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Ask a Broker: What does the new year hold for the market?

What do brokers expect to happen in 2023?

Turning our attention and thoughts toward 2023 and 2024, we see a distinct return toward a more balanced market that will require buyers to be patient and sellers to acknowledge a change in aspirational pricing. 

In every market evolution, there are opportunities for the cash buyer, and in a softening market, there will be chances to purchase properties expeditiously. Sellers who have priced their property aggressively will likely find buyers are no longer willing to overpay or compete in multi-offer situations. However, buyers who are nimble can be opportunistic: When a great property comes to market, cash will provide the chance to acquire the right property at the right price.

For buyers who elect to finance their purchase, local buyers and resort buyers who need financing will find it easier to get their offers accepted than in 2021 and 2022. During that white-hot market, buyers who required financing to purchase were disappointed when their offers failed to be considered in lieu of cash buyers. The resort market inventory remains low and this will support the continuation of strong list prices.

“Given that we are unlikely to see an improvement in affordability anytime soon, many buyers will be priced out of the market, while others will simply be unwilling to make a purchase,” said Property Economist Sam Hall. “As bidders become scarcer, market power will shift further from sellers to buyers.” 

This environment will give an advantage to buyers who have carefully assessed properties in the market, defined their goals, and have clarity in terms of financing, contingencies and decision making. In these narrow inventory markets, having a seasoned professional broker is essential.

The Federal Reserve has increased interest rates to counteract inflation and slow the heated economy, and this will clearly cause changes in the real estate market. It will be most consequential in areas where buyers are highly sensitive to rate changes.

In the resort market, it will certainly affect the local buyers and likely give a pause to those purchasing second homes. It is probable that those buyers may take a wait-and-see approach. The positive is that as the market slows a bit, financing will be available, and refinancing will be the preferred option when interest rates moderate downward. You marry your home, but you are just dating your mortgage!

While 2023 may not be the ideal time to purchase for home buyers because of high-interest rates, the landscape ahead looks much better in 2024. 

Home prices will rise slightly and sales will dip next year before making a comeback in 2024, according to Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtors’ chief economist. Yun says there will be a “strong rebound” in 2024. 

This sunny and spacious Seasons at Avon two-bedroom condo in the heart of the valley would not have been possible in the last few years and now it is available for $850,000.
Courtesy photo

“The prices will be mostly stable across the country (in 2023), meaning that half of the country will see minor price gains, the other half of the country will see minor price declines,” Yun told attendees at The Realtor Experience conference in Orlando Florida in mid-November, noting that some specific markets such as San Francisco may see a bigger price decline than 2 percent. “Then in 2024, you have to say the long-term path looks bright, therefore just hang in there for this year’s difficulty and maybe next year’s still under transition, but after that everything should be in a better situation.” 

While the next few months may pose some dark challenges, the market looks to be turning toward a bright future. If you are looking to buy, either with cash or with the prospect of refinancing down the road, now may be a good time to jump in.  

Jack Affleck has been a Vail Valley resident for over 35 years and is a Broker Associate for Slifer Smith and Frampton’s Arrowhead office. He is one of the top brokers in the valley and is ranked in the top 5% of realtors nationally. Lissa Tyler has been a Top Producer since her first year at SSF and is the branch broker at The Slifer House. Contact Jack and Lissa at JAffleck@Slifer.net and LTyler@slifer.net.

Catching up with Kelly Newman: Q&A with Edwards Boutique Owner

Kelly Newman moved to Vail and opened 714 Home about nine months before pandemic shutdowns, but that didn’t stop her shop from gaining momentum, and ultimately becoming a favorite boutique for locals and visitors. She named the store after both her wedding anniversary and her daughter’s birthday (July 14). It showcases natural, earthy, textured items to give your home a unique and relaxed feel — or to give special (and sometimes sassy) gifts to loved ones. Through 714 Home, she helps people create more comfortable and welcoming homes, or wrap up precious presents for everything from baby showers to hostess gifts. From furniture and fixtures to handmade, soy-based candles and cowhide bags to tea towels, notebooks, wallets and charms honoring all kinds of dogs, you’ll find a plethora of delights at 714 Home. 

How would you characterize your boutique, in terms of look and feel? 

One of our top aspirations when we opened 714 Home was to create an atmosphere that was welcomed by locals and visitors alike. We so very much appreciate when our customers share how warm, inviting and comfortable they feel in 714 Home. Our inventory and displays are updated weekly, which always provides opportunities to find new or vintage pieces. 

How do you curate your items? 

I always strive to focus on locating and showcasing unique and affordable gifts. 714 Home accessories are many times sourced from small businesses and sole proprietors from across the globe. Supporting entrepreneurs has always been important to me. 

Who do you credit your eye for design to? 

