Midvalley real estate market slows
September 27, 2007
BASALT ” After a strong showing during the first half of the year, the midvalley real estate market has tapered off considerably since July, according sales data and real estate agents.
“There is a lot less activity,” said Wendy Lucas, owner of Wendy Lucas and Co. in Basalt.
Last year, 65 residences in the Basalt area were placed under contract between July 1 and Sept. 25, according to her research using the Multiple Listing Service of the Aspen-Glenwood Springs Association of Realtors. This year that number sagged to 18 during the same period this year, Lucas said.
That includes everything from condominiums to single-family homes in Basalt, El Jebel and the surrounding rural areas.
Willits developer Michael Lipkin told the Basalt Town Council this week that he believes caution by lenders has slowed real estate sales activity in the midvalley. There has been only one sale in Willits in 2 1/2 months, he said. Lucas, the listing broker for Willits, said that doesn’t include any resales that have occurred recently or deal handle by real estate agents outside of her office.
The level of activity in Willits is significant because it is one of the biggest subdivisions in the valley.
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Poor sales activity in many parts of the country have driven down real estate prices and caused a high numbers of defaults on mortgages. Lenders responded by getting picky. That caution by lenders has spilled to the Roaring Fork Valley even though the real estate market remains so strong.
“There is definitely tight money,” Lucas said. There is also a perception among buyers that loans are tougher to acquire, so “they aren’t even looking,” she said.
P.D. Ash, a real estate broker with Chaffin Light Real Estate in Basalt, said numerous factors have slowed the market, including its own success. A high level of appreciation in recent years has priced some buyers out of the midvalley market. A house that might have sold for $600,000 a few years ago is now listing for between $1 million and $1.3 million, Ash said. The number of eligible buyers is smaller for a house in that range.
Tighter lending policies and caution by prospective buyers have also affected activity. “It’s a little bit of everything,” he said.
The effects remain to be seen. In some cases, sellers have adjusted their prices, Ash said. Those that really need to sell, for reasons like a job transfer to a different area, are lowering their asking price. Others in a position to be more patient haven’t been forced to lower their asking price.
“It all depends on the motivation of the seller,” Ash said.
Lucas said sellers have been receiving nearly 100 percent of their listing price in sales as recently as early this summer. High demand and low supply created a sellers’ market. Now, sales prices might dip slightly to more like 96 to 98 percent of listing prices, she said.
Local real estate agents, including some in Aspen, have said throughout the summer that the Roaring Fork Valley’s real estate market would inevitably cool down this year after a sustained, torrid pace. Annual records in dollar sales volume have become the norm in recent years.
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