970-799-8918 jaycanode@remax.net

Quarantine (and Real Estate) in the Land of Milk and Honey

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!

 

The (Real) State of the North Fork 2020

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!

North Fork Market Update June 2019!

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!