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Ask a Realtor: Are virtual tours reliable for buying a home?

Dear CJ and Jeffrey: My wife and I were planning to come to Vail in the late spring to look at homes, which got put on hold due to the pandemic. We are very interested in moving to the Vail Valley and looking for a new home but are concerned about COVID-19 safety issues both with traveling and touring properties. 

We have heard about the shift to virtual tours and wondering how this process works. Can we get a realistic tour of the home online and, if so, will we need to still come out and do a walkthrough or can we literally do this all online?

— Curious Buyer

Dear Curious Buyer: Your question is a very timely topic and one we field almost daily. Buyer demand in the Vail Valley and downvalley has escalated with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, even more so than anticipated. People, such as your wife and you, are looking for a place to live or spend a portion of their year that offers more access to open space and smaller, more contained communities. 

This home at 411 Dear Blvd. in Avon was purchased virtually for $922,000 in 2018. The home features three bedrooms plus a den, five bathrooms, 2,500 square feet and a three-car garage.
Special to the Daily

Touring a home these days doesn’t look the way it did at the start of 2020. While important safety and health precautions, such as wearing masks and sanitizing homes before and after tours, are now standard practices, the added potential risks associated with traveling to, touring different properties  and staying in hotels, have more buyers considering and using virtual options.

We respect and want to work with buyers, such as yourself, who are concerned about traveling and touring properties. While face-to-face time is always preferred as a way to get to know each other, safety and comfort-level boundaries are also important. This is where virtual tour technology plays a valuable role and one that gives the buyer a very realistic look of a home and its setting.

We’re certainly doing more than we ever have over the internet and conducting real estate sales in a way we could never have imagined even three months ago. We are selling homes without the buyer ever physically stepping foot into the house.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your virtual tour video (buyer and sellers):

  • While walkthrough videos are pretty standard, it is important to still do a FaceTime/Zoom/Skype a few times before moving forward.
  • Be sure your broker does an actual live video walkthrough with you.  While the initial video/Matterport/property tour gives you the space design and location, “hearing” the home and surrounding sounds are important elements for really understanding the “feel” of the home.
  •  Make sure this is a complete tour; you should see every element and crack — the good and the bad. This helps ensure there are no surprises when you actually step into the home.
  • All paperwork can be done via e-mail /electronically, helping to save time and travel costs if you are out of the market.

And lastly, make sure you work with a broker who has eyes on properties that aren’t just coming through the MLS feed. A good broker on their game with the focused goal of successfully executing your needs and the needs of clients will take the time to locate homes that haven’t even hit the market.

Good luck in your search.

CJ Seatvet and Jeffrey Cloonan are award-winning, associate brokers and Luxury Collection Specialists with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties for the past 11+ years. Both have earned top honors, including the Chairman’s Circle Award, as top-producing brokers in the Vail Valley and downvalley. CJ can be reached at 970-376-9010 or cj@thejayteam.com; Jeffrey can be reached at 970-445-8388 or jeffrey@bhhsvail.net.

Consumer confidence is high for the Vail Valley Real Estate Market

Not all industries are being negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Real estate is proving to weather this storm as thoughtful Realtors® guide clients through the process of buying or selling a home with caution and respect that is ultimately leading to successful transactions in the Vail Valley.

A Great Time to Sell

There are several reasons why now is a great time to sell your home: mortgage rates remain at an all-time low, buyer demand is strong, inventory is low so your home will get more attention, and homeowner needs are evolving.

Kevin Kuebert, Chair-Elect for the Vail Board of Realtors®, shared his opinion in a recent conversation. Kuebert feels that a main motivator for clients choosing to make a move now is a need for more space and a desire for change.

“Remote working and online learning play a big role in this decision. Families are taking a close look at how their homes may or may not be adequately serving those needs. Homeowners are examining the equity earned in their homes to assess whether they can make a move up the property ladder,” says Kuebert. Adding, “It’s not only COVID that is motivating the market, tension in metropolitan areas is also a factor. The Vail Valley offers a safe respite from continued unrest in the cities with access to outdoor recreation and the ability to physically distance naturally.”

Best Practices for Sellers

Low inventory can be traditionally good for sellers as this increases market competition; however, sellers should still follow best practices if they want the process to move quickly and efficiently. These practices include following your Realtor’s guidance on de-cluttering and beautifying or “staging” the home, make sure there are great photos or even a virtual tour available to buyers, and most importantly, price the home according to the true value and current comparable sales.

