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6/27/2013 Land agents see sales rebounding

Fires on the mountains, drought in the Valley…how are these conditions affecting the local real estate trends?  So far, though the market has been slow, the spring brought home and land sales that show a slow spin toward better real estate business.  Many local real estate agents agree that the house market and prices are improving in the big cities, Westcliffe is still playing catch up, though it does appear to be on the rebound.

Elizabeth Watson of Watson Land described the spring as phenomenal in sales compared to the last several years.  May has been a bit slow, but is beginning to pick up despite the fires.  Lucy Wilcox notes that usually during such a heavy fire season real estate sales come to a halt, but that hasn’t happened so much this year. “Buyers are also much more educated than they ever have been,” Watson says.  “I do suggest buyers be realistic about selling properties in the Westcliffe area and know the market is not the same as it is in larger communities.” 

Both Watson and Wilcox state that they have acquired a lot of new listings. “Even though the current conditions seem a little scary, people are still buying lands and home,” Watson says.  “Westcliffe is a little jewel and people who visit see the beauty of it and choose to buy a summer home or to retire here.” 

Jean Cantebury of Wapiti Realty echoes Watson in noting that listings are up.  “People are calling everyday to list homes,” she says.  Though experiencing a slow sales month, Cantebury points out that the real estate market in the Valley is beginning to thaw, though it has not completely liquefied and will take time to do so. “The places that are selling are priced aggressively,” she notes. Though Cantebury thinks the nearby fires have dampened the market, she has also seen a lot of interest in the purchasing of larger sized properties.

To give an idea of the current trend, Cantebury says that since the first of January to now, 69 places have sold in the area, with 40 of those houses and 29 vacant land.  The most expensive home sold this spring (a repossesed home) was listed at $995,500 and sold at $850,000.  The cheapest improved property sold at $50,000. For vacant land, the most expensive sold was 160 acres on the Valley floor with a creek, listed at $500,900 and sold for $500,000.  At the low end, land listed for $7,500 sold at that price.

Diane Rose, a new realtor at Remax, sees home sales going quite well, with not much vacant land being viewed or sold.  Remax sales are 38 percent up from last year. She notes she has seen very few inquires on property over $300,000.  However, now is the peak time to buy and sell, particularly since it’s tourist season. She credits Remax marketing, spearheaded by Kim Powers, as a positive force in their real estate sales.  With an excellent website, Remax also utilizes social media, like Facebook and Twitter. 

Mattie Burtt of Wild West properties has definitely experienced more home-buying activity this spring than she’s seen in a long time.  A big change she notices is the sale of mid-range priced homes, in the $400-600K range.  She’s only had one client concerned about the fire and that client still came and looked at property. “I think most people realize that every region has its issues,” Burtt says. “In Oklahoma it’s tornadoes, on the coast it’s hurricanes and here it’s drought and fire.”

Burtt also explains the number of high value properties on the market.  “People moved here ten to fifteen years ago and built big houses.  Then, for some reason they had to move, whether it be for health or relocating closer to the family.  So these houses are not a reflection of a bad market. A lot of houses are suddenly appearing for sale due to the natural flux of people’s lives.”   - Cyn Williams