Garfield County housing market still cool |

Garfield County housing market still cool

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The Garfield County housing market continued to cool down in May with less than average home sales.

There were 43 transactions recorded for all of Garfield County, according to Land Title Guarantee Co.’s monthly analysis.

May was only the third month this year to have more than 40 transactions, while the lowest monthly amount of transactions during 2008 was 65 in November. No single month so far in 2009 has reached 50 transactions. The lowest month in 2009 was March with only 33 transactions recorded.

According to John Wendt, managing broker of the Glenwood Springs and Aspen Mason Morse Real Estate office, home prices were so hot and increasing so fast over the past few years, that this “cooling down period” was not only inevitable, but necessary.

“I think the market had to have this happen,” Wendt said. “It had increased so much over the past few years it couldn’t sustain itself.”

For the past two years, May posted the highest number of transactions for the year, according to Land Title’s data, posting 179 and 313 transactions for May 2008 and 2007, respectively.

Total dollar volume for May slipped this year to $15,653,500, which is down 24 percent from April’s total of $20,680,100. May 2008 recorded a dollar volume of $61,858,400.

Garfield County has had only 203 transactions through the first five months of 2009, according to Land Title’s data. That was 110 less transactions than the single month of May 2007 alone. It represents a 73 percent decrease from the same period, January through May, in 2008, which had 764.

January through May 2009 has also generated only $77,862,100 in total dollar volume for all of Garfield County transactions, which is down nearly 79 percent from the same period in 2008, which saw a year-to-date total dollar volume of more than $367 million.

“It’s not bad,” Wendt said. “It’s the adjustment that we needed to go through.”

Wendt said that he’s seen decreases in price on some properties as high as 15 to 20 percent. However, he said that other areas he’s only seen price reductions of as little as 1 percent. But the decreases in seller asking prices, according to Wendt, is more realistic for the area.

“This is where we needed to be in this market,” Wendt said.

To say that it’s a buyer’s market is an understatement for Wendt. In the 30 years he’s been a real estate agent on Colorado’s western slope, he said that he’s never seen a buyer’s market like this.

“It’s the best I’ve seen in my life,” he said.

He said that with the increase in inventory, good negotiations, and an $8,000 first-time home buyer’s credit for those who qualify, this is a great time to buy.

“(The market) is going through a balancing or transition period with price adjustments,” Wendt said. “It takes a lot more skill for brokers to facilitate transactions. It’s takes more time and effort, and buyers are negotiating more than they have in years.”

But, the numbers show that there are definitely fewer buyers than in years past, despite the buyer’s market.

Carbondale led the county in transactions with 10, and for most dollars generated at $5.2 million in May. Rifle, Battlement Mesa, and Glenwood followed with 9, 8 and 7 transactions, respectively.

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