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

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

Vail Valley Realtors join with national auction company

A January real estate auction got Vail Valley Realtors Bob West and Terry Hoffman thinking about new ways of doing business.In deepest month so far of the valleys real estate sales slowdown, a Beaver Creek condo and a home at Arrowhead were both sold in minutes at auction after being on the market for months.The partners and owners of Hoffman-West Real Estate recently entered a partnership with J.P. King, an Alabama-based auction company that sells high-end property all over the world.Were happy to be allied with a very professional auction company, West said. We researched, and studied a lot and determined that J.P. King is the best in the business.Real estate brokers and auction companies arent always the best of friends, but Hoffman-West isnt the only local company getting into the business. Slifer, Smith & Frampton, the valleys biggest real estate company, recently announced it was creating an auction division.Sometimes you have to shift the paradigm, West said. I think real estate auctions will become more established as a standard of the business.But, Hoffman said, auctions arent for everybody. Working with a broker can help a potential seller make that decision.Jeff Hathorn, a senior vice president at J.P. King, agreed that not every property is worthy of an auction. Needless to say, though, hes quick to point out the advantages to both buyers and sellers.In slow times, an auction creates excitement, Hathorn said. It will turn you into a buyer, he said.Auctions also put sellers in control of the process, Hathorn said. They know that their property will sell on auction day, after 60 to 90 days of marketing. Whats left to chance, of course, is the price.The price is always controlled by the buyers, Hathorn said. Theyre competing for ownership, and determining the propertys maximum value on that day.That can result in property selling for less than the asking price through a broker, as it did in the January auction.In good times, though, Hathorn said the excitement of an auction can get bidders to bid more than the advertised price.Thats when auctions can set record prices, West said.So, what does an auction do for brokers?Hathorn said brokers can get a referral fee for bringing either buyers or sellers to the auction.For the auction company, working with a local real estate company can help with marketing and general local knowledge, Hoffman said.Hathorn also sees auctions as a way to help create more demand for real estate by reducing supply.It could help clean up the market, he said. It will get property off the market so other units can sell.Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

Vail Daily column: The right way to downsize

Dear Joan, My husband and I have become empty nesters this year and are thinking of selling our large home here, getting a smaller property in the valley, and possibly a small condo in our favorite vacation spot. How can we find out if this is possible and start the process? Dear Empty Nester, It appears that the exciting and creative plan you have is dependent first of all on the success of the sale of your primary residence and the proceeds you will receive and retain. Therefore you will need to check with your accountant, to verify that you qualify, as most married couples do, to retain up to $500,000 in net profit (subtracting allowable expenses) without paying capital gain tax. Once you have determined your tax consequences, you will not be surprised to hear me say that you need to find a competent, experienced Realtor to talk to about all of the facets of your plan. You will need to know what your home can bring, what available smaller properties are selling for in our valley, and also what properties are selling for, and currently available, in your vacation spot. In order to find a real estate broker that is knowledgeable in these three areas, you will need to ask the following questions when you are interviewing them: • Do you, as a real estate broker and your company, have experience and success in selling properties in my area in a timely period? • Do you have a history of securing a price that is close to the price you list for properties? • Do you, as a real estate broker, have experience and success in helping buyers find the properties they want in the location and price range that they desire? • Are you a real estate broker that is affiliated with an international or national franchise, or some competent network, so that you can secure information and find us a top agent in the market we will be moving to? • Are you a full time real estate broker that is able to be organized, thorough, attentive and willing to work with us as long as it may take to coordinate the important sale of our home? Then also work on the two subsequent purchases, even if it takes extra effort to work out the important timing to make these purchases work for us? Once you have determined the best choice of Brokers, you will be able to determine if your plan is financially sound and feasible. If it is not possible just yet, you can figure out the timing that can work for you in the future. If it does look like this is the correct time to accomplish your goal, I applaud you for moving forward at this great time in your life. I am pleased that you are embracing change by planning for a fun future for you and your husband. You can feel secure knowing that your children (and grandchildren?) will come visit you, because they will enjoy seeing you and experiencing your beautiful surroundings in both locations. 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, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

Vail Daily column: Should I auction off my multi-million dollar property?

