Jay Canode-Broker Associate
RE/MAX Mountain West Paonia, Colorado
Real Estate services for Paonia, Hotchkiss, Crawford, and the greater North Fork Valley Colorado
Just when you think the world couldn’t get any weirder along comes Corona! The past several weeks in our fair Valley of the North Fork river have been gorgeous and springlike. Trees are budding, rivers and creeks are flowing brown and swift, the grass is greener (as it always is in Western Colorado!), and our streets are eerily empty.
With the canceling of school and pretty much everything else in the world, my wife Amy and I have been forced to roll and adapt. We have moved her thriving yoga business online where even though momentum has slowed a bit, business is slowly picking back up. In addition I am now the P.E coach for our 10 year old son Edan. Edans’s online schooling starts at 9am and ends around 11. Our P.E. classes consist of near daily mountainbike rides on our jumbo trail system which thankfully is just a stones throw from our home in Paonia. Also thankfully, biking and hiking is considered an “allowed activity” by the State of Colorado! Edan has really taken to biking and is getting stronger day by day. This makes me happy because bicycling is and always has been my favorite outdoor activity! Life in Paonia feels only slightly different to Amy and I (We are professional homebodies). We miss hanging out with friends intimately but still see them out on the trails. We will also miss our spring camping excursions to the Utah desert where it is now illegal to camp. Interestingly in Gunnison county, our neighbors to the east, it is now a crime to for non-residents to loiter within county lines!
Our grocery stores in Paonia have remained comfortably stocked save for paper products (which for the life of me I still dont understand.) and our farmers/growers have been providing bounties of fresh organic spring greens. Restaurants and cafe’s on the other hand are struggling with several shutting down altogether. I feel for them having once been in that business and knowing what small margins they operate on. We do our best to try and support the ones that are struggling to stay afloat.
Over the past week we have seen the donning of face masks around town as the new norm with many crafty and generous citizens making and donating homemade masks to those in need. During these times I can’t imagine having to go through this challenge in a large city. To be honest an event like this was one of the main reasons we moved to a tiny, rural town with abundant water and the ability to grow food!
And Real Estate? Well, real estate activity is certainly quite diminished at the moment but sales continue to happen! Like everyone else realtors are bobbing and swerving to figure it all out. We went from being “non-essential” restricted from showing to now being able to show once again. Recent adoption of technologies like Zoom and 3-D modeling have allowed us to at least carry on somewhat. The 3-D tours are actually quite amazing. Have a look! https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=GcfAtBh64zp. These virtual tours are a super useful tool if you can’t or are aren’t allowed to visit or view a property for sale! Our real estate contracts have also changed and are allowing for remote offers (that is “site unseen”) to be less risky. Demand remains high especially due to the fact that we would normally have a lot more new listings hitting the market this time of year. In times such as these rural Colorado really starts to seem appetizing when considering the relative challenges vs urban lifestyle. I have a had a very large uptick in inquired for LAND. It seems wide open spaces have become especially enticing in the time of Covid 19! I really don’t feel like my quality of life has suffered too much living in Paonia, Colorado during this Pandemic. The social nature of this community has been subdued but absence makes the heart grow fonder right?
If you were considering buying or selling real estate before the world paused I would encourage you to push on! Our challenge won’t last forever and at the moment we don’t anticipate the bottom falling out of the housing market. If anything NOW IS a good time to shop due to the momentary diminished shopping activity from buyers. I certainly don’t recommend over leveraging yourself financially during times of market volatility or uncertain outlooks, but really when is the outlook ever certain!? I have been fielding a fair number of inquiries from buyers looking for “fire sales”. Again at this point I have not seen this happening to our market. Will it happen in the future? I cannot pretend to know what is in store. Its all so unprecedented that we have very little to go off of. I do know that in times such as these there will always be a market for clean, air, water, and food and the benefits of intimate community.
Many folks are still reeling from this disruption and trying to make sense of their new lives. Many are literally fighting for their lives as well as others’ lives. Many are exhausting themselves finding solutions that we will all benefit from. I prey that we come out of this situation better people and a better species. I feel blessed that I live in a community that cares for one another and I am confident a silver lining will present itself in the end. Its been a beautiful spring in the North Fork. Life goes on in our land of milk and honey!
