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Rosier future for real estate, building

Staff Writer

It seems an upswing in the building and real estate sectors is bubbling to the surface in Pagosa Country.

Many year-to-date numbers for the sectors are currently on par with the same time span for 2012, but officials report that a burst of activity is on the horizon.

Building

According to Archuleta County Building Official John Ruyle and Town of Pagosa Springs Building Official Zach Richardson, permit numbers at each department are on par with last year’s numbers, but both departments have received word of several potential projects on the way.

For Archuleta County, as of March 31, seven single-family residences had been permitted this year, with 28 total permits.

Those numbers closely mirror the numbers for the same period in 2012, when seven single-family houses were permitted as well as one mobile/modular home, part of 28 total permits.

By comparison, in 2006, before the economic downturn, Archuleta County permitted 42 houses by March 31, as well as two commercial permits — part of 71 total permits in the first quarter.

Some of the houses permitted this year, Ruyle said, have been spec homes built by contractors. Other contractors have reported work on the horizon.

“They’re selling them before they’re getting them done,” Ruyle said, “which leads me to believe people are feeling a little good about what’s going on.”

Three homes permitted for the county, Ruyle said, are in the size range of 6,500 square feet.

Richardson said no building permits have been issued in town thus far in 2013, but he indicated there have been eight inquiries about new build jobs on single-family residences.

In the same time period last year, the town issued one building permit for a single-family residence — and only two in all of 2012.

“There’s definitely more activity, although we haven’t gotten permits yet,” Richardson said.

Permits for other things, such as decks and garages, are lagging this year, Ruyle said, though he anticipated these projects may pick up as weather allows.

“It looks good. It’s kind of encouraging,” Ruyle said. “It’s good and steady.”

Real estate

A reason for the current steadiness in the permit trend, and a possible increase in single family home construction, Ruyle said, could be a declining inventory in the local real estate market.

According to statistics provided by Realtor Lee Riley, total year-to-date sales for homes, condos, vacant lots and other (including commercial), is 21 percent behind the year-to-date sales for the same time period in 2012 — 71 sales in 2013, versus 90 in 2012.

Despite those numbers being down compared to last year, pending sales within Archuleta County are up over 2012, with Riley stating that the process of closing sales is currently taking longer than it previously did.

Currently, Riley said, 67 properties are under contract, 51 of which are residential.

“So, I think that’ll even itself out,” Riley said.

In the residential market, sales are down about 15 percent from the same time period last year (41 sales compared to 48), though the median home price has risen 18 percent (from $178,300 to $210,000) and the average number of days on the market has decreased 12 percent (from 204 days to 180).

Riley cautioned that, when dealing with such a small sample number, the numbers can be misleading as to trends that are occurring.

He indicated, however, that homes for sale priced below $300,000 are in a seller’s market (with only 28 available), whereas homes priced above that mark are part of a buyer’s market.

“We are seeing the inventory starting to be depleted somewhat,” Riley said, calling it, “good news from a supply-in-demand standpoint.”

Much of the inventory that’s being depleted, Riley indicated, are foreclosure listings, with only 26 residential listings that fall into that category, and 12 of those under contract.

In 2011, Riley said, 36 percent of residential listings were foreclosures.

Pricing, then, is inching up, with inventory previously selling for less than $150,000 now selling for up to $200,000.

The condo market remains soft, with no change in the inventory and fewer sales year-to-date than last year, though pricing on the condos remains flat.

The market on vacant land, too, remains soft, with 55 foreclosure listings, and pricing below 2005 levels.

Sales of commercial properties, according to the statistics, have increased from one sale in the first quarter of last year to seven in the same period this year, though the median sale price decreased from $300,000 to $150,000.

randi@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on April 11, 2013.