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REAL ESTATE: Local home sales trends good across the board

Doug Van Etten
YOUR JOURNEY HOME
Free Press Real Estate Columnist

As a Realtor having lived here since 2011, it is very interesting for me to look back over these few years at how our market has changed. And, I can say with caution, it has improved.

For starters, let’s look at MLS data compiled by Heritage Title Co. for just the raw number of homes sold in various price ranges. I wrote a purchase offer for a couple yesterday for a property priced under $30,000. They and a lot of other people have been buying in that range this year. In the first half of 2011, 94 homes sold in the $1-$50,000; 2012 saw 168 sales and 2013, year to date (YTD), has seen 154 homes sold in that price range.

Toward the other end of the spectrum, a bank vice president asked me recently if about $400,000 might be the high end of homes that are selling. A quick look for him in the $300-500,000 price range reveals that 125 homes sold in the first half of 2011, increasing to 151 the following year; and, in 2013 YTD 182 homes have sold.



The heavy hitter in home sales price brackets has remained the same all three years — $150-200,000. However, this is the only price range showing a sales decline in 2013, where 328 homes have sold YTD compared with 360 and 327 in 2011 and 2012.

All these increasing numbers of sales would seem to be supported by the 17% increase in mortgage loans issued in our valley this year over last. Of course, those numbers were also urged upward by the continued refinancing that has gone on with record low interest rates.



Speaking of interest rates: A word of caution is that rates have been creeping upward just a little over the past month or so. For a buyer, rising rates means having to pay more for the money you borrow. Unless a buyer gets a pay raise or an inheritance, that means the same monthly mortgage payment will buy less house or a lower-priced house. From a seller’s perspective, increasing interest rates means there will be less qualified buyers in any given price range, most notably in the lower-to-mid range “first-time buyer” category.

Back to the numbers: Good news for local home builders is residential building permits issued have remained steady with 207 permits issued YTD last year and 210 so far in ’13.

Foreclosures in Mesa County can be looked at like the proverbial glass of water — half full or half empty. Last year 25.6% of homes sold by the end of June had been re-sale foreclosures. That percentage is down to just 21% of all Mesa County homes sold this year being bank-owned. The half-empty side of that analogy is Mesa County still has the highest ratio of homes in our county to foreclosures of any of the state’s 12 largest metro areas.

One more number of interest is the median, or middle point of the sales price range. From a high median price of $222,000 in 2008, that number followed a downward arc until early this year when we have seen the month-by-month median price rise steadily from $149,000 in January 2013 to $180,000 this past month.

If you are a numbers geek, the trend is noticeable but not dramatic. If you are a homebuyer, it means you are surrounded by a few more buyers looking for and buying homes. If you are a seller, it means prices of the homes that are selling may be trending gently up but if interest rates head that way, too, those two trends may counter-balance each other.

The numbers mean more to the economists than to participants in our local real estate market. If you need to buy, this is a good time. And, if you need to sell, it is a good time for that, too.

Doug Van Etten is a local Realtor with Keller Williams Colorado West Realty. He is also founder and organizer of the Real Estate Investors Network of Western Colorado (www.REIN-WesCO.org). For information about buying or selling a home, investing in real estate or joining REIN, contact Doug at 970-433-4312 or DougVE@kw.com.


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