percent increase in the median sales price for a single-family home, from $323,160 through eight months of 2015, to $395,000 for the same period this year.

Prices for multifamily units, including town houses and condominiums, have increased 27.7 percent for that same period, from $190,750 to $243,500.

Individual month dollar volume was also up significantly in New Castle over the summer, including a 69.3 percent increase in the median multifamily unit sales price during July, according to the MLS report.

Likewise, Rifle has seen about the same number of single-family home sales as last year, a trend that continued through the summer months, while sales of multifamily units is up 48.3 percent, from 29 to 43 year to date.

In Glenwood Springs, total sales for June were the same as last year at 26. Glenwood sales fell off for July, however, from 29 last year to just 14 this year, followed by somewhat better numbers in August, when 25 homes were sold.

Median sales prices were also up in Glenwood Springs for August, at $495,000 for single-family homes, a 2.4 percent increase over last year.

Multifamily units in Glenwood sold in August for a median price of $322,000, up 24.1 percent over the prior year.

Year-to-date, the median sales price for a single-family home in Glenwood Springs was $474,500, representing a 2 percent increase over last year. Multifamily homes have been selling for a median price of $276,500, up 12.9 percent over last year.

Carbondale saw a similar trend for transactions, as well as a year-over-year increase in the median sales price.

Single-family houses there were selling in August for around $632,500, down from the year-to-date median of $699,000. The year-to-date number is 15.7 percent higher than for the same eight-month period last year.

Multifamily units in Carbondale were going for a median price of $412,500 in August, which was up from the year-to-date median price of $358,700.

The market for higher-end homes has been strong enough that Woodbridge recently expanded its "commitment program" from Aspen Glen to River Valley Ranch in Carbondale.

Gee explained that the program guarantees that if Woodbridge is not able to sell a client's home within one year of actively marketing it at 5 percent above appraised value, then Woodbridge will buy the home itself at a discounted rate.

"It's been so successful at Aspen Glen that we decided to roll it out for anyone at River Valley Ranch who wants to list with us," Bob Shapiro, CEO for Woodbridge Group of Companies based in California, said.

"A lot of the sales we've seen are people who want to downsize, or in some cases up-size," he said.

To date, Woodbridge has only had to buy one house at Aspen Glen under the commitment program. Any home it does end up buying will usually be renovated in some way and go back on the market, Shapiro said.

Woodbridge has also sold three spec homes at Aspen Glen this year, he said.

The dollar volume for Woodbridge sales at the gated golf course subdivision has already increased from $2.6 million last year to $3.4 million this year, according to numbers provided by Gee.

Overall, Fullerton said the Roaring Fork Valley market has gotten more aggressive this year, but not to the point of being unsustainable as was the case before the area housing market declined in the aftermath of the 2008 recession.

"It's a more healthy rate of appreciation than what we were seeing before," Fullerton said. "Some areas have recovered close to the prices we were seeing then, but not everywhere."

There's also still not a lot of new building, and most of the recent sales of vacant lots have been in subdivisions that were approved before the recession hit and had stagnated, he noted.

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