I credit my mother for my eye for design. She always had fabulous taste, and our homes were always decorated beautifully. She decorated with a budget in mind, so she also is credited for my desire to be affordable at 714 Home. 

714 Home has a wide variety of home items.
Dominique Taylor/Special to the Daily

What are some of your favorite items in the store for the fall and winter? 

We have so much fun decorating the shop for all holiday seasons. Some of my favorite items in the shop today are our soft and cozy blankets, our specialty scented soy candles and our rugs. Of course, everyone loves our Christmas displays. 

How has your boutique evolved, or changed, since you first opened? 

It’s been very rewarding to see what our customers find attractive and in demand. Our offerings have evolved based on customer feedback. We have introduced a line of baby gifts recently, and our shop has become wildly popular for wedding and hostess gifts. We do offer gift baskets, boxes and bags for every occasion.  

Why is in-person interaction and shopping important to you? 

The live experience of seeing, touching and smelling an item can never be replaced. We know we are so very fortunate to be able to meet and get to know our customers. In fact, it’s so rewarding when many of them stop by just to say hello or share pictures of recent purchases on display in their homes. 

What do you love most about your work? 

I get to combine all of my passions of design, retail and meeting new and interesting people every day. 714 Home has become a community attraction and gathering place. 

How did your experience as a speech-language pathologist benefit you in working with customers?

Being a speech pathologist is heavily based on service, as is being in retail. To be successful in a service industry, one must have good listening skills, enjoy people and solve problems.  

How is this a dream come true for you? 

It’s always been a dream of mine to own a small business, and the Vail Valley is absolutely the best location I could imagine operating 714 Home. 

What would you say to people about following their dreams? 

Find something you are passionate about, give it your best efforts and you will often find success and happiness. 

The ‘Me Space:’ Finding small spots at home to call your own

It’s not a “she shed” or a “man cave.” More of a “me space.”

It might be a little nook beside a stairway. Or along a wall with a nice window. An enclosed balcony. A basement alcove. Even deep inside a roomy closet.

In a home full of roommates or family members, there are times when we want to be by ourselves. A good walk is restorative, but if the weather’s bad or you don’t want to put shoes on, it’s nice to have a little place at home we can call our own.

After the rise of work-from-home and remote learning, interior design experts see a shift: While homeowners still like open-concept living spaces for some parts of the home, they also are asking for private spaces and a way to compartmentalize their personal lives, away from their working ones.

Parents, caregivers and pressed careerists want somewhere at home that alleviates stress — a “refuge,” however small, where they can unwind and rejuvenate, according to the American Society of Interior Designers’ 2022 Trends Report.

So how do you create this little den of privacy? First, think about what you want to do there, says Monique Valeris, senior home editor at Good Housekeeping.

“Maybe you’d like a meditation room that’s set up with a great floor cushion or hanging chair,” she says. “A quiet reading nook in a hallway, with a storage bench. Or a space designed around one of your hobbies. Think about your lifestyle and the activities that bring you joy and a sense of calm at home.”

During a conversation with a client who’s a professional writer, Los Angeles designer Anne Sage says she asked what the woman’s dream home office looked like.

“She told me she’d love the option to step away from her desk and read, recharge, take a nap, let ideas percolate.”

Sage created a bookshelf-filled space, and enveloped the walls and sofa in a textural stripe upholstery fabric.

These images released by designer Anne Sage shows a home office featuring an inviting bookshelf-filled space, enveloping the walls and the sofa in a textural stripe upholstery fabric from Crypton Home.
Anne Sage via AP

“The whole room feels like a very chic and comfortable hug, one where my client can be productive and creative at her own pace,” she says.

For a cat-loving client, designer Anna Popov in Redmond, Washington, created a “me and the pets” space. A spare bedroom became a reading room for the humans, and Popov installed climbing shelves and several cubbies for the feline ones. She says the space is now referred to as the “everybody wants to be a cat” room.

Amy Azzarito, author of “Elements of a Home: Curious Histories Behind Everyday Household Objects” (Chronicle Books, March 2020), bought a house in Marin County, California, in 2018 that had a generous bedroom and a tiny closet — “more of a step-in than a walk-in.”

She didn’t want to do any renovation work, so instead she worked with designers from California Closets to decorate and build out a small, windowed pass-through to the closet. They created a built-in dresser and hanging area, then wraparound seating with roomy drawers. With a calm palette of blush-toned neutrals, it also has a pendant light made of wood beads, and a framed artwork that says “AH.”

Another option: Create a glassed-in space. Sliding doors installed in a room can section off part of it. Or, to delineate a personal area more simply and affordably, consider creating a feature wall with wallpaper or murals, or a different color paint.

Find your comfiest toss pillow and softest throw, and add warm ambient lighting and perhaps some aromatherapy with a diffuser or scented candle.

