So you want to dip your toes into the bubbling hot spring of real estate in Durango? Then you probably already know the amazing perks of mountain town living. No one needs to tell you about the pristine wilderness coupled with 300 days of sunshine and almost unlimited outdoor activities. You’ve seen the stunning photography and imagined the ridgeline commute to your newly-opened downtown Durango boutique. Been there, done that.
In any case, you may have one burning question: What kind of person should buy or invest in real estate in Durango? The mountain abode has been called the perfect place to live in numerous articles, including local publications like The Durango Herald and High Country News. Does that mean you’re the perfect person to live there?
This article outlines many of the niche prospective homebuyers and investors that should seriously consider making a move.
If you don’t find yourself on this list, that doesn’t mean you should cross Durango off yours. Simply get in touch to see if the current market caters to your exact needs.
What You Need To Know Before Buying Real Estate in Durango, CO
The Market in Colorado
Real estate purchases in Colorado are generally considered a smart move. The scenery ensures that people will want to live and vacation here for decades to come. The Centennial State has also nurtured a strong economy, sustained by a young workforce that’s intent on sticking around.
While this recipe has created a shortage of red hot deals, median house prices have grown steadily. In other words, it may be difficult to make a super thrifty entrance into the market, but homeowners should expect steady appreciation on their properties.
Colorado mostly evaded the real estate bust of the 2008 recession. New building started slowing back in 2003, meaning the market is relatively more stable and features a low foreclosure rate. Even though higher demand and lower supply rule the market, it should be easier to rest assured—in your pine-fresh log cabin perhaps—knowing that the market can repel the bear market.
The Market in Durango
After researching Colorado, you must consider how to buy real estate in Durango. True to form, the city of Durango functions as a microcosm of the Colorado real estate market. The population and the stakes may not be as high as in Denver or Boulder, but the competition can be pretty fierce. Similarly, the market changes swiftly. One year there may be a new phase supplying dozens of $250-$350k houses. The next year, those properties may have been snapped up and replaced by a small supply of $700k equestrian estates.
For the potential buyer or investor, this has a few upshots. First, first-time homebuyers should really do their due diligence. You don’t want to get burned—or burned out—by a market where things happen quickly. Like the Durango Iron Horse Bicycle Race, it’s an uphill battle with tough competition.
Second, anyone looking for something highly specific, like a downtown condominium for under $350k, should talk to a real estate professional. What you want may be available now, but only for a very short window. Alternatively, it may be totally unavailable now, but in abundant supply in a year.
The final consideration prospective buyers should make is plain old cash. With a median house price of over $400k during the last decade, Durango, CO is suited for those with a little more money. While properties listed at $200k and under exist, they are few and far between. On the other hand, there are also a number of million dollar properties available. You can find more information in our Pros and Cons Guide!
The Ideal Homebuyer
As mentioned before, this list is not exhaustive. Some niche individuals not listed here are still excellent candidates. There might be only a few properties you’re interested in, but if you’re willing put a 40% down payment on one of those $700k+ houses, there’s not much to worry about.
As an additional note, some of the niches overlap. For example, you may build a horse farm as a second vacation home and occasionally rent it out to vacationers. That just means you’re making excellent and enviable use of the Durango real estate market.
1. The Home Builder
Durango, CO is a small town by geographic necessity, not lack of interest. There is still room for growth and development, but a single family eager to build a country estate is in much better position than a developer looking for space to build a 300-home community.
Additionally, the limited space has resulted in limited properties for sale. Anyone willing to buy and develop private property can bypass this market obstacle. Some lots and land can be found here. Additionally, here is a helpful checklist of considerations before buying land in Colorado.
2. The Vacation Homebuyer
The town is also a popular place to buy a vacation home, whether it be your second, third, or even fourth residence. The video below highlights some of the fun activities available to those who visit Durango.
For those looking to buy a multi-million dollar estate, there are likely several properties available at any given time, an excellent selection considering the price range and size of the town.
Similarly, those looking in the $500k to $800k range will find a healthy pool of options available. At the time of this writing, there are hundreds of listings in that price range according to the MLS. Finally, those looking to spend less than $400k will have a more difficult time getting an offer accepted.
Perhaps one of the most striking features of Durango vacation homes, apart from the snow-rimmed hot tubs and floor-to-ceiling windows, is the incorporation of gorgeous local building materials in the construction. Features like Ponderosa Pine ceiling beams and Rose Red Granite countertops are enough to make anyone’s knees buckle.
If you’re in the market for a luxurious mountain estate, it could be your guests whose knees are buckling. Luckily, they would have their own guest suite and private jacuzzi to recover.
3. The $300-$500k Budgeter & Retiree
The average median price for homes over the last decade has settled in the area of $440k. Moreover, 75% of homes fall in between $200k and $600k. Comparable Colorado mountain towns often feature significantly more affordable median home prices. Think somewhere in the range of $275k.
While many of the available properties skew above $500k, the heart and soul of Durango is comprised of homes in the $300-$500k range. While there may not be hundreds of listings at these prices at any given time, there are a plethora of properties valued in this range. Potential buyers can expect at least a few dozens of properties available at any given time for the foreseeable future.
4. The Horse Farm Owner
Located in the southwestern corner of Colorado, Durango is widely considered horse country. If you’re interested in maintaining a working horse farm, the town has all the amenities necessary for success. This includes vets, farriers, a knowledgeable and helpful community, and properties perfect for equestrian habitation.
5. The Flush Freelancer
One of the difficult truths about buying real estate in Durango, CO is the steady increase in median house prices. Meanwhile, employment statistics like median household income have recently plateaued and sometimes even decrease. In other words, if you’re looking to move to Durango first and find a local job second, you’re in between a rock and a hard place.
On the other hand, the world is experiencing a surge of freelancers. More and more experienced professionals switch to the freelance and “digital nomad” models. The result is a rapidly increasing slice of the workforce who can freely move into communities like Durango without worrying about the struggle of finding local employment.
If you’re among this demographic, looking perhaps for a quiet, upscale mountain village to run your software coding business or write the Great American Novel, then you might do well to focus your sights here.
The Ideal Investor
1. The Vacation-Rental Investor
This niche is a little trickier than the others. If you would like to buy property to rent year round and exclusively as a vacation property, there will be a couple hoops to jump through. More detailed information about applying for permits and other logistics can be found on the official Town of Durango website.
Apart from this obstacle, renting out a vacation home in Durango can be a very stable and lucrative venture. The demand is high, and renters can charge well. However, this option may be best used as a side venture. If you plan to make your permanent residence or vacation home in Durango, this decision will be shrewder if you’re willing to use the property as a vacation rental as well.
2. The Conservation-Minded Developer
The eco-friendly investor should also check out Durango real estate. The area is perfect for Conservation Easements because of the abundant scenic land. Owners can pair with a charitable or ecological organization to preserve a portion of their land against development. The benefits are income and property tax breaks at the federal and state levels.
In Durango, savvy-minded landowners who would like to keep their land pristine can do so while receiving some lucrative benefits.
If you would like more information on how to buy real estate in Durango, CO, you can check out the blog. Best of luck finding the perfect little log cabin or 10-bedroom mountain estate. Keep chugging on!