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Vail Valley’s real estate market running short of homes for sale

A September record for real estate sales volume and a lot of transactions wasn’t sustainable. The result of a hyperactive summer is very low inventory right now.

Didi Doolittle, Eagle County manager for Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate, said at this point there are still more homes listed for sale in Eagle County than there are units under contract — but not by much: 440 residential units for sale and 349 units under contract.

But those numbers vary from week to week.

Throughout the valley and in all price ranges, homes have been selling quickly. Current listings are lower than they’ve been in years. (Special to the Daily)

Mike Budd, an Edwards-based broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, said in just the past week there were 10 homes newly listed for sale, with 21 under contract and 41 closed sales.

“We’re as low (in inventory) as I can ever remember,” Budd said.

The speed of the local market over the summer has also been reflected across the range of the market.

Budd said the market under $1 million — which usually accounts for a large majority of all sales — has slipped recently. Through September, 57% of all sales were for $1 million or less. That means more homes are selling for $1 million or more.

Part of that could be very low mortgage interest rates, Budd said. Rates mean that buyers looking in the $750,000 to $1 million range might now be looking at homes priced between $1 million and $1.2 million.

There’s a bit more inventory in homes priced at more than $1 million, Budd said. But, Doolittle added, she’s been seeing homes move quickly in just about all the valley’s price ranges.

There are a couple of ’ifs’

That comes with a couple of caveats, though.

Doolittle said buyers tend to want “turn-key” homes — units that are ready to move into just after closing.

Homes also have to be priced right.

By the numbers

440: Active residential listings in Eagle County as of Nov. 20

349: Residential units under contract in Eagle County as of Nov. 20.

319: September real estate transactions in Eagle County.

$515.6: Value of all September transactions.

Tye Stockton, a broker with the Vail Valley branch of LIV/Sotheby’s International Realty said he’s seen cases recently where brokers go along with a potential seller’s unrealistic price just to land a listing. That’s not good for anyone, Stockton said. Homes will sit, and both buyers and sellers will become frustrated when a unit doesn’t move, he said.

But landing listings can be difficult, Stockton said.

Stockton does much of his work in the luxury market, and he tries to maintain relationships with his clients. He said he’ll call clients on the anniversary of their home purchases, and will sometimes ask if they’re interested in selling.

Many of those clients tell Stockton they loved their homes when they bought them. With turmoil in so many urban areas, many of those clients are even more happy to stick where they are.

The current market is just part of the natural cycle of real estate, which goes up and down with the economy and market factors.

We’ve seen another side

Stockton noted the current market is the opposite of the local market in 2010 or so. Back in the depths of the national recession, there were plenty of homes for sale — many of them bank sales — and relatively few buyers.

The current market will end up normalizing, Stockton said. What that might take is hard to tell, but putting more certainty into the local and regional economies will help.

As the winter develops, there may be more certainty about the season, the Vail Resorts reservation system and other factors.

Doolittle said inventory usually gets thin — but not this thin — as fall moves into winter.

Moving into the Christmas holidays generally means more potential buyers are in the valley, Doolittle said. But that influx of buyers can also prompt some people to sell, she added.

“At least that’s what we’re hoping for,” she said.

Joan Harned, co-owner of Eagle’s Team Black Bear branch of Keller Williams Mountain Properties, said she knows of properties coming on the market in 2021 — although that’s all she’d say.

And, as you might expect from a veteran of 30-plus years in the local market, Harned said she’s not particularly worried about the current inventory shortage.

“This could be the busiest year I’ve ever had,” Harned said. “Next year will be even busier.”

Vail Valley real estate remains a top priority for homebuyers

The newly constructed estate at 1183 Cabin Circle, in Vail, is listed by LIV Sotheby’s International Realty broker, Tye Stockton, for $32,000,000.
LIV Sotheby’s International Realty photo

As we head into the holiday season, it appears that many consumers are adding mountain homes to their wish lists. Throughout this year, the real estate market in the Vail Valley, within Eagle County, has picked up a great deal of momentum as a result of social distancing and the desire to find a forever home.

With more people than ever working from home, consumers have the freedom to telecommute from anywhere. This shift has inspired home buyers to invest in their futures by moving to communities that cater to their desired lifestyles and feed their passions. Colorado’s resort towns, with their unbeatable access to the outdoors, stunning scenery, and endless recreation options, offer residents the chance to live a life some can only dream of.

Each month, LIV Sotheby’s International Realty reports on market activity in the Vail Valley to help consumers gain a better understanding of the current state of the real estate market. According to LIV SIR’s October market report, Eagle County saw total sales volume rise by 42% in a year-to-date comparison to January through October of 2019.

