Locals can’t afford it: Grand County saw housing prices soar in 2018, and it’s only expected to continue
Grand County’s housing market last year was ideal for sellers thanks to a high demand and county Realtors expect that trend to continue into this year.
The biggest trend in 2018 was the soaring price of units across all different types of housing and across the entire county.
According to data from the Grand County Board of Realtors, the average sales price for townhomes was up 15 percent, for condos it was up 24 percent and single family homes saw a 10 percent increase.
Deb Brynoff, director of the Grand County Board of Realtors, said the market seems to be following in the footsteps of the Denver area, which saw an increasing demand leading to higher prices.
“What we’re experiencing here is what the Front Range experienced a few years ago and so we’re always in that lag time (…), but we’re in that market the Front Range saw for several years where supply just isn’t meeting demand and so prices are going up and up and up,” Brynoff explained.
Realtor Tim Myers of RE/MAX Peak to Peak said buyers have turned to Grand County as one of the last ski resort communities that was still affordable, but all that attention has priced many locals out of the market.
“To find a property under the $300,000 or $350,000 range is getting harder to do,” Myers said. “Other ski resort areas are so ridiculously expensive compared to us and people are realizing they can get more for their money here. Based on that, sellers have been able to price properties higher and are getting the dollar amount for it.”
In the Winter Park and Fraser areas, Erin Jeziorski, a realtor at Real Estate of Winter Park, said the majority of her clients are looking for what she called entry-level properties, usually condos or single bedroom units, and that most of her buyers have been second home owners.
“There’s a very, very high demand for that entry-level market, which doesn’t really exist right now because of all of the new construction, which as at no fault of the developers because it’s not cheap to build, but that’s not necessarily the entry-level market for the buyers we were seeing pre-recession,” she said.
However, one trend that both Myers and Jeziorski noted was an increase in buyers who planned to move to Grand County full-time and work from home or telecommute.
“We had some buyers who moved up here permanently did move up here from Denver to be full-timers,” Myers said. “They mostly work from home or remote. That was kind of new this year.”
Myers, who works mostly in the Granby and Grand Lake areas, said the majority of his clients look for single family homes, particularly at the lower-end of the price spectrum, but those listings are few and far between.
“For our second homeowners and investment type buyers, we’re doing fine, but for our local population, we do not have homes in a price range they can afford,” he said.
Another concern is that as prices rise, the available inventory seems to be growing slower or not at all. New listings for single family homes and condos saw small increases of 5 and 7 percent, respectively, while townhome listings actually dropped.
“We saw, in general, an increase in sold listings in the Winter Park area, while we saw a decrease in the number of new listings,” Jeziorski said.
Jeziorski hopes that the new developments help provide the inventory necessary to meet the demand, especially since all the new development and businesses are attracting people to the market.
“New construction units are selling very quickly,” she said. “I think people are really excited about the community. We’re seeing a number of locals open businesses, which is really cool, and we’re seeing a bit of commercial space being built.”
Myers is more skeptical that the planned developments will help his buyers because it raises the market value of other properties and could contribute to prices remaining unattainable.
“I think it will help the demand, but as far as valuation, I haven’t seen that impact yet,” he said. “In order to step up and afford (the newly developed units), they have to get top dollar for their current unit, so the resell on those units only gets pulled up with the increase in price based on the new construction.”
As for 2019, both Jeziorski and Myers felt that it will likely remain a sellers market and predicted prices to either continue rising or level off depending on what the inventory looks like.
“I think we’ll see inventory increase, at least slightly, because I think we’re seeing sellers upgrading or wanting to cash in on their property,” Jeziorski said. “Our price points, worst case scenario, might see a slight leveling, but I predict we’ll still see appreciation this coming year.”
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