Grand County housing market could improve in 2014, experts say |

Grand County housing market could improve in 2014, experts say

A sign advertises new condominiums for sale in the Lodge at 10 MIle Creek at Granby Ranch. Indicators are showing possible improvement in the local real estate market.
Byron Hetzler/ | Sky-Hi News

While real-estate market indicators in Grand County remained relatively flat in 2013, the local market could see an uptick in the coming year following positive indicators along the Front Range and the rest of the state, according to local real estate agents and appraisers.

A press release from the Colorado Association of Realtors reported that the first three quarters of 2013 saw “steady and significant improvements” on indicators such as sales, median pricing, and days on the market for homes in Colorado. The press release also reported the housing market slowed down significantly in the fourth quarter of 2013, however that is a normal occurrence due to the time of year, according to Janene Johnson, an owner and broker of Real Estate of Winter Park.

“Last year was a very good one for Colorado real estate with significant improvements in sales and home values,” said Colorado Association of Realtors Spokesperson Duane Duggan in the press release. “Our biggest challenge is not having enough inventory to meet the needs of all the buyers wanting to be in the market. With interest rates still low there is strong competition for the limited number of properties available leading to competition through multiple offers. Many people end up disappointed. As our markets continue to improve we are hopeful that sellers who have been hesitant to move on their properties will come into the market, which should improve the atmosphere for everyone.”

Colorado real estate indicators are showing signs that the state’s real estate market is beginning to make a comeback, though the Grand County housing market remained relatively flat in 2013, according to Johnson.

Sales volume and home prices in the Grand County area edged up slightly in 2013, she said.

“It’s not crazy, it’s not skyrocketing,” Johnson said about the housing market in general in the Grand County area. “But everything is kind of edging up.”

Johnson says that year after year since the recession hit in 2008, the market has slowly been making a comeback.

The stats

In 2009, Grand County saw a decrease of 31 percent in the number of housing units sold, coupled with a 15 percent reduction in the average sale price. In 2010 and 2011, the average sale price continued to decrease with a 11 percent reduction in 2010 and a 16 percent reduction in 2011, according to Multiple Listing Service activity from the Grand County Board of Realtors.

The reduction of average sale prices following 2008 caused sellers to sell their home for less than what they had paid, though that trend has begun to turn around within the past two years.

The average sale price of housing units sold in 2012 and 2013 increased by 8 percent both years, giving a ray of hope to those looking to sell.

The market currently remains a buyers’ market, with low home prices, though sellers are starting to be able to sell properties in a decent amount of time and regain most of the worth of the home, according to Johnson.

“The homes we are seeing on the market are market-priced, so people aren’t making a lot of money,” she said. “But they aren’t losing money.”

While the market hasn’t shifted into a sellers market quite yet, where homes are valued higher, Realtors believe the market is working towards that end.

Improved interest

It is not the slight rise in the real estate indicators that is giving Realtors like Johnson hope for a productive year in 2014, but an increase in activity in potential customers that might push the local real estate market.

People have been responding to online marketing, walking into company offices during normally slow times, and have been expressing interest in the area, something that slowed after the recession hit in 2008.

Johnson attributes the increased activity to more confidence from consumers in the economy as well as their finances, especially from the Front Range communities. The Front Range has been experiencing a growing and increasingly stabilizing economy, something that bodes well for the mountain communities.

Denver was recently named the sixth fastest growing city in the U.S. by Forbes Magazine. That is up from the city’s last title as the 16th fastest growing city in 2013.

“People dream of being up in these mountains,” Johnson said.

Delayed gratification

While the Front Range may be growing and its residents may be getting to a point where they are more stable, the impact that might have on the Grand County housing market could be delayed.

Traditionally, Grand County lags behind the Front Range in terms of economic improvement, according to Doug Doudna, a local real estate appraiser and owner of Mountain Home Appraisals, Inc.

While Denver’s recovery from the recession is moving forward, the effects of that won’t be felt in the mountain communities for a while, he said.

“I would expect from past history, we should see things improve in the Winter Park area in the next three months,” he said.

The large amount of snowfall Winter Park Resort has received this year doesn’t hurt things either, he said.

As people begin to become more stabilized in their jobs and their finances, they may start to consider purchasing a second home in the area to be closer to the resort.

Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334

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