Real estate market continues comeback
August 21, 2014
By the numbers
772: Completed Vail Valley real estate sales through June 30
4: Bank sales in June.
53: Percentage of real estate sales to Eagle County buyers through June 30.
32: Percentage of local real estate sales to out-of-state buyers.
Source: Land Title Guarantee Co.
EAGLE COUNTY — The local real estate market this year is continuing its climb back to health. And the market in Vail may be about ready to heat up to an active simmer, if not a full boil.
Land Title Guarantee Co. recently released its tracking data of the local real estate market through the first half of the year, and the news was unambiguously good. The number of transactions — completed sales — was about equivalent to 2013's numbers, but the dollar volume — sale prices — increased by more than 40 percent.
Tom Dunn, a broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, said the downvalley market is particularly active, with property priced at less than $500,000 being particularly hard to find right now. That market is being driven in large part by renters deciding to become owners, with a few buyers moving up into their next homes. Dunn said other neighborhoods have been active this year, too, from Eagle-Vail to Homestead, depending on what's been available.
Some of the volume increase has come from modest price increases in those units, especially as the number of bank-owned property continues to shrink.
But the Vail market is also heating up nicely.
Michael Routh, a broker with Keller Williams Mountain Properties, said a Thursday open house in West Vail drew perhaps a dozen people.
"Most of those (people) were brokers, but they wouldn't come out unless they had people looking," Routh said.
But the dollar volume in the local market is driven, always, by sales of high-end properties, homes priced at $3 million or more. Those relatively few sales account for the lion's share of volume in the valley.
In June, sales of $3 million or more accounted for just 5 percent of the month's 158 transactions, but made up 28 percent of the $126.1 million in dollar volume. Conversely, homes priced at $500,000 or less accounted for half of all sales, and just 19 percent of the dollar volume.
Those big sales can be sporadic, but they are starting to come at a quicker pace.
Charley Ford, a broker with Slifer Smith & Frampton, shared company data showing that $84.5 million worth of high-priced real estate in Vail went under contract between July 1 and Aug. 20.
Sales of existing Vail property is starting to spark interest in parts of the market that are a little slower to catch on in active markets.
Ford is the listing broker for an already-approved project in Cascade Village that would add 14 condos and 5,000 feet of commercial space in the area between the Cascade hotel and the parking structure and spa. Ford said there's been "significant" interest from potential developers and noted that 70 percent of the people asking for buyer's packages are located in the U.S.
Ford is also the listing broker on the final six shares in the residence club at the Four Seasons. Those shares are priced between $229,000 and $399,000.
The club, or fractional, market generally lags behind whole-ownership units, Ford said, adding that as prices start to climb, potential buyers are more attracted to the idea of buying time rather than property.
While the market is more healthy than it's been in some time, Dunn said the basics of real estate remain the same. People buy based on location, price and whether a property provides what they're looking for.
The price part of the buyer-seller equation is still working itself out, Dunn said, with some sellers remaining "ambitious" with their initial pricing. But, Routh said, prices in many areas of the valley have returned to levels not seen since 2005 or 2006. That's still off the highs set in the last boom, but much better than the price depths seen in 2010 or so.
Dunn is the listing broker on a half-duplex on Beaver Dam Circle in Vail, listed at $10.9 million. The place is in a prime location near the slopes, but it isn't an ultra-desirable ski-in, ski-out unit. The home was also built in 1977, ages ago in the resort real estate business. But, Dunn said, the home has also been completely renovated.
"That's what you have to do," Dunn said. "You can't cut any corners. People want what they want, and they're willing to pay for it, if you deliver."