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Vail Valley real estate market on an upswing in the wake of COVID-19 shutdown

Eagle County was on track for a pretty good year in real estate through mid-March. We all know what happened next.

Recent data from Land Title Guarantee Company shows that even with a mid-March shutdown, the valley’s real estate market was on a roughly parallel track with the first quarter of 2019. Overall transactions were down, but the value of those transactions was up.

Now, a couple of months past the mid-March shutdown, the local real estate market seems to be getting active again.

John Pfeiffer, president of Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate, said that firm keeps weekly totals of activity in the company. For the past several weeks, every week’s business has been a little better than the week before, Pfeiffer said. In fact, business for the week of May 16 — 22 showed twice the written deals than the same week in 2019.

Given that this is the heart of the firm’s off season, “We are just thrilled,” Pfeiffer said.

At Ron Byrne and Associates Real Estate, company owner Ron Byrne said the current market is “looking really, really good.”

There are some caveats, of course.

Byrne noted that one deal his company wrote was extended for a buyer to feel more confident about his family’s ability to travel.

“We need to wait for people to feel more comfortable,” Byrne said.

Pfeiffer said Slifer Smith & Frampton has also worked with buyers and sellers to extend the closing dates for contracts. So far, he said, very few buyers have cancelled purchase contracts.

At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, company president Michael Slevin said that firm has also seen an uptick in activity.

“When (state restrictions on showings) were loosened at the end of April, activity really picked up,” Slevin said.

“The market definitely paused, and it was appropriate that it paused,” Slevin added. But, he added, it seems that potential buyers used that pause to really consider their next move.

“That happened while we were all safe at home,” Slevin said. “When restrictions eased, people were ready.”

People were able to line up financing, and many took advantage of online listings and open houses.

That’s led to some quick action. Byrne said one of his company’s employees listed her own home recently, and had a contract in two days.

The uptick in activity isn’t unique to the Vail Valley.

Slifer Smith & Frampton was recently chosen as the listing broker for a large redevelopment project in Snowmass Village.

“Our phones are ringing off the hook,” he said.

Slevin said he was recently on a conference call with brokers in other resort markets.

“They’re all saying the same things,” he said.

The increase in interest may continue. Byrne noted that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that as much as 50% of that firm’s workforce will be allowed to work remotely in the next few years.

“If you work for Facebook and can work anywhere,” an employee might be willing to look at smaller communities. That could be true of other businesses, Byrne said.

Remote work and other changes have the potential to affect the local real estate market, Byrne added. Buyers may be more interested in home office space than they might have been just a few years ago.

Byrne said a longtime client recently moved his family to Vail.

“He told me ‘This might be the place for us for quite a while,’” Byrne said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com.

Neuswanger: Can you refinance if you have been impacted by COVID-19?

While mortgage interest rates have dropped for many types of loans, many borrowers are finding that they cannot qualify or that rates have not dropped for every loan scenario.

Notably, rates for loans under $510,400 are quite low right now, in many cases in the low to mid 3% range for a 30-year fixed.  If your loan amount is between $510,400 and $729,750 the rate will be in the upper 3% range to low 4% range, unless you wish to pay a discount  (1-2% of the loan amount) to buy the rate down. Do some serious math before deciding if buying the rate down is worth the effort, often it can take 5-10 years to recoup the initial cost.

If your loan amount is above $729,750 you are going to find your options limited, and don’t plan on a 30-year fixed rate. The rates are pretty reasonable right now but restrictions do apply. Typical jumbo loan programs these days are fixed for 5 to 10-years with a 30-year amortization and adjust annually after the initial set period. I just quoted a potential client at a rate of 3.25% (with no origination fee) on a $2,000,000 mortgage that had a fixed rate for 5-years.

However, if your goal is to pull some cash out of your home right now may not be a good time to do it. One of the impacts of the virus on financial markets has been that lenders are very cautious of allowing homeowners to pull cash out of their homes fearing that if the real estate market drops those who have already pulled substantial cash out of their homes may have little incentive to stay in a property if they have diminished or negative equity. As a result, cash-out loans, while available, are very expensive. If your loan to value is over 60% on a cash-out deal the interest rate could soar over a full percentage point.

The other issue preventing many from refinancing is the current high unemployment numbers. As has always been the case, you have to be able to prove you are making enough money to qualify for a mortgage loan. Unemployment insurance income generally does not count towards qualifying.

