Location, location, location.
This has been a refrain for years in the real estate industry, and in Grand Junction those prime locations are near golf courses, trails and Colorado National Monument.
"People are willing to pay a little bit more for a property that backs up to open space and the Colorado National Monument," said Tina Harbin, an associate with RE/MAX and chairwoman of the Grand Junction Area Realtor Association. "It's all about location."
Real estate agents have long known homes near these locations would fetch a higher price on the market, but a study from Colorado Mesa University shows just how much these locations matter.
In the Mesa County Hedonic House Price Study, released by CMU in 2017, homes within 820 feet (250 meters) of a trail sell higher by an average of 4.54 percent. That percentage dips to 3.26 percent at 1,640 feet (500 meters) and down to 0.24 percent at 3,280 feet (1,000 meters).
A hedonic house price model identifies internal and external characteristics of a home and weighs them into the price.
These numbers are based on home prices between 2013 and 2015, when the market first stabilized after the recession hit in 2008. At that time, the average home price was just under $210,000. As of July 2018, the median sale price is $235,000 in the Grand Valley.
At 2015 prices, those percentages would equate to an extra $9,400 to homes within 820 feet of a trail and $6,800 for homes within 1,680 feet of a trail.
And trails are not the only amenity as homes near Bureau of Land Management property, golf courses and Colorado National Monument all saw stark increases in value.
Homes within 1,640 feet of the BLM rose 9.07 percent in value while homes within 3,280 feet increased 4.85 percent. Homes within 820 feet were statistically insignificant as the sample size is very small.
Golf courses showed even better numbers, with homes selling for an extra 12.7 percent within 820 feet of a course, 8.45 percent within 1,640 feet and 7.67 percent within 3,280 feet.
Homes near Colorado National Monument also performed well, increasing in value an average of 12.9 percent for homes within 820 feet, 9.93 percent within 1,640 feet and 13.8 percent within 3,280 feet.
CMU Associate Professor of Economics Nathan Perry led the study and included a synopsis of the results in his economic update for the third quarter of 2018. The study was funded by the BLM and the Grand Junction Area Realtor Association.
Perry first thought of the study when he moved his family here and noticed the higher prices of homes near certain amenities.
"It got me to thinking, what do other people do? Do they pay more to be by those things?" he said.
Perry enlisted the help of professors Tim Casey and Tammy Parece as well as former masters student Corey Castaneda to put together the study.
While home price values have changed since the study was released, Perry believes the percentages still hold true.
"These still apply," he said. "The average home value has changed, but unless tastes have changed, you just have to adjust for the new home value."
The study was very meticulous as the group pored over data and made sure to analyze similar homes in different locations for the study to ensure that the differences were accurate. That is, to say homes that were of vastly different sizes or with differing internal amenities were not compared to one another.
Some local real estate agents, even if not familiar with the study, were not surprised by its results. Bray Real Estate Associate Broker Ron Jens said external amenities such as certain parks and trails are a big part of marketing a home for sale.
He said he's also noticed many new buyers who are looking for recreation opportunities in the Grand Valley.
"There have been quite a few buyers come from out of the area who are seeking recreation. Even more so in the past few years," Jens said.
Two other things the study showed were that homes near public parks did not increase the value of a home overall and homes in Palisade sold for about 13.6 percent more than homes in Grand Junction and Fruita.
Bray Associate Broker Jeff Hanson said that parks can be less desirable than trails as people tend to linger at parks and make noise opposed to trails, where people mostly walk by.
As for Palisade, low inventory, the small-town feel and wine country reputation drive the price, Hanson said.
"When you think of wine, you think of higher prices," he said.