If nature is your de-stressor, add collected rocks, shells or greenery.

Some people prefer silence, but if music soothes you, bring in a wireless player or even a turntable.

Finally, if there’s no other room for a little refuge, the bathroom can become the ultimate “me space.”

There are waterproof, wireless, voice-activated speakers in the bathroom marketplace. Or for a really immersive bath experience, there are shower installations available with a rainshower head, LCD touchscreens, pre-programmed sound and light, and visuals like waterfalls, sunsets — even a crackling fireplace.

Eagle County Real Estate Market Report: Reason for optimism in uncertain times      

Media headlines are generating uncertainty around the local and national housing market, and lower inventory coupled with higher inflation and interest rates have created a pause in the residential real estate market. Depending on whom you listen to, the U.S. economy is or will be in a recession soon. 

While the Vail Valley and Eagle County’s very active market needed to rebalance, opportunities await those who are ready to make a move to buy or sell. 

October Eagle County real estate stats

  • 95 homes sold (174 in October 2021)
  • $893 average price per square foot  ($839 in October 2021)
  • 67 average days on the market (39 in October 2021)
  • $15,850,000 highest-priced sale 
  • $419,000 lowest priced sale
  • 70 home sales sending

Thankfully, we have history to look back on to help project where we are headed. Housing is traditionally one of the first sectors to slow as the economy shifts, but it is also one of the first to rebound, according to Ali Wolf, chief economist at Zonda. Additionally, Freddie Mac notes that interest rates also decline during a recession. Over the last six recessions dating back to 1980, interest rates have declined 1.8 percentage points from the peak seen during the recession to the trough. Both points bode well for what is developing to be a more balanced market.

What it means for buyers, sellers in the Vail/luxury market

Located at 610 West Lionshead Circle, #402, this two-bedroom, two-bath, 1,011-square-foot Landmark Vail ski condo is located in the heart of Lionshead offering panoramic views of Vail Mountain. Amenities include a rooftop pool, hot tubs, ski locker, fitness room, underground parking, and pickleball court. Listed by Timm Kluender with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties. The residence sold for $2.125 million in April 2022.
Courtesy photo

Timm Kluender, managing broker for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties’ Vail-Lionshead office says, “While national headlines about rising interest rates may portend a softening of the real estate market, it’s important to remember that real estate is local. The Vail luxury market might not be immune to market forces, but it does have some unique characteristics that make it more resilient than other areas in the national spotlight.” The good news for buyers is they are buying into a strong market, one that has historically held its value in past economic downturns. What makes it so strong?

  • More than 80% of Eagle County is public land. Vail is completely surrounded by national forest and wilderness areas and has an even scarcer supply of buildable land. Because the town is essentially built out, the limited supply has and will continue to increase demand.  
  • Vail will always be a desirable place to live; the ski resort is world-class, easy to get to, and serviced by a well-run regional airport. 
  • There are many legacy properties in Vail, most are owned free and clear of debt and the owners have the resources to withstand just about any market condition. As a result, most sellers don’t necessarily need to sell. 

The good news for sellers is low inventory levels continue to buoy property values.

“While properties in prime locations are still selling at or near the height of the market, for sellers that have entry-level properties or those that haven’t been remodeled, it’s important to price your property correctly,” said Kluender. “Resort buyers are not necessarily in a position where they need to buy either.” 

What it means for buyers and sellers downvalley

Downvalley, including Eagle, Eagle Ranch, and Gypsum, Kira Taylor, a broker associate with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties’ Edwards office, echoes Kluender’s sentiments on the low inventory challenge.

“Inventory downvalley remains low and buyers, while ready to buy, are weighing out the pros and cons,” said Taylor. “Buyers who are ready to buy, shouldn’t wait for rates to come down. Working with a broker who knows the market, along with a trusted lender, can help them understand what they can afford. Buyers also have options with interest rate buy-downs, and Eagle County down payment assistance programs.  If you’re looking to buy, now is still a great time, as we do not foresee prices going down that much. As I say to my clients, buy the house and date the rate.“

“My advice to sellers is that they need to recognize that the market has shifted when pricing their homes.  Homes that are priced based on today’s market value are more likely to attract more buyers, sell more quickly and maximize the sales price, even as demand changes and mortgage rates rise. Homes that are well-maintained and up to date will also be more appealing,” Taylor added. 

Reasons for optimism still exist. As we work our way through a hyperlocal market (i.e., some areas of the market are maintaining or going up while others are seeing pricing pressure), we have expectations that the market will remain active, and sellers and buyers will adjust their expectations. 

Michael Slevin is the president and owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, started by his father, John, 51 years ago. The company has grown to 12 offices in 10 communities, spanning from Summit and Eagle Counties to the Western Slope.