The significant increase in sales volume can be attributed to rises in several other key metrics such as listings sold, average sold price, and highest sold price. Through the month of October, there were 13% more home sales than there were during the same time frame in 2019, reaching 1,291 homes sold. The average price of those homes sold increased from $1,262,386 in 2019 to $1,585,500 through October of this year, a 26% increase.

The luxury sector, which includes listings priced at or over $3,000,000, of the market has seen even more success through October of this year. The total sales volume of this high-end home market has skyrocketed 70% compared to the same time frame of 2019. The overall luxury listings sold increased by 56%, growing from 86 homes sold through October of 2019 to 134 home sold so far this year. The average sold price of luxury homes in the Vail Valley rose by 9%, bringing the average sales price to $6,303,632.

The continued increases in real estate activity is an encouraging sign that the Vail Valley will see a strong finish to 2020 as more people decide to make the mountains their home. To learn more about the real estate market in the Vail Valley and to view the October Market Report, visit coloradomarketreports.com. For all your real estate needs, call 970.476.7944 or visit resorts.livsothebysrealty.com.

Ask A Realtor: Buyer seeking local funding sources

Dear Paula and Liz: I am a local resident in the Vail Valley and interested in buying my first home. I have heard there are some local funding programs to assist buyers such as myself. I have also heard of a deed-restricted funding option and wondering what that means. Do you know what is available and what the criteria are to qualify?  — Buyer Seeking Local Funding Sources

Dear Buyer: You are wise to be inquiring about funding options. There are a number of different local funding programs in the Vail Valley that offer down payment assistance for buyers locally and from out of town. These include Eagle County Down Payment Assistance and two deed restriction programs, MiCasa Avon and Vail InDEED.  

A deed restriction is basically an agreement between the property owner and the entity offering the deed-restricted program that restricts the property in some way.  The restriction is recorded by the entity and remains on the property. For example, the town of Vail (InDEED) and the town of Avon (MiCasa) both place a deed restriction on properties where they provide funding.

There are different levels of deed restrictions. They can range from having heavier criteria such as a price cap on selling price, to who can purchase, to a more lenient option with the only restriction being the property must be occupied by an Eagle County employee. 

The primary objective for all local programs is to provide support and long term housing for the local workforce.  Current funding options include:

Eagle County Down Payment Assistance: Eagle County offers several options with the common tie that the buyer must live and work in Eagle County and the property must be their primary residence. The down payment loans vary based on different qualifications and requirements. 

DPA support ranges from $10,000 to 4.5% of the purchase price depending on the program. Applicants work with an Eagle County lender through the Vail Home Store program to determine which DPA option will work best to fit individual needs. For more information, go to https://www.eaglecounty.us/Housing/Down_Payment_Assistance/Overview/.

MiCasa Avon Deed Restriction: This newly developed program provides financial assistance to help 8-10 buyers purchase homes in Avon by end of 2020. Any residential property in the town of Avon is eligible for support, regardless of price or location, with the caveat the home must be occupied by an Eagle County employee.

Properties can be purchased by local or out-of-market buyers as long as they or a renter is a 30+ hour per week Eagle County employee. Buyers cannot own any other residential property in Eagle County and must be able to come up with a minimum 3% down payment. The total contribution amount from the town of Avon is between 8% to 12% with a maximum $75,000 contribution. For more information, go to https://avon.org/2237/Mi-Casa-Avon—Deed-Restriction-Program.

Vail InDEED: The Town of Vail’s new deed-restriction program was created to incentivize current homeowners,  real estate buyers, and sellers to deed restrict their property to help the town meet its 2027 Housing Strategic Plan of acquiring 1,000 deed-restricted units by 2027. The goal is to maintain and sustain homes for residents within the community.

This program is open to local and investment buyers who either want to live in the home or rent it as long as it is a primary residence for individuals who work a minimum of 30 hours per week in Eagle County. Funding amounts vary by property and range from 14% to 17% of the value or purchase price. The deed restriction remains with the property for all future property sales.   

This fully renovated, 1,118 square foot 3 bed/2 bath corner residence at 2773 Kinnikinnick Road, #1D in Vail, priced at $820,000, is currently under contract. The Buyer qualified for the down payment assistance program through Vail InDEED.
Special to the Daily

The Vail InDEED is the most lenient of the three with no price cap on the value of the home and anyone can apply — an existing homeowner, buyer or investor. The funds can be applied to the home purchase or other use if given to an existing homeowner.  The property also becomes exempt from the 1% real estate transfer tax. Down payment assistance is a percentage off the current value through a process the town of Vail uses. The property must not already have a deed restriction and it cannot have a first right of refusal for any future sale before it goes on the market.

