Local realtors experience housing inventory shortage

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Lower unemployment numbers may also mean good news for the housing market, as realtors are having a difficult time finding houses for buyers.

Local realtors say employment and housing are tied together. More people going to work means more people who are in a good position to buy a home, and that could be a sign our economy is finally beginning to shape up.

A move is never easy, and no matter the reason for leaving, selling a house can be intimidating. For Karen Buchholz, that process began in January.

"It's a little sad for us, this won't be our vacation spot," she said of selling her Grand Junction home. "My mom has made the decision to move closer to her kids in California."

Buchholz was back in town this week working on selling the home. Since putting it on the market three months ago, she says she's seen progress and more interest with the warmer weather.

Buchholz expects the home to sell soon, and it comes as no surprise. Realtors around the Valley are currently experiencing a below normal housing inventory.

According to Bray Real Estate, inventory around Mesa County is currently sitting at 851 homes, down 53 percent from the same time in 2010.

"Interest rates are fantastic. They're still at record lows and they're showing no signs of letting up," ReMax broker associate Rick Thurtle said. "We're seeing less homes on the market right now which of course is an indication prices should be going up soon."

Brokers say it shows those homes in good condition and at fair prices are quickly moving off the market, but that doesn't mean they don't want to see more.

Similarly contractors are seeing more interest in new homes, but they, too, are experiencing a shortage.

"We have more permits this year than we did last year up to this point," Porter Homes president Nate Porter said. "We don't have as many lots this year as we did one, two, three years ago."

Porter says some developers are buying and building lots in bulk, meaning it could be slim pickings for those who don't get a jump start on picking a lot and finding a builder.

"There are people that weren't building in the tough times in the last three or four years that are starting to get back into it," Porter added.

Local experts are confident these signs show the housing market is turning around, and that could mean the economy will turn soon, too.

"People have been waiting and waiting to see what was going to happen with the economy," Thurtle said.

"Some of the local homeowners are encouraged by the price we're selling," Buchholz said.

Realtors say those looking to sell now, the most important thing they can do is price their home correctly. It doesn't necessarily have to be low; it just has to be competitive.

Builders say the cost of materials is also up this year compared to last, so that could make building a new home a little more expensive.