Vail Board of Realtors celebrates 30 years |

Vail Board of Realtors celebrates 30 years

EAGLE COUNTY Sue Rychel remembers the Vail Valley real estate business in the 1970s. It was, of course, a lot different.We were all young, Rychel said. We skied hard and had a great time. We loved the industry, and felt so fortunate to live and play in the place where we worked.In 1978, some among that band of young brokers decided to created the Vail Board of Realtors, a small chapter of the state and national groups. The board became a way for brokers to share information and gave them access to the bigger groups educational programs. Rychel, a broker with Slifer, Smith & Frampton, was president of the local board of Realtors in 1984 and has been a member almost since the start.Back then, many, if not most, local real estate brokers had to hold down other jobs at least some of the time. There were only 113 sales in 1978, and only two of those sales topped $200,000. Sure, the local cost of living was a lot lower then, but there still wasnt a whole lot of commission money available.I was raising two kids at the time, Rychel said. I had to take other jobs from time to time. People were practicing real estate and waitressing, cutting hair, bartending.These days, Bill Wilto believes that a moonlighting real estate broker should be a red flag for a buyer.We really encourage people to deal with people who are full-time brokers, said Wilto, the owner and managing broker of the local ReMax office. Theres so much misinformation out there.Wilto, who was president of the Vail Board of Realtors in 1994, said with all the information available on line, customers are far more knowledgeable than they used to be. But, he said, a lot of popular real estate Web sites are peddling misleading information.I tell people to see if someone from will sell your house or buy it at that price, Wilto said. Rychel said the sophistication of customers may be the single biggest change in the local real estate business over the last 30 years or so. Sophisticated customers require sophisticated brokers. And thats where the Vail Board of Realtors can help.The board has really helped with broker education, Rychel said. They offer wonderful classes locally. In the early years, you had to travel to get that kind of education.Current board president Chad Brasington, a broker with Prudential Colorado Properties, said the local board of Realtors is also a way for brokers to share information.Whenever I meet a fellow member, I know theyre committed to the profession, Brasington said. In other places, thats not always the case.Not everyone gets along all the time, of course, and Brasington said the Vail Board of Realtors has conflict resolution services available.The three brokers interviewed for this story all said education, information and other professional services available through the local board can be critically important when times are slow, as they are now.But all three said they continue to be excited about their profession.Wilto said that buyers in this market can find some outstanding values right now.Brasington said the valleys market, while slow at the moment, remains strong relative to the national real estate market.I think we have some savvy investors, he said.Asked what excites her about the next couple of years, Rychel said she loves a challenge.It keeps you on your toes, she said. You dont take anything for granted.Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or