No  matter which program is selected, a local lender familiar with these programs is the best way to go. For more information, see the resource links below.  For more information, go to vailindeed.com.

Best wishes in your funding and home purchase search.

Paula and Liz

Paula Fischer and Liz Hasley are longtime Vail Valley residents and award-winning broker associates with locally-owned Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties. Their expertise spans all of Eagle County, from Vail to Gypsum, including micro-market knowledge to assist everyone from first-time buyers to second homeowners to the resort/luxury investor.  Liz also brings property management and land acquisition experience. Paula can be reached at  970-376-8400 or paula@vailhomes.properties and Liz at 970-401-0071 or liz@hasleyrealestate.com.

A fresh breeze: Self-described ‘therapist for the home’ Barclay Butera says it’s time to give mountain retreats a sunny rethink

A quartet of glass hurricane globes march along a mid-century credenza. An upholstered zebra-print coffee table fronts a leather sofa. A glossy white sunburst mirror punctuates a pinstriped wall.

For Barclay Butera, good design is equal parts tailored and non-conformist, symmetrical yet surprising, and always employs a touch of history. Butera brings his approachably elegant aesthetic to seaside villas, sleek apartments, and mountain lodges, which have been featured in just about every design magazine on the planet.

With his own furniture collections, showrooms in Newport Beach, California, and Park City, Utah, and collaborations with partners including Kravat textiles and Lexington furniture, he’s a busy man. We caught him while buzzing between consultations, and asked about his approach to mountain style.

Stylish Serenity

Butera has been designing mountain interiors for over two decades, and most recently has been spearheading a broad move toward a lighter, less ornate look.

“Even in my own condo, I am taking all of the color out and making a much cleaner slate. I am not going to get rid of my stone fireplace’s huge wooden mantle, and I’m keeping the rustic millwork, but in the mountains, I want things to be cleaner, more transitional, less fussy.”

Mark Lohman Photography

He says that part of that desire is a contrast to his life in California, a goal of many clients for whom the mountains are a second or third home.

“They want a place that’s softer, not as harsh. I want to create a place of solace that allows them to slow down. We are seeing a complete change in taste in the mountain states, much more transitional than on the coast.”

But rather than rip out a home’s good bones, he relies on decorative changes. “I’m using white or grey-white paint, fresh textiles, carpet, and new tiles to create soft, contemporary spaces.”

De-accessorize

This thirst for cleaner, less-accessorized design isn’t confined to ski towns. Butera says regardless of where they live, clients in general are happy with the prospect of lightening up. But because traditional mountain design has so often leaned in an ornate log cabin direction — antlers, fur, heavy carving — these homes benefit dramatically from a more minimal outlook. “People don’t want to live in the mountains the way they did 15 years ago. Our tastes evolve.” So, it’s out with the antlers (unless they’re birchwood) and rustic accessories, and in with the transitional lines and rich textures. 

Mark Lohman Photography

Yours, mine, ours

Every client approaches a new project with at least a few heirlooms in tow. For some designers, it’s a headache. For Butera, it’s an opportunity to add depth. “I use a philosophy I call ‘yours, mine, and ours.’ I often have to work with heirlooms and specific pieces of furniture that a client has a real emotional tie to.”

The result is a textured space that combines sophisticated style with personal touches that bring depth and resonance. And what happens when something strikes a very discordant note — for example, a client’s beloved set of dark Queen Anne chairs in a transitional living room? “I’d bleach them! It immediately changes the finish and makes them much more current. You retain the history but have a totally different look.”

Collaboration isn’t always a smooth process, most often when there are too many people involved in the process. “Too many opinions can actually bring a project to a standstill. I say that I’m a therapist for the home, often mediating between people who may have two different aesthetics. We have a meeting of the minds and find a solution. It’s not always fun, but I’m there to even it out.”

The geography of color

If most designers start with color when rethinking interior spaces, Butera takes a site-specific approach to his choices. With homes in Newport and Palm Springs as well as Park City, he understands that different natural settings call for different interior color plans. His desert retreat, for example, “is very pastel with pinks and yellows and vivid green-blues. I added a lot of color, a lot of playful elements.” By contrast, “At the beach I’m using bright white wainscoting and wallpaper on the ceilings. In Park City, the palette is quieter and more neutral, with textiles giving a totally different feel.”

