EAGLE COUNTYBy the numbers* - There's improving news for those buying and selling real estate in the valley's resort areas. The story isn't as good elsewhere.
For the past few quarters, Fuller BCV Sotheby's International Realty has released "micro market" reports for the valley from Vail to Gypsum. Those reports break down the valley's market into sometimes-tiny bites. Vail Village Arrowhead and other neighborhoods get their own reports, while Eagle and Gypsum are viewed as one area.
That small-view picture gives a close, if not comprehensive, look at the local market. But it sometimes takes a bit of perspective.
For instance, average prices in Vail Village dropped more than 27 percent of the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2011.
But Kraig Forbes, the founder of what's become the Vail Valley branch of Fuller BCV, said it's important to understand that when you're looking at a relative handful of sales - 16 in Vail Village from Jan. 1-March 31 - there can be some big swings in averages, depending on what's been sold.
With that in mind, Forbes said he's been seeing some improvements this year in the average price per square foot in many of the valley's resort markets. And according to the report, that number is up in parts of Vail, as well as Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch and Arrowhead.
Those numbers come from some small pools of sales, though. For instance, there were just seven first-quarter sales in Lionshead and Arrowhead, and just five in Bachelor Gulch.
Still, Forbes said he's seeing improvements over the last couple of years, and that after some wild high-to-low pendulum swings between 2007 and 2009, the resort market seems to be finding a kind of level these days.
"You're lucky if you can pick either the top or bottom of the market," Fuller BCV broker Heidi Bintz said. "If you can come close, you're doing well."
Bintz said that desire to find value is driving her buying clients. But, she said, her selling clients seem to believe they're able to hold out for prices close to what they're asking.
The numbers seem to bear out that impression, at least in the resort areas, were properties are selling for between 85 percent to 94 percent of their asking prices.
And buyers and sellers seem to be more active. Again, the market seems to have found a level between the highs and lows of the market of the last few years.
For instance, Forbes said that in the first part of 2008 - the tail end of the valley's real estate boom - his office was closing a deal nearly every day in the Beaver Creek/Bachelor Gulch/Arrowhead area.
"In the fourth quarter of 2008, after Bear Stearns went under, we closed one deal," Forbes said.
While the market seems to be on a steady if slow climb in the resort areas, downvalley real estate continues to struggle. According to the micro market report, per-square-foot prices are down in Eagle and Gypsum, and, while that average seems to have bottomed and started a comeback in the resort areas, it's still dropping in the western valley.
There's no way to tell when downvalley prices will start to rebound. But, Forbes said, the numbers in the resort areas "bodes well" for the market as a whole.