As locals start seeing south Routt turn into a bedroom community for employees of Steamboat Springs businesses, real estate agents are identifying Yampa as an option for affordable housing for people working in the Vail area.
Cindy Meade, an agent from the Upper Yampa Realty Inc., said in the past few years, the option of Eagle County residents moving as far north as Yampa has gotten better and better with time.
"I know of three people in the last couple months that work in the Vail Valley and have purchased a place in Yampa," Meade said. "I think they like the quiet community in Yampa."
They also liked the prices of a single-family home, she said.
The rock-bottom price on a house in Yampa on the market right now is $60,000, which is practically unheard of in the Vail area, no matter what the condition of the property is in, Meade said.
For nearly five years, Upper Yampa Realty has advertised lucrative south Routt ranch properties in the Vail vicinity, hoping to find those types of buyers.
Now, the company has realized that other people in the area could be interested in homes in the town of Yampa, Meade said.
"We are now doing advertising for those homes in the Vail Daily," she said.
As far as Meade knows, no one has been interested in going as far north as Phippsburg or Oak Creek.
Laurie Bower, a real estate agent for Black Bear Realty in Gypsum, said she refers many Eagle County residents looking to buy a home to agents in Routt County.
Most of the time, the potential south Routt buyers come to her looking for a property to fix up for about $100,000. But the reality of the housing market in the county leads them up Colorado 131, she said.
"Usually, we can't find anything for them under $200,000 or even $300,000," Bower said.
Nancy Busch, of the Eagle County Housing Department, said the 1999 average price for a single-family home in the county is $711,521. The median price, or the middle value, is about $425,000.
"I have had friends that have moved up in that direction," Busch said.
She said the people she knows aren't exactly happy about living so far north of the Vail area, but the costs of housing are just too much for them to live where they work.
Bower said it's more expensive than Steamboat Springs.
"People in Steamboat think things are bad and then they look at us and feel better. Then we look at Aspen and feel better, so it's all relative," she said.
Even though Yampa is much more inexpensive, Bower said many people who inquire to her about moving to south Routt change their minds when they realize how far it is.
Donna Corrigan, a longtime south Routt resident and real estate agent, said historically, most people in McCoy, just over the hill from Yampa, work in the Vail area.
Now, people are going north of McCoy to find an affordable place to live.
But this isn't the first time some Yampa residents have commuted to Eagle County to work.
"In the '80s, there were like 50 people in Yampa who traveled to Vail for work," she said.
However, many, including her husband, Tim, were south Routt residents originally and were looking for work.
"A lot of people then made the transition and got a job in Steamboat," Corrigan said.
She said many people today living in Yampa and commuting to Eagle County to work probably will make the same transition if they can.