Homebuyers in Trinidad’s housing market are looking at more favorable conditions in the second half of 2019 and while the number of homes for sale is tight, there are still few buyers competing.
This comes after a strong couple of years of price growth, mirroring national trends. Yet, rising home prices nationally have been slowing and according to one local realtor, that slump is hitting Trinidad and Las Animas County as well.
Ed Trommeter, owner/broker at Town & Country Estates Realty, said “we have a real lack of inventory and actually we have a lack of buyers right now, our phones have just been dead for the last eight weeks. It’s hard to explain, usually summertime is very active.” Trommeter, who’s been in the real estate business for 26 years and is also vice-chair of Las Animas County Planning Commission, says the modest priced inventory is depleted.
One reason is marijuana. The introduction of the marijuana industry in Trinidad brought a host of workers to town needing places to live. Trommeter said some bought homes in the $100,000 and under price range, putting stress on supply. The industry also attracted real estate investors who snapped up modestly priced homes, then leased them to the marijuana workforce.
“Our rental rates are higher than we’ve ever really seen them. We get calls every day for rentals and we just don’t have any,” Trommeter said.
But with the marijuana business now more mature, the inflow of workers has slowed.
“People are not generally moving here but we are seeing more retirees,” said Jodi Amato, Las Animas County Assessor. “We’ve seen more vacant land sales than I would have expected, though we’re seeing fewer residential sales.”
Another reason for the shortage of modestly priced housing, loosely defined as $125,000 and below, is the lack of employers in the area paying higher wages, which would allow people to buy more expensive homes. “So that housing ($250,000 and above), we’ve got a lot on the market, but nobody to buy it,” Trommeter said.
Why not build more modest priced housing to alleviate the shortage? According to Trommeter it comes down to simple math. By the time a developer buys a lot, puts in utilities and builds the home, it’s already cost more than $125,000 to $150,000. Add in profit and the house will be too expensive to hang a modest sized price tag.
The Spanish Peaks Multiple Listing Service shows total residential volume sold in Trinidad from January through early August 2018 at just over $20 million, while total volume for the same period in 2019 dipped to $17.5 million, a decline of 12 percent.
The average 2019 sales price in Trinidad is $167,211, up slightly from a year ago, which Trommeter said is mainly the result of buyers being pushed to pay more due to the lack of lower priced housing.