This is also problematic for business owners who were ordered to close even after they reopen. Lenders need to feel comfortable that the business is back to close to normal cash flow and profitability. Restaurants, for example, may not have the same margins if they are limited to 50% capacity, and will patrons find it worth spending the money for a socially distanced restaurant experience?

Business owners who were closed down but now reopened and would benefit from a refinance should explore their options because different lenders have substantially different standards and rules. In some cases if the borrower has substantial liquid assets and a low loan to value there is less scrutiny.

Getting the right mortgage loan can make a huge difference in your financial success in life. Now, if ever, is not a time to go it alone or rely on a online lender who has a call center sucking in applications — you need a seasoned trusted pro to guide you through the process.

Virtual open house events create opportunities for out-of-town homebuyers

Colorado’s resort communities, including the Vail Valley, have learned to rely on technology more than ever to accomplish the same tasks that, in the past, would typically have been done in-person. Business meetings, family gatherings, shopping, and even graduations are all done online with the help of computer and smart phone applications. This high-tech transformation will open doors to new opportunities previously not thought possible.

In the real estate industry specifically, virtual offerings are allowing homebuyers to access listings wherever and whenever it is convenient to them.

LIV Sotheby’s International Realty is fully embracing technology as a sales and marketing tool for its clients. The firm is leveraging livestreaming via Facebook to bring buyers and sellers Colorado’s first statewide virtual open house event on Sunday, May 17, which will feature nearly 100 homes across many of Colorado’s most popular metro and resort communities.

This virtual open house event will give consumers from across the U.S and other countries the ability to explore their dream homes from the comfort of their couch. Potential buyers will be able to virtually walk around the house with a LIV SIR broker, ask questions, and learn more about the neighborhood in real-time, all through a livestream on Facebook.

Many buyers looking for homes in the Vail Valley are used to utilizing 3D tour technology, such as Matterport, to view homes they cannot visit in person. The addition of virtual open house events adds even more convenience by allowing consumers who are looking to relocate to the mountains or buy their secondary residence to continue their buying journey from afar.

Convenience for homebuyers is one of the biggest benefits to incorporating this use of technology into the marketing strategy for a home. What’s more, it also positions the home in front of a much larger audience that wouldn’t be possible at an in-person open house event, creating more opportunities for success for the sellers as well.

Of course, there is also the added benefit of safety. With everyone taking more health and safety precautions, especially during this time, virtual open house events eliminate much of the risk of coming into contact with potential germs. The brokers representing the sellers will still take all proper precautions, including wearing gloves and masks, and cleaning surfaces before leaving. By reducing traffic within the home, all parties can rest assured that they are safe.

While much of this technology was already being used by LIV SIR prior to COVID-19, the firm is constantly creating innovative new ways to help its clients reach their real estate and lifestyle goals. It is clear that even after the dust settles from the pandemic, technology solutions will be here to stay, to the betterment of businesses in not only real estate but all industries. The enhanced convenience, exposure opportunities, and safety advantages are too valuable to ignore as we move forward.

Join LIV Sotheby’s International Realty’s Virtual Open House event, Sunday, May 17, from 3-5 p.m. to view nearly 100 homes across some of Colorado’s most sought-after markets, including Beaver Creek, Avon, and other surrounding Vail Valley communities. Learn more by visiting https://bit.ly/3drDjyV.

For more information, or for assistance with any of your real estate needs, call 97-476-7944 or visit resorts.livsothebysrealty.com.

Vail Board of Realtors has a new ‘safe showing’ pledge

The Vail Board of Realtors has launched a “Safe Showing Pledge” campaign to help members follow the same guidelines when showing a property to buyers. These extra precautions come from the state of Colorado “safer at home” field services, and real estate Appendix B. 

The board of Realtors’ goal has been to provide members with the facts in these challenging times. Information changes daily, so having a reliable source is valuable. 

“I was asked to chair the private sector real estate task force for Eagle County, and during our meetings, we decided quickly that we needed guidelines to follow when showing property,” Vail Board of Realtors Association Executive Erica Kirk said. “We took Appendix B guidelines and put them into the pledge. They are very detailed and provide the structure needed.”

The pledge is intended to protect Vail Valley and buyers and sellers. The campaign highlights the additional steps being taken by Realtors while showing properties. The board of Realtors launched the program May 6 to all members who are committed to the pledge. Some of the extra protocols include wearing a mask, maintaining a detailed log of clients, and making sure cleaning and disinfecting are completed between showings. 

