The median price of a home in Durango fell $15,250 in 2017 compared with 2016, a 3.28 percent drop one real estate broker attributed to increasing supply of homes in Three Springs and increased sales of townhomes.
Durango’s median price for all of 2017 was $449,000.
The trend may not hold: The median sales price for the fourth quarter last year for a Durango home was $557,642, up from a median price of $493,500 in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Max Hutcheson, an agent with the Wells Group in Durango, attributes the 2017 median home price drop in Durango to a wider availability of attainably priced homes in Three Springs and the sale of more townhomes.
A total of 187 homes sold in Durango in 2017, up from 176 sales in 2016.
Tax rates have changed, and a cap has been set on the amount of a mortgage homeowners can deduct on federal taxes, but Gina Piccoli, broker-owner of Coldwell Banker Heritage House in Durango, expects that will have little impact on Durango’s real estate market, which has seen steady if slow improvement from the housing crash of 2008.
On Wednesday, the Durango Area Association of Realtors released its statistics for home and land sales in Durango and La Plata County for 2017, and they too reflected gradual improvement from the depths of the 2008 recession.
“The market is steady. There are buyers out there; there aren’t a lot of sellers,” Piccoli said.
She added: “There’s no reason to expect big changes in the market in the coming year. Interest rates are expected to be fairly steady. Durango is still attractive, and the tax changes really weren’t big enough to change things.”
Hutcheson said the average price of a home in Three Springs is in the high $300,000s and the low $400,000s.
A potential first-time homeowner looking to enter the Durango market is unlikely to find an affordable home anytime soon.
“I don’t see any projects that will produce product below $250,000,” Hutcheson said of the Durango market.
Homes in Bayfield, where the median-priced home for 2017 was $298,200, might offer more entry points for first-time buyers, with Hutcheson saying infrastructure is expanding in the Mesa Meadows project in Bayfield, opening a window for more houses in the area.
Bayfield’s median price in 2016 was $293,500. Sixty-six homes sold in Bayfield in 2017 compared with 57 sales in 2016.
In La Plata County, the median home price in 2017 was $369,000, up from $357,000 in 2016, with 1,163 homes sold in 2017 compared with 1,119 in 2016.
Hutcheson said an increasing amount of apartments for rent are coming online this year in Durango, including in Three Springs and the old Rocket Drive-in, and the expected increase in supply should provide more affordable rentals for Durango workers.
Also, more apartments available to rent in Durango might increase the number of homes for sale in the Durango market, Piccoli said.
“Completion of apartments alleviates pressure on rental supplies, and that puts pressure on rents. People holding homes as rental properties may be more inclined to sell the home rather than hold it as a rental,” she said.
A red-hot housing market on the Front Range and the area’s attractiveness to aging baby boomers looking to escape urban environments in Arizona and Texas continues to pressure La Plata County prices upward, both Piccoli and Hutcheson said.
“The Front Range market helps Durango,” Hutcheson said. “Retirees, people 55 and older, are looking to relocate. They love the mountains and they want to escape the traffic. Durango offers a wonderful place for them.”
Another big factor pressuring increases in regional home prices, Hutcheson said, is the growing number of people working from home using the internet.
“A lot of people work remotely out of their home and their job is in Denver or Phoenix or San Francisco. They don’t want to deal with urban pressures, and Durango is an attractive option to them,” he said.
The Multiple Listing Service that tracks realty properties across the nation has added a category for internet service, tracking internet speeds and internet providers, Hutcheson said. As Durango improves internet speeds, it will increasingly attract people looking to work from their homes.
“The internet has become, over the past five years, a critical piece of what people look for and value when they look for a place to live,” Hutcheson said.
“If you can offer high speeds to work, to stream Netflix, you are going to be viewed as a more convenient place to live. The internet will be more critical as we move forward.”
An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect name for Coldwell Banker Heritage House.