County real estate reaches new highs |

County real estate reaches new highs

Garfield County real estate is on pace for a record year in 2005, with new arrivals up and down the valley pushing growth.Through the first quarter of 2005, both the number of real estate transactions and the sales volume – the total dollar amount sold – increased by at least 50 percent from last year, according to a report by Land Title Guarantee Corp. in Glenwood Springs.”If the old adage ‘the trend is your friend’ holds true in terms of forecasting expectations, it’s fair to assume that 2005 could prove to be a record year for Garfield County real estate,” Land Title’s Joe Carpenter wrote in the report. Garfield County saw 494 property transfers – including vacant land and residential and commercial property – in the first quarter of 2005. That’s a 50 percent increase over 329 transactions for the first quarter in 2004 and a 39 percent increase over 355 transactions in the first quarter of 2003, according to the report. The sales volume went from $90 million for the first quarter of 2004 to nearly $143 million in the first quarter of 2005, a 58 percent increase, according to the report. Those numbers buck last year’s trend, in which the sales volume increased 31 percent, but the number of transactions actually decreased slightly, Carpenter said.The number of residential real estate transactions increased in Garfield County municipalities from Parachute to Carbondale. The Rifle-Silt market led the way with 86 units, followed by Glenwood Springs and Carbondale with 44 each, then New Castle with 42, and Parachute-Battlement Mesa with 23, according to Land Title’s analysis of municipal residential real estate transactions. The largest increase occurred in New Castle, where first quarter transactions nearly doubled, from 22 last year to 42 this year. “I think it’s going to be a great year,” said Debbie Sanderson, owner and broker at New Castle’s Home Town Real Estate Co. New Castle’s increases likely resulted from more confident buyers, and more new housing, Sanderson said. Lakota Canyon subdivision is “off the charts” with growth and new housing, she said. In opposite ends of the county, real estate agents say their clients have one thing in common – they are new arrivals. Carbondale’s homebuyers are relocating to the Roaring Fork Valley from California, Texas and the Midwest, said Craig Stifter, a broker at Re/Max Mountain West in Carbondale. “It’s the return of the Californians,” he said, referring to an influx from that state in the 1990s. Carbondale and Redstone have been “heating up” since late last year with baby boomer transplants who may still be working but want a mountain life, Stifter said. New arrivals are also a key to western Garfield County’s growth with gas industry employees pushing growth, said Bill Scoggins, managing broker of Century 21 in Rifle. Rifle commercial real estate boomed last year, spurred by Wal-Mart and gas companies’ need for lots to store equipment, he said. Now, gas industry workers have followed and started to buy homes, he said. New arrivals from upvalley looking for more affordability are also buying, Scoggins said.One possible blemish on Garfield County’s real estate outlook could be in vacant land sales. Through the first quarter of 2005, 90 units of vacant land have sold, compared to 72 for the first quarter of 2004. The number of vacant land listings, however, has decreased 10 percent, from 225 to 202, according to the report. “That 10 percent reduction is more than anything the decreased availability of vacant land,” Carpenter said. But that’s a nitpick in the overall trend, he said. “The big picture is clear – this market just continues to accelerate.”Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext.

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