“Our focus is on protecting the members of our community,” Vail Board of Realtors Chairwoman Laura Sellards said. “We know many people have fears and concerns, therefore we are committed to protecting the medical and economic health of everyone in our community. By committing to this pledge, we want to show that we care, and we are professionals protecting our neighbors.” 

The pledge includes 12 items that are completed to ensure the safety of everyone. An infographic has been created that outlines the guidelines that members are sharing on social media, and a Facebook profile image frame that says, “I’m committed to the safe showing pledge.” 

For more information, go to VBR.net.

Ask a Realtor: Is now a good time to buy?

Dear Mark and Laurie: In the wake of the pandemic and looking to diversify my investments, I am wondering if this is a good time to buy. I am interested in both the more moderate price range to help my daughter and son-in-law get into a starter home as well as the luxury market for my wife and me.  What are your recommendations given current market trends and listings?

— COVID-19 Buyer

Dear COVID-19 Buyer: Two perspectives are necessary to give a complete picture. Eagle County is loosening restrictions, but county officials are still asking “non-residents” not to come to the valley. While there are some similarities in the two markets — the local market, aka homes for your daughter — and the resort/luxury market, for you and your wife — they really act independently of each other.   

In terms of similarities, the real estate market, both in the Vail Valley and nationwide, is very fluid right now and what we know today could change tomorrow. That being said, market reports are showing values have remained stable even with COVID-19 restrictions. It remains to be seen on any adjustments, as there could be long-term ramifications. But currently, the landscape has remained pretty solid. 

The moderate price range for your daughter

The good news is we are getting into our most active time of year for the real estate market and are seeing more sellers wanting or needing to sell, so there could be more options for buyers right now. Coupled with historically low interest rates and some existing loan programs that can assist the first-time homebuyer with closing costs and down payments, the timing is good for buyers who have the financial confidence and track record to invest and sustain monthly payments. Understanding that you may be helping your daughter with financial support, the loan programs may not come into play, but know lenders are looking more closely at financial stability and employment as part of the underwriting process. If your daughter is going to be on the title, this is something to factor into the decision-making process.

Heading into summer

While there is a shortage of available properties right now, it is expected more will come available as we approach summer. On the financial side of home-buying, it comes down to competition. The coronavirus has dissuaded some buyers from home shopping so you may face less competition until such time as the economy turns around. Another advantage is if you can come up with the down payment (most lenders are looking for at least 20% down right now), you can purchase a home and your mortgage payment could be less than paying rent.   

Locally, there are strict safety precautions in place when viewing homes. It comes down to your (and all buyers) comfort level and how you feel about viewing an available property and/or utilizing virtual tours.  We recommend you consult with a local real estate broker to let you know what procedures are in place and then you can decide if you would want to start the home viewing process.

Resort/luxury market

In addition to stable pricing through the pandemic thus far, additional COVID-19 influences that help the resort/luxury homebuyer is the Vail Valley’s appeal with its wide-open spaces and more room to live and move around. We also have a finite amount of land and development opportunities given the mountain settings. Even at the height of COVID-19 restrictions, residents could still get outside, have plenty of space, and recreate. It has served the Vail Valley resident well for many years. The appeal of the Vail Valley, from Vail to the downvalley communities, is only expected to rise as more people look to make memories in the mountains and feel they have a safe haven in which to live and work.

For the aptly suited buyer, the overall uncertainty does present an opportunity to test the motivations of sellers, who may be more motivated then they were 60 days ago.  While it’s not recommended to completely lowball an offer, there does seem to be more flexibility in the minds of sellers to look at different options. We have seen some better deals and/or adjustments based on timing and both parties’ interest to seal the deal in a timely manner.

With more movement in the economy and Phase 1 reopenings taking place, we are also seeing more homes coming back on market.  To date, there has not been any real price adjustment but again, this can all change as conditions improve — or not. For now, the Vail Valley’s resort/luxury market is holding its own and is expected to continue to do so as demand remains strong.

Good news  for buyers

Whether it’s the local or resort/luxury market, if you feel good about your income and prospects, it is as good a time as any to buy. Interest rates are at historic lows and there is more opportunity amidst uncertainty to negotiate. Spring into summer has historically brought more homes to market and there are several downvalley developments that have recently come to market or are on the horizon that will present more options for buyers as well as competition among sellers.

Good luck in your search.