“We provide sellers with an initial list of items to de-clutter, then we go through and review the home a second time and make sure it’s ready for photos and to hit the market,” says Kuebert. “We look at every aspect of the home, interior and exterior and make recommendations.”

There is a lot of activity in the market that started as soon as stay-at-home restrictions were progressively lifted. “Right now, pending sales from June are up while closings are on track and continue to process in a timely manner with minimal delays. Any home in the under $700,000 range that has been properly prepped for the market will not sit on the market too long. If it does, we know quickly that the home could be overpriced,” says Kuebert.

Safe Virtual Showings

With the availability of advanced technology such as 3D Matterport cameras, “sight unseen” transactions have been on the rise. Clients can enjoy virtual tours to get a great sense of a home during their search. In Kuebert’s experience, “Good photos are key in capturing the buyer’s initial attention however it has been Facetime or some other form of a live video showing that has given our clients the confidence to buy the home without physically walking through it. Since we have been able to show homes again, I have done many of these tours.”

In addition to virtual and live video walk throughs, the Vail Board of Realtors® has created and committed to the Safe Showing Pledge for all open houses and private showings. The complete list of commitments is listed on VBR.net including but not limited to the following: adhere to social distancing guidelines, keeping a detailed log of home visitors
for use as needed in contact tracing, sanitizing high- touch surfaces, traveling separately from clients, asking clients about symptoms, and of course, staying home if the Realtor® themselves is experiencing symptoms.

With a lack of inventory, median home sale prices continue to be higher than last year by 7.2 percent. And, the percent of list price received remains consistent. This illustrates that Realtors® are working hard to present homes realistically and thoughtfully to the market.

Tips for Buyers

These important numbers lead to our final tip to buyers: be prepared to make an offer. According to lender statistics, mortgage applications are up approximately 20 percent with low rates, refinances, and general market activity. For serious buyers, pre-approval sends a confident message to sellers and could be a stand-out if there are multiple offers on the table.

In order for transactions to move smoothly, look into a local lender and secure pre-approval for a loan if the plan includes one. According to Kuebert, “Lenders have the potential to affect the closing process and timing. For those looking to secure a mortgage, an outside lender could slow the process down.”

If you are interested in changing your environment, getting more square footage to make life more comfortable, or have been considering
a move for a while, contact a trusted Realtor® and feel confident in the safe and secure guidance these professionals can provide for you. Learn more at VBR.net.

Colorado River Ranch has been listed for sale

The Colorado River Ranch, a roughly 1,000-acre working ranch about 12 miles north of Dotsero along the Colorado River Road, has been listed for sale.

The ranch is described in a news release as a “self-sufficient sanctuary in a spectacular setting, set apart from civilization but filled with modern first-class amenities.” The ranch includes about 2 miles of Colorado River frontage and is described as the only property in the area with land on both sides of the river.

The ranch’s buildings are described as a “cohesive, architecturally significant luxury retreat created as a destination for full-time work, play and gathering.”

The ranch is about a half-hour drive from the Eagle County Regional Airport. It’s about 50 miles from Vail and 70 miles from Aspen.

“Colorado River Ranch is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. It’s a legacy ranch. It is a true retreat, a secure and safe gathering place away from the crowds and fully immersed in the beauty of the Rockies. It combines luxury with just the right amount of ‘Wild West,’” Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate broker Cathy Jones Coburn said. Jones Coburn is the listing agent for the property, along with Ann Abernethy.

The property includes renovated buildings, wildlife habitats, ponds for fishing, and gardens. The working ranch features all-natural cattle and hay production property. It has several hundred irrigated acres, and currently supports Wagyu cattle, horses and other livestock.

The ranch has a conservation easement, which was added to the property in 2008. The property has an additional building envelope that allows for a 7,000 to 8,000-square-foot primary residence or a fishing/hunting lodge as well as an option to build a bonus 1,500-square-foot structure.

For more information, go to coloradoriverranchland.com. 

The Vail Valley sees spike in demand for homes

In June, more businesses across Colorado’s resort communities, such as the Vail Valley, reopened their doors to consumers. After a period of more strict social distancing mandates, residents and tourists were eager to safely return to the activities they longed for in the spring.