Ask a Broker: How can I be a better negotiator?

Question: I am really intimidated by the negotiating process when purchasing a home. What can I do to prepare?

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had my clients tell me, “I’m a horrible negotiator.” The most obvious answer I have for them is, of course, “That’s my job.” But the truth is, there’s no avoiding the negotiating process.

Cara Connolly

Ultimately, it’s up to the client to review all the offers and make the final decision. Perhaps the reason it is so intimidating is that it is a vital part of any business transaction. It is a great idea to be prepared. An educated decision is always going to be the best decision, and your real estate agent is going to be there every step of the way.

Once you have found the perfect home to buy or the perfect buyer for your home, negotiating the contract to buy and sell is the next step. This can be a very tricky aspect of any real estate transaction and your real estate agent can help you through the process by following a few important steps. First and most importantly, you want to start with a fair price and a fair offer — not what your neighbor told you they paid for their house six months ago, not what your parents think you should do, but what is reasonable in today’s market. Work with your real estate agent to understand recent transactions as your offer should be based on recent sales of comparable homes.

In terms of strategy, it’s a good idea to understand the priorities on each side of the deal. If you know what issues are sensitive to each side, you can avoid pushing too hard and breaking the deal. For instance, if the buyer needs to move in quickly, they may be willing to forgo some repairs and if the seller won’t budge on pricing, they may be willing to pay some of the closing costs.

The hardest hurdle sometimes for transactions is clients who refuse to compromise, especially when they are emotionally attached to a property. Compromise is what negotiations are truly about. A true “win-win” does not mean that both the buyer and sellers get everything they want out of the sale.

Focus on what you see as the priorities and overall outcomes and do not allow your emotions to come into the picture. Meet halfway. Having trouble deciding on a certain fee or being able to agree on an escrow date? Sometimes splitting the fees or simply meeting in the middle can be an easy compromise to keep the deal going.

Be willing to leave some items aside. If you have a major sticking point but it is not material to the contract, finish the main agreement and then go back to the item for future discussion. This allows both sides of the transaction to focus on the main items and gives you time afterward to go back on focus on items that need a little more time to fairly negotiate.

Ths beautiful single-family home in Cotton Ranch, currently listed for $1,024,999 is move-in ready and offers low year-round maintenance for buyers.
Courtesy photo

Of course, always ask for advice from your real estate agent. Your broker has great experience negotiating sales contracts and can give you expertise and guidance. Talk to them about any questions you have to see if an idea may work to help with negotiations. They will often have some creative solutions from negotiating past deals that can help you get to a “win-win” outcome. Every transaction is truly unique and having a trusted realtor who understands these processes will help you achieve your goals with confidence.

Cara Connolly is an associate broker with Slifer Smith & Frampton with 20 years of experience in the Vail Valley and was recently appointed as the 2023 Chair-Elect for the Vail Board of Realtors and received the Rising Star Award from SSF in 2021. She is at the Beaver Creek Park Hyatt office (970) 401-4071 or cconnolly@slifer.net.

Wellness features make for the hottest new appliance trends

Over a quarter (29%) of consumers prefer brands or products that protect their health.

Global consumer research conducted by leading appliance company Beko showed that four out of five consumers said their cooking behavior has changed due to the pandemic. Forty-five percent admit that COVID-19 is still a big concern for them. A whopping 90% want to continue with the habits they learned during lockdowns, and 50% say that home appliances helped improve their lifestyle in some way.

It’s no secret that appliances these days come packed with features galore. Appliance manufacturers are paying more attention to how their products can improve our daily lives, from washers and dryers that save energy and water to refrigerators that alert you when food is about to go bad. And one trend that has been on the rise in recent years is wellness-focused appliances.

Here are the latest and most significant sensations in home appliances and how they can help us lead healthier lives.

Cooking Appliances

Cooking appliances continue to evolve for health-conscious consumers’ needs. Topping the list is the steam oven. It uses steam to cook food quickly and evenly while preserving its nutrients.

Induction cooktops use magnetic fields to generate heat. According to EnergyStar, the per unit efficiency of induction cooking tops is about 5-10% more efficient than conventional electric resistance units and nearly three times more efficient than gas.

Air frying, a cooking method that uses hot air to circulate food, cooking it crisp on the outside while keeping it juicy on the inside, has gained popularity as people look for healthier alternatives to deep frying. The NPD Group says air fryer sales increased by 76% in the past two years. Air fryer usage has gone up by over 60%, while air fryer cookbook sales are up by 11%.

Sous vide, a cooking technique that involves sealing food in a vacuum-sealed bag and cooking it in water at a precise temperature, will become more mainstream as people learn about its benefits. With sous vide, food is cooked evenly and prevented from drying out.