Colorado real estate markets improving

Improvements in the local real estate market reflect state trends. The Colorado Division of Housing said foreclosures dove 50 percent in May, while home loan payoffs surged. At the same time, the Vail Board of Realtors May monthly indicators report shows a tightening local market. The number of new listings coming to market is down 13 percent from last year, and active inventory is down over 34 percent from last year. "While this report provides great insight into Eagle County as a whole, each neighborhood has its own unique characteristics and trends which are best navigated through the use of a local Realtor," said Julie Retzlaff who chairs the Vail Board of Realtors. The time that a local property spent on the market dropped 3 percent to 159 days, down from 185 days in 2011, the Vail Board of Realtors May report said. Retzlaff said concerns about interest rates are popping up again, after Fed chief Ben Bernanke told Congress the Federal Reserve Bank is considering tapering the $85 billion it's spending each month to buy mortgage-backed securities and other debt. Payoffs are up The number of home loans paid off in Colorado was up 31.4 percent from the first quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013, the Colorado Division of Housing reported. Public trustees in Colorado released a total of 98,321 deeds of trust during the first quarter of 2013, the highest quarterly total recorded in any quarter since the Division began collecting quarterly totals in 2008. That's up from 74,809 deeds released during the first quarter of last year. Eagle County saw the smallest increase of the 21 Colorado counties surveyed at 3.7 percent. Jefferson County showed the next smallest increase at 12.5 percent. A release of a deed of trust occurs when a real estate loan is paid off, whether it be through refinance, sale of property or because the owner has made the final payment on the loan, McMaken said. Increases in release activity occur as refinance and home-sale activity increases, and rising release totals typically indicate increases in the demand for home loans and real estate. "From early 2011 to late 2012, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell for seven quarters in a row," McMaken said. "We're not surprised to see refinancing and purchase activity increase sharply as a result." Foreclosures are down In Colorado's metro counties, foreclosure filings were down 50.5 percent during May 2013, falling to the lowest level recorded during May in any year since the Division of Housing began collecting monthly totals in 2007. Foreclosure auction sales in metro areas were down 25.4 percent in May this year compared to May of last year, falling from 965 to 720. During the same period, foreclosure filings dropped from 2,249 to 1,113. For the first five months of the year combined, from January through May, foreclosure filings were down 43.4 percent in 2013 when compared to the same period last year. Foreclosure auction sales were down 29.4 percent across the same period. "And a downward trend is likely to continue as long as employment is stable and we continue to see low mortgage rates," said Ryan McMaken, an economist for the Colorado Division of Housing. Foreclosure filings are the initial filing that begins the foreclosure process, and foreclosure auction sales totals are the total number of foreclosures that have been sold at auction, ending the foreclosure process. Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935, and

Vail Real Estate Group opens new office space

VAIL — Vail Real Estate Group, a diversified leader in luxury residential real estate as well as the exclusive real estate brokerage company for the Club at Cordillera, recently opened a new office above Charlie's T-Shirts and Boot Lab, located in Lionshead Village at 500 E. Lionshead Circle. The new office is Vail Real Estate Group's fifth in the valley. The new office will be supervised by Eric Wagenknecht, who has been with Vail Real Estate Group since its inception. About Lyon Vail Real Estate Group's founder and managing broker Eric Lyon first started the company at Cordillera, when the firm was chosen as the exclusive real estate company for the Club at Cordillera. Within the first year, Lyon and his team had opened offices in the Summit, Mountain and Valley clubhouses, acquiring and immediately selling out most of the company's listings. "We are changing the way real estate is being sold in Cordillera, from the inside, out," Lyon said. "The average Vail Real Estate Group listing goes under contract in only 113 days after the client signs the listing agreement. The average days on market for all other real estate companies combined in Cordillera is almost three times that number, proving that having a presence within the Club is a valuable asset that no other brokerage in the valley can duplicate." For more information, go to http://www.Vail

Real estate market ‘balanced’