Happy 2020 everyone! Its been a more less proper Colorado winter in Paonia thus far. Temperatures are seasonal, that is COLD, and snows have been regular if not a bit on the scant side. Lots of grey days keeping ice from melting. The high country is looking good for snow pack if not slightly behind the average as well. February and March usually make up for early losses. Think snow! In Paonia lots of “dog on the loose” complaints as of late, as well as complaints about the lack of affordable housing for rent or purchase. The potholes in Paonia this winter have been teeth rattling, suspension destroying chasms. Subway is closing its doors along with the newish upscale cafe Salt Pollen. Hate to hear of diminished eating options in Paonia! Property taxes for 2019 look to have taken a giant leap for many residents of Paonia and last but not least voters in Paonia enacted a moratorium on the sale of new water taps until proper analysis on the state of our current water system can be completed.
The cold weather has hasn’t seemed to affect new listings in the North Fork for the month of December. We recorded a 100% rise in new properties on the market compared with December 2018 (7 vs 14!) but curiously a 61% DROP in sold properties for the same 30 day period. Not even the median sales decrease of 34% helped bolster sales! These month over month comparisons are more curiosities than meaningful but when we look at the overall trend of the past year they do reflect similarities. 2019 total new listings on the market compared with 2018 are stagnant. Sold listings are down 9% in the N.F. and median sales price is DOWN 6.6% to end the year. This is the first significant median decline in 4 years save for a strange blip at the close of 2016 (Election year possibly?) Median sales prices in 2019 have hovered in the mid $250k’s in the North Fork Valley with the decline beginning last Fall. To a certain extent homes sold closer to Paonia tend to increase this data point. For perspective the beginning of the most recent rally began in October 2014 when the median price was $157,500 in the N.F Valley. Increases continued nearly constantly until September of 2019 when we reached a median price of $260k. Delta County wide median price trends have similarly reflected the North Fork albeit lower values.
Will September 2019 be the high water mark for real estate values in the North Fork? In my opinion we seem to be in a definite plateau. I’m no soothsayer but the recent volatility in the stock market stoked by fears of a chinese snake flu pandemic and political upheaval in an election year may keep things stagnant or even drive down prices further for 2020. I don’t see a bubble bursting per se but rather a healthier leveling out of the steeply escalating values of the past 6 years.
If you are considering selling your property keep this in mind…it can be very difficult to sell a property when you overshoot a declining real estate market. Employ a real estate agent and let them do their job! A good one keeps close tabs on where the market is headed and can set you up for a timely sale when assigning a value to your real estate.
Meanwhile high demand for property in the North Fork continues, with particular interest within walking or biking distance to Paonia town limits. Hotchkiss however, has been seeing increasing interest as people look down valley for better inventory and value. At the RE/MAX office in Paonia 84% of our buyers in 2019 came from within the state of Colorado with nearly a quarter of those buyers already living in Paonia itself. 14% are from the Front Range. Gonna be another interesting year on the western Slope! Stay warm and please give me a ring if you have any questions about whats going on with the market or just wanna say hi!
Happy Summer to you all! It is summer yes? Rivers are still running high all over the western slope and many high elevation roads in Colorado remain closed due to snow. My wife and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary by taking a trip to the southern San Juans for some hot springs and a taste of the high country. After confirming that the road to Yankee Boy Basin high above Ouray was indeed finally open, we loaded up the 4X4 and headed up to find Mother nature’s carnage was everywhere! Thousands upon thousands of avalanche devastated trees littered the mountainsides on the way up. Many snow slide paths we drove through were still close to 20 feet deep where snow plows had trenched through! Up high, where typically by now the basin is carpeted in wildflowers, there was still snow and lots of it. What a crazy year in Colorado! From extreme drought and heat last summer to record snows and cool temperatures in 2019. Down low in the North Fork valley the cool, wet, but not frosty spring is bringing bumper crops of fruit and hay. The big winner this year are cherries and apricots! Its been a while since Ive witnessed wild cherry trees fruiting around here and this year they are out there. Neat!