It is easier now for many busy consumers to lead healthier lives by cooking nutritious meals at home.

Refrigeration Technology

Refrigerators have undergone a significant transformation in just a few short years. Once simply a way to keep food cold, today’s fridges now come packed with features designed to help families lead healthier lives. One of the most notable changes is the increasing emphasis on food preservation. As food prices continue to rise, consumers are looking for ways to extend the life of their groceries.

Refrigerators now come equipped with features like airtight seals, rapid cooling tech, and humidity control, which help to keep food fresh for longer. Many freezers now use ultrasonic waves to remove impurities from water, offering safer, cleaner craft ice that doesn’t alter the taste of your favorite cocktail.

For the wine lover in the family, many refrigerators now come with built-in wine preservation systems. By keeping wines at the perfect temperature and humidity level, each bottle is as delicious as the last.

Cleaning technology

Who would have thought that the most popular home cleaning appliances in 2022 would be those that focus on sanitization? But in a world still reeling from a pandemic, consumers are more interested than ever in appliances that can help keep their homes clean and sanitized. And manufacturers have responded with some innovative new features.

One of the most popular features is sanitization cycles in today’s dishwashers. These special cycles help to kill bacteria and viruses, making your home safer for your family. Miele’s ProfiLine, for example, can sanitize dishes with a final rinse temperature of up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

LG’s QuadWash, according to Houzz, has a superheated steam function that activates at the end of the cycle. Also, many cleaning appliances now come with stainless steel interiors that look chic and help prevent bacteria growth.

If you’re someone who suffers from allergies, you’ll be happy to know that many appliances like the latest GE smart washers now come with a fabric refresher feature; it removes allergens from fabrics, making your home a more comfortable place to live.

A kitchen ventilation system that supports good health

Air quality is a top concern for families across the country. The American Lung Association talks about the challenges triggered by poor ventilation and how to use ventilation to protect your health. Ventilation design and construction have evolved to help keep homes healthy and pollution-free.

In the kitchen, for example, downdraft cooktops are now connected to ventilation systems that automatically adjust to the amount of smoke and fumes generated, ensuring air quality remains high even when cooking large meals.

Furthermore, homes are now being constructed with enhanced air filtration systems that regularly remove pollutants from the air, including any odors or fumes from the kitchen. These new ventilation systems are highly energy efficient, saving you money on your utility bills.

Smart automation

Voice-controlled smart automation has become one of the most popular features in new homes. An eye-opening smart home statistics by Techjury estimates by 2023, nearly 53.9% of households in the United States will have some form of smart automation, and 81% of consumers are more likely to purchase a new home that has smart technology. There are many reasons for this trend, but one of the most important is that smart automation can help people lead healthier lives.

For instance, you can program voice-controlled ovens to start cooking at a particular time and set voice-controlled fridges to keep food at a safe temperature. Devices paired with Google Home and Amazon Alexa can be used to set oven timers, adjust the temperature of homes, and even open the fridge door hands-free. These devices keep customers on track with their fitness goals by recording steps and heart rate and offering reminders to get up and move.

Voice-controlled lights improve home security and voice-controlled thermostats save energy. But perhaps the most important way smart automation assists people in staying healthy is by giving them more quality family time. Techjury says that smart home security not only provides protection but they also offer users peace of mind.

With voice-controlled systems taking care of mundane tasks like turning off the lights or setting the oven timer, families can enjoy each other’s company without worrying about household chores. This is no small feat in an increasingly busy and stressful world.

As you can see, the latest trends in home appliances are all about wellness.

From sanitization cycles to energy-efficient ventilation, manufacturers are doing their part to help families stay healthy and comfortable. So if you’re in the market for new appliances, keep these trends in mind. Your family’s health is worth it.

Time to get spooky! Simple Halloween decorations to transform your house

Do you want your house to be the one everyone talks about this Fall? Now is the time to buy those trendy Halloween decorations that will be the highlight of your neighborhood.

Halloween is right around the corner, and it’s never too early to start prepping for the big day. Halloween decorations can sell out quickly in early October if you don’t plan early. If you want to take your Halloween game to the next level, you must start immediately.

You’ll be surprised how much people spend on Halloween. Besides buying candies, people spend thousands of dollars on decorations. National Retail Federation says consumers spend around 10.4 billion on Halloween-related purchases.

If you want to hit it with a bang this year, you need to start preparing.

Need Inspiration

If you are struggling to come up with creative ideas, check out what the Kardasians and Kelly Wearstler did last year. These Halloween decorations might spark a thought or two for you.

The Kardashians are known to spend their money on lavish things, and they went all out last year. They bought two 10-feet tall skeletons to place outside their gate and covered their dining set in faux spiderwebs, black candelabras, candles, and more. Considering how much money they spent, they are quite committed to this holiday.

