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Real estate transactions represent shift in market

Ryan Graff

In 2004, $573 million worth of real estate changed hands in Garfield County compared to $432 million in 2003 – a 33 percent increase.The numbers don’t represent fervent real estate activity, but they do represent a change in where in the market the activity is taking place, said Joe Carpenter, who tracks the real estate market as marketing director at Land Title Guarantee Co. In 2004 the number of real estate transactions – from residential to commercial to land – went up 1.6 percent from 1,873 in 2003 to 1,903 in 2004. The dollar value of transactions, however, went from $433 million in 2003 to $573 million in 2004.Activity in the high-end residential market is responsible for the increased dollar activity, Carpenter said. “The whole market got broader in terms of offerings,” he said. “The most notable difference was the increase in sales of more expensive homes.”In 2004, 32 percent of Garfield County residential transactions took place in the Silt and Rifle market, while 22 percent were in Carbondale, with 315 and 197 transactions, respectively. Those percentages nearly reverse, however, when market share is examined in terms of dollar value. Carbondale residential transactions accounted for 32 percent of the Garfield County market share in terms of dollars, while transactions in Rifle and Silt accounted for 24 percent, according to Land Title numbers. The average deal in Carbondale was worth $454,498, while the average deal in Rifle and Silt was worth $216,401.One development that likely contributed to increased in high-end real estate deals was Carbondale’s River Valley Ranch. River Valley Ranch closed 80 transactions in 2004, 29 of which were on homes, 51 on land, said Brian Leasure, a broker associate at the development. Those 80 in 2004 compare to just 36 in 2003, he said. Most homes in River Valley Ranch sell for between $500,000 and $1 million. The average transaction value for a particular town don’t reflect precisely average home price, however, Carpenter said. Those numbers reflect what the average deal was worth, which could be skewed upward if, for example, more expensive homes than inexpensive homes sold in those areas, he said. That logic also needs apply when looking at the percentage change of the average transaction dollar amount. The transaction average in the Rifle and Silt market dropped 1.64 percent, while the average rose 10.31 percent in Glenwood Springs, he said.Those numbers don’t necessarily mean home values are dropping in Rifle and Silt, Carpenter said, just that more less-expensive homes might have sold than in 2003. The real estate market in general looks good in Garfield County, area realtors said. “It’s fine and stable,” said Garry Buzick, president of Buzick & Associates in Glenwood Springs. Most municipalities are seeing the average real estate transaction price increase by a few percentage points each year, he said. Slow growth is good because it allows homeowners to earn on their investment and doesn’t keep potential buyers out of the market, Buzick said. The increase in dollar amount may also reflect the real estate market starting to pick up, he said.”(The market’s) been fairly flat for two to three years,” he said. “If it’s anything close to a seven-year cycle it’s time for it to start moving back up.”And even though homes are worth more in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, most activity will stay downvalley, said realtors. “Builders (downvalley) could build homes from $179,000 to $209,000 and sell them all day long,” said Marci Patillo, president of the Glenwood Springs Association of the Board of Realtors.


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