"Would you rather work from downtown Denver, or would you rather work from downtown Buena Vista? Or anywhere in the area here?
For Bill Lockett at Collegiate Peaks Realty in BV, that’s a rhetorical question. But it’s a question that many of his clients have been seriously asking themselves after COVID-19 moved many professionals out of the office and into the world of working remotely.
“I’ve had several people who found that when they were forced to work from home, they found that they could, and now that they have that experience they want to work from home. Now they are trying to find a location of home of their choosing,” said Dan Cooper with Century 21 Summit Realty.
With the exception of the month of April, when real estate was one of many industries in the state that were forced to close their doors to limit the spread of coronavirus, Cooper and Lockett both say that the housing market in Buena Vista has continued to be strong in the first half of 2020.
“I think if it’s been affected it’s been positively affected by everything that’s going on,” Lockett said.
According to Cooper, “As soon as Gov. Polis lifted the Stay-at-Home order, the gates opened.
“I do a fair amount of work with The Farm at Buena Vista, and that’s a development in the $230,000 range up to $500,000. … about 4 weeks after the stay at home was lifted, one day I wrote two contracts,” Cooper said. “We at the Farm right now have 11 homes that are under contract to close soon.”
Cooper said that at Century 21, 50% of the homes sold this year are currently under contract.
In addition to the exodus from cities, Cooper notes that the economy was very strong leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that many buyers who were looking to purchase a home before the shutdown put things on pause are now following through on their intents.
“People were getting ready to make their move, to purchase – some second homes – they now have been able to save so they can afford a down payment.
All-time low interest rates may also be driving the market, Lockett said.
“We operate on a 30- to 45-day cycle from contract to close. We were closed in April – we weren’t even allowed to put a sign in the yard in April – then we were allowed to open back up on May 4. The latest statistics are that May was down 29% as far as homes closed, year over year and month over month from last year, and the number of pending home sales increased by 9 percent year over year,” Lockett said. “We saw people coming out in droves once everything opened back up, and since then it’s been busy.”
Median home prices are also up, Lockett said. At the end of may, the median home price was $450,000.
“I think a lot of it is just demand. Demand for people wanting to be here, which has been constant for the past few years, and I think you’re going to see more of that,” he said. “There’s a ton of people who have wanted to be here, but they haven’t been able to make it work.”
The rental market has also been active, said Jacy and Thomas Doumas with Eclipse Property Management.
They, too, have seen an increase in professionals looking to work from home, as well as employees with the Buena Vista Correctional Complex looking for a home.
“The big question people ask is ‘How’s the internet?,’” Jacy said. The answer to that question “varies from house to house to house.”
“Another thing is that we’re seeing the flipping of short- to long-term,” said Thomas.
In other words, owners of short-term rentals, or VRBO’s, who are uncertain about the future of that industry are offering their homes to renters.
There also remains a demand for lower-income rentals that conues to be hard to meet, especially in Buena Vista.
“Most people are hoping to get a rental between $1,000 and $1,500,” Jacy said. “”Definitely we could use more rentals in this range.”