Average home price in Carbondale drops $5,000 from last year
Lynn Kirchner says the high water mark for Carbondale real estate, from a competitive angle, was the summer of 2000.”When townhouses came on the market, there would be bidding wars,” said Kirchner, a broker at Prudential Town & Country Realty.Today, the median price of a residential property in the Carbondale area is $340,000, compared to $345,000 at the end of 2001, said Jerome “Sarge” Whalen, a broker at Mason & Morse Real Estate in Carbondale.From 1999 to 2000, average residential property prices in Carbondale rose by $19,000, and from 2000 to 2001 they increased by $36,000, according to the Garfield County assessor’s office. Whalen credited the modest downturn in prices this year to a slowdown in construction. At the same time Carbondale has a hefty inventory of housing units. The sluggish national economy has trickled down and is being felt locally. “We rode it going up, and now we’re getting it going down,” Whalen said.Whalen said buyers are also taking their time before they purchase a home, which keeps houses on the market longer. That can lead to reduced prices.”We’re dealing with more educated buyers,” Kirchner said. “They do their homework on the Internet. They come in knowing how many times a property’s price has been reduced. I had one client who came in with a year’s worth of Home Guides.”Kirchner refers to the Carbondale market as “leveling off,” but said one house listed with her firm at $325,000 this year sold at $280,000. “Carbondale has been overpriced for some time,” Kirchner said. “Reality has come in to play.”For comparison’s sake, Kirchner said a 1,000-square-foot fixer-upper in old town Carbondale is listed at $260,000. For the same money, a buyer can purchase a new 2,200-square-foot home at Castle Valley Ranch in New Castle.Housing prices are highest in Aspen, then they gradually decline downvalley through the Roaring Fork Valley, and on west to the Parachute/Battlement Mesa area.Through September, the average sales price for a three-bedroom house in Parachute/Battlement Mesa was $176,182, according to figures from the Glenwood Springs Association of Realtors. The average selling price of a three-bedroom home in New Castle is $235,966, and the average three-bedroom home in Glenwood Springs is $269,300.Real estate brokers have said high housing prices are fueled by several factors, including homeowners who sell their upvalley property and move downvalley to less expensive areas. Second-home owners and people who relocate to the Roaring Fork Valley from more high-priced markets also drive up prices.Kirchner, and other real estate brokers, deals with a wide variety of buyers. She described several potential buyers she has worked with, or is working with this year.-Family number one is headed by a man who grew up in Carbondale, and moved to California where he is a successful businessman. He wanted to relocate his business, and 12 employees, to Carbondale but chose Montrose for several reasons. One factor was the high cost of housing for the business owner’s employees, but he was also turned off after attending school board meetings, and Tuesday night Carbondale board of trustees meetings. “Tuesday nights were pretty interesting,” Kirchner said. “We are in a period of transition, and I’m not sure he wanted to be a part of that. Carbondale’s attitude toward growth was a real eye opener.”-Family number two, from California, retired early. The couple is touring Colorado for a place to live, and asking questions about schools, local governments and politics. For one subdivision they are considering, they asked for the past three years’ minutes from the homeowners association. “I’d never had that before,” she said.They family has ruled out Estes Park and Durango, and the race is between Steamboat Springs and Carbondale. “They really enjoyed River Valley Ranch and Aspen Glen,” Kirchner said.-One couple from Denver traveled around Colorado for five weeks during the year. Kirchner said they’d love to buy an old Victorian house in the old part of Carbondale, but the cost and resale value is pushing them toward a newer home in Hendrick Ranch or River Valley Ranch.Kirchner said through the 1990s, Carbondale’s residential real estate prices increased 3 to 7 percent per year, and rapidly escalating prices prompted people to buy out of fear they would soon be priced out.The market was so hot, some homeowners pushed their asking prices through the ceiling and up on the roof, Kirchner said. It was a phenomenon most real estate brokers observed.If sellers got their price, they sold. If not, they hung on. Some homeowners who sold took the money and ran. When asked where these people ran to, Whalen laughed and said, “To the bank.”While real estate prices level off in Carbondale, and slowly creep up in the New Castle, Silt, Rifle and Parachute areas, some developers have turned their eyes to the Interstate 70 corridor east of Glenwood Canyon.Kirchner said Two Rivers Village will be built at the confluence of the Eagle and Colorado rivers at Dotsero. “That’s equidistant to Glenwood Springs as Rifle,” Kirchner said.Home prices will start at $176,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bath, single-family home. “And that’s on the river,” Kirchner said.
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