Along with simple pleasures such as visits to restaurants, haircuts, and shopping in stores again, consumers were excited to get back into the real estate market.

Pent-up demand that accumulated throughout the spring has created a strong desire for homes in the Vail Valley. However, the supply and the demand within the marketplace are uneven at the moment. While there are plenty of homebuyers ready to claim a piece of Vail as their own, there are limited homes that are available to purchase.

This imbalance in the marketplace is illustrated in the Monthly Market Report compiled by LIV Sotheby’s International Realty for the month of June. Last month, the average list price for a home in the Vail Valley was $1,524,141, a 10% increase from the same month in the previous year. Additionally, the average sold price was $1,428.615, which is also 10% higher than June of 2019.

The combination of increased interest from homebuyers and lower levels of inventory has resulted in many sellers receiving multiple offers and often closing the sale at over the asking price.

Even though the market is seeing a slight upward trend in prices, many buyers are still able to find their mountain dream homes. According to data reported in LIV SIR’s Micro Market Report for the Vail Valley, some neighborhoods are still seeing increases in home sales.

In fact, Bachelor Gulch had a 61.5% increase in properties through June compared to the same time period in 2019. There were 21 listings sold during January through June in this community, up from last year when 13 homes sold. Edwards and Minturn also saw increases in the number of homes sold from January to June, increasing by 100% and 80% respectively.

What’s more, the highest-priced sale of a residence thus far in 2020 was represented by LIV SIR broker Malia Cox Nobre last month in Vail Village.  Malia represented the buyers of 151 Vail Lane #13, which sold for $18,500,000 in June. The sale of this incredible home increased the highest sold price by 7% from June of 2019 to June of 2020. The five-bedroom, six-bathroom estate is located just steps from Gondola One in Vail Village. 

There are plenty of opportunities for both buyers and sellers to find success in the Vail Valley real estate market this summer. To view the full Monthly Market Report and Micro Market Report, visit coloradomarketreports.com and for assistance with any of your real estate needs, call 970-476-7944 or visit resorts.livsothebysrealty.com.

LIV Sotheby’s International Realty, the exclusive Board of Regent for the Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate, has 23 office locations in the resort communities of the Vail Valley, Breckenridge, Dillon, Winter Park, Crested Butte, and Telluride, also including Denver Metro and the surrounding areas.

Vail Valley real estate coming back from tough April, May

Lack of business doesn’t necessarily mean lack of work.

Laura Sellards is the co-owner of Keller Williams Mountain Properties Team Black Bear in Eagle. Sellards said her team was busy even while sales slipped in April and May.

And sales did slip — a lot. Transactions in April were just 57% percent of the same period in 2019. May sales were just 48% of those recorded in 2019.

“But we’ve been consistently busy through this whole thing,” Sellards said, whether helping people get their homes ready to list or helping potential buyers look for property, virtually in many cases.

Despite the slowdown following the March shutdown of much of the valley’s economy, brokers say they’re busy, and writing a lot of contracts.

Dan Fitchett, the managing broker of LIV Sotheby’s International Realty, said June and the first two weeks of July have been “exceptional.”

Some of those buyers are relocating to the Vail Valley.

Fitchett said his firm has sold four homes to people coming to the valley from other areas.

Fitchett said he was talking with a client who’s become so used to doing business via email, phone and Zoom meetings that he decided to bring his family to Eagle County.

“He’ll fly back about once a month now,” Fitchett said.

Willing to drive

Another thing Fitchett is seeing is how long people are willing to drive to get to the Vail Valley. Any drive of 15 hours or less is now seen as somewhat acceptable.

Sales to out-of-state buyers have ticked up recently, from about 28% through much of the year to 33% in May.

Many of those buyers were located in Texas, long a solid market for resort area real estate. But just as many May buyers — 29 — were from California.

That’s something new, Fitchett said. Southern California residents can get to western Colorado fairly easily, Fitchett said, adding that many clients he’s spoken with want out of that state, at least for now.

Mike Budd, a broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, said that California has never been one of the valley’s top states for real estate buyers. Buyers have usually come from Texas, Florida, Chicago and the area around New York City, Budd said.

Will summer residents stay?

Budd added that he expects a number of people who summer in the valley to stick around into the fall, or later.

