December 2009 Newsletter
The Riley family had a great Thanksgiving. Laurie and I traveled to Denver to visit family, including our son and our new daughter-in-law. The festivities included seeing Riverdance and watching Carmelo Anthony score 50 points as the Nuggets beat the Knicks! All in all, we had a superb holiday, and I have so very much to be thankful for.
Increasingly, I find myself asking the question, “Now what?” At 61, my priorities are changing. Dreams of cars and toys are being replaced by thoughts about health, retirement, and future grandchildren. Fortunately, I still love my job. The puzzles I am continually trying to solve are how to be more productive and how to better serve my customers. I still enjoy pondering and pursuing these goals, even as my other interests have changed.
The Pagosa real estate market has entered its winter phase. Sales are slowing down, and inventory is coming off the market. Bank repos and distressed properties continue to be the “price-setters.” In November, bank repos accounted for 30% of all home sales, though they represent only 5% of all home listings. Fortunately, we are selling the bank repos at about the same pace that they are listed. The number of bank-owned properties on the market has generally remained between 25 and 30. I’m glad to see that the bank repos are not accumulating in our area.
We’ve recently received a bit of bad financial news from the town and county. Sales tax received in November was down 17% compared to the same month last year. This is mostly due to the continuing decline in the local construction industry. By this time last year, the county had issued 67 house permits. This year, they’ve issued only 34. County Commissioner John Ranson reports that at the peak of the building boom, construction accounted for $110 million in our community. This year, the county is expecting $12 million.
A few early snow storms allowed Wolf Creek Ski Area to open around Halloween this year. A relatively dry November meant that Wolf Creek was one of the few ski areas in the region open over the Thanksgiving holiday. With 32 inches of snow on the ground, Wolf Creek saw a 36% increase in skiers compared to the holiday weekend last year.
This weekend (Dec. 4-6) is the annual Christmas in Pagosa event. Festivities include a Parade of Stores, a Festival of Trees, and music presented by the Music Boosters, the Community Choir, and the Bar D Wranglers. Friday and Saturday will be “No Sales Tax Days” at 43 local retailers, and Mountain Express will provide free transportation on those days. For more details, visit the Chamber of Commerce.
It seems odd to be talking about Christmas already, but the season is nearly upon us. I’d like to thank all of our troops who are serving overseas during the holidays. Being away from family and friends during this time is difficult, and I am supremely grateful for their sacrifice on our behalf.
Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!