Garco real estate sales on record pace | AspenTimes.com

Garco real estate sales on record pace

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GARFIELD COUNTY ” Garfield County’s red-hot real estate market hasn’t let up. It may slow down a little as the holiday season approaches, but it’s already had a record-setting year.

According to statistics from Land Title Guarantee Co. in Glenwood Springs, Garfield County is on pace to break last year’s record of total dollar volume, reaching the $1.1 billion mark. Increasing home sales get much of the credit, according to real estate broker Andy Stanczak of Home Town Re/Max in New Castle.

“It has been busy here,” Stanczak said. “It’s mostly new construction and the condos on the south side of the highway.”

New Castle showed a 96 percent increase in total real estate transactions through August 2007 compared to the same period last year, according to Land Title. That’s an increase of 182 transactions, totaling 371 for the year, bringing in nearly $124 million in total dollar volume.

That may surprise some, but not Stanczak. He said the news media have – to a certain extent – scared some people into thinking that they won’t qualify for a home loan after more stringent lending practices recently took hold.

“People can still buy,” he said. “The ones who are in trouble are the ones that had problems qualifying before. But with a steady income and good credit score, people can still buy.”

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And the numbers indicate people are buying.

Countywide, total property transactions are up nearly 8 percent compared to the same period last year. Carbondale and Glenwood Springs combined accounted for 44 percent of the total transactions and 56 percent of the total dollar volume. New Castle, Silt and Rifle make up 43 percent collectively, bringing in 36 percent of total dollar volume.

Stanczak wasn’t surprised with the action in New Castle.

“What’s happening is the multi-billionaires are pushing the multi-millionaires out of Aspen, and it’s all coming downvalley,” Stanczak said. “You have million-dollar homes in Glenwood now.”

But New Castle is still relatively affordable with a median residential price of about $300,000, according to Land Title. That places New Castle in fourth behind Carbondale ($565,000), Glenwood ($370,000) and even its downvalley neighbor Silt ($312,000) in the same category. Rifle ($268,000), Parachute ($227,000) and Battlement Mesa ($204,000) come in at fifth, sixth and seventh respectively in median residential prices for year-to-date sales.

Year-to-date figures showed a slump in transactions during August, with a 20 percent decrease from 318 in August 2006 down to 252 this year. But overall through August, the county is still 152 transactions ahead of last year, with 2,001.

“Typically we are seeing single families buying in New Castle,” Stanczak said. “There is some investor interest, especially with the condos on the south side of town, but New Castle is still reasonably affordable for families.”