“Usually about mid-August, summer residents start leaving,” Budd said. “I don’t think we’re going to see that this year,” due in large part to uncertainty about school calendars.

With many districts going to virtual classes, “there’s no catalyst to return,” Budd said.

While many people relocating are buying more expensive homes, Budd said a continuing lack of inventory is helping drive demand across much of the market.

And, he added, the low cost of borrowing is driving some buyers into higher price brackets.

Sellards said other buyers are looking for space, both inside and out.

“We’re getting tremendous interest from out of state and higher density areas (in Colorado) — Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins.”

Sellards noted that a trend a few years ago toward smaller homes is being replaced by people seeking space.

“People are now looking for those extra rooms,” she said.

The move toward the county’s more wide-open spaces is welcome. But, Budd said the valley’s economy needs to shift, too.

“I wish we’d see some industries other than the recreation-hospitality industry (come to the valley),” he said.

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

Ask a Broker: Is this a good time to relocate to the mountains from the city?

We live in an urban area but have visited the Vail Valley over the years and love everything about Eagle County. We are looking to trade up city life and relocate to the mountains. Is this a good time to start looking?

This is a great question, and you’re not alone. This summer, we have seen an influx of people coming to the mountains in search of a unique retreat for life beyond the city, one that is perfect for creating a connection to the land and a lifetime of memories. In fact, over the last six months, nearly 95% of my clients have come from the Front Range or out of state, looking for a mountain escape.

As a company, Slifer Smith & Frampton has seen nearly half of its sales come from out-of-town buyers, and home sales in Eagle County are actually up from the same time last year. For example, since June 1, as a company, we have written 190 new contracts totaling $390 million in sales volume, with a lot of that coming from out-of-state buyers. Compared to the same time period in 2019, we are up 45% in new written contracts and 76% in sales volume. Out-of-towners are looking for retreats, places that offer a secure and safe gathering place far from the crowds, and fully immersed in the beauty of our valley.  

Two other trends we are seeing is that homeowners who have a “second home” in the Vail Valley are spending more time locally and considering switching this to their primary residence. As a result, many owners are upgrading their homes for increased square footage and outdoor living spaces. We also have many clients who are looking to purchase land and build. And, with mortgage interest rates so low right now, this is a wonderful time to find your new mountain home and/or piece of land.

Serendipitously, one of the last great working ranches along the Colorado River, the Colorado River Ranch, has just hit the market. This thousand-acre retreat is a self-sufficient sanctuary set apart from civilization but filled with modern first-class amenities. For all its rugged solitude, CRR is far from rustic. It is a cohesive, architecturally significant, luxury retreat created as a destination for full-time work, play and gathering, and offers state-of-the-art technology and five-star accommodations.

With millions spent on improvements, Colorado River Ranch consists of several buildings, including the red barn that features two open-concept entertaining levels; the main luxury living space known as “the bunkhouse,” a two-level horse barn complete with an outdoor horse arena and a custom tack room that has been called a “20th-century marvel” for its two fully pivoting walls; a ranch manager residence; a golf shack with driving range; stables; and garages. The property also features wildlife habitats, ponds for fishing, and gardens. An all-natural cattle and hay production property, the ranch has several hundred irrigated acres, and currently supports Wagyu cattle, horses, and more.

This is one of many beautiful properties for sale in our valley. As you consider if right now is the opportune time to buy, you may also be interested in learning about Vail Valley’s Welcome Home program. The nonprofit Vail Valley Partnership has joined forces with local real estate companies, including Slifer Smith & Frampton, to reach out to second homeowners, encouraging them to stay for a season instead of a week or two. We have plenty of room to relax, work and play. This all is to say that we want you here as an integral part of our community, and now is the perfect time to find your mountain haven. 

For more information on Colorado River Ranch, visit coloradoriverranchland.com.

Catherine Jones Coburn has been selling high-end luxury real estate in Colorado resort communities for 40 years. She has been the No. 1 real estate broker in the entire Vail Valley for eight of the last nine years, including 2019.

Sanford: Going with the flow when it comes to interior design

One of the most important, and exciting, aspects of interior design is fluidity.

What do we mean by that? Think big picture. Moving furniture to an unexpected place, changing the dynamics of the whole interior.