Its been a cool spring but the hot real estate market in the North Fork continues! Year to date median property sales are up an astounding 33%! Last May the median price for a home in the North Fork was $246k. In May 2019 it stands at $322k. Things are changing in our valley. Demand remains extremely high, especially in the Paonia area where price increases are even steeper. Supply of homes remains low, even lower than May of 2018 to the tune of 33% fewer listings. Also homes are staying on the market 80% longer than they were in May a year ago. This seems to be a reflection of price increases. Also of interest there have been a slew of properties hitting the market in the Valley this summer with $500k+ price tags. In the past 2 years in the 81419 zipcode 9 homes have sold, in the 81428 zip 12 homes, and in 81415 8 homes have sold in this price range. In the 3 years PRIOR to 2017 a sum total of 14 properties sold valley wide above $500k. For perspective currently there are 41 properties in the valley priced over $500k. Are we due for a correction? Will these higher priced properties stay on the market longer and longer? Nationwide statistics in hot housing markets suggest yes.
Word on the street (and local Facebook Forums) is that we’re in a housing crisis…and that very well may be. All of a sudden there are few to no starter homes (that don’t require complete renovation) in the North Fork that are attainable by middle income earners. Quickly following increased home values, rents are way up in the nosebleeds with 2 bedroom homes often renting for $1200 or more. Average income earners in this valley just cant afford the new housing reality and thus are being driven out. And all of a sudden we are starting to fit the classic Mountain Town Paradigm where the people that make our town a town can no longer afford to live here. It happened so quick!
Unfortunately there are no easy solutions and really no bad guys to point the finger at! When a place is recognized as appealing to someone and that desire spreads but there’s only so much of that place to go around, prices go up until only those that can afford it can move here. Unfortunately demand is changing the place we call home. I for one am thankful there isn’t enough property to please everyone. As a realtor this low inventory of sell-able properties is a tough way to make a living! Lots of clamoring over rare new listings, emotions running high with buyers. But as a resident of this place I am thankful that growth is problematic. I moved here 13 years ago because Paonia in particular was unknown, off the beaten path, and felt just like Mayberry might feel back in the 1960’s. I don’t want that small town feel to change and I don’t want my town to be “discovered”. On the other side of this coin however this North Fork “discovery” is taking up where the diminishing coal industry has left us. There is a new “energy” in the Valley and its seems to be sustainable. Food growers and producers and little cottage industries are popping up. The quality of life here is outstanding but jobs are and will continue to be problematic. On a limited basis other mountain towns like Crested Butte, Telluride, and Durango etc… have provided deed restricted affordable housing and parcels of land, but that takes resources and doesn’t seem to put much of a dent in overall demand. Here in the valley Paonia based Space to Create is diving headlong into the effort of addressing affordable housing and the Town of Paonia seems aware of whats happening but do they have the resources to divert from other critical infrastructure upgrades that Town requires to address a housing crisis? We shall see.
Meanwhile Cherry days are upon us already ad I can’t remember such glorious weather in the North Fork valley! So luscious, and temperate! I am enjoying it while it lasts and I hope you all can get out and enjoy with you and yours. Hopefully we’ll see you out and about!
I am organizing a fundraiser to help renovate the skatepark in Paonia. The iconic film Easy Rider turns 50 this year and we are bringing it to the Paradise Theater to co-incide with the Cabin Fever series. One night only! Monday, February 25th at 7pm. Please come help celebrate the counterculture! All Proceeds to benefit Paonia Skatepark.
In the spring of 2008, having just moved to Paonia the year prior, a local farmer contacted me with an idea for a film. A little ball of energy and enthusiasm, she wanted to paint a picture and illustrate via moving pictures and sound the forgotten art and craft of eating locally. There was a new word for it at the time, Locavore, and over the next year we embarked on one of the most fulfilling film projects I have ever been involved with. That woman, Lynn Gillespie along with her husband Tom, own and operate The Living Farm on Stewart Mesa outside Paonia. The farm remains a shining example of what can be done with just a small parcel of land, hard work, and good water rights! Today much of the food produced on the farm is funneled to Paonia’s Living Farm Cafe, operated by Lynn’s son Mike Gillespie. The farm can also be toured throughout the summer with advanced notice.
