The State of Real Estate

sotheby report 0219As mentioned at (or near) the outset of this blog, the place to which Lynn and I are planning to move — Riverwalk — is a failed development. Or it was: the original developers bankrupted in the recession, and the property fairly well languished, with minimal transactions and very little building taking place.

Then, in late 2016, a family trust from Oklahoma bought all the lots still in possession of the original company, and this trust immediately contracted with Sotheby’s International of Crested Butte to sell these 20-some lots, a few at a time. Which is how Lynn and I made the acquaintance of Kiley Flint of Sotheby’s.

(The first thing I asked her, for those of you old-time Gunnison types, was if she was related to the long-time real estate Flints of Gunnison. The answer: no, but she gets asked that a lot.)

And this brief period of transaction now has us on Kiley’s e-mail and mail listings. If you’re thinking that Sotheby’s sounds expensive, you’re right: Kiley offered two open houses in CB South yesterday (including lunch!) for properties at $550,000 and nearly $1 million.

The other day, Kiley mailed us (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just us) a 2018 year-end report on the state of real estate in the Gunnison Valley.

And then I started thinking, “real estate” is a funny term, when you stop to consider it. What does it mean? And it turns out, no one has a definitive answer. The first dictionary I grabbed this morning offered no etymology at all, and rather than hunting for my Webster’s Collegiate, I cheated and went to the internet, where no dictionary offerings popped up in the first 10 search options.

The best my five-minute research effort came up with was this. I don’t know who “The Better Editor” is, but she or he put way more than five minutes of thought into this, and came up with “real” as in “fixed” and not going anywhere (as opposed to personal property), but of course houses and properties can go places — just ask anyone perched precariously on a California cliff or on a tidal flat anywhere along our southern and eastern coasts. “Estate” comes from the Latin and is a usage no longer in vogue suggesting having an interest (such as financial investment) in: financially invested in a fixed property. Real estate.

[I just suffered a massive cursor “wig out” and lost more of today’s entry than I bargained for. If I hadn’t shut it down when I did, all would have been lost: the cursor was busily eating my entire entry one character at a time. As we discussed at tap class, where the almighty wifi that gives us our music was out, technology is great — until it doesn’t work.]

So Kiley is in real estate, and she sent us a report on the state of real estate in the Gunnison Valley. It also noted that Sotheby’s represented “the highest sale to date in the Town of Crested Butte” at 3.85 million smackeroos. There have been bigger sales in the county, but not within the confines of the town, a/n historic district filled with old mining shacks.

[Shoot, I lost more of this than I thought. Damn crazed cursor!]

Of more interest to me, soon to be on the market — well, not me so much as my financial interest in a fixed property — were the stats for the City of Gunnison. Last year, 42 single-family homes sold within the city (four more than the year before) at an average price of $352,050. This was up 13% over the 2017 average of $311,612. The most “affordable” of these went for $185 grand; the most expensive was $612K. Both of those were higher prices than the year before.

Sellers received 96.4% of their asking price, and it took each, on average, 104 days to sell. This is a 33% drop from 2017, when properties stayed on the market 156 days, on average.

The average price per square foot was $200. As Susan, owner of my bike shop as well as a real estate agent (possibly a realtor, supposed to be capitalized), noted sometime last year, that’s about what you pay for new construction.

For grins, the square foot price in CB is $588 (where construction costs are also much higher). Surprisingly, square footage in Mt. CB, where you think of all the millionaire mansions as being, ran $364, less than rural Crested Butte at $390. Crested Butte South (obviously, not a lot of imagination went into naming metropolitan areas north of Gunnison), the “affordable” area north of Round Mountain, came in at $287, while rural Gunnison, including Lynn’s worktown of Almont, was at $241.

See that? Gunnison is the cheap place to buy real estate.

At the first Solarize meeting [which: I signed up at the second meeting, but it now occurs to me no one sent an e-mail like they said they would] I shared a table with a couple that I gathered were fairly new to Gunnison. That did not stop him from offering a loud opinion on everything that is wrong with Gunnison, and he expounded at great length (without seeking any input or inviting conversation) as to how there is absolutely no reason for the high prices here. Denver, sure — they have Amazon and all that (I’m not sure how much Amazon Denver really has), but there’s absolutely no reason for high prices here.

I think, were he to stop and consider actual information (but you could just tell: he already knows everything worth knowing), he’d look north, to Colorado’s last authentic ski area, or whatever they were calling themselves awhile back, where prices are doing exactly what they’re doing in every other resort town in Colorado, and you can see clearly how that might drive prices in Gunnison.

If you can sell for $588 per square foot in CB and move to Gunnison (never just G — why not, do you suppose?) for $200, why the heck not? And if you are desperately seeking something affordable in order to live in this place you’d like to live, where’s your best chance? They may not be reasons he — or a lot of other people — like, but you can find a basis behind the rise.

Blowhards aside, it is running late, now that my cursor has been even less of a help than Na Ki’o usually is, and I have probably plied you with more numbers than you need in a week. Maybe more words, too, but don’t forget to come back tomorrow, when we review the State of Lynn and TL’s Estate on the anniversary of our lot purchase.

sotheby house 0219

We know what a Six Million Dollar man looks like; now you have a visual of a 3.85 million-dollar mining shack.

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