EAGLE COUNTY — A combination of low rates, high-end sales and, in places, short times on the market is driving an active local real estate market. But we’re still a long way from anything resembling a boom.
The latest data from Land Title Guarantee Co., which tracks data from completed sales in the county, shows a market that continues to gradually gather strength. Transactions in May, the last month for which data is available, were about the same as in 2013 in terms of the number of deals, but continued to pace ahead of last year’s totals in dollar volume — which measures sale prices.
Dollar volume for May was 13 percent ahead of the pace in 2013. Prices have run higher than 2013 levels every month this year. Driving that volume was fairly strong activity in homes priced at $2.5 million or more — 14 such units sold in May. Those sales helped drive the average price of residential property past $1.6 million in May. The “median” price, a different measure that tracks the mid-point of prices, is at $567,000.
The strength of the high-end market in May was driven by sales activity in April, when many of those homes went under contract.
LESS TIME ON MARKET
Beyond pricing, the local real estate market is also seeing units move fairly quickly. Results are different depending on the neighborhood, but a mid-year report from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties indicates that homes are spending less time on the market in many of the valley’s neighborhoods.
For instance, single-family homes and duplexes in Wildridge spent an average of 120 days on the market in the first half of this year, a decline of nearly 20 percent from the year before. On the other hand, the same type of units in Eagle-Vail were on the market for just more than 180 days so far this year. During the same period in 2013, units stayed on the market an average of just 43 days.
Downvalley, time on the market for single-family and duplex units was equivalent to the first half of 2013 everywhere but Eagle Ranch. There, average time on the market dropped to 145 days this year from 207 days in the first half of 2013.
“Overall, the trend is quite positive,” said Michael Slevin, the managing broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties. Slevin added that the increase in average sales prices is another positive indicator in the market.
That market is seeing more than just the sale of existing units. There are several new homes under construction in the valley, and most are being built for specific clients.
Steve Virostek is the co-founder of Triumph Partners, which includes both real estate sales and construction. Virostek said that Triumph’s construction arm is running “full throttle” right now on construction projects, all of which are being built for clients right now. A few years ago, Triumph built a couple of high-end Vail homes “on spec” — meaning they were built before a buyer had been lined up. Those homes sold quickly enough.
“But as soon as we sold them the prices started to go up,” Virostek said with a laugh.
That’s part of being in the business, though. Virostek said the resort market in Vail is following some of the same trends he’s hearing about in other areas.
“The right property is selling, and at good, strong numbers,” he said.
The catch to the preceding sentence is “the right property.”
Craig Denton is a broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties and has sold real estate in Vail since the 1970s. Denton said the current market is encouraging, but he said the upper part of the market is still experiencing its ups and downs.
“We have a lot of people looking, but not buying, right now,” Denton said. Beyond price, Denton said potential buyers are looking either for new or completely renovated property, and there simply isn’t much of that around.
At the upper end of the market, Denton said people are able to buy, but are choosing to be particular. The lower end of the market, on the other hand, is suffering from a relative lack of inventory, especially since the foreclosures that hit the market a few years ago have mostly been re-sold.
Still, better is better, something Denton quickly acknowledged.
“But if you look at what we were doing in 2006 and ’07, it still isn’t even close,” he said.