Teller County Economy Has Bounced Back, Forum Speakers Say
By Wayne Heilman Published February 18, 2015
The Teller County housing market has mostly recovered from the recession and will continue to improve slowly this year, according to a panel of real estate agents and bankers at an economic forum hosted Wednesday by the Teller County Assessor’s Office.
Skip Howes, president of Scott Homes and managing broker of Re/Max Performance in Woodland Park, said he expects only “gradual improvement” in the county’s housing market because the Pikes Peak area’s economy isn’t as strong as elsewhere in Colorado.
“Woodland Park and Teller County rely on what happens in Colorado Springs, and economic growth there is not as strong as it is in the northern part of the state,” said Howes, one of nine speakers at the two-hour forum in Woodland Park.
Median home prices in Teller County last year rose a healthy 9.1 percent from 2013 to $229,000 even as the number of sales were up just 1.3 percent during the same period to 554. And the average number of days needed to sell a home jumped 15.8 percent to 117, or nearly three months. But those numbers are still a big improvement from where the county’s housing market stood during the worst of the recession in 2009, said Sharon Roshek of Coldwell Banker 1st Choice Realty in Woodland Park.
Teller County’s job market also has fully recovered from the recession. The county’s unemployment rate fell in October to 4.2 percent, the lowest monthly rate since November 2007 and down sharply from the 11.3 percent peak in January 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In addition, retail sales in Teller County during the first five months of 2014 were up 5.4 percent from a year earlier to $157 million, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.
Over the long term, Woodland Park and Teller County have a bright future because of the 2013 opening of Charis Bible College in Woodland Park, said Mark Weaver, owner of Ascent Commercial Group LLC. The college has 900 students and is expected to grow to about 2,500, he said.
“The positive impact of Charis Bible College cannot be overstated,” Weaver said.
He added that the population of the Woodland Park area is getting big enough for more retailers to consider locating in the city or county, and growth fueled by the college should help the city and county reach that tipping point.