Ryan Garvin

Lighten up

While mountain homes seem made for winter, with their large fireplaces and wealth of warm woods, introducing the spirit of summer doesn’t have to be a huge effort. For Butera, textiles are a surefire way to instantly transform a space. “I immediately think about replacing area rugs and throw pillows. You put in a lighter carpet, and all of a sudden it brightens the entire room. Textiles in a crisper color palette are immediate fresheners.” He’s also a big believer in silk plants, which inject a bright note regardless of the weather. “There is a silk plant for any environment. In the mountains, we do a lot of orchids and succulents, which work beautifully in a transitional atmosphere.”

Be inspired

Even the most talented designer looks for outside inspiration. Butera says he finds his in several sources.

First, cinema. “The beautiful scenery and staging from ‘Out of Africa.’ The kitchy and fun sets in ‘Auntie Mame.’ The beach house in ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ — those are three representations that I continually jump back to.” Second is his travels. “I was recently in Mexico City, and found it very inspiring — the artisans, the way they combine unexpected colors. And in Europe, designers use jewel tones that we don’t even approach. The way art, textiles, and colors are blended is way outside the box.” Third is fashion. “Ralph Lauren is, of course, the epitome of Americana. He creates environments that are so different and are inspired by his surroundings. And Thom Browne, an avant garde designer whose clothes have very good detailing, has inspired how we use welts and flanges and trims.”

Spend smart

It doesn’t matter how much money you allocate to design: There’s always a budget. That goes for full-on renovations as well as a simple facelift. Butera says that adhering to the estimate means clients need to be reasonable. He cites wallpaper, drapery, and area rugs as the unknown costs in any project, and says that if a client spends big on one of these, it will mean cutting back on another. “I have a client building a $22 million home, and the budget is going to take a huge hit because they’ve chosen gold-plated faucets embedded with semi-precious stones.” Spend money on what makes you happy, but know what you’re doing to the bottom line.

Signature style

While Butera’s projects span a wide spectrum from traditional family homes to beach cottages to sparkly hotel penthouses, there’s always one surefire sign that he’s had his way with the project: a sense of balance. As the designer says, “I hate to put myself in a niche, but I’m very much a symmetry gentleman. If there’s one specific thing I like, it’s symmetry.”

Creating sanctuaries: Kasia Karska Design specializes in making artful, interesting spaces that serve as peaceful retreats

For over 20 years, Kasia Karska Design has created unique residential and commercial environments throughout the world, thanks to its boutique design and build firm in Eagle. The design team’s greatest passion revolves around creating custom home sanctuaries for clients from the ground up and creating unique environments, which fit their clients’ daily lifestyle. 

When designing a home or commercial building, what is your main focus? 

Appealing to the recipient. Architecture represents the client. We start with giving the project a name, which makes it more personal — we always ask our clients to help name the project. We focus on creating a lifestyle for individuals, which reflects in space planning. 

Kasia, you have quite a diverse background, from your European upbringing and attending the Technical Institute in Warsaw, Poland, to working as a model in New York City. How do these experiences influence your approach to design and benefit your clients?

Because of my diverse background, I’m able to work in multifaceted design niches with any client. I believe fashion and design go hand-in-hand: fabrics, colors, styles — they all interact with and influence each other across the industries. For example, right now, summer is seeing a surge as “rattan” season, both in fashion and
in design. (Note: Kasia studied architecture at the Technical Institute in Warsaw, but she is not a board-certified architect in the U.S. She has the background of an architect and uses an architectural consultant to draft her architectural visions.)

The core of this superbly handcrafted new 3,500 square foot home is a collection of three Polish shepherds huts, each almost 80 years old. They were reassembled by master Polish carpenters to create a thoroughly modern home in Lake Creek.
Kasia Karska Design

How do your studies in Vaastu shastra and Feng Shui influence your work?

Vaastu Shastra is an Indian philosophy that takes into account the Earth’s place in the solar system and planetary influences on the earth; different planetary imprints within the home quadrants affect different areas of one’s life. I consciously position the houses I build, being mindful of sun’s relationship with the home — for example, directionally positioning the bedroom so homeowners wake up with the sun. Vaastu Shastra and Feng Shui are very involved in all aspects of my design process, whether it’s a remodel, a custom home or a commercial building. The orientation and placement within the space is emphasized based on these ancient principles. And landscaping is the final touch — the cherry on top.   

What sets you apart from other designers? 

I’m a guide, versus enforcing my own taste on the client. I like each project to reflect the homeowner rather than me. 

Kasia Karska Design believes people’s environment reflects who they are. How do you find the essential elements of homeowners or businesses and then translate those into a cohesive design? 