EAGLE COUNTY — Area real estate brokers have been saying for some time now that the local market is "balanced." But what does that really mean? A look at some of the latest data from the Vail Board of Realtors provides some insight. Here are a few factors: Days on the market In August of this year, a home that sold had spent an average of 110 days on the market. That's an average, though. Some homes — particularly those priced at $500,000 or less, moved from listing to closing more quickly. Homes in the higher end of the market — $3 million or more — can take some time to sell. Crissy Rumford, the chair-elect on the Vail Board of Realtors board of directors, said time on the market is also driven by available inventory. As the days on the market figures have declined — the 2010 average was about 300 days for single family homes and duplexes — so has the available inventory. Looking again to 2010, the depth of the valley's real estate collapse in the wake of the 2008 recession, there was also an average of 800 homes listed for sale. "Inventory is better for buyers," Rumford said, adding that tight supplies create better conditions for sellers. There are areas of the valley where there isn't much available on the market right now, and other areas where there's a wealth of choice. Kent Petersmeyer is the managing broker for the Colorado branch of the Cascade Team, a Seattle-based company. Petersmeyer said he spends a lot of time with first-time home buyers looking in the $300,000 to $425,000 range. "It's difficult to find a home a buyer really loves in that range," Petersmeyer said. On the other hand, a number of homes are available in Cordillera, with only a few sold per month. That's more of a buyer's market, he said. That leads to another factor: available homes. Available homes Looking at homes sold per month and homes available on the board's Multiple Listing Service, there was a roughly 8.8-month supply of homes for sale in August. That figure leans more toward a seller's market, but Mark Bergman, the Vail Board of Realtors executive director, said a balanced market has roughly 12 months of inventory available for sale. The August number is still in line with that benchmark. But the number of homes for sale in the valley has been declining since March. The number of available homes also leads to a decline in affordability. Affordability Rumford said the lack of inventory is affecting whether people can buy less than prices. Still, it's harder for people to buy homes that fit into federal guidelines — spending no more than 30 percent of a family's gross income on shelter and utilities. But, Rumford said, the valley is in better shape than other areas, adding that businesses in the Aspen area are busing people to and from Dotsero. The answer to a lack of inventory is construction, and that seems to have picked up, particularly in the western part of the valley. Petersmeyer said there are homes under contract that haven't broken ground yet in Aspen Ridge — part of Gypsum's Buckhorn Valley neighborhood south of the Eagle County Regional Airport. Another development in Gypsum, the Villas at Cotton Ranch, has delivered five homes, with another nine under contract. But those homes won't be finished for some time. "It's good news that the volume of re-sales won't satisfy demand," Petersmeyer said. "There are people willing to wait six, nine or 12 months for a home." Maintaining balance The market, on average, seems fairly balanced now, but there's no real way to tell how long that balance may last. A balanced market "is something we all want," Rumford said "But I don't think there's anything we can do at a local level to ensure a stable market." There are multiple factors in the national and international economies that can affect local markets, Rumford said. Those include taxes, interest rates and unforeseen events. Rumford said the Vail Board of Realtors, as part of the Colorado Association of Realtors, can mostly keep an eye on state-level legislation or ballot issues that can affect the real estate business. The state group keeps tabs on issues ranging from construction-defects legislation to a ballot issue that would change the state's health insurance system. It's important to be up to date on those issues, and "how it would affect people living here and who may move here," she said. Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, and @scottnmiller.

Ask a Realtor: Is the Vail real estate market cooling?

Dear Joan: I am always looking at the real estate market to judge when I should invest more or bail out before there is a big price drop. I have been feeling really good about the strength of the market until the last couple of months. Are we seeing a cooling now of what I have considered a hot market? It seems properties remain on the market longer, from the ads in the paper, and it seems like there are not as many new listings showing up. Also, from the few statistics I see, it seems like the high-dollar volume of sales is only because some hotels or a very few super expensive homes have sold, skewing the data. I would very much like to have your professional opinion of what is happening now, to see if I am imagining things or if there really is a shift a foot. Thanks. Market Watcher Dear Market Watcher: Although I don't necessarily agree with your terminology and exact conclusions, you are not imagining things. There is talk of "shifts," "adjustments" and "corrections" in the real estate business world. Here is my interpretation. First of all, when the market is good, as it has been, sellers will enter the market with higher and higher prices. Eventually, sellers price themselves out of what is considered reasonable market value, and then the sales appear to slow down because the free market will not pay what is considered above "market value." So, in this case, the market did not really slow down, as sales at "market value" are still continuing, as long as there is "reasonably priced" inventory. This, in turn, makes it appear that properties are staying on the market longer — because they are. They are not selling when they are too aggressively priced and therefore are out of line with the sales in the area for similar properties. This produces the syndrome where you are seeing the properties just sit until there is a price reduction or the listing expires and goes off the market. As far as new inventory goes, there is new inventory all the time, but not as much as what appears spring and early summer. As far as a few large sales skewing the market, that is always the case in our luxury market — and we like it that way. In my opinion, the only thing the large sales skew is the average sales price, but using the median sales price instead of average sales price easily rectifies that. In summary, I would say we are having a bit of a minor correction, which I consider a good thing, instead of spiraling up until the only option is a huge, painful drop. All is well in the real estate market, in my view. Joan Harned is an owner and broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