When buying pieces of furniture, we tend to visualize them in a specific area but that’s not always the best strategy. Look at the home in its entirety. Each furnishing is a piece of the puzzle.

I guess it’s OK if you just want to place it somewhere and not think about it. But the flow of your interior space is critical to your pleasure and comfort, even if you don’t consciously realize this. Fluidity keeps you engaged with your home’s interior design and individuality.

You can a get fresh perspective just by moving around the existing pieces. It creates excitement and encourages creativity. Working with new furnishings is an ongoing experience, not just a one-time purchase.

I am not talking about conforming to the latest trend. This is about enjoying what you bought and gaining the fullest appreciation possible. Making it a new and exciting part of your home — and your life.

This can go well beyond moving pillows, art and accessories. Think outside the box. Maybe you never thought of that nightstand as a side table or the entry chest in the living room as a focal point with a painting above it. It can be a fun, and inexpensive, project for do-it-yourselfers.

You can a get fresh perspective just by moving around the existing pieces. It creates excitement and encourages creativity.
Nancy Sanford | Special to the Daily

How about moving that Ottoman in front of the sofa, or switching your nightstand lamps with the living room fixtures? Or rotate your sofa so it faces the view rather than the other sofa. Rotate the dining table. Simple positional changes can breathe new life into a home.

Tinkering with fluidity increases your awareness, keeps life exciting, and makes you happy to see new colors and new shapes. We’re spending more time at home than ever before. Why not enjoy a new layout … that you designed.

It may sound self-serving (and probably is) but the best way to get started with fluidity is to work with an interior designer. An experienced design professional can help you appreciate what you have in your home and what you can do to infuse your personality into it.

An interior designer can give you the “courage” to be bold, to move pieces around and discover why you love them. People tend to be fond of furnishings for their proportion, color, material and texture. There’s more, though.

Like seeing pieces in a whole new light. For example, moving a pillow can change the balance of an entire room. Rotating a rug can bring new life to a space.

I was recently hired to redesign a home that had been previously redecorated. It just didn’t work for the homeowner.

We added four pieces of furniture and three accessories, then moved around lamps, pillows, a chest and a sofa. We blended a bedroom set with another bedroom, and relocated a big artwork collection. The result was a whole new feel. The client said it felt like a fresh breeze washed over the entire home.

Fluidity means being open to new ideas and, most importantly, having fun!

Nancy Sanford is an interior designer working in Colorado Rocky Mountains, Denver and beyond. She can be reached at nancysanford@nancysanford.com you can view samples of her work at nancysanford.com.

Ask a Realtor: What are the pros and cons of fractional ownership?

Dear Janet and Tisa: My wife and I love the Vail Valley and are looking at options for buying or investing in some mountain real estate where we can spend portions of the year.  We’re not ready to relocate (yet) and would like the flexibility of owning something in the Vail/Beaver Creek area while still being able to afford to travel. Some friends suggested we look at fractional ownership. We are wondering what the pros and cons are for fractional ownership vs. buying a home and renting it out, as well as options in and around the Vail Valley.

— Vacation Real Estate Buyer

Dear Vacation Real Estate Buyer: Your question is very timely.  Even before COVID-19, interest in fractional ownership has continued to rise as people, such as your wife and you, explore vacation home options. 

Given your interest in also wanting to travel outside the Vail Valley, fractional ownership provides the added benefits of being able to trade your week(s) at premier properties around the world. The trend among hotels at most major resort areas, including the Vail Valley, is to market and sell a portion of their rooms as fractional units. This gives buyers premium properties and locations from which you can choose from for other vacations.

For example, highlights of fractional ownership properties in the Vail Valley include The Timbers, Ritz-Carlton Vail, Sebastian, Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, and Westin. Owners can then elect to use their vacation week(s) or exchange on a vacation exchange network, such as Interval International, which is owned by Marriott Corp This provides you with the opportunity to get into some incredible oceanfront, golf or premier properties at a fraction of the cost of what you would pay as a regular guest.

What it costs

Entry level costs for a fractional unit in the Vail Valley range from $7,000-$15,000 for a one- to two- bedroom condo, depending on the week share and unit location. When you consider the cost of  renting  a premier location condo in Vail or Beaver Creek, buying a fractional makes this a cost-effective way for people, such as yourself, to enjoy and experience the Vail Valley, as well as other luxury resort properties around the world.

