This story comes from THE WATCH
WESTERN SAN JUANS – With the number of sales continuing to increase, and median prices stabilizing, those watching regional real estate trends have reason to hope 2012 was the year the market bottomed out.
While the total number of sales in Montrose County increased in 2012, perhaps the most striking sales statistic compiled by Lynn Vogel of Comparable Sales Research is that median sales prices of single-family homes within the City of Montrose are stabilizing. In 2010, the median price was approximately $179,900; in 2011 that number dropped to $144,000. The median price dropped again in 2012, but this time only slightly, by $500, going down to $143,500.
“What that number is showing is the impact of foreclosures and short sales have on median home prices,” Vogel said. “It’s starting to slow down. Foreclosures haven’t stopped, but they are slowing down.”
The number of foreclosures has steadily declined over the past three years, according to Montrose County Treasurer Rosemary Murphy, from 386 in 2010 to 286 in 2011 and to 271 in 2012.
So far in 2013, it appears that trend will continue. January and February of 2012 saw a total of 56 foreclosures in Montrose County. During that same period of time in 2013, the Jan.-Feb. foreclosures total dropped to 33. It’s trend ReMax Alpine View Broker Associate Doug Phillips believes will continue.
“The short sales and foreclosures have lowered prices, but that inventory has declined slightly and we have more buyers,” Phillips said. “This is key in getting us onto the uphill swing. I think we have stopped the downhill trend, I really do. We have leveled off, and the trend seems to be slightly on the upward side of things.”
The total number of sales of single-family homes in Montrose County went from 415 in 2010 to 435 in 2011, and then jumped to 640 sales in 2012, marking a 47.1 percent increase.
Dollar amounts for those sales have increased significantly, as well. In 2010, Montrose County saw $95.2 million in single-family sales; that number dropped to $81.4 million in sales in 2011, and then climbed up to $126.4 million in 2012, marking a 55.4 percent increase.
Part of the reason for this positive trend, Phillips believes, is that people are feeling more confident and comfortable about the economy. When people are nervous, they tend to hold on what they have. From his conversations with brokers working in the Denver and Front Range market, Phillips said positive real-estate trends in those larger markets correlate to the positive trends in the Montrose county market.
“When people get contracts on houses in Denver, it allows them to buy over here,” Phillips said. “I think that’s happening.”
Don Bailey, broker associate for Coldwell Banker Bailey and Co., believes the market did bottom out in 2012. Looking forward, he said, the biggest issue is inventory.
“Inventory is low,” Bailey said. “It’s down considerably, and of course that’s a result of prices being so low. There are a lot of people who just can’t sell at those prices. With prices moving up a little bit, which is what has to happen now, inventory will improve.”
In Ouray County, similar trends can be found, albeit on a smaller scale. The total number of single-family homes sold in Ouray County was stuck at 61 sales, in both 2010 and 2011; that number jumped to 86 in 2012, marking a 41 percent increase. Dollar amounts for those years increased from roughly $20 million in 2010 and 2011 to $48.9 million in 2012.
Ouray County’s foreclosure trend is also trending to lower numbers. From 56 in 2010, according to Ouray County Treasurer Jeannine Casolari, foreclosures dropped to 46 in 2011, and down to 35 in 2012. Casolari was happy to report that 2013 is off to a good start with foreclosures, and reported in late February that only two new foreclosures have been filed so far. At this time last year, there were eight foreclosures filed.
Carl Cockle, owner of Ouray County Properties, said 2012 was his best year since 2007.
“There are more people out there looking,” Cockle said. “I think they have decided that this is the time to buy. A lot of people tell me they can’t invest their money in other ways, so they are investing in land, houses and real estate. They are taking advantage of low interest rates.”
While he was upbeat about Ouray County’s 2012 sales trends, Cockle said he couldn’t really offer too many expectations for 2013, other than saying he’s sold most of his listings, and the real estate market needs new listings.
“Hopefully we can continue with this trend,” he said. “It goes in cycles. It has been that way for a long time.”