Garfield County housing inventory still shrinking
The inventory of homes for sale in Garfield County reached a 10-year low headed into 2020, while ever-increasing prices for all types of residential units are keeping things decidedly on the sellers’ side of the market.
According to the Colorado Association of Realtors (CAR) year-end Housing Market Report, Garfield County saw one of the biggest inventory drops in the state last year, based on a key measure factoring the number of months it would hypothetically take to sell through the available supply.
By the end of December, Garfield County — including the communities of Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, New Castle, Silt, Rifle and Parachute/Battlement Mesa — had seen its inventory of single-family homes fall to just three months of supply.
That’s a 36.2% drop from the 4.7-month supply recorded at the end of 2018. In raw numbers, the county had 202 active single-family listings at the end of 2019, compared with 341 to close out the prior year.
Inventory is even more scarce in the townhouse and condo market. According to the year-end report, Garfield County had 67 active listings of multifamily units for sale — a 2.3-month supply — compared with 87, or 3.4 months, at the end of 2018.
A five- to six-month supply is generally considered a “balanced market,” according to Erin Bassett of Coldwell Banker Mason Morse, who is the current president of the Glenwood Springs Association of Realtors. More than six months is a buyer’s market, while less than that is considered a seller’s market.
Garfield County hasn’t had a buyer’s market since 2014-15, according to the historical trend for Garfield County looking back over the past decade. Long gone are the post-recession years of 2010-12 when there was anywhere from a 10- to 40-month supply — along with a record number of foreclosures.
“While our market continues to struggle with low inventory, which of course results in higher prices, we are starting to see some new construction which brings hope to first-time homebuyers as well as move-up buyers,” Bassett wrote in her year-end summary that was included as part of the statewide CAR report. “Spring should bring new resale inventory as well.”
The median sale price for all types of housing units in Garfield County increased 6.4% year over year compared with 2018, from $357,000 to $380,000. However, the average sales price rose 11.5%, to $484,451, reflecting sales in the higher price brackets.
In the single-family market, “the percent of list price received remains comparable to 2018, at 97%,” meaning sellers are generally getting what they’re asking, Bassett said. The same was true for the townhouse and condo market, where the median price rose 11.2% and the percent of list price was 98%.
“We just, honestly, have no inventory,” Bassett said, noting that the majority of residential properties available are on the upper end of the price range.
“For that $300,000 to $500,000 price range in Glenwood Springs, you’re just not going to find hardly anything,” she said. And what does come onto the market in that price range is usually quickly under contract.
For the homeowner wanting to sell a larger home and downsize, the options are few and far between.
“You’ll get the money for the house you’re selling, but where do you go? You either have to move up, or move out of the area,” Bassett said. “A lot of people don’t want to leave, but there just aren’t a lot of options.”
Carbondale has a higher supply of housing (5.4 months for single-family homes and 4.9 months for townhouse/condo properties) than either Glenwood Springs or New Castle.
However, it’s mostly on the high end of the market, Bassett noted.
And, the downvalley communities of Silt, Rifle and Parachute, while still more affordable, have even shorter supplies.
Rifle, for instance, had just 1.1 months’ supply of single-family homes at the end of the year, and just 1.5 months for townhouses and condos. Silt fared a little better at 2.3 and 1.5 months, respectively. Parachute/Battlement is comparable to Silt as far as inventory.
A single-family home can still be had for between $250,000 and $366,000 in the Silt-to-Parachute corridor, while the going rate for a townhouse/condo is between $150,000 to $286,250, according to the year-end report.
Compare that with between $425,000 and $796,250 for the median price of a single-family home on the eastern end of the county (New Castle to Carbondale), or $304,000 to $502,500 for a townhouse/condo.
Most new construction continues to be on that upper end of the price range, Bassett noted, and several projects are being put on hold due to construction costs.
“We are seeing some new homes come onto the single-family market in Rifle, but we’re also seeing developers not being able to bring stuff out of the ground because the cost of the build is so expensive and it’s hard to find the labor,” she said. “There are just a lot of factors involved that are holding back affordable construction.”
On the plus side for buyers’ sake, interest rates for home loans are generally low, “so that’s a positive,” she said.
The annual market report also includes an affordability index, factoring interest rates, median sale prices and median income by county. The higher the number, the greater the affordability.
Over the past three years, Garfield County’s affordability index has fallen from 88 to 84 for single-family homes, and from 132 to 119 in the townhouse/condo market.
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