We find a sense of color for them and get to know their lifestyle. We find ways to reflect their lifestyle through spatial planning and respect our clients’ tastes, whether modern, traditional or somewhere in between. We look for personal items that make their home a special place that truly feels like “their home.” We incorporate Colorado’s natural beauty in our buildings and spaces, including landscaping and lot positioning. We’re also sustainability-focused. 

Capitalizing on the magnificent views outside, this home was designed in both the Vaastu Shastra and Feng Shui traditions.
Kasia Karska Design

What are some of the fundamentals of transforming a home into an inspiring sanctuary? 

A balance of color therapy, personal objects of the clients, Vaastu Shastra and Feng Shui, and combining the five elements into the design: earth, metal, wood, water and air in a cohesive way. Different clients require different color palettes, dependent on the energy I feel and the vibrations I get from each client. 

Tell us a bit about your trademark design: indoor/outdoor space. 

Because we create so many of our spaces in beautiful Colorado, we encourage people to take advantage of the beautiful surroundings whenever possible, using decks, indoor/outdoor patios and bringing the outdoors indoors with seamless and natural transitions. The transition between the home and the outside space is key.

What inspires you most about design and architecture? 

Every project is a new opportunity. I learn from every new client. I follow favorite architects and their work and look back on older work too. My favorite architects/firms are: Olson Kundig, Zaha Hadid (the organic lines in her design) and old masters, like Frank Lloyd Wright. I also seek inspiration from organic materials and nature.  

What are some of your team’s strengths? 

Flexibility, working from both our home office or meeting at our company office, and adaptability to working in different types of work environments. Over 20 years of design-build experience all around the world, giving a one-of-a-kind experience to clients with our boutique design-build firm, where they can create their own custom home, remaining present to every detail along the way. We have a very catered approach, which is unique to each client’s lifestyle. 

In this East Vail remodel, the goal was to improve the day-to-day functionality of the home. Capitalizing on the natural light was key.
Kasia Karska Design

What’s your team’s style?

We’re a small, nimble team that’s able to don many hats. Our No. 1 focus is on the client and our relationship with our client. 

Passions?

Respecting everyone we work with and their position —including all subcontractors we do business with. Respect is key in our business. We are passionate about our clients’ lifestyles and creating their sanctuaries.

For more info on Kasia Karska visit kasiakarskadesign.com.

Vail Valley real estate market sets another sales record

It took 15 years to break a 2005 record for one-month real estate sales volume. The new record fell, and fell hard, one month later.

September real estate sales in Eagle County exceeded $515 million. That shattered the August record of $418 million. And, while many big sales volume months are driven by sales of hotels or other large properties, September’s sales were driven in large part by the number of transactions.

September’s transactions — 319 — were the highest one-month total of this year. The mark also surpassed the number of transactions in September 2019. According to the latest data from Land Title Guarantee Company, September marked the only month of more than 300 sales since 2014.

Another unusual mark in September was the volume of sales in Vail. Through all the town’s neighborhoods, there were 66 transactions in September. That matches the number of transactions in Eagle and Gypsum, which usually make up the biggest piece of the monthly sales pie.

All this activity comes after a very slow second quarter of 2020, driven by the tight restrictions imposed on the industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, sales have been on a steep uphill climb. Year-to-date transactions are now running slightly above 2019 levels.

‘The pendulum has swung’

Longtime Vail-based broker Ron Byrne said he was “nervous” about the year as the pandemic and its restrictions took hold. But, he added, “I thought we’d be OK” through the year.

Now, “the pendulum has really swung,” Byrne said.

“It’s not just COVID,” Byrne added. “There’s been a change in lifestyle.”

That change in lifestyle is also reflected in the Land Title numbers. The makeup of buyers has historically seen about half of sales going to people who already live in Eagle County. For the year to date, 51% of all buyers are Eagle County residents.

That profile shifted significantly in September. That month, 40% of buyers were Eagle County residents. Front Range (22%) and out of state (37%) buyers together made up 59% of the buyers last month.

Byrne said people from Chicago, New York and Miami are coming to the mountains for a lifestyle shift. So are buyers from the Front Range.

Didi Doolittle, Eagle County sales manager for Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate, noted that COVID’s stay-home orders have proven that many people are able to work from home. Doolittle added that the strength of local schools and the local community have drawn many buyers to the “mountain lifestyle.”

Michael Slevin, owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, said the local market is also being driven by interest rates, which remain very low.

“That drives a lot of purchasing power,” Slevin said. “We need that to have movement in our market.”

It’s a different market

Vail’s September sales marked a significant surprise in the local market.

