Home prices increase, inventory declines
Times Staff Writer
Gunnison Public Works Director David Gardner has been on the job for almost six months. He and his family are renting a townhome. Their problem? A home in Gunnison comparable to the one they own in Mississippi costs three times as much.
"It's definitely been a surprise to me about housing," Gardner said. "Because housing is so expensive here, we may need to downsize to be able to afford a house."
Gardner said although he wants to own a home, he's hesitant to take the plunge even if he does find one. The market is high, and he doesn't want to purchase a home in the middle of a housing bubble.
"It may not be the best time to buy right now because everything is so high," he said. "If you could forecast into the future and know that it would be a good investment I wouldn't mind doing it right now."
Gardner is not alone. Residential real estate prices throughout Gunnison County have increased significantly in the last year, while inventory, affordability and days on the market have declined.
According to a report released recently by the Gunnison County Association of Realtors, single-family homes in the City of Gunnison saw an increase in median sale price of 18.9 percent, and a jump in average price of 16.2 percent through the end of October this year compared to same time period in 2016. Still, homes in the unincorporated county near Crested Butte experienced the greatest increase in both median and average sale price of any area in the county — with jumps of 32.8 and 20.1 percent, respectively.
Also, it appears more buyers are turning condominiums and townhouses, especially at the south end of the valley.
Overall, the median sale price for a single-family home jumped 30.5 percent in Gunnison County. The average sale price is up 24.4 percent as well. Average days on the market fell from 201 in 2016 to 168 for the first 10 months of this year — a 16.4 percent drop. Affordability in the valley — based on monthly price and income date, according to the National Association of Realtors Housing Affordability Index — fell 24.4 percent.
“Active” inventory for all single-family homes — or the number of homes on the market — declined 17 percent in October of this year compared to the same month in 2016.
The median sale price for townhouses and condominiums countywide saw an even greater jump. The median sale price so far this year is up 39 percent over 2016. Yet, the City of Gunnison saw the largest percentage increase in sale price of both townhomes and condos.
In the city, the median sale price for a condo or townhome jumped a whopping 70.8 percent, while the average price is up nearly 42 percent. Additionally, the number of sales of these properties priced under $299,999 dropped 27.6 percent, while sales for the number of condos and townhomes priced between $300,000 and $599,999 increased 62.5 percent.
Like Gardner, Jeff Taylor, the Grosland associate director for the Master in Gallery Management and Exhibits Specialization at Western State Colorado University, was hired last year and was looking for a place to live. When he saw the price to rent a home, he decided to buy.
A self-proclaimed "fixer upper," Taylor purchased a duplex on South 12th Street in Gunnison which he and his friends call "SoTo" — or "South of Tomichi," a play on Denver's LoDo or "Lower Downtown."
"I like the idea of being in a revitalizing neighborhood," Taylor said. "We're the Brooklyn of Gunnison."
The property was in poor condition, so Taylor put work into it. He lives in one side of the duplex and rents the other, which significantly offsets his mortgage.
Taylor believes conditions that currently persist in the housing market — what he calls the "forces of urbanism" — could lead to great opportunity as they continue to impact small rural towns.
"Gentrification and the rent crisis is not a big city phenomena," he said. "It can happen in Gunnison, and … Crested Butte. I totally understood those forces — I've seen them in big cities."
(Chris Rourke can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)