Garfield County housing market’s fever starting to break after pandemic surge

The hot housing market in Garfield County is cooling.

Cassandra Ballard
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
A home for sale sign in Glenwood Springs.
Chelsea Self/Glenwood Springs Post Independent

The housing market spiked during the pandemic; now, data shows it’s finally starting to get to a manageable place. 

“It’s almost like everybody’s taken a big breath, which is actually very nice,” said Erin Bassett, real estate agent for Coldwell Banker and spokesperson for the Glenwood Springs Association of Realtors. “If you want to sell your house, it’s still a great market to do that. It’s still a seller’s market.” 

As interest rates have risen multiple times since December, the market finally started to slow down in Garfield County.

“That will always slow things down,” said Michael Picore, area sales manager for Bay Equity Home Loans. “And that’s what the government is trying to do by raising interest rates. They’re trying to slow everything down, because inflation is also bad for an economy.”

The median price for a single family home in Garfield County went from 28.8% over 2021 prices in May, to 23.3% over in June, and then to 3.2% below 2021 prices in July. Townhomes and condos went from 5% over 2021 prices in May and June to 24.1% over 2021 prices in July, according to the Colorado Association of Realtors.

Glenwood Springs median sales price remained relatively flat, dropping in price just 0.1% for a single-family home compared to 2021 prices in July. The Rio Blanco County town of Meeker experienced the biggest price drop in the region of 28.5% below 2021 prices. 

Carbondale’s singlefamily home market spiked with a median increase of 79% over 2021 prices and an average increase of 135% in the month of July. June was the big month for townhomes in Carbondale.

“Our showstopper community in the local market is once again Carbondale, where the median sale price for a single-family home was up 49% over last June at nearly $1.98 million, and townhome-condos came in at 128% increase to $1.3 million,” Bassett wrote in a report last month. 

Right now, housing markets are a mixed bag throughout Colorado. Although Carbondale continues to see prices and demand rise, places like Denver are softening. 

“New listings are still down here in the valley, so we’re somewhat protected,” Bassett said. “I was looking through the data for the whole state, and there’s only a couple of boards that are still holding steady. Our inventory is still down, our prices are still up, whereas in the Denver market, they are starting to see quite a bit more softening.”

Earlier this year people were able to list houses at whatever price they wanted, and it would sell quickly, Bassett said. Now, people are needing to list their house closer to market value in order to get an offer, but agents are still getting multiple offers for those houses close to market value.  

Condos and townhomes or housing aimed at first-time buyers are still very much in demand and are not as affected by the higher interest rates, while housing in the million-dollar range is starting to to be more affected by interest rates, Picore said. 

“People say, ‘OK, we’re shooting for the stars,’ but our realistic prices may be here, and you see a little bit of softening, especially at those higher-end properties,” Picore said.

Bryan Snow and his family moved to the Roaring Fork Valley from Denver after his wife got a job in Basalt. They found a house between Carbondale and Iron Bridge and said they jumped on their place and were able to get it after offering the asking price. They did have competition, but they weren’t forced to bid above the asking price. 

There was some luck in Snow’s move. He said the Denver market was really high when he sold in comparison to when he bought that home.

“We bought it at a good time and got to enjoy the popularity boom, but not everybody has that option,” Snow said. “So I think without that, it would have been a struggle for sure to find something that, you know, we were accustomed to.”

It’s not just people looking to move to the area for the first time who are benefiting from current market conditions. Roaring Fork Valley native, Sean McDermott was able to move up from owning an apartment to owning a house and noticed a drastic change with the interest rates rising. 

“I was on the search probably since March, and things were going like crazy, like wildfire,” McDermott said. “I was putting in offers to places, and somebody would come right behind me and put in higher offers. I was putting in above the asking price, and they put in above the asking price and cash.”

He said it was crazy for a little while, but he was finally able to find something. Then he noticed interest rates rising and inflation and everything seemed to stop.

“T​​hings seemed to slow down really quickly, like kind of overnight almost, actually,” he said. “Pretty much as soon as you know the (Russian invasion of Ukraine) and inflation shot up, gas prices shot up overnight, seemed to really affect the housing market pretty much immediately.”