Chaffee County residential real estate prices continue their upward spiral.

According to Realtors of Central Colorado, the average sale price of a home in the county last month was $483,099, up 9 percent – $43,479 – from prices of a year ago, $439,620.

Detached homes across the county averaged $516,611, up 8 percent compared to a year ago. Townhomes and condos averaged $388,150.

Sales prices showed a significant north-south disparity. The average sold price of homes in Salida was $524,670 compared to Buena Vista’s $380,809 .

While month-to-month comparisons can be deceiving, colored by a few significant sales, figures comparing prices of a year ago are more telling.

Even more revealing, however, are comparisons to earlier years.

In 2015, county residential sales prices averaged $266,219. October 2019 average sales were up $216,800 over those of just four years earlier, an increase of 81 percent. Over the four years, sale prices are up some $54,000 per year.

The prices are eye-openers for longtime area residents, rivaling prices in Denver and other northern Front Range cities.

What’s fueling the continuing increase in prices? While half-million-dollar homes in the county are a novelty here, prices in a number of other areas of the state and nation are well into seven figures, including Colorado’s resort areas.

This means someone living in Frisco, Breckenridge or Steamboat Springs, or in California, for example, can sell a home for a million or so, move to the county and in most cases purchase a similarly sized or larger home for a half-million dollars and pocket the difference, less what they might have owed on the home they’re leaving.

Chaffee County and the Upper Arkansas Valley are attractive to many: great recreation, small towns, good schools, a usually comfortable climate, four seasons, reasonably good digital connectivity and highly favorable real estate prices compared to many areas.

Real estate prices here are good news for those moving to the region and for those selling property. Prices are not such good news – or make that bad news – for those attempting to break into the housing market, especially for the first time.

Baranczyk is also editor and publisher of the Mountain Mail in Salida.

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