Wearstler is a famous American designer who decorated her entryway with only black, white, and green pumpkins with a disco ball from her collection to give the space an otherworldly feeling. She took the color palette of black and white with touches of green to give her hallway the “anti-orange” arrangement that will give a grand entrance.

It was a simple display, yet the design speaks for itself.

Trendy decorations to consider this Halloween season

According to Lombardo Homes, of all the homeowners surveyed, 67% decorate inside, 61% decorate outside, with 54% surveyed doing both. Whether it’s a decoration for outdoors or indoors, you want your decoration and design to be memorable for your guests, trick-or-treaters, or family. Depending on your budget, you might want to think about how much money you are willing to spend and how much room you have.

Inflatables are pretty popular for Halloween if you have the budget since they are a hit with youngsters. If you want to spice things up with your Halloween decorations, inflatables are the way to go.

Since inflatables come in many sizes and themes, you have many options to choose from. Depending on your yard space, you can select a humongous inflatable or multiple small ones. There’s a haunted house archway, zombies, ghosts, pumpkins, Hocus Pocus Witches, and more.

You can find the perfect inflatable, whatever Halloween theme you’re interested in.

Add a skeleton or two to make your front lawn stand out with a spooky vibe! These come in all sizes, and some skeletons are impressively large! The 12-foot skeleton has become the hottest thing for Halloween in 2020 and 2021 and is still the trend this year.

People love setting skeletons up as decoration because people get to be creative and unveil new outfits to the figures. You can find many skeleton decorations at your local Halloween stores, Home Depot, Party City, and more.

Like Christmas, Halloween is also a time to decorate your yard with lights. If you’re extra crafty, you might decide to set up a campfire for your skeletons or goblins. You can drape lights along your house or windows if you like traditional lighting. Use either LED lightbulbs or lights in the shape of ghosts, pumpkins, bats, etc.

Is anyone not afraid of spiders? These make great props for your home. You can buy several tiny spiders and sprinkle them throughout your living room or buy a giant 30-inch spider and place it on the wall to surprise people when they walk around a corner. Be prepared for screams! And what goes with spiders? Spider webs, of course. Yep, you can buy those too.

You can never forget about pumpkins! They are simple yet give off the Halloween and fall atmosphere. Whether you carve them or not, you can display your pumpkins in many arrangements. Pumpkins make the best DIY crafts if you have kids who love to carve or paint them. They are inexpensive to buy and give your house the Halloween spirit. The majority of people usually buy pumpkins.

Everyone has to eat, whether it’s an informal meal or the treats you’re handing out at the door. Your serving dish or candy bowl may resemble a skeleton head or a pumpkin. How about a coffin butter dish for something unique on your kitchen table? You can set your table with a Halloween-themed tablecloth. And you will have no difficulty finding dinner napkins that match your tablecloth.

Bottom line

October will be one busy month, so you want to be ahead of the game.

Whether you buy or create your decorations, you’ll have some great inspiration over the coming weeks as you look for Halloween decorations. Make a list of what things you want to buy for your homes and see what’s available to begin purchasing as your budget permits.

Just set aside your Halloween decorations until you’re ready to decorate your home. Happy haunting!

There are almost no homes available for $500,000 or less in Vail Valley real estate market

The lower and upper reaches of Eagle County’s real estate market don’t seem to share much. But this year, there are nearly as many sales of $5 million or more as there are sales of $500,000 or less.

Through the end of August, there were 78 transactions of $500,000 or less compared with 68 sales of $5 million or more. Sales of $500,000 or less as recently as 2017 were the largest single segment of sales.

By the numbers
  • 14%: Increase in real estate dollar volume from August 2021 to August 2022
  • 31%: Decline in real estate transactions from August 2021 to August 2022
  • 6%: Portion of Eagle County real estate sales over $5 million through August
  • 7%: Portion of Eagle County real estate sales $500,000 and less through August

Source: Land Title Guarantee Company

People in the local real estate business say the lack of lower-priced sales comes down to a combination of rising prices, low inventory and increasing construction costs.

Steffen Mehnert, the Vail Valley team leader for Keller Williams Realty, noted that homes at Gypsum’s Siena Lake project were first projected to start below about $500,000. Those homes — set for occupancy in May of 2023 — are now starting at $575,000 and up.

Alex Griffin is the vice president and managing broker of LIV Sotheby’s International Realty’s Vail Valley branch. Griffin said the lack of lower-priced units is “unfortunate for people trying to buy (their first) homes.”

Griffin noted that activity in Eagle has slowed significantly over the past several months.

That slowdown has also spurred some declines in asking prices.

Craig Denton of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties said he’s seeing price reductions in between 6 and 10 units every day. Those prices are still higher than those seen in 2019.