Dear Joan, I own a high end property that has been on the market for three years, with no serious interest — i.e. no offers. We have lowered the price three times and changed brokers twice. I have had an appraisal done, so I feel comfortable with the value. A friend of mine suggested that I engage an auction company that does luxury auctions. What do you think of an auction for a multi-million dollar property? That makes me a little nervous. Dear Auction Candidate, Until I learned about some good reputable auction companies, I would have agreed with you about being nervous. I have experienced and investigated some marginal companies that have questionable bidders and make a profit whether or not the property sells. Through an affiliation with my company, I have come to discover there are reputable, hard-working and extremely successful ​​auction companies that are all above board and only take a fee when your property sells. As to the question of whether or not you should try it (with the right real estate broker and right auction company), I think the best way to answer is to have you take a bird's-eye view of the world. You will see that the most expensive commodities in the world are usually sold at auction, to maximize the price. I am not suggesting that this works on every luxury real estate property, as circumstances are different for each seller. However, it is good to look at the advantages a well-run, luxury auction can provide. I am speaking of an "absolute auction," where there is no reserve and so there is certainty the property will sell. Once again, to do an "absolute auction," you need to trust the marketing that the auction company (and your broker) will do locally, nationally and internationally. You need to know their database of luxury auction buyers and thoroughly understand how the auction works and their success ratios. When you are satisfied with the process, you can see the benefits the auction can provide: • You will know your exact sale date (unless the accelerated marketing brings in a great offer prior to the auction — and then it would be sooner!). • You will not have to deal with contingencies, financing or inspections, since that is all taken care of prior to the bid date. • You will know that your property has been marketed to the max, locally, nationally and internationally, and that the buyers all have a sense of urgency since there is a set, published sale date. • You can make plans for your future feeling secure that this asset/liability will be taken care of. Make a few phone calls to the​ local​ real estate companies to find brokers who are​ knowledgeable and know of high-end auction companies and/or call a couple of ​reputable luxury auction companies who will suggest a real estate broker in your area​. At luxury auctions for real estate, the seller must have a listing agent and the buyers will either have a broker or will eventually be assigned one. I don't know your particular situation, but this option for selling your property is definitely worth investigating. It might be just the answer for your particular property and situation.​ Good luck! 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, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

Julie Ozog earns status of full broker

VAIL — Julie Ozog, an 18-year Vail Valley resident and a broker associate and broker assistant for Slifer Smith & Frampton, is now a full broker with the team. Ozog previously worked with Sue Rychel, who has been a real estate professional in Vail for 35 years. Born and raised in St. Charles, Missouri, Ozog graduated from the University of Tulsa with a bachelor's in communications. After working as a media buyer in a St. Louis advertising agency, she headed west in 1996 and accepted a job selling advertising for The Vail Trail newspaper. She later became the owner and publisher of What to Do Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, along with selling advertising for PEAKS Magazine, now titled Epic Life Magazine. In 2005, Ozog earned her broker's license and began her real estate career working for Rychel. In 2010, she earned her Graduate Realtor Institute designation. "I am proud to announce that I am now a full broker with Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate. For the past eight years, I have worked with Sue Rychel in closing more than 100 transactions. Sue has been an incredible mentor and will continue to be," Ozog said. "I am excited for what the future holds with real estate in the Vail Valley. Please contact me if you or anyone you know is ready to buy or sell." For more information, call 970-477-5731 or email at

Vail Daily column: Don’t settle for a subpar real-estate broker

Dear Joan, We are looking for property in the Vail area and have a real estate broker helping that is very nice, but what I would consider very pushy. My husband says that every real estate agent is pushy because it is their job to sell you a property as quickly as possible and for as much money as possible. I don't appreciate being shown properties that are continually "just a little" higher than the price we said was our top, and then being asked to decide if I want to make an offer or not after one viewing. Maybe I am the one that is difficult, but it seems like you should be able to find an agent that is not in a hurry and will show you what you have asked for. I am now asking you your opinion of my desire. Is it possible to find someone like that? Dear Methodical, I hope that you are misinterpreting your broker's style and motives and you should tell him how you are feeling. If no change occurs, I am sorry you have encountered one of only a few brokers that will not give you the service you want, and deserve! I think most of us that have done well in this valley have not only shown property patiently for days or weeks, but for years! It is not uncommon for clients to look at property when they are in town, but with no sense of urgency until either something in their life changes or they find "just what they have been looking for," which may be several years into the process. Your concern about price may be that we always look a little above the top price specified so as not to miss a good property that might accept a lower offer. Also, we have a wide range of prices in this valley, but not necessarily in one specific location. If you don't feel comfortable with the pricing in one area, then your broker can show you other areas, and you should ask for that, if it is not suggested. If you have insisted on just one area, then your price range may not exist there. NATURAL? As far as it being natural for a real estate agent (i.e. salesman) to be pushy, I would like to strongly disagree. I would, however, like to point out that, as Daniel Pink points out in his book by the same title, "To Sell is Human." Almost everyone is selling their ideas, their desires, their rules, etc., to their spouses, friends and children, every single day. You may not feel that you make your living selling, but many more people do than you would guess. Attorneys, doctors, mechanics, service people, etc., are selling you on what they think you need. Mothers, fathers, politicians, preachers, teachers … they are all selling you their ideas and beliefs. There is nothing inherently wrong with selling, it is just the approach used. Pink speaks of many ways of selling, but I believe the one he calls "servant selling" is the right approach. Pink says that servant selling "begins with the idea that those who move others aren't manipulators but servants. They serve first and sell later and the test … is this: If the person you're selling to agrees to buy, will his or her life improve?" I think that most of our fine real estate brokers in the valley espouse to this theory. If you found one that does not, then you need to have a frank discussion to see if you can get on the same page … or you may choose to make a change. Looking for real estate in our beautiful communities should be fun and exciting. Don't settle for less. Good luck to you! Joan Harned is an owner-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, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