Slevin is a valley native, and has spent almost all his life in an around the local real estate business. He said he can’t recall a time when Vail’s sales activity has been this strong in terms of transactions. The previous activity peak may have been during the first decade of the 2000s, when units associated with what was called the “Vail Renaissance” first came to market.

But, Slevin added, this market is different from that market, when new condos changed hands several times before anyone spent a night in them.

“This is a users’ market, not an investor/flip market,” Slevin said.

So what’s next?

Most people laugh when asked to gaze into a crystal ball. But Slevin said a trend toward people viewing the mountains as a place to stay may be taking hold.

“It’s the demand that’s different,” Slevin said, noting that people seem to be buying for different reasons.

Doolittle noted that the shift to a “lifestyle” market has actually been occurring over the past several years. COVID-19 has accelerated the trend, she said.

“Even when you’re at your house… there’s still a lot of things to do,” Doolittle said. Since most of those activities are outdoors, “You can still have a really good time and be socially distant.”

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

Slevin: Market report shows all-time high demand for Vail Valley real estate

Summer’s robust selling season has extended itself into the fall with buyer demand and closings at an all-time high, particularly in September. While August this year saw a slight increase in sales (nine more than August 2019), September took off with a 43.06% increase in home sales over September 2019. 

Commanding this surge were homes in the $1.6+ million price range, also indicative of the upward trend in average sales price, up 61% for September alone and 26% year-to-date. Continued large demand, with very little supply, remains the valley’s biggest challenge, which for the first time in memory, has more properties under contract than currently available. Available listing inventory, year over year, is down about 23%, but contracts are up over 60% and the dollar volume is up 76% from a year ago.

The surge of new buyers coming to the Vail Valley from a variety of markets, including many of our traditional feeder markets, including the Front Range, East Coast, Dallas and Houston, Florida, California, Chicago and other parts of the Midwest, is unprecedented. This also includes many buyers who already own homes here and are looking to make the valley their permanent residence, selling what was once their second (or third or fourth) home and upsizing to accommodate their family’s day-to-day needs.

Given the current pace and number of homes under contract (pending) coupled with continued higher than normal buyer demand, it is anticipated that 2020 will be one of the best performing sales years for the Vail and downvalley markets and likely to exceed 2019 and near 2005.

What it means for buyers

Because many buyers have a familiarity with the area, it then comes down to working with a knowledgeable broker who understands our market’s unique attributes and pricing as well as an advisor who has the technological capabilities of “showing” the property remotely. The speed of our market demands a broker who has an inside track on new listings and opportunities not available to the general market.

Buyers who are clear about their next move — meaning their desired area, their next home’s style, location, and other details — will ensure the best possible result. That’s true for a buyer who is physically here or purchasing remotely.

Despite the low inventory, buyers still have options to purchase in today’s market, in all of our communities and in a variety of price niches. Being prepared is paramount. For those who will obtain financing, having discussions with your lender now will position you for the best possible outcome. Being flexible will also help as an owner may need to identify and contract for a replacement property. And finally, acting quickly, and with the right information, will help you rise above the other buyers to position your offer in the best possible light.

What it means for sellers 

Given the current climate, which includes rising average price, lack of inventory, continued growing buyer demand and drop in average days on the market, now may be just the right time to consider selling. While there is relative certainty in the real estate market today, overall uncertainty about the coming winter and 2021 makes this an ideal time to list a home.

For additional market trends and information, including Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties offices, brokers and listings, visit www.bhhscoloradoproperties.com or call 970-329-2482.

Michael Slevin is the president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties.

8 steps to a sophisticated autumn home

When your signature style is a fusion of muted colors and vintage décor, it’s no wonder that autumn is your favorite time of year. For Jamie Lundstrom, nature’s mellow season syncs comfortably with her aesthetic. You’ll find examples in her blog, somuchbetterwithage.com; her book, “French Vintage Décor” (Page Street Publishing); and her new interior design site, jamielundstrominteriors.com. We asked the Vancouver, Canada-based stylist how to give your home a cozy autumn hug.

Choose a non-conformist color scheme

While burnt orange and warm brown might be fall’s most obvious color pairing, nature has a whole palette of seasonally appropriate hues. “A while ago I started looking around garden centers and my own yard for inspiration, and found purple hydrangeas that had started to turn, then added eucalyptus leaves,” says Lundstrom. “The purple and green color scheme looked really pretty for fall. Almost anything that you’d find in nature that time of year will work.” So look at Russian sage, creamy chrysanthemums, and scarlet amaranthus. The pinkish coral roses Lundstrom used one autumn were a subtle seasonal nod that still steered clear of clichés.

