EAGLE COUNTY — Since the local real estate market collapsed in 2009, the comeback has been sporadic at times. The first quarter of this year may mark progress on a sustained recovery.
In the first three months of this year, the local market exceeded both the number of sales and the value of those sales — the “dollar volume” — for the same period in 2013. The number of first-quarter transactions was only a bit higher — just 6 percent — but the dollar volume jumped by 33 percent for the quarter to $329.1 million. That’s the highest quarterly total in a five-year period dating to 2010. The transaction number was also the highest posted in the period since 2010.
The early trend this year shows market strength where it was lacking in 2013 — in dollar volume.
Resort market strong
According to Julie Bergsten, a vice president at Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate, the resort market was strong during the recently-concluded ski season. And, Bergsten said, the number of closed deals — the only ones Land Title counts — is set to jump significantly in April.
Bergsten hadn’t seen the Land Title report when contacted for this story, and she said she was a bit surprised by one finding — strength in the Beaver Creek market.
“For us, single-family sales have been a bit slow in Beaver Creek,” Bergsten said.
Still, there were 26 sales in Beaver Creek in the first quarter of this year. Those sales carried an average price of $1.35 million. The most expensive single sale was a home in Bachelor Gulch that sold for nearly $7.3 million.
The strength of the overall resort market showed most in Vail, Bergsten said, with condo sales at Solaris and the Four Seasons, and home sales in the ski-in, ski-out areas of Forest Road and Beaver Dam Road.
The market has slowed somewhat in the western valley, where there’s little for sale and prices are starting to rise.
Bergsten said inventory is scarce in most valley-floor neighborhoods from Eagle-Vail to Gypsum. Combined with a tight rental market, that’s creating higher prices.
For instance, a five-unit townhome complex in Gypsum has seen one sale and one listing in the past three years. In that complex, a 1,300 square-foot, three-bedroom unit that was bank-owned sold for less than $90,000 in 2011. Another bank-owned unit just came on the market for about $158,000.
Busy building season
The crunch in inventory is starting to spur some building starts. Green Valley Homes recently announced it has building permits for 60 units in the Buckhorn Valley neighborhood just south and east of the Eagle County Regional Airport.
Broker Bill Holm represents The Pauls Corporation, the developer of the Sky Legend neighborhood at Cotton Ranch in Gypsum. Holm said there are just a couple of units available in the current phase of the project. Future phases may be about ready to break ground, he said.
Rick Beveridge owns Beveridge Real Estate in Eagle. He said he’s currently fielding calls from both repeat clients and potential first-time buyers. There isn’t much to show those people, he said.
“There’s not a lot of developable ground right now,” Beveridge said. “I hope something comes up soon.”
If anything new is built in the near future, it may be sold to people who already live in the valley.
The Land Title report indicates that right at half of all transactions include local buyers. For the first quarter, nearly one-third of all sales were made to out-of-state buyers — an indication of resort-market strength. The number of international buyers has also grown to a total of roughly 5 percent of the overall market.
While the residential market is starting to roll again, Bergsten said buyers, sellers and brokers are still cautious.
“We’re at a place in the market where people are more confident,” she said. “People see real estate as a good investment in a great place to live.”
And, she added, not many people want to see a return to the go-go days from about 2004 through the beginning of 2008, when unit-flipping became something of a sport.
“We don’t want to do that again,” Bergsten said.