Mehnert added that brokers are again hosting open houses at homes up and down the valley.

“There’s a real disconnect between buyers and sellers right now,” Mehnert said, with buyers waiting for prices to come down, while sellers are hoping prices stay where they are.

Beyond rising prices, interest rates also play a role in what people can buy.

Mehnert noted that a consumer’s buying power declines 11% for every 1% rise in interest rates.

“In Eagle, what (buyers) could afford at the start of the year … has probably changed,” Griffin said.

All those factors are moving some potential buyers and sellers to the sidelines of the market.

Griffin said people already in homes, many of whom are locked into interest rates in the 3% range, are looking at rates in the 6% range and the numbers don’t make sense.

A number of people, Griffin said, are saying to themselves “why would I sell if I don’t have to.”

In response to the changing market, real estate and mortgage brokers are getting more creative with financing. Adjustable rate morgages and other financing tactics are making something of a comeback.

“The market has changed,” Denton said. “Time will tell where we’re going.”

But even with those changes, Denton said there are still buyers looking to buy homes.

“People still want to come to the resorts,” he said.

Eagle County Real Estate Market Report: A changed market yields opportunities

Our market continues to show its resiliency despite headwinds from inflation, interest rates, and geopolitical uncertainty. No, it is not going to equal 2020 or 2021. That market was not sustainable. It is, however, trending back to pre-pandemic levels, where we saw a healthy market supporting the objectives of buyers and sellers.

The unique circumstances of the last two years required brokers to quickly initiate virtual showings and navigate multiple offers and escalation clauses (to name a few) to serve the dynamic market. Today’s environment still relies on this level of expertise. Pricing your home for today’s market requires a thoughtful, detailed approach. Staging, negotiating, and procuring showings have become critical elements for sellers in this transitioning environment. 

For buyers, you have the chance to be more critical of homes and allow time to look at your goals relative to today’s market. Concerns about rising interest rates are being offset by strategic broker negotiations for alternative lending options, benefitting both buyers and sellers.

On the surface, while unit sales are down for Q3 year over year (1,272 in 2021 compared to 952 in 2022), the balance of the numbers shows a very impressive year. Average sales price increased from $1.728 million to $2.032 million, price per square foot grew from $741 to $857, and days on market decreased from 82 to 36. In addition, the list-to-sale price has also nudged up from 98.5% to 99.5%, influenced by more sellers listing or coming down to market value in their pricing.

In a nutshell, the strength of the overall market in 2022 is a combination of early sales in Q1 and the resiliency of resort properties and luxury sales. 

Midvalley to downvalley

Jared Saul, associate broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties’ Eagle Office, notes that while there was a surge in inventory in June and July, that has leveled off as deals were closed.

Q3 2019-2022 (Residential)

Number of Sales

  • 2019: 1,020
  • 2020: 1,070
  • 2021: 1,272
  • 2022: 952

Average Sale Price

  • 2019: $1,235,170
  • 2020: $1,551,730
  • 2021: $1,728,162
  • 2022: $2,023,614

Average Price per Foot

  • 2019: $516
  • 2020: $579
  • 2021: $741
  • 2022: $857

Average List Price to Sales Price

  • 2019: 96.46%
  • 2020: 96.79%
  • 2021: 98.57%
  • 2022: 99.57%

Average Days on Market

  • 2019: 136
  • 2020: 133
  • 2021: 82
  • 2022: 36

“We’re in a healthier state right now, even if inventory is still relatively tight. Well-priced homes are selling quickly and there are well-qualified buyers still out looking,” he said. “I have found that buyers are frequently motivated more by their stage of life and personal finances than by strictly waiting until the market conditions are most favorable. Sellers who price their home correctly are still capitalizing on very strong appreciation however they are not necessarily consistently seeing multiple offers and contingencies waived like we were the last two years.”

Resort market

Larry Agneberg, a luxury collection specialist, and associate broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, concurs on the market correction versus downturn and that the numbers don’t always tell the true story.

Located at 1935 Vermont Road in the desirable Highland Meadows neighborhood in Vail, this remodeled, fully furnished, move-in ready, four-bedroom, five-bathroom, 3,219-square-foot home includes vaulted ceilings, a spacious living area, a private deck, a rock fireplace, a spacious kitchen, and two master suites. Listed by Larry Agneberg with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties for $2.695M.
Courtesy photo

“While closings on $2 million-plus residential homes between East Vail and Edwards are down 22% year-to-date over 2021, and the average sales price is down approximately 3.5%, we’re still looking at an average price of $4.7 million,” Agneberg said. “It really comes down to the right price for the location, views, and size relative to the property’s age and updates.”