Mark Weinreich and Laurie Slaughter are longtime Vail Valley residents and veteran broker associates with locally owned Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties. Both are members of highly respected broker teams, including The Weinreich Team, specializing in resort-market residential real estate and The Slaughter Group, a leader in residential, commercial and development property sales. Their knowledge and expertise spans from Vail Village to Gypsum and they are among the top-performing brokers in the Vail Valley. Mark and Laurie can be reached at  Mark@VailMtnRealEstate.com or 970-376-3204 and Laurie@BHHSVail.net or 970-471-0108.

Vail Valley real estate brokers say new home showing rules are generating lots of interest

The state’s new public health orders now allow real estate showings. Those new rules have generated a lot of calls and some confusion.

“I’m shocked at how many calls we’re getting,” Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate President John Pfeiffer said. But, he added, many callers aren’t hearing the answers they’d like.

Under the previous rules, in-person showings were only allowed for properties already under contract for sale. Pfeiffer said that old rule still applies to out-of-town buyers. Those who own property in Eagle County, even second homes, can look in person.

“If you’re in Denver and looking at a Slifer Smith & Frampton website, you can’t (come for an in-person showing),” Pfeiffer said. “I think a lot of people assumed brokers got carte blanche on showings, and that’s not the case.”

There are restrictions on the number of people allowed inside a home at any time. Only two people who are related, plus a broker, can take an in-person tour. If two business partners are looking at an investment property, a broker can take only one of those partners on a tour.

There’s some confusion

Pfeiffer said the new rules are leading to some frustration, particularly for possible out-of-town buyers.

“They’re saying, ‘But they’re allowing showings,’” Pfeiffer said of remote clients. “But people aren’t even supposed to come here.”

Laurie Slaughter is a longtime Gypsum-based broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties. Slaughter said she’s also been fielding a lot of calls, from both buyers and sellers.

“It seems like people are a little more comfortable with showings as long as we have precautions in place.”

Those precautions are extensive.

In addition to limits on the number of people allowed in a unit at one time, everyone in a showing party must wear face masks and gloves. Shoe covers are also encouraged, and brokers have to return to the unit to wipe down virtually every hard surface, from handrails to countertops to doorknobs.

Mike Budd of Berkshire Hathaway said the Vail Board of Realtors is now working to publish guidelines and requirements for all brokers. While protocols are in place at the bigger brokerages, Budd said perhaps half of the valley’s Realtors don’t work for the big companies. The Board of Realtors’ effort is an attempt to get everyone working consistently.

A virtual tour — either on a website or a personal tour via Skype, Zoom or Facetime — can give a prospective buyer a lot of information.

Pfeiffer said that the Realtor.com website even provides information on noise levels around and in a home.

Plenty of demand

But there’s plenty of demand for in-person property tours.

Budd said Thursday that he and an associate had given seven showings of one condo in Avon. The same has been true at units in Eagle Ranch.

Most of those showings have been for local buyers.

“It looks like the need segment of the industry is a little more active than the want segment,” Budd said.

But the “want” segment is starting to get more active, too.

Tye Stockton, a broker with the local branch of LIV Sotheby’s International Realty, said he’s been fielding a number of calls from prospective buyers. Many of those buyers have the means to purchase homes in the Vail Valley, and make those homes their permanent residences.

“The safe-haven notion is starting to ramp up,” Stockton said. “People are saying ‘I’ve got to get out of my metropolitan area.’” Some of those callers want to make a move as quickly as practical, Stockton added.

“I’m communicating with several buyers several times a day,” Stockton said.

Stockton said the people he’s talking to tend to be more interested in single-family homes than condos or townhomes.

Virtual tours are likely to become more effective, for both brokers and clients, Stockton said.

“I can go into a home, and I go stand in the shower and show people, ‘that’s how much head clearance I have,’” he said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com.

Ask a Broker: When’s the best time to list a home?

Client: We’re interested in moving, but don’t know when to list our home.

Broker: Deciding when to bring your home to market is one of the most important decisions your broker can help you make, particularly in a market like ours where inventory is limited, and seasonal changes can weigh heavily on buyer traffic. This spring, the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders have certainly slowed real estate activity in our valley, but many have used the time wisely as an opportunity to prepare their homes for sale. We are seeing new listings come to market and sell even during this crazy time. 

Traditionally, for homes within resort communities, timing a new listing may be more focused around high tourist seasons in order to capture the widest audience, whereas those in communities further from resorts may want to consider more local schedules like school and mountain closings, which free up weekends and gets buyers thinking about purchasing. This timing has obviously changed a bit with the COVID-19 regulations changing rapidly for schools, real estate, local businesses, residents and tourists. 

