Only 12 sales reported in San Juan County so far this year.
By Mark Esper
Real estate sales in San Juan County have flat-lined, with only 12 sales thus far in 2010.
Meanwhile, the county’s assessed valuation has dropped 2.3 percent since last year to $57,602,050, and an even steeper drop is expected in 2011, when a countywide reassessment is done.
This will pose challenges to the budgets of the Town of Silverton, San Juan County and the Silverton school district.
County Assessor Judy Zimmerman said the steepest decline in property values is in resort properties and the second-home market, particularly those at the south end of the county near Durango Mountain Resort.
And she said it’s unlikely the market for such properties will be turning around any time soon.
In the last five years, the value of real estate transactions has plummeted from $17,749,100 in 2005 to just $1,691,000 to date in 2010.
Meanwhile, six foreclosures on properties in San Juan County have taken place so far this year, already equaling the number for 2009.
“It’s pretty grim,” said Steve Leisle of Silverton Realty.
He pointed to the charts showing more than 100 transactions in 2005 and the steep decline since.
“In the past a lot of what was driving the local market was some speculation related to the ski area; the second-home market was huge and developers were pursuing some ideas,” Leisle said.
But all that came to a screeching halt with the mortgage loan crisis bursting the bubble two years ago.
“The developments fell apart, second-home sales completely tanked, and land sales are next to nothing unless it’s really bargain basement,” Leisle said.
Leisle did see a silver lining to the real estate cloud over Silverton.
“What’s good about this market is that some locals are getting homes,” Leisle said, although financing remains an issue. “Loans are not going through so it’s all pretty much cash deals and owner financing, in my opinion.”
Leisle says he doesn’t see light at the end of the tunnel “until lenders start lending again. Interest rates have never been lower, but nobody qualifies.”
Leisle said it’s been difficult for Realtors to make ends meet.
“We’re barely covering office expenses,” Leisle said. “And I don’t think things are turning around any time quick.”