Best Real Estate Broker

Joni White Taylor-Sonnenalp Real Estate Sue Rychel Nancy Lipsky Joni White Taylor will do anything for her clients, including picking up a dress and shipping it to Hawaii. Taylor, one of the founders of Sonnenalp Real Estate, loves her job and it shows. “It’s really fun meeting people from all over the world and becoming friends with them. We try to do everything for them. Whatever they ask us to do, we do it or we’ll find someone to do it.” Vail Colorado

Vail Valley: Auction seminar draws interest in Avon

More than 70 local real estate professionals recently attended a real estate auction seminar hosted by Hoffman West Real Estate, the local affiliate of JP King Auctions. The seminar, “an alternative to buying and selling real estate,” drew Realtors, bank executives, attorneys and others. Realtors recieved three hours’ credit towards their yearly continuing educational requirements. Topics included why auctions work in both up and down markets, financing, short sales and benefits to buyers sellers and brokers. Real estate auctions is now a $56.3 billion per year industry, and Hoffman West Real Estate has already heard request for another seminar to include brokers and clients. To learn more, call 970-949-1902 or go to

Vail Daily column: How do I sell my house to a friend?

Dear Joan, I am getting ready to sell my house, but since I have lived ​in this area for ​over 15 years, I know tons of people and many of them have said, "Let me know when you get ready to sell your house because I love the location and the construction." ​So now​ I am not sure what to do — should I try to contact everyone I can think of before I sign a listing with a Realtor? I don't have a lot of time, so I would rather just list it and have my Realtor exclude a list of friends that I can then call at my leisure. I might even think of a few more once I take the time. Do you think a Realtor will let me do that? I have heard of people doing similar exclusions, but I am not sure just how that works. What should I ask for so I don't have to pay a commission if I sell to a friend? Dear Penny Wise and Pound Foolish, If you find a Realtor who will do this, don't list with them, they are desperate for business​!​ All joking aside, you c​ould possibly​ exclude a list of f​ri​ends, if your Realtor agrees​,​ but only for a very short time​. Even if the Realtor will agree to this, I do not think it is in your best interest to go this direction. Your Realtor makes an investment in selling your property when they first contact you and they continue to spend time and money until they get your property sold. It would not be fair, or a good business decision for a Realtor to start spending time and money on selling your property when you are essentially competing with the Realtor to try to sell your home on your own. There actually is a clause in the Colorado Real Estate Commission approved exclusive right-to-sell listing contract, Paragraph 10.1 that says, "Negotiations and communication. Seller agrees to conduct all negotiations for the sale of the property only through broker, and to refer to broker all communications received in any form from real estate brokers, prospective buyers, tenants or any other source during the listing period of this seller listing contract." This clause was created so that the listing broker is protected and that they can start putting all of their energy and resources into marketing your property from day one, without having you compete with them. The best time to find a buyer is when the property first comes on the market, so why would you want your Realtor to delay using his or her full arsenal of marketing resources, waiting for your contingencies on your friends to end? There are several ways of handling your situation and an experienced, knowledgeable Realtor will be able to easily guide you through your concerns, and actually help you net more money in the end. Call a Realtor you trust today and set an appointment. Best of luck to you! Joan Harned is an owner/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, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or