Residential real estate market showing improvement

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Commercial vacancy rates remain high in Evergreen-Conifer

By Sandy Barnes

 “We’re starting to see more sales take place,” ReMax Realtor Tupper Briggs said while discussing recent trends in the area real estate market.

The average sales price for homes in Conifer and Evergreen is up 6 percent from last year, he said.

“That seems to suggest we’re coming back.”

Ken Hutchinson of Tall Country Realty in Aspen Park also said things are picking up at his office, which markets properties in Conifer and Park County.

“I’ve got five properties under contract,” he said. 

However, they are all selling at prices under $200,000, Hutchinson said.

“We’re selling at the same price as 2001,” he said. “It’s awfully good for buyers.”

The average sale price is still down 20 percent from the 2007 high, Briggs said. The number of area listings on the market is also down 26 percent from this time last year.

“We need the demand side to pick up some more,” Briggs remarked.

Briggs is predicting that as the market continues to improve, more sellers will list their homes, which will further dampen prices.

“That cycle will repeat itself,” he said. 

There is a pent-up supply of homes waiting to go on the market because of sellers’ reluctance to take losses in the past few years when home values dropped, Briggs explained. 

Some area residents are worried about decreased property values because of the most recent Jeffco property assessment, which showed a drop of 5.7 percent in the median value.

The median value of Evergreen homes dropped from $407,000 in 2009 to $383,910 in 2011, said county Assessor Jim Everson. Foreclosures were factored into that figure, he noted.

However, when deciding on how to price homes, property values based on county assessments are not necessarily a good indicator of their actual worth, Briggs said. About one-third of homes have a higher value than the county assessment, one-third are lower, and the final third are on target, he said.

People deciding to sell their homes also tend to check out values on the Zillow website, which also isn’t a good indicator of market worth, he said.

To determine a viable sales price for a home, Briggs said he takes into account both recent home sales of comparable properties and what other properties are available.

“We think that looking for properties on the market is good,” he said.

Also, the condition and appeal of a home are factors in pricing. “If theirs is an ugly girl, and yours is a model, it can bring more.”

At the moment, homes in Evergreen and Conifer tend to be on par price-wise with those in Denver, said Briggs. In the past, this ratio has gone both ways, he added.

People looking to buy in this area should be prepared to pay at least $200,000 for a three-bedroom, two-bath home, Briggs said.

Commercial vacancies

While residential properties are showing modest gains in marketability, commercial vacancies are increasing in the area, said ReMax Realtor Barbara Wingate.

The industrial vacancy rate in Evergreen is at 31.5 percent for the third quarter of this year, and is projected to increase to 42 percent by 2014, she said. The vacancy rate for office space was 27.4 percent for the third quarter, with a projected increase to 31 percent in 2013. 

Full-service gross rental rates in Evergreen range from $18.87 per square foot for office/medical space to $22.08 per square foot for retail space.

In Conifer, the vacancy rate for commercial space is 43.7 percent and is projected to remain flat in the coming years, according statistical information Wingate provided.

Also, there is a total of 155,734 square feet of commercial space available in 17 buildings in Conifer, which can be leased at an average cost of $17.66 per square foot.

A lot of people are combining space because of the economy, Wingate said. 

In general, there is definitely more rental activity than sales of commercial property, she remarked. 

“We don’t have a lot of properties for sale,” Wingate said of the commercial market. 

In Evergreen there are 15 commercial buildings for sale, she said.

Wingate also noted that the Evergreen and Conifer markets are far more residential than commercial.

Contact reporter Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.