Realtors foresee decline despite strong GarCo market | PostIndependent.com

Realtors foresee decline despite strong GarCo market

Garfield County stands as a bright spot in the Colorado real estate market, which is dipping across the state, but the strong sales numbers may not last long.

The number of Garfield County single-family home listings sold in September rose 5.9 percent compared to September 2017, while statewide single-family home sales dipped 15.2 percent in the same period.

"The overall September numbers in Glenwood Springs remain strong with new listings, pending sales and sold listings all up over the same period last year," Erin Basset, a Glenwood Springs-area Realtor, said in a written statement.

Condo sales were also up, and listings spent slightly fewer days on the market compared with last year. For Pitkin and Eagle counties, the real estate picture was mixed, with home sales increasing and condo sales dipping in September from the previous year. For other mountain counties like Eagle, Summit and Gunnison, the number of homes sold declined across the board.

“[The Garfield County] market is somewhat insulated due to the desirability and high quality of life here.”­

— Janelle Rhoton Lundin, Property Shop Realtor

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Garfield County real estate agents have noticed a slowdown in showings, and said price reductions are becoming more common.

The annual real estate cycle usually dips in the fall and winter, and it's unclear whether the Garfield County markets will maintain their strength compared to the rest of the state.

"Agents are feeling a slowing across all communities. Whether it's seasonal or otherwise remains to be seen," Bassett said.

"Typically, Garfield County trends behind the bigger metro areas," Brandy Swanson, a real estate agent based in Battlement Mesa and current chair of the Glenwood Springs Association of Realtors, told the Post Independent.

One reason Garfield County is behind the general slump is a matter of inventory.

"We don't have near as many homes as they do in Denver or Grand Junction," Swanson said.

Another factor contributing to strength of the market now is that people want to live here, according Janelle Lundin, broker and owner of the Property Shop Inc. in Glenwood Springs.

"Our market is somewhat insulated due to the desirability and high quality of life here," Lundin said.

If the market is leveling, the fall has proved promising, Lundin said, as buyers anticipated a change in interest rates.

"People are trying to purchase their piece of the earth before interest rates climb," Lundin said.

Rising interest rates, as well as the upcoming November midterm elections, are also factors in the slowdown, according to Shawn Manwaring, broker associate with Roaring Fork Sotheby's International Realty in Glenwood Springs.

"We're not quite as slow as other markets, but we're not far off," Manwaring said.

Across the Colorado, average and median prices for both homes and condo sales have been rising steadily over the past five years. While mountain counties like Summit, Eagle, Pitkin and Gunnison see median and average home prices far above the state average, Garfield County home values closely match the rest of the state.

"What we're seeing is definitely a migration as people continue to be priced out of the Roaring Fork Valley," Manwaring said. "Areas like New Castle, Silt, and Rifle are more affordable, especially for first-time home buyers."

The vast majority of home buyers in Garfield County are local, according to recent data from the Land Title Guarantee Co. Through August, of 1,203 homes sold in the county, 84 buyers were from the Front Range, and 84 from out of state. But Manwaring said he's noticing an uptick in people relocating to Garfield County from out of state.

"I've sold about 30 houses this year, and I'd say at least half of them are people who are relocating for retirement, working from home or relocating from out of state," Manwaring said.

tphippen@postindependent.com