Real estate sales up

VAIL ” Eagle County real estate sales started out 2006 ahead of last year’s record pace. The valley saw $138.3 million in sales in January, beating January 2005’s total of $132.8 million. But there were 6 percent fewer transactions than last January. Those number reflect closings for properties that were sold in October, November and December of last year, said Michael Slevin, a Realtor with Prudential Colorado Properties. “It reaffirms that fact that the end of 2005 remained strong in relation to last year,” he said. Last year, the county saw $2.8 billion in real estate sales, a new record. All indications say the market will remain strong, Slevin said. “Inventory levels are starting to build a little bit, which is healthy for our market,” he said. Downvalley sales continued to drive the market. Eagle saw the highest number of transactions, with 30. Gypsum was close behind with 27 transactions. The highest total dollar volume was in Vail Village, where there was $17.7 million in sales. The average transaction price was $4.4 million. Led Gardner, who owns Led Gardner and Associates real estate agency, noted that the local real estate trends are bucking the national pattern. “On a national basis, real estate sales have been dropping for five months, yet we continue to show strong month-to-month gains,” he said. Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or Vail, Colorado

Real Estate: Sales Volume

Local broker starts new agency

EAGLE COUNTY — Eric Lyon, a longtime area real estate agent, has launched his own firm, Vail Real Estate Group. Lyon's firm was chosen as the exclusive sales brokerage company to have a presence in the Club at Cordillera. The firm will have offices in each of Cordillera's golf clubhouses. Lyon, an 18-year veteran of the Vail Valley real estate market, said he is excited to be focusing on Cordillera. "The community is absolutely amazing," Lyon said. "It's experiencing a new resurgence after an incredible year in real estate sales." In the past 12 months, nearly 400 new club memberships, 44 residences and 27 home sites have been sold in Cordillera's four neighborhoods. The average sale price for these new homes has been $1.5 million, or $306 per square foot. "With my real estate marketing and sales background, the new ownership group felt I was a perfect fit to represent a service to the club members and homeowners that's never been offered before," Lyon said. "As a Cordillera Club member myself, I'm excited about getting involved, not only on a professional level, but on a personal one, too." Before launching his own firm, Lyon sold luxury real estate in Aspen for Timbers Resorts and worked as a broker with Ascent Sotheby's International Realtors in Vail. Previously he had been director of real estate sales and marketing for the Vail Plaza Club & Hotel — now known as the Sebastian Hotel & Residences — in Vail Village. His pre-construction sales campaign there produced more than $50 million in converted contracts. As a top broker for the Ritz-Carlton Club, Bachelor Gulch, Lyon contributed to selling 648 memberships, earning the property recognition as Marriott International's "Most Profitable" real estate development ever. Lyon's career real estate sales total is nearing $200 million in closed transactions. "I've worked with hundreds of wonderful families throughout the years," Lyon said, "to help them discover Vail real estate from a fractional, second-home or permanent ownership perspective. I don't consider myself a 'tour guide,' but rather an engaged real estate sales professional who knows how to unite exceptional properties with exceptional people." "Eric Lyon's expertise and local knowledge of the Vail Valley real estate market are unparalleled," said Patrick Wilhelm, who is a partner at the new ownership group of the Club at Cordillera. For more information, call 970-376-0844, email or go to

