Real estate in the North Fork valley is raising eyebrows. Its fall 2017 and buyers are starting to exhibit sticker shock driven due to ever increasing demand while sellers are quite excited at what buyers seem to be willing to pay to secure a piece of our lovely valley of milk and honey! October real estate stats for the valley are out and have some telling numbers. The median sales price year to date when compared to last year in the North Fork Valley saw an increase of 4.9% through October.  Inventory (Month supply of inventory) for September and October 2017 was approximately 30% less than those months in 2016. The number of new and sold listings in October were down nearly 30% when compared to October 2016. Inventory remains a problem!  One could contend Paonia is driving the trends in the Valley. The closer one gets to Paonia the more demand and sale price have increased and the more supply has decreased.

What do these numbers mean for those looking to buy or sell property? If you are in the market to buy and our recent price spike has you shaking your head my advice is get your foot in the door or get ready for more of the same. In times like these its good to house hunt with compromise in mind. In all likelihood you will be competing with several other buyers for a piece of property that does not meet your desires or expectations! Just remember the Western Colorado is a very unique little piece of the world and most homes are of the older, less updated variety!. The North Fork Valley has become increasingly desirable and there just isn’t enough property to go around to meet demand. Higher prices and lack of inventory continue to make for a very competitive buyers market. National trends (always a year or so ahead of local trends) indicate similar things are in store for the future. A record stock market, low unemployment, and very low interest rates are fueling the frenzy nationwide and has infiltrated into the North Fork Valley. “Experts” claim this will continue well into 2018. If you are set on buying into this market be prepared to put your boxing gloves on because lots of other people have the same idea.

If you are thinking about selling well congratulations! You are in the catbird seat! Its a seller’s market currently no doubt. While historically winter on the western slope sees a lull in home buying, not so much the last couple years. Home prices continue to inch higher month by month on the western slope of Colorado and more so in the North Fork. My advice for sellers is don’t bide your time for too long expecting the market to keep skyrocketing and don’t try to overshoot the market when you are ready to list your house with a realtor. This trend (bubble) will end. When? One excellent indicator to keep track of is the Denver housing market. Currently its chugging along just like the little old North Valley and as long as Denver Market is going “great guns” so too it seems will the North Fork. But some prognosticators see ominous signs on the horizon.

Its hard to see a housing market that is guaranteeing the transformation of a culture. I believe we are beginning to  see this shift in Paonia in particular. It has quickly morphed into a market where first time home buyers or those with more limited means can no longer get their foot in the door. People of means can rapidly change the face of a place. Is it better? Is it worse? Well I suppose it doesn’t bode well for those people who really want to be here but can no longer afford to buy here. I do think its worth pointing out that the people attracted to this place aren’t moving here because of jobs, but instead recognize the unique gifts this place has to offer: water, air, a perceivable buzz in the air, and like minds that cooperate and coalesce around important issues. I refer to Paonia as the “Mayberry of Colorado”. Its quirky, friendly (pay no mind to the Paonia Message Board!), and slow. Its a throwback to small town America of the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. A great place for young and elderly children alike. Its why my wife and I moved here 10 years ago.  I see the current culture shift as needed but I lament the things that will change. Longtime elders on the front porch waving to everyone that walks or drives by. Passers by on the street who have time for a chat. The oh so welcoming nature of people grounded and comfortable in a community they have lived in and contributed to for 25 years or more. But on the other hand the amount of vacant store fronts in downtown Paonia continues to shrink and new friendly faces seem to arrive daily along with new ideas and fresh energy!

I suppose these changes are not unique to this place alone. I can only hope those core elements that attract new people here are remembered, carried forward and preserved. We can’t stay the same place we were 30 years ago nor should we.  We must move forward, morph, and improve things hopefully at the same time. Its the roots of a place that in the long run can save that place. Just like those grandmother trees that can send roots deep underground and stand through the strongest of storms, so too can a community if we remember and use our roots to our advantage in times of change.


Jay Canode writes words, shoots pictures, and is a realtor in Paonia, Colorado. 970.799.8918