Shop your closets

Lundstrom maintains there’s no need to rush out to a store’s seasonal decorating aisle. “Honestly, you don’t need a sign that says ‘I Love Fall.’”

She digs into her kitchen cabinets, pulling out mason jars, large crockery vessels, and hefty stewpots, then heads into the backyard with a pair of clippers.

“Clip a few tree branches, put them in a sturdy ceramic crock, and set it on your kitchen island. You’ve made something beautiful.”

Other treasures that come out of hiding: mismatched teacups, vintage embroidered napkins, antique baskets, and galvanized buckets.

A glass cloche elevates even the most basic object.
Photo by Jamie Lundstrom

“Fall is when you can bring out things with a bit of age. In the basement I found an old wooden toolbox that was perfect for displaying Mason jars of flowers. One year I found an antique basket I really liked, found a bowl that fit inside it, and filled it with hydrangeas. I love using faded objects from thrift stores for holding flowers, apples, or even a pile of throws.”

Do a quick seasonal swap

If you’ve got 15 minutes, you can give your home a fast fall overhaul. First, put away anything that screams “summer” — replace a straw hat hanging by the front door with a plaid throw or scarf, and store the beach towels and chairs. If you like scented candles, this is the time to bring them out. Change your throw pillows from light stripes to velvets and faux furs.

Lundstrom says it’s more space efficient to invest in quality down inserts, then buy or sew zippered or envelope-style covers that take up minimal space in the linen closet. “You want to be able to switch things up without having to rent a storage unit.”

Create a cheerful first impression

Lundstrom says that your front entry is the one part of your home that everyone sees, even if they’re not lingering inside.

“Make sure the front door and steps are clean and swept, and maybe get a new doormat — typically by fall it’s gotten pretty ratty.”

The same goes for summer plants that have become leggy.

The subdued colors of eucalyptus branches introduce unfussy elegance.
Photo by Jamie Lundstrom

“If you have planters, put in some flowering cabbages and kale, fall perennials, or boxwood” for a tidy, cheerful welcome.

And while you’re at the garden center, keep an eye out for planters. This is the time of year when lightweight planters are replaced by more substantial, earthier pieces that make major statements.

Go big

Large homes often have big front hallways that are great places for major seasonal statements. “My previous house had a two-story foyer, and it was easy to decorate with lots of foliage in a huge vase on the front table,” says Lundstrom.

In general, one or two large-scale pieces, rather than a dozen diminutive accents, make a more handsome impression. Lundstrom says that while the photos on her blog typically feature many layers of decorative elements, she actually prefers a less cluttered approach.

“Putting together a photo for a blog is like applying makeup on TV. You need a lot more than you use in real life. I like a more streamlined look with just a few large seasonal elements. That way your eye is drawn to the fall items, rather than bouncing around a slew of little things.”

Don’t fear the faux

Lundstrom is a fan of faux greenery, as long as it’s displayed correctly. “What gives it away is the stems, which don’t look that real. So use a vessel like a piece of pottery, rather than a glass vase.” Combine some tree clippings from your backyard with two or three few faux branches, and place it on a mantle, side table, kitchen island, or your home office.

Savor the smells of childhood

The scent of an apple pie, a fresh loaf of bread, or a big pot of stew are synonymous with fall. Lundstrom thinks that they are particularly welcoming because, for many of us, these warm, hearty aromas bring back memories of childhood. Appealing to all the senses creates the deepest impressions.

Fresh-baked aromas add instant atmosphere.
Photo by Jamie Lundstrom

Get the kids involved

Creating a sophisticated fall interior doesn’t mean you can’t bring your kids into the process. One project that’s particularly suitable is the set of craft pumpkins Lundstrom painted in muted fall colors. “You have to paint them in a way that’s not perfect in order to make them look more realistic. Kids will generally miss spots, and that’s exactly what you want.”

Homebuyers continue to fall in love with the Vail Valley

One of the biggest trends in real estate right now is the shifting preferences of homebuyers from wanting residences in urban settings, to searching for homes with more privacy and space. This change in priorities has created a surge in buying and selling activity in resort real estate markets, such as the Vail Valley.

Over the last few months, the market has yielded success for both buyers and sellers looking to achieve their lifestyle and real estate goals in the Vail Valley. Through the month of September, LIV Sotheby’s International Realty reported that there was an amazing 29% increase in total sales volume, in a year-to-date comparison of 2020 to 2019. This drastic rise in sales volume speaks to the heightened demand for homes in the Vail Valley.

