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Housing prices across La Plata County surge upward

Real estate market only got hotter in the second quarter of 2021
Seventy-one homes worth more than $1 million sold in La Plata County in the first six months of the year, according to Rick Lorenz of Team Lorenz. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Sales prices for homes in La Plata County continue their upward trajectory – fueled by a low inventory, a construction market focused on high-end homes and a pandemic-inspired national migration pattern favoring rural locales.

The median price of a home in La Plata County hit $527,100 for the second quarter of the year, a 24.8% increase compared with the $422,500 median price for the same quarter in 2020.

“It just seems people are getting $100,000 more this year than they would have gotten last year or the year before. It’s definitely strange,” said Lois Surmi, president of Durango Area Association of Realtors.

“We didn’t know what COVID was going to do. I think a lot of this is COVID-related – the fact that people have learned they can work from home. So they are changing. They are either moving from big cities or if they’re here, they’re remodeling. They’re adding a home office,” said Surmi, who is managing broker with R1 Colorado in Durango.

The second quarter median price for an in-town Durango home hit $650,000, a 30.3% increase from the median price of $499,000 for the same quarter in 2020.

The biggest jump in median price came among the Durango Mountain area, which covers Purgatory Resort, Glacier Club and Tamarron.

In the Durango Mountain area, the second quarter median price for a single-family home came in at $1.16 million, up 43.2% from the $810,000 median price for the second quarter of 2020.

For townhomes and condominiums in the Durango Mountain area, the second quarter median price was $448,000, a stunning 94.8% increase from the $230,000 median price for the second quarter of 2020.

“A lot of this is the effect of being able to work from home,” said Phil Wehmeyer, managing broker with Durango Mountain Realty. “You aren’t trapped in a city where you really don’t want to be. You can work from your home, your vacation home, and live where you want.”

The pre-COVID-19 plentiful inventory of housing in the Durango Mountain area has dried up.

Wehmeyer said nine single-family homes were on the market Wednesday in the Durango Mountain area. Before COVID-19, he said it was typical to have 15 to 20 single-family mountain homes for sale.

Currently, three condos are on the market in the Durango Mountain area compared with a pre-COVID-19 inventory that was more like 30 to 40, he said.

Townhomes in the Durango Mountain area are also in tight supply, with only one now listed. Pre-COVID-19, Wehmeyer said it was typical to see 15 to 20 townhomes listed for sale.

The number of sales in the Durango Mountain area were also up.

Eighteen single-family homes sold in the second quarter of 2021 compared with 13 for the same quarter in 2020. For mountain condos and townhomes, 70 sold in the quarter, a 125.8% increase from the 31 that sold in the second quarter of 2020.

Durango Mountain homes are seen as a bargain by those seeking Colorado mountain property because prices are lower than in Telluride, Crested Butte, Breckenridge and other ski towns where the lifts take people right into town, Wehmeyer said.

Wehmeyer said he expected the number of Durango Mountain residential units that sell in the next quarter to come down simply because of a lack of inventory.

As for prices, Wehmeyer expected continued upward pressure.

“There’s a limited supply and growing demand. It’s pretty basic economics,” he said.

Rick Lorenz, a broker at the Wells Group who compiles his own statistics for Team Lorenz, continues to be stunned by the post-COVID-19 statistics.

According to Lorenz’s statistics that looked at sales for the first six months of the year, sellers in La Plata County were able to get 100.22% of the asking price for the 52 homes that sold between a price of $400,000 and $599,999.

Of the 59 homes sold throughout the county in a price range from $600,000 to $799,999, sellers were able to get 100.31% of asking price.

“I said this last quarter, the numbers we’re seeing are startling, unprecedented. I’ve been selling real estate in this town for 44 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Lorenz said.

Two other notable statistics jump out at Lorenz:

  • The dollar volume for all real estate – residential, commercial, industrial and land – in the county for the six months of the year came in at $501.1 million compared with $259.6 million for the first six months of 2020, a 93% increase.
  • The total number of La Plata County homes sold for $1 million or more in the first six months of the year jumped to 71 compared with 22 for the same period in 2020, a 222.73% increase.

parmijo@durangoherald.com

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