County sales, volume increase in January

EAGLE COUNTY — Real estate was long one of the strong legs of the valley's economy, but starting in 2009 that leg ranged anywhere from "incapacitated" to "OK, but not great." That leg showed some real strength in January. The big news isn't the number of transactions — although that exceeded the total for January of 2013 — but the value of those sales. According to the most recent figures from Land Title Guarantee Co., the 107 completed transactions in January had a value of $103.1 million, a 69 percent jump from January of 2013. That increase was helped by an increase in the number of seven- or eight-figure sales. There were 10 sales of $2 million or more in January. After a relatively soft year for sales of expensive homes, that comes as good news. And there may be more expensive-home sales coming in the next few months. Encouraging Numbers Slifer Smith & Frampton, the valley's biggest brokerage, keeps daily track of sales that go under contract — a different measure than completed sales, but an indicator of market activity. Jim Flaum, the managing partner of Slifer Smith & Frampton, said the numbers so far this year have been encouraging. Flaum said the market for homes priced at $3 million and higher has become much stronger this year. In January and February of 2013, company brokers wrote four contracts for homes in that price range. In the first two months of this year, 40 such contracts have been written. For the period between Jan. 1 and March 19, Flaum said the number of contracts for homes priced above $3 million has more than doubled from the same period in 2013. Flaum is on record as predicting this year will be the year the local real estate market starts to show some real strength, and said the numbers seem to back up that belief. "What we're hearing is that people who have been successful kept their powder dry for a while," Flaum said. "Now they're saying 'screw it' (and buying) — people are tired of being on the sidelines." Real Estate Trifecta Still, the expensive properties that are selling are the ones that combine value, amenities and location. Craig Denton, a broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, he's been busy this ski season, as have other people he knows in the business. Denton — who specializes in resort real estate, said the units he's seen on the sales lists have been either new or substantially remodeled. Some of those units have also dropped in price. "We've seen units listed at $3.2 (million) dropped to $2.8," he said. And, Denton said, while the current activity is nice to see, the market isn't nearly what it was in the heady days of 2007 or so. Low-End Limited While the market isn't yet on the same frantic pace it was at the peak of the last boom, the real estate market is booming elsewhere. Real estate is hot along the Front Range, and Flaum said on a recent trip to Southern California, people in the business there told him that prices and activity were back to 2007 levels. That isn't happening here, at least not yet. Still, the lower end of the market is as active as it's been in some time. With the passing of the flood of foreclosures and other sales in Eagle and Gypsum, inventory is limited. The March 20 Vail Daily had only 12 real estate photo classifieds for Eagle, and just two in Gypsum. That's led to some increasing prices and a definite pull toward the "demand" side of supply and demand. But, while things are looking up for local real estate market, Denton urged caution, saying his company was a bit less active in the high-end market in February and March. "Buyers are selective," Denton said. "Not any old property will sell."

Vail Valley: County real estate sales top 100 for second straight month

A slow rebound for Vail Valley real estate sales continued in October. There 106 closed real estate sales in October, with a dollar volume of $96 million, the second best month for real estate sales this year. Eagle County real estate saw triple-digit transactions for the second straight month. There were 106 transactions in October and this, combined with a dollar volume of over $96 million , produced the second best month in real estate this year, behind the 123 sales in September. This brings the year-to-date total to $729 million over 759 transactions, with an average sales price of $960,592. The two biggest transactions in October were both in Vail Village – a single family home sold for $7.6 million, and a condo sold for $6.45 million. While the two Vail sales accounted for more than $14 million of October’s total sales volume, the most action by far – 60 sales – was in the under-$1 million portion of the market. The only area in the county survey with double-digit sales was Eagle, with 10 transactions for a total of $5.4 million. Other facts and figures include: • Residential transactions under $1 million have accounted for 69 percent of the market this year. • Multifamily home sales have accounted for 47 percent of all residential transactions; single family homes have accounted for 45 percent. • Last year there were 79 transactions with a sales price of over $4 million each; there have been 20 transactions in the same category this year to date. While the local real estate market has picked up from the doldrums of January through April – just 199 sales closed in all four months – it’s still far off the pace set in the boom years of 2005 – 07. This year’s 759 transactions are 45 percent behind last year’s pace. In 2006, there were 2,576 transactions through October.