First-time homebuyers navigate La Plata County ‘price wars’ – The Durango Herald


Prospective buyers face low housing stock, rising prices and heated competition

Jules Masterjohn works in the backyard of her new Bayfield home Wednesday. She and her husband bought the home with help from HomesFund after navigating the wild housing market in La Plata County. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Jerry McBride

Government officials and housing organizations know the La Plata County housing market is a challenge for buyers.

On the ground, it feels like a housing war.

Alanna Forster, a first-time homeowner, faced lines of cars with prospective buyers wanting to view the same house. Katie Bay and other first-time buyers were outbid by cash offers that came in tens of thousands of dollars above asking price. And Jules Masterjohn had mere hours to commit to buying her new home, lest she lose it to another buyer.

“People are watching the market like hawks. As soon as a house goes up, they’re making an offer. You have to make your decision so quickly,” said Forster, 29, who bought a home in Durango. “You’re choosing a house you’ve seen once, and now you have an intense loan under your name.”

This is the second of a two-part series about the tight housing market in Durango and La Plata County. Part one examines how middle class homebuyers are being squeezed out of the market and what is being done to help reverse the trend.

An affordable home for someone earning $45,000 to $50,000 a year or less – office managers, landscapers, teachers, nurses – would cost between $240,000 and $360,000, according to city estimates.

Yet the median price for a home in Durango is $583,687 and in La Plata County it is $499,000. Both have increased significantly during a COVID-19 pandemic-related boom, up 21% and 13.4%, respectively, compared with the same time period in 2020.

To make matters more difficult, there is less than half a month’s supply of homes available in the market, said Durango real estate broker Rick Lorenz.

The city of Durango, La Plata County government, housing organizations and economic groups are working on studies and partnerships to address the housing challenges. But it could take months or longer to see results.

Price wars and heartbreak

First-time homebuyers say they need help navigating the market.

“I was talking to a Realtor, and he said, a year ago, you could still get a home for $250,000 in Bayfield,” said Masterjohn, 63, a Durango resident since 1999. “Now, really everything is over…



Read MoreFirst-time homebuyers navigate La Plata County ‘price wars’ – The Durango Herald

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