Both Agneberg and Saul agree that there is no crystal ball on what the market will do or where it will go. It really comes down to timing and the needs of the seller or buyer.

“Real estate, over the long term, continues to be a great investment and when you factor the quality of life in the Vail Valley and Eagle County, it is pretty much guaranteed to give you a return,” Saul said.

Michael Slevin is the president and owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, started by his father, John, 51 years ago. The company has grown to 12 offices in 10 communities, spanning from Summit and Eagle Counties to the Western Slope.

Vail real estate ‘legends’ share stories and insights

People in the Vail Valley often come and go. The Vail Board of Realtors hosted a recent panel discussion with five people who came and stayed.

The event, held at Vail’s Donovan Pavilion, was called “Legends of Vail Valley Real Estate,” and featured longtime local brokers Bev Trout, Carroll Tyler, Jim Flaum, Larry Agneberg and Sue Rychel. The five talked about the way the business has changed over the decades and shared some stories from their past experience.

The panel
  • Bev Trout
  • Carroll Tyler
  • Jim Flaum
  • Larry Agneberg
  • Sue Rychel

Moderator Alex Griffin of LIV Sotheby’s International Realty, decked out in a tuxedo with tails, began by asking the quintet about the way business used to be conducted.

Trout, who brought a typewriter she still uses, recalled that she used to have legal-sized paper with multiple carbon sheets.

Event moderator Alex Griffin of LIV Sotheby’s International Realty donned a tux and tails to talk with five “Legends of Vail Valley Real Estate” Sept. 27 at Vail’s Donovan Pavilion.
Michael Rawlings/courtesy photo

“We should have bought stock in White Out and correction tape,” Rychel said.

Flaum, who’s worked in a number of real estate markets over the decades, recalled that his firm in 1970 bought four of the typewriters Trout still uses. The machines in those days were $2,000. Henoted that in the days before even fax machines, brokers in San Diego would often drive paperwork to Los Angeles because the trip was faster than Federal Express.

How did they do it?

Agneberg added that even sending letters could be a convoluted process in the days before cell phones, email and other technology.

“When I had a letter written to a client, I’d write it, a secretary would type it up, I’d correct it and she’d retype it,” Agneberg said.

Even showing property could be complicated, he added.

“We had to run around to different offices just to get keys,” Agneberg said. “It’s amazing we got anything done … We used the tools we had to do what we could.”

Given the youth of the valley, there was also a good bit of seat-of-the pants work.

A number of local real estate brokers gathered Sept. 27 at Vail’s Donovan Pavilion to hear the stories and insights of five “Legends of Vail Valley Real Estate.”
Michael Rawlings/courtesy photo

Rychel recalled that one day she and a few other brokers went on a ski day together and fellow broker Alida Zwaan asked her companions to help put a price on a home in Vail. The group talked it out, and the home was soon on the market for that price.

There were hijinks, too, of course.

Agneberg recalled going with fellow broker Bob Finlay to several industry conferences in Colorado Springs. Finlay would often put “Rod Slifer” on his name tag.

Since Slifer never went to those conferences, no one was the wiser.

The brokers on the Donovan Pavilion stage were also open about some of their biggest mistakes.

Rychel recalled a time she was showing a home to a couple who had asked about storage space. Rychel knew the home she was showing had what she believed to be an easily-accessible attic. She gave a tug on the rope attached to a pull-down ladder and the whole thing came down.

The couple bought the home anyway.

Flaum recalled a time when one of his partners in Southern California had told a client “you’re in good hands with me,” just before walking into a hall closet instead of out the front door.

Griffen added to the faux pas stories with his tale of the time a magpie flew into a home that was being photographed. The bird was removed after about 20 minutes and many droppings, he said, adding that the secret to removing a bird seems to be throwing a blanket over the thing.

Good stuff doesn’t change

While much about the local real estate business has changed, a lot hasn’t.

Rychel noted that over the years the local industry has had “very few” arbitrations, complaints or ethics violations.

There’s also a lot of cooperation within the industry, the brokers said.

Tyler more than once praised her counterparts and coworkers for all their help over the years.

Tyler and the other brokers had advice those who attended the session.

“Listen, don’t try to teach, and don’t talk too much,” Tyler said. “And learn how to talk on the phone — slowly and clearly.”

Trout noted that a new broker needs to start on the right footing.

“The way you start is the way you’re going to end up,” she said, adding that means not making unrealistic promises or over-pricing a unit just to the listing on the property.

Griffin had some advice from Slifer, with whom he’d spoken on a recent plane ride.

Griffin said Slifer’s advice is to stay in the office on powder days. Guests who don’t know how to ski powder may want to look at a property, and whoever’s in the office will get the first shot at that business.

Rychel’s advice was simple: “Live your life by the Golden Rule, learn from your mistakes and be on time.”