With the unknown timing of the upcoming “resort tourist season” and many locals continuing to work and do schooling from home, the timing of when to list your home during these unprecedented times may seem daunting. With buyers now utilizing virtual showings along with the photos and video of properties, the online presence of your listing will be particularly important, as well as your broker helping to navigate showings in a way you are comfortable with, and that follows the direction from government and health authorities.

Selling your home can be one of the most stressful decisions and times in your life — deciding when to list, how much to list for, how to prepare the listing, how to market the listing, how to negotiate in this market, how to maximize your sale potential — all of these can cause stress, take time, and can significantly impact your bottom line at the closing table, so it’s natural to want to do them correctly. We’d highly recommend interviewing a few brokers to find the right fit so that you feel comfortable and confident that your goals will be met.

Didi Doolittle & Andy Owen are realtors with Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate and can be reached at 970-477-5703, online at www.VailDidi.com or, once the office has reopened safely, you can visit them at The Slifer House in The Seasons building at 137 Benchmark Road in Avon.

Vail Board of Realtors Foundation now accepting scholarship applications

Applications are now being accepted for the Vail Board of Realtors Foundation Scholarship program. The program is available to any Eagle County residents enrolling in or returning to college, university or accredited academic institution in the fall of 2020 as a full-time student.

Twelve scholarships of $2,000 each were awarded in 2019 to students attending institutions around the United States. Past recipient Claire Krueger attends the University of Notre Dame and shared that she has used the scholarship to its very fullest.

“It’s allowed me to just focus on school and my extracurriculars rather than stressing about the other little things,” Krueger said.

“Thanks to the ongoing support of our local Realtors, the Vail Board of Realtors Foundation will be able to award even more scholarships than the previous years,” said Bev Trout, Realtor and Scholarship Committee chair. “The Vail Board of Realtors created the Foundation and it has been a tribute to see it fulfilling its mission. ” 

“Our members believe it is important to give back locally and support our community,” said Association Executive Erica Kirk. “This scholarship is the perfect example that highlights that believe and mission.”

The number of scholarships and award amounts are based upon the budget and determined by the qualifications and number of applicants each year. Applications must be submitted to the Vail Board of Realtors offices in Edwards no later than Friday, June 19 by 5 p.m.

Go to www.vbr.net or call 970-766-1028 for information and scholarship application materials.

The Vail Board of Realtors Foundation was established in 1996 with the mission of assisting the community and association members with need-based financial assistance, not-for-profit support, education, and disaster relief.

COVID-19’s impacts on Vail Valley real estate

Over the last month, the nation’s economy as a whole has seen a significant impact due to the coronavirus. The Vail Board of Realtors® is supporting our members of the real estate community by providing education and tools to get them through a challenging time and prepare for the future. As we look to helping each other and the community, the question of how the market is doing comes up.

‘People are still buying and selling real estate’

“The Vail MLS March indicators prove that uncertainty relating to the coronavirus has impacted Vail Valley real estate,” Betsy Laughlin, Vail Board of Realtors® Past Chair, said. “The reports for April and May will be more telling in terms of the bigger picture impact. We’re still seeing properties come onto the market daily — people are still buying and selling.”

For example, there were two recent listings in EagleVail that went under contract in less than a week. Two large units at the Four Seasons went under contract in March — one priced at $16.9 million and the other at $8.2 million. “People still believe in Vail,” Laughlin said.

Compared to March of last year, transactions in Eagle County were down almost 24%, but sales prices were up 1%. Total dollar volume was down 25%, but the average price per square foot went up 13.4%.

Immediate impacts

“Since March 15, 88 properties in the county were either withdrawn from the market or had contracts canceled. Homes coming off the market are most likely seller-initiated, especially if the homes are occupied,” said Laughlin. Starting April 27th, Realtors are allowed to do showings following social distancing measures, though open houses are not allowed until we know it is safe for the community. Potential buyers can view properties, virtually or online, thanks to virtual tours, videos and 3D walkthrough technology. 

“It’s not business as usual, however with advancements in technology, we’re still able to get things done,” Laughlin said. “Inspectors and appraisers are allowed to enter homes and conduct business, so they have not been stifled under the current situation.” 

