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"State of the Land" Series: CO River Health Impacts Home Values

PHOTO: What's a scenic river view worth? A lot less if there is less river to view, according to a new survey of real estate professionals in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. Photo credit: Jonathan Waterman.
PHOTO: What's a scenic river view worth? A lot less if there is less river to view, according to a new survey of real estate professionals in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. Photo credit: Jonathan Waterman.
July 17, 2013

I'm Chris Thomas for State of the Land.

Nothing sells property in the scenic West like proximity to the water - and the better the view, the higher the asking price. But a new survey of real estate experts in three states indicates the reverse is also true: Less water means lower property values, especially for waterfront and view homes in the Colorado River Basin.

As a Realtor and accredited land consultant in Winter Park, Dennis Saffell says his customers are already concerned.

"I can tell you that every single buyer - close to a dozen in the last two years - has questioned the viability of the river going forward, because of the rumors and the talk of, you know, devastation, of drying it up."

In the survey, real estate professionals estimated a 16 percent drop in riverfront property values in Grand County and a 5 percent drop in Aspen if river flows drop by 20 percent.

Molly Mugglestone, co-director of Protect the Flows, says this survey is a follow-up to one done last year that cited $26 billion in river-related economic activity in the communities along the Colorado.

"We feel and economists agree that the ripple effect of a healthy river can really be felt in communities. And then, this study adds another level to that - that it also impacts people's value of their homes."

This week, a U.S. Senate subcommittee also examined the supply-and-demand imbalance on the Colorado, and strategies to conserve more water in the system - and preserve the rural ways of life that depend on it.

I'm Chris Thomas for State of the Land, from Public News Service, member and listener supported and online at Support our work. Get more headlines like this via email