“Locavore: Local Diet, Healthy Planet” is feature length and is filled with revelations on the benefits of locally sourced food, many of which long forgotten with the rise of global industrial agriculture. Local North Fork Valley stalwarts of the Locavore movement featured in the film include: Zephyros Farm on Bone Mesa, Desert Weyr farm on Garvin Mesa, Rivendell Farm in Austin, Bernedette Stech’s wonderful little family farm on Pitkin Mesa, as well as neo pioneer Brook LeVan’s sustainable settings in Carbondale. Its also features some super snappy, original music by ex-Paonian Bill Powers!
The film is still available on DVD for purchase but several years ago Lynn decided to make it free to the public. Recently I reposted the film to Youtube and its available for you all to view! “Locavore: Local Diet, Healthy Planet” is every bit as relevant as it was 10 years ago and even more so. Not only is it a love letter to organic small scale farming on Colorado’s western slope its also a passionate and inspiring and will no doubt get you excited about next year’s garden! Enjoy!
After a long, historically dry, smokey, and uncomfortable summer in western Colorado autumn has roared in like a lion! It seems we went from hot to cold in a matter of days and the high country has already received a nice dose of moisture in the form of rain and then snow. Hallelueuia! (Lets hope it keeps on coming!) My family and I loaded up the family truckster and took a nice respite to Box Canyon Lodge in Ouray just as the temperatures plummeted. This made for excellent hotspringing weather. We took a drive up the Camp Bird road and were turned back by slushy, snowy road conditions as flakes fell and coated the golden leaves that were still on the aspens and cottonwoods. My snow slut friends have been posting faceshots of opening day at Wolf Creek ski area in the south San Juans (Jealous). Here’s to a great start to a snowy Colorado winter!
Much like the welcome cool fall temperatures have descended on the Western Slope, so too it seems we are experiencing a potential cool down in the hot real estate market. Beyond the data which I will share, rumblings in our office meetings at RE/MAX Mountain West in Paonia indicate multiple price drops in recent weeks, fewer new listings on the market, and reduced buyer activity. Are we transitioning from a hot seller’s market to more of a buyers market as we approach the 2018 midterm elections and winter? It would seem that way, especially if one takes into account the fact that Denver’s market, also a driver of the North Fork Valley real estate sales as of late, is also cooling off. Here’s a good spot for my disclaimer! All predictions herein are my opinion of course but all data and statistics are more or less accurate. Feel free to call B.S. next year if my predictions fall flat!
Comparing August 1st thru October 17th between 2017 and 2018 (about the last 75 days) median home sale prices are down 11% from $275k to $247k in the North Fork Valley market. Similarly the number of new listings in this time period is also down around 10%. Sales volume is down slightly as well. Usually when we see a decrease in home prices we also see an INCREASE in inventory. That is not the case currently. In general we always see a bit of slow down coming into winter but when we compare the past 2 years a downward trend does emerge. Personally, I believe the current volatile political climate along with a precarious stock market have people hunkering down to see whats going to happen with the midterm elections. This means less people pulling up roots (and selling their homes) and more people pinching pennies with regards to real estate purchases. The stock market is way up but word on the street is a correction is nigh! Here is a recent article bolstering my slowdown claims. Remember Our market in the North Fork tends to follow national trends… albeit with some lag time.
What does this mean for buyers and sellers? Well if you have been sitting on your property in anticipation that 6 months from now it will be worth another $25k I would rethink that logic. Mind you I am no prognosticator with a crystal ball but I do believe the party has to end sometime with regards to our obvious seller’s market and steep price increases of the past 36 months. What I see is a bit of leveling off with no signs of another price run up.Thinking of selling? Do it now.
If I were in the position to sell I would do it ASAP and follow the advice of a professional Realtor who would provide me a full market analysis. Many times with regards to our current market climate sellers get caught on the wrong side of the bell curve by thinking they can get more for their property than the market will bare. Meanwhile the market starts to drop out from under them leaving them with an overpriced property that can languish on the market for years. 2016-2018 was an eye opening time! The Median sales price for a home in the North Fork was $189,500 in 2016 $215K in 2017, and since Jan 1st 2018 that number is $245K. For property sold within Paonia zipcode those numbers are even more starkly contrasted. Median sales price in 2017 was $180k, $200k in 2017, and $261k year to date! I would take caution in over-speculation of the value of your property as we approach 2019.