Not like the last recession

The Great Recession from 2007 to 2009 was due to the subprime mortgage crisis. It devastated financial markets, banking and real estate, but the current economic situation is much different. “After a run-up in housing prices in the early part of the decade, home prices plummeted, and thousands of borrowers couldn’t afford to pay their loans, which was what caused the recession last time,” Laughlin said.  “Colorado overall, and especially the resort areas, remain attractive locations for real estate investment. We should all try to remain calm and positive.”

Sellers

Sellers who removed listings in March are likely in a temporary holding pattern to see what happens next with the coronavirus rather than keeping the listing active only to accumulate days on the market. Laughlin has sellers who are keeping their listings on the market for online exposure. “We’re in a transitional or shifting market, and time will tell — depending on how long this pandemic lasts — whether we’ll see an adjustment on pricing and an increase in inventory,”  Laughlin said. “Typically, this is a time when you’d see homeowners list their homes to gear up for summer marketing, yet we haven’t seen a flood of properties come on the market,”

Buyers

After the recession, there was an influx of buyers from urban areas who decided to ditch the city lifestyle for the mountains. Laughlin expects a similar impact  from the coronavirus. 

“People want to experience the resort lifestyle,” she said. “Not every sector has been shut down, and there are buyers out there looking online for the right home.” Historically low-interest rates are also positive for buyers, which can help increase their buying power. Someone who may not have been able to afford a home previously might be able to afford a home now. 

“If you are comfortable with the new virtual way of buying and selling real estate right now, there are some great opportunities for everyone,” Laughlin said. 

The March indicators for Eagle County, real estate show, declines in both pending and closed sales. However, an increase in new listings is a promising indicator for the local market. A slowdown in the market was expected with the recent coronavirus pandemic. Real estate transactions were postponed in the short term, but many Realtors® believe buyers and sellers will return to the market soon.

“Local supply has been low over the past few years and has become the new normal before the coronavirus pandemic closed Colorado ski resorts in mid-March,” said Laughlin. “There could be a pandemic-related surge of listings in the coming months. It’s all uncharted waters at this point,” Laughlin said. 

“Home is where the heart is”

In this time of uncertainty, homes have become so much more than they have ever been. They are not only shelter, they are now also offices and schools. The real estate community is following the stay-at-home work orders and taking precautions for buyers and sellers and the community as a whole. We will get through this together. If you have questions regarding the market, contact a Realtor® who will help guide you during this time.  

Visit vbr.net for additional information about Vail Valley real estate and to find a local Realtor®.

Ask a Broker: What role does technology play in our homes?

Dear Donna: What role does technology play in our homes?

Donna: That’s a good question, especially right now when we’re all spending a lot more time at our places of residence. Our homes have literally become our safe havens, our offices, our school rooms, our sanctuaries. During this time, homeowners are using technology to help them feel safe, informed, comfortable and entertained.

In the luxury market, which is where my focus is, homeowners want the ability to set scenes and control the environment in their house remotely from iPads and iPhones. Their security systems include such elements as complex locking systems and cameras. Some homes have fingerprint scans to access rooms, and others have motorized shades that make for a cool and quiet interior.

HumanCentric lighting has recently become an important technology for luxury homes as well. This essentially brings outside lighting into the home and enhances its warmth. We’re also seeing more oxygenation systems in homes, which allow owners to adjust the altitude levels indoors. Media rooms and theaters are still big desirables as well. Many families moved from their primary homes in big cities to their Vail residences to wait this time out, which means these home technologies are particularly important while hunkering down for an indeterminate amount of time. Many AV companies in the area are maintaining critical network systems during this challenging time, helping to keep everything from our alarm systems to our streaming services running.

Technology is not just desired in high-end homes though. All homeowners can take advantage of some of the latest gadgets. For security, products like Nest and Ring are extremely convenient. These allow homeowners to set up home security systems with video doorbells, cameras, alarms and smart lighting. They also offer thermostats and smoke and carbon monoxide sensors. Virtual assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant and JoshAI are convenient for everything from playing music, listening to your favorite podcast, to reminding you of that virtual happy hour you have scheduled with friends.

Technology is now a nearly essential part of every home. We should embrace it during these challenging times and stay connected with our friends, family, and community.

Donna Caynoski has worked in high-end real estate in Vail Village for over 32 years. Her experiences vary from sales to property management, as well as acting as vice president of two boutique real estate firms, implementing business plans, sophisticated marketing plans and management of top brokers. She’s consistently one of the top-producing brokers in Vail, obtaining record prices for homes in precious locations that are often irreplaceable.