If you're looking to sell a home, prices have reached record medians in Durango, so it's a good time to be on the market. If you're looking to buy, be prepared to search, possibly beyond the city limits, and negotiate.
Between record home prices and a record number of sales, it's safe to say Durango's real estate market has recovered from the recession.
As of June 30, the median sales price in town reached $440,000, topping the $426,500 mark hit in 2006 before the recession began. That was up 10 percent from the median home price of $400,000 in the first quarter of 2015. The townhome/condo median sales price, however, has not recovered nearly as well. The median sales price was $276,225 for the first half of the year, down from 2014's record $292,000.
"Of course, a median is a median," said John Wells, owner-broker of the Wells Group. "Hypothetically, if you sold a home for $10 million in the first half of the year, it would be a skewed median, but the average price would be higher, too."
The highest priced property that closed in town sold for $1,018,000; the least expensive was $245,000.
"What we're really seeing is that some of the higher-priced homes are finally starting to sell," said Gina Piccoli, owner-broker of Coldwell Banker Heritage House Realtors, "not so much that housing prices have gotten significantly higher."
One-hundred-and-one single-family or manufactured homes sold in the first half of this year, up from a high of 91 sold in 2007. Average days on the market in the second quarter was 98, significantly lower than the 206 days in 2010.
"Demand is high here, but at least it's not as crazy as the Front Range, where there are 20 offers on a house," Piccoli said.
To buy or not to buy
"The bigger impact on affordability isn't housing prices," said Don Ricedorff, a broker with the Wells Group. "It's the potential increase in interest rates the (Federal Reserve) is talking about for the fall."
If the rate goes up 1 percent, he said, the affordability goes down 10 percent, so a family that could have afforded that $440,000 median-priced home this summer could only afford a $396,000 house in the fall with the higher interest rate.
Interest rates have held steady for quite a while now, he said. The Fed held off on raising interest rates until the U.S. economy stabilized, but Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen testified to Congress a week ago that the Fed would seriously look at an interest-rate increase at its meeting in mid-September.
According to CNBC, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trading might indicate that the raise wouldn't happen until December. In either case, people considering buying homes should start looking soon, Ricedorff said, because a raise is likely in the near future.
Where is the Durango market going?
"The bigger question is 'What inventory is selling?'" Wells said. "We're seeing more newer homes selling now in Three Springs. In the last year or two, they sold a lot of homes in the $300,000, or just under $300,000 range, but those are all built out now. The next phase is going to be more expensive, more expensive to develop, more expensive to put in infrastructure, so it will be selling at higher prices."
Builders had been apprehensive about building more expensive homes there, he said, but they seem to be selling.
SkyRidge subdivision has almost been filled out, and most of the flat, easily buildable lots in Durango have already been built on, he said. So Durangoans should expect the cost of new homes to continue to rise.
"It's going to create a situation where more families and people rent," he said. "With 150 to 200 new apartments available within a year from now, including (affordable) apartments, it's going to take a lot of pressure off the market."