EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - May was the best month in years for local real estate.According to the latest report from Land Title Guarantee Co., there were 150 transactions in May, the most since July of 2008, before the national economic slump hit the valley. Those sales added up to more than $154 million in sales volume. That was the biggest dollar total since September of 2010, and, before that, December of 2008.Both transactions and dollar volume were 8 percent ahead of May of last year, and the county's average sales price was just more than $1 million.The report details sales in specific neighborhoods in the county, and by that measure Gypsum led the way with 22 completed transactions. But adding up all of Vail's neighborhoods gives a total of 29 sales there.As is often the case, sales of units priced below $500,000 made up the bulk of the transactions - 68 - but only 16 percent of the sales volume. Sales of units priced at $2 million or more accounted for nearly half the total sales volume.In all, there were 10 sales of $4 million or more. The highest sale in May was a home in Vail Village that sold for $10.25 million.Sales of bank-owned property again accounted for a significant part of all transactions - 33. But Jim Flaum, president and managing broker of Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate, said his brokers are telling him the inventory of foreclosed or bank-owned homes is starting to drop."All our inventory is pretty low right now," Flaum said. The valley's Multiple Listing Service has fewer than 1,500 items right now. That means May took a bit more than 10 percent of the current inventory.And that inventory isn't going to grow appreciably any time soon, since there are only a relative few new construction projects going right now.But a restart of the valley's construction business is going to take more than one or two good months. "Prices have to get back to where new projects make sense," Flaum said. "And so far we're starting to see a turnaround in transactions and dollar volume, not prices."But, given limited inventory, an increase in prices - even a gradual one - might be coming. Eventually.Based on roughly 45 years in the business, "I think it'll be a couple of years still," Flaum said of a revival of new construction.For now, though, the local real estate market is a good one for buyers. And, given current trends, Flaum said the valley may end up with something it doesn't often see - "a nice, steady market."
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