Western Colorado Faces Historic Lows in Real Estate Inventory

January 31, 2022

Western Colorado real estate sales are red hot! Inventory shortage is a problem

By Gary Hubbell, ALC

Broker/Owner/Auctioneer, Accredited Land Consultant

As the Coronavirus pandemic grinds on and urban dwellers seek their escape from the city, many thousands of people have embraced a return to rural living. Western Colorado, in particular, is one of those destinations that real estate buyers have targeted for their dream place to live. In the days of fast broadband connections, zoom calls, and telecommuting, many workers don’t need to show up at the office anymore. People can live anywhere, and Western Colorado is looking pretty darned appealing, with its famous ski resorts, Gold Medal trout streams, snow-covered mountain peaks, wineries and vineyards, cattle ranches, and rimrock canyons to explore.

Colorado is one of the most popular states in the country to relocate

 As of August 2021, Colorado had grown to almost 5.8 million people, a 15% increase over 2010, and those numbers are in the rearview mirror. Colorado has almost certainly passed 6 million residents in the intervening few months. It is one of the fastest-growing states in the country. The real estate market in the Front Range cities of Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins has been red-hot for several years, with home sellers experiencing dozens of offers and final sales prices far above the original listing price. Not to be outdone, the Western Slope, which is naturally on the western side of the Continental Divide, is growing at a record pace. Grand Junction, the largest city on the Western Slope, is practically out of building lots, and housing prices have accelerated quickly over the past two years. Modestly sized building lots that would have sold for $50,000 or less three years ago are approaching $100,000—if they’re available.

 Western Colorado Real Estate Inventory is at Record Low Levels

 Today’s sales activity far surpasses the previous high-water marks of 2005-2006, which recorded the highest prices and fastest sales activity since the mining camp days of the 1800’s. It came tumbling down in a hurry with the real estate crash of 2008-2009, and then the doldrums hit. In 2010, the market was at its absolute lowest point of the 2000’s, with many thousands of unsold units on the market. In the Delta County MLS, for example, there were 650 homes on the market in 2010 and the average duration on the market was over a year. Today there are 100 homes on the Delta County MLS and the average duration on the market is a month and half—which is about how long it takes to get a loan approved.

In Grand Junction, there are 241 single-family homes on the market—many of them trailers and double-wides—and there are 843 agents and brokers in the Grand Junction MLS, or almost four agents for every home.  In the Colorado Real Estate Network (CREN) MLS, there are typically anywhere from 15-20 and as many as 50 or 60 expired listings. CREN covers most of Southwest Colorado, including major towns such as Durango, Pagosa Springs, Alamosa, Gunnison, Crested Butte, Montrose, Ridgway, Delta, Hotchkiss, and Paonia. On many recent days there have been no expired listings at all and sometimes only one. The Aspen-Glenwood MLS and the Grand Junction MLS are showing similar numbers. In the CREN MLS, there are 1,839 active agents and 631 residential listings, or about 3 agents for every single-family home.


Western Colorado Home Prices Accelerated Rapidly in 2021

 In Delta County, which has traditionally been one of the lowest-priced counties in Western Colorado, average home prices accelerated 24% from December 2020 to December 2021, jumping from an average price of $324,900 to $404,000. That was after a similar jump from 2019, when the average home sold for around $280,000.