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Garfield County real estate market is looking bright, broker says

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent
ALL |

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colorado ” John Wendt says the Garfield County real estate market is still looking good despite a slowdown from last year.

Through June 2008, Garfield County saw about $440.25 million in property sales, a 22.19 percent decrease from the same period last year. During that time, the county posted 917 transactions, down 36.19 percent from last year.

“Last year was a record-breaking year,” Wendt said. “You don’t continue to win the Superbowl every year after year after year.”



Wendt is a managing broker with Mason Morse Real Estate, a teacher for the Colorado Association of Realtors, president of the Glenwood Springs Association of Realtors and president of the Aspen/Glenwood Springs MLS.

He said the market these days is very similar to healthy levels in 2004 and 2005. Just through June, 2008 has already surpassed the total for the first half of 2006: $434.88 million, according to a market analysis by the Land Title Guarantee Co.



Fallout from lax lending policies and questionable loans slowed real estate transactions across the U.S., an effect that Garfield County now sees, too. But it’s not as big a problem here as it is elsewhere due to growth, resorts and creation of jobs by the oil and gas industry, Wendt said.

“The lending practices have significantly impacted our business, and you know what, they needed to,” he said. “(The Colorado Association of Realtors has) been saying for years that the lending practices are so loose that down the road we would be building problems. That’s what we’ve had happen. We’re facing them now. … So it does affect us here to where buyers can’t get into houses as easily as they could one year or one-and-a-half years ago.”

He said lenders have tightened up everything including no longer approving “marginal” loans and credit ratings. Lenders are also requiring larger down payments and verifying information such as stated income. But he added that he believes local lenders did a better job of not putting buyers into properties they couldn’t afford than lenders elsewhere.

Garfield County public trustee Bob Slade said foreclosures seem to be a lot less of an issue in the county compared to other places like the Front Range. The county opened 67 foreclosures this year. The largest number, 22, was in Rifle. Slade expects to finish 2008 with around 120. In 2007, a year with an unusually low number of foreclosures, the county saw 81 of them. In 2006 there were 96 and in 2005 there were 121, Slade said.

Wendt said the county has a great market to buy and also to be selling in for serious sellers. But he said sellers are having a tougher time if they purchased homes in the past few years when the market was peaking and they need to sell. There aren’t as many eligible buyers due to lending changes, and buyers aren’t feeling the pressure of the “hot” market and the need to make quicker decisions, he said.

“I think everyone is a little bit more conservative right now,” he said. “We’re going to have a little bit of an oversupply because everybody thought the dream would never end.”

Sellers are now offering concessions that they weren’t making a year ago. Some offer to pay closing costs, further reduce prices and complete additional upgrades and finishes as buying incentives, Wendt said.

“We’re seeing price reductions like we haven’t seen in years and years and years,” he said. “Because some sellers want to sell their property this year.”

But Wendt said the county does have a healthy real estate market because there are plenty of inventory and buyers, and despite the slowdown from last year, the market is still growing when compared to several years of history.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

pfowler@postindependent.com

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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