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Real estate market stays flat in 2009

The Pagosa Springs Area Association of Realtors (PSAAR) released its 2009 year-end statistics earlier this week and, as anticipated, the numbers reflect a sluggish real estate market. Nevertheless, association president Lisa Reeves insists all is not doom and gloom, and 2010 may well show real improvement.

The PSAAR report suggests 2009 sales of all residential properties slumped by 11 percent when compared to those in 2008. Including townhomes; condominiums; site-built, manufactured and modular homes; 210 dwellings changed hands last year, compared to 237 the year before.

Among site-built single-family residences, which comprised nearly 80 percent of the 2009 residential market, 166 sales were recorded, compared to 173 in 2008. That equates to a 4-percent decrease.

Accounting for about 12 percent of all 2009 residential transactions, sales of condos and townhomes declined 35 percent, as just 26 sales closed, compared to 40 in 2008.

Manufactured and modular home sales represented nearly 8 percent of all 2009 residential sales, yet fared slightly better than the multi-family market. In all, 17 sales equaled a 29-percent dip in factory-built sales from 2008.

Of all 2009 site-built residential sales, including “stick-built” single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums, 34 were “bank-owned.”

Land sales (all types) also dipped in 2009, with closings totaling 81 percent of the previous year’s numbers. In all, there were 24 fewer sales in 2009, with an average sale price of $87,114, or just 68 percent of the 2008 average.

Realtors are reporting fewer buyers in today’s market, with most apparently drawn to lower-priced properties. Nonetheless, given the inherent value in the overall community and its natural characteristics, agents remain confident that the real estate market will soon show improvement.

“I believe Pagosa Springs is a great opportunity for someone to buy in this market,” Reeves said in a recent phone interview. “Not everyone is unemployed. People are looking for a retirement home, interest rates are low, and Realtors are showing properties. I think we will be benefit by it.”

Reeves pointed to the intrinsic values of the area, including the mountains and view corridors, climate and other outdoor amenities as attractions that will continue to draw people here.

“I think we have more to offer than a typical small town,” she added, “and we have what lots of people are looking for.”

While no one can deny that Pagosa Springs surroundings are beautiful, other factors may lead retirees and second-home owners to take up permanent residence here. For instance, according to PSAAR, real estate prices are down and purchase opportunities are up.

In 2009, the average sale price of a single-family home, condo or townhome dropped $59,751 from 2008. Last year, buyers purchased homes at an average price of $301,904, while in 2008, the average was $361,655. Realtors are quick to point out that such price reductions simply reflect sales of less expensive homes, and not homes that have actually declined that much in value.

Meanwhile, First Southwest Bank in Pagosa listed yesterday’s 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 5 percent, with an annual percentage rate of 5.13 percent.

Too, a provision of House Resolution 3548, which President Obama signed into law last November, allows first-time homebuyers an $8,000 First-time Homebuyer Tax Credit through April 30. The same law adds a $6,500 tax credit for homebuyers who have owned a principal residence for five consecutive years, during an eight-year period.

Without a doubt, area real estate sales have slipped in the past couple of years, and the slumping local, national and world economies are partly to blame.

Regardless, real estate is, by nature, an imperfect market and periodic fluctuations are certainly the norm. With that in mind, the Pagosa Springs Area Association of Realtors believes now is a good time to invest in a dream home, whether it’s a primary or secondary residence, or simply a monetary investment with hope for a future return.

chuck@pagosasun.com