The average list and sold prices of homes in the Vail Valley saw an increase, which also contributed to the rise in total sales volume. Both the average list price and average sold price for properties in this area grew by 26%. As of September, the average list price for Vail Valley homes was $1,688,307 and the average sold price was $1,602,374.

The luxury sector of the market, defined as homes priced at, or over, $3,000,000, continues to perform extremely well. Total sales volume for luxury homes rose by an incredible 62%. The amount of luxury homes sold through September of this year had a major impact on the overall sales volume achieved. Through September of this year, compared to the same time period in 2019, there was a 42% increase in the number of luxury homes sold, from 73 homes sold to 104 homes sold. Additionally, the average sold price of these properties has risen 14%, making the average sold price for luxury homes $6,635,474.

The highest-priced sale that took place in the Vail Valley last month, which is also the highest-priced sale in Beaver Creek so far in 2020, was that of 246 Strawberry Park Court. LIV SIR brokers, David McHugh and Heather Losa, represented this stunning, slopeside listing in Beaver Creek which sold for $12,375,000 in September.

The seven-bedroom, 10-bathroom ski-in/ski-out estate features soaring beamed ceilings, a grand stonework fireplace, and breathtaking views of Gore Range and Beaver Creek Mountain. When it comes to representing the finest luxury properties in the Vail Valley, only LIV SIR, backed by over 275 years of brand heritage, can deliver the quality that buyers and sellers deserve.

As more people make the decision to escape the mountains of Colorado, the Vail Valley real estate market will continue to thrive. To learn more about the real estate market in the Vail Valley and to view the September Market Report, visit coloradomarketreports.com. For all your real estate needs, call 970-476-7944 or visit resorts.livsothebysrealty.com.

Vail Valley real estate sets dollar volume record in August

What a difference a quarter makes.

After a near-shutdown of the valley’s real estate market in April, May and June, numbers since that time have come roaring back, with August setting a new record for the value of real estate sales in Eagle County.

The August sales total was a staggering $418 million. That total dwarfs monthly sales figures dating back to 2014. Only April of 2017 cracked the $300 million mark.

The August sales total shattered the previous monthly record of $361 million, set in 2005.

How big was August? If you throw out the $57.25 million single-buyer cash sale of a duplex near the Vail Interfaith Chapel, August’s sales still roughly tie the old record.

Most buyers are locals

There was a significant amount of action in the market’s upper reaches, with 11 August sales of $5 million or more. Still, a look at where buyers are coming from matches the figures of the past several years. For a long time, the largest slice on the pie chart of where buyers come from has been Eagle County residents. That piece of the pie is always a bit more than 50% of all buyers. The same was true in August.

Didi Doolittle, the Eagle County sales manager for Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate, said the pandemic may have fueled local buyers as well as those from outside the valley.

With people spending more time at home, Doolittle said many residents either “fell in love” with their current homes, or found things that no longer worked for their families.

Combine that with continued low mortgage rates, and people were on the move.

Another part of the buyer equation seems to be people who own second homes in the valley, but want to move into more substantial dwellings.

“A lot of people who have had homes here now intend to spend more time here,” LIV Sotheby’s International Realty Vail Valley Managing Broker Dan Fitchett said. Many buyers are now working from home, or flying to work and setting up residence in the Vail Valley.

Fitchett said one of his newer brokers is a good example. The broker had a real estate business in Washington D.C., and her husband could work remotely. The family decided to make a change, so the broker got licensed in Colorado.

“A lot of people are making those changes,” Fitchett said.

The ‘Why wait?’ question

Michael Slevin, owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Mountain Properties, called the trend the “Why wait?” question.

“People are looking at their lives and their goals, and asking ‘Why are we waiting?’ — whether that’s buying a first home or a next home or moving here,” Slevin said.

What all those buyers have in common is an attraction to the valley, Slevin added.

Slevin also noted that none of the current flurry of real estate activity would happen without full-on efforts from title companies, inspectors, brokers, lenders and people in the construction trades.

“Without that collaboration and teamwork, who knows where we’d be?” Slevin said.

The intensity of activity in the real estate industry is showing up in very low inventory levels.

Doolittle noted that recently there were more homes under contract than there were homes available in the Multiple Listing Service.

Slevin said he expects the number of September sales to match or exceed those recorded in August.

Doolittle said inventory probably can’t keep pace with that kind of demand.

That could slow down the pace of sales. So could a shock to the national or world economy, or a spike in mortgage interest rates.

But no one knows when, or if, those kind of shocks might hit.

One thing will probably remain constant, though.

“Will people want to stop living here?,” Doolittle asked. “Probably not.”

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