Fire sales fail to materialize
Realtors say it's business as usual in last summer's burn areas

A sign, above, alerts passersby on County Road 250 to a home for sale. Despite last summer’s fires and what may appear to be a proliferation of real estate signs, below, local realtors say residents of the burn areas are staying put and that numbers of homes on the market are on par with last year./Top photo by Todd Newcomer/bottom photo by Jennifer Reeder.

When driving around areas affected by last summer’s Missionary Ridge Fire and seeing the proliferation of “for sale” signs, it’s easy to conclude that homeowners have had it with fires and mud and are moving to greener pastures.

But apparently, they’re not.

Lonnie Rush, a Bayfield Realtor who works in the Vallecito area, said the number of homes for sale is “par for the course” in an area with so many second homes and retirees.

“None of them want to go through it again, but they’re not selling their properties,” Rush said. “I’m trying to think of one person who’s listing their house because of the fires, and I can’t think of a single one.”

John Wells, owner of the Wells Group in Durango, said that on Monday, 46 Vallecito residences were for sale, which is on a par with last year. From last June to the present, 19 homes in Vallecito have sold, as opposed to 28 homes during the same period the year before.

“There’s less impact (from the fire) than you’d think,” Wells said.

He added that it is more difficult to give exact numbers for the burn area on East Animas Road, but that there are a number of homes listed around Stevens Creek that may be challenging to sell because of uncontrollable factors such as mudslides and debris flow.

Doug Allen, a 24-year Vallecito resident and broker associate with Bayfield Realty, said that the number of homes being rebuilt in the burn area is encouraging.

“Overall, real estate was probably better than I expected,” he said. “There are quite a few homes about to be built, or just built (recently).”

He remarked that he even knows of one couple with property in an area that burned that found a bright side, saying, “They told me the fire created a million dollar view for them.”

Jerry McCoy, Vallecito branch office broker for Coldwell Banker, notes a similar trend and is remaining positive. He said he knows residents who “haven’t budged a bit” and also say their views are better.

“We hope it will green up,” McCoy said. “We’re optimistic.”

He added that he thinks there is enough snowpack to fill the reservoir, and that last summer was the lowest he’s seen it in the 20 years he’s lived in Vallecito. Nevertheless, he said he does have some concerns.

“God controls the water coming in, and she hasn’t been doing a very good job lately,” he said with a laugh.

McCoy said there has been some drop in prices, especially in areas scorched by the fire, but nothing dramatic. In fact, according to Wells, the median price for a home in the Vallecito area is $179,000, up $10,000 from a year ago.

“I’ve had people coming here from out of state looking for the fire sale, and I can’t help them,” Rush said.






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