Pagosa Real Estate Newsletter, January 2011

Happy New Year From Pagosa Country!

This holiday season was a very good one in Pagosa. Business was brisk all over town, most of the hotel beds were full, and the restaurants stayed very busy. Wolf Creek Ski Area set a new single-day attendance record over Christmas break. After a series of recent storms, local snowpack stands at 135% of average. Wolf Creek currently has 102 inches of snow at the summit, and the skiers are having a ball. All this activity should give a boost to our local economy, and maybe some of it will translate into a boost for our local real estate market as well.

This is the time of year when I like to take a step back and look at the Real Estate market big picture. This newsletter’s statistics extend all the way back to 2004, which gives us a great view of the dramatic changes in the market over the past seven years. I am happy to report that there is at least some good news for all parties in the market.

If you are a seller, the glass is half full. Home sales, vacant land sales, and commercial sales were all up in 2010. Overall sales were up 24% compared to 2009. Inventory is starting to improve, too. Homes, condos, and vacant land are all showing lower inventory numbers than the same time a year ago. However, I should caution that inventory numbers are very untrustworthy this time of year. Hundreds of listings expired on December 31st, and many will be relisted. The question is when.

Hundreds of listings expired on December 31st, and it remains to be seen how many will be back, either in a couple of weeks or a couple of months.

Sellers can be happy that interest rates are still low, and consumer confidence is on the rise. Consumer Reports recently said that the two best months to purchase a home are January and February. With inventory at a seasonal low, there is a lot less competition out there than there was just a few weeks ago.

If you are a buyer, the glass is completely full. Repos and other motivated sellers are providing tremendous deals that will continue for at least a little while longer. Interest rates are low, but buyers should keep an eye out, as they have recently begun to rise.

The biggest story of 2010 was the repo market. Repos comprised 38% of residential sales last year in Pagosa, though they accounted for only 11% of the residential listings. As more and more buyers take notice of the great prices, we should begin to ask the question of how long this can last. I checked with the county, and there are currently 131 active foreclosure filings, which is just a hair lower than last year at this time. (Many filings never actually go through to foreclosure.) It is a hopeful sign that the number of new filings seems to have leveled off this year. We are certainly not out of the woods yet, but I predict that 2011 will be the last big year for repos in Pagosa Springs.

In other local news, Archuleta County has some interesting tidbits to report regarding the coming year. I always keep my ear to the ground for news coming out of the county courthouse, and I would especially like to thank Commissioner John Ranson for keeping me informed. You can always view John’s latest County Update on my website, The county recently purchased 95 acres on Highway 84 near the fairgrounds. They are still in the process of creating a plan for the property, but some ideas include an arena, ball fields, and parks.

Other businesses are taking advantage of the rock bottom real estate prices as well. A biomass energy company recently purchased 40 acres near Cloman Industrial Park, and a performing arts group bought the old Paint Connection building. The group plans to turn it into a music, art, and theatre space. They’ve already had a couple of fundraisers which were well-attended.

I continue to hear rumblings of a large-format retailer coming to Pagosa. I have no idea what this retailer might be; everything is hush-hush. It could be Wal-Mart, it could be Target, who knows? Different locations are being discussed, and nothing is definite yet. I expect we’ll know more as the year progresses.

This time of year, everyone is making predictions about the coming year, so I guess I’ll throw my hat into the ring as well. Broadly speaking, I believe that prices will stay flat for some time, with further decline in weaker segments of the market, particularly in vacant land. I anticipate that after their recent historical lows, interest rates have nowhere to go but up, and they will continue to rise. It’s not a matter of if, but when and by how much. Finally, I predict that 2011 will bring us a second year of stronger sales in Pagosa. I believe that both buyers and sellers have something to look forward to this year. Pagosa will continue to be the friendliest, most beautiful town in Colorado. Wolf Creek Ski Area will continue to have the most snow in Colorado, and Pagosa Real Estate will be a great investment in the coming year.

Have a Happy and Prosperous 2011!

Lee Riley
2011 & 2014 Realtor of the Year
Phone (970) 731-4065
Fax (970) 731-4068
Cell (970) 946-3856