For buyers the news is somewhat better in that prices are cooling off in the North Fork Valley. Only somewhat because the lack of inventory continues to be an issue…especially inventory of property that does not require substantial renovations and updates. From my observations the type of buyers coming to western Colorado from the Front Range do not want to buy projects unless the price is a bargain. For non-cash buyers interest rates continue to inch up but remain tolerable when compared to rates of 30 years ago! (A 30 year mortgage in 1990 had an interest rate of 10.13%!)
Many people believe winter to be a poor time to put real estate on the market but locally demand remains pretty high as long as you adhere to current trends. Those trends are indicating we have reached or are reaching a plateau. 2019 is going to be an interesting year! Buckle up…interesting times ahead!
Oh…and don’t forget to VOTE!
So you bought a couple acres in the North Fork Valley. You are super excited because with that acreage comes 80 shares of Fire Mountain Canal and Reservoir Co irrigation water! You’ve already got your garden planned, possibly a little orchard and some hay, maybe even some starts in the greenhouse ready to go into the ground. Its late April and you are seeing all that lovely spring melt runoff water rushing down the canal but nobody has turned on your head gate to let water onto your property! You want your water and you want it now! Your neighbor has water. Its been on for a couple weeks now. Why is his water on and yours isn’t? You want to get to the bottom of this and soon. Who do you call? Who is the authority for irrigation water in the North Fork Valley?
Water rights and rules are quite complicated and completely non-standard from one ditch to another. Its the same all over the west. What is early and late water? How much is a share of water on Fire Mountain Canal? Why is that share different than a share from Stewart Ditch? How much water is a “share” exactly? Who can make the final judgement if I think my neighbor upstream is taking too much water? There is no standard answer and in fact its quite the rabbit hole of information that you really should rely on experts for.
In Delta county there are well over 200 ditches, canals, and springs that have been identified and allocated by the state of Colorado. But Colorado’s water jurisdiction ends at the source of each ditch or spring. When you purchased your property, if your land has an irrigation water right you should have received a certificate that states how many shares and the name of the ditch company your rights are associated with. In some instances you may have a water right stated as a “decree” instead of a share. Decrees usually have streamflow values associated with them. For instance your decree might read .25 cfs from Such and Such ditch or spring. Decrees can be searched on the Colorado Dept of water Resources website (See link below).
Each water district has its own water commissioners. In the Montrose district (which encompasses the North Fork Valley) there are 24 individual commissioners. Usually a commissioner is responsible for a particular river or major source of water. In the North Fork valley Luke Rushke is our water commissioner but he’s not the guy to call if you have a question about your ditch! He’s a nice guy and can give you his opinion but he has no authority on your ditch. His authority concerns how much water each ditch company is taking at the source and makes the call concerning priorities. Every ditch has a differing “priority”. Think of priority as a totem pole. The ditches up top of the pole will be turned off in the event of a water shortage before the ditches on the bottom. Your ditch company and their “ditch riders” have final authority and can settle disputes with your neighbors concerning water usage. So call them first. If you can’t find a person to talk to your State water commissioner may be able to point you in the right direction.
Water wells are a different story. Every well in Colorado must be permitted by the state. There are many types of wells which are associated with their individual uses. For a more in depth article on Colorado water rights and wells please see this article as a starting point. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/wellpermitguide_1.pdf
I have included below additional contacts for the area’s major ditch companies should you have questions about your water rights. In addition there is a link to track down wells and water rights all over the state of Colorado.
List of Delta County Ditches
North Fork Water Commissioner
Fire Mountain Canal and resevoir
Travis Cecil (Ditch Rider)- 970.589.3836
Karl Burns (970) 527-3005
Lee Bradley 970-527-6838
Wayne Frazier 527-3860
Minnesota Ditch & resevoir
June Thompson 970-527-3524
Map based search for wells and water rights: