More houses were sold in Craig in 2004 than in previous years, and many of them were purchased by first-time home buyers.
"It's the best time since I've been in the real estate business for first-time home buyers," said Mary Lou Wisdom, a real estate agent for Country Living who has been in the business since the late 1970s.
She estimated that 50 percent to 60 percent of Country Living's clients were first-time buyers.
Interest rates are low, and many financing plans require no down payments for first-time buyers, Wisdom said.
Dan Kawcak, a real estate agent and broker with Western United Realty, said many of the people buying homes in Craig were upgrading their places of residence.
"If you have people upgrading, those homes they're leaving are going to be on the market," Kawcak said.
Consequently, the real estate market was good for buyers and sellers. Such a situation is rare, agents said.
According to information compiled by the National Association of Realtors, agents sold 161 units in Craig in 2004 for a median price of $98,750.
In 2003, only 111 units sold in Craig, but they sold for a median price of $123,500.
Either way, Craig has some of the cheapest real estate prices in Colorado.
Royal Gorge and Logan are the only communities that offered lower median prices last year. Telluride led the state with a median price of $835,000.
Craig's low prices are attracting real estate customers from out of state.
Vacation homes and hunting camps sold well in the community of Wilderness Ranch, along the western border of the Routt National Forest, Wisdom said. Most of Country Living's vacation home customers hail from outside Colorado.
However, Craig ranked last in the state in real estate sales. Telluride ranked next to last.
Real estate agents in Steamboat Springs sold 672 units, and in Montrose they sold 705 units.
Agents are predicting the real estate market will stay strong through 2005.
"Things will continue this year at about the same," said Georgina McAnally, an agent and broker for American Northwest Realty.
January is traditionally a slow month for real estate sales. People are reluctant to move in cold, snowy weather.
But the unseasonably warm weather has made for a strong opening to the year.
"When the sun shines, it changes peoples' attitudes.
"They get more enthused about doing things, including shopping for real estate," Kawcak said.
Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or email@example.com.