Buying a fractional vs a rental property

To determine whether fractional ownership is right for you, we have a few key questions your wife and you should consider.  These include:

  • How much time do you want or expect to spend in the Vail Valley?
  • Outside of COVID-19 travel restrictions, what other destinations are on your travel list?
  • Do you prefer having your own personal furnishings or do you like the flexibility of having this taken care of for you?
  • Do you need or are you interested more in having a real estate investment or more flexible vacation options?
  • What kind of properties do you like or wish to stay at and what would you spend on an average trip?

It’s important to note that buying a fractional is more about a vacation lifestyle investment than longer term financial return. It is ideal for people who want to stay at a higher end resort properties at fraction of the cost, factoring in the retail rental price vs. the fractional price to own a deeded share.  That being said, if you’re looking to spend more time, such as a several weeks to a few months a year in the Vail Valley, then buying a home or condo and putting it in a rental program might make more sense.  The latter option is also more conducive if financial gain is also a higher priority.

Best wishes in your search.

Janet Boeser and Tisa Olsen lead the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties’ BC Fractionals team of five broker associates. Longtime Vail Valley residents for 30+ and 40+ years, Boeser and Olsen bring more than 50 years’ real estate industry experience to clients. Their expertise includes fractional ownership as well as working with buyers and sellers.For more information about BC Fractionals and ownership opportunities in the Vail Valley, visit www.bcfractionals.com or call 970.306.6678.

Vail Valley native Sarah Parrish joins Slifer Smith & Frampton

Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate has announced the addition of accomplished broker and longtime local Sarah Parrish to the firm’s team. Parrish will join the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek office, focusing on residential real estate for second homeowners, as well as local clients. 

Parrish was with Keller Williams Realty for nearly five years before making the transition to Slifer Smith & Frampton. She worked as a licensed Realtor and a real estate productivity coach, and was a top producer in the office in her first year as a broker. Much of her business comes from locals and relocation. She’s also certified as a resort and second-home property specialist. Before her time in real estate, she worked as an art and physical education teacher for local elementary and middle schools throughout the Vail Valley.

“Sarah is such a wonderful addition to our team at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek office,” Slifer Smith & Frampton branch broker Steve Cardinale. “She’s personable, has an invaluable wealth of local knowledge, and she approaches every job with enthusiasm, creativity and honesty. We are absolutely thrilled to have her not only join Slifer Smith & Frampton, but our specific team.” 

Parrish was born in Vail, grew up in Edwards and now lives in Eagle, enabling her to watch and experience firsthand the Vail Valley’s growth and evolution. Along with developing a successful business in the last few years, she’s also a Girl Scout troop leader and a Buddy Werner League ski coach. She and her husband Doug, who is an electrician, have two children. 

“I wanted to make the move to Slifer Smith & Frampton for different opportunities, as well as to work with a dynamic, exciting and professional staff,” Parrish said. “I’m excited to continue my momentum in this field from the last few years and look forward to working with existing and new clients.”

For more information, go to www.vailrealestate.com.

A flight to quality: Remote working meets the great outdoors elevating a seller’s market in the Vail Valley

Now, more than ever, a move to the mountains seems like a great idea. With remote access changing the way we work, outdoor recreation in abundance all around us, and perfect summer temperatures, why wouldn’t you want to live in the Vail Valley or at least spend the majority of your time here?

The May numbers support that case despite challenges created for our trusted Realtors® by the coronavirus pandemic including social distancing measures, a call to be safer at home, and the transition of public health recommendations.

Sales prices increase

Most notably in May, the median sales prices on all property types in the Vail Valley are up 50.2 percent over this this time last year. And, pending sales for Single Family-Duplex are also up 51.1 percent but decreased 15 percent for Townhouse-Condo category. This means the start of summer could be strong for closings.

Moreover, the May numbers give insight to the seller’s point of view. Not surprisingly, listings were down 19.3 percent in the Townhouse-Condo market and 16.7 percent in the Single Family-Duplex category compared to last year, making it abundantly clear, buyers have been quicker to return to the housing market than sellers.

This apparent rebound of buyers seems to have coincided with the county introducing the thoughtfully planned process of reopening for business and tourism in late April. Realtors® are busy according to Alex Griffin, Vail Board of Realtors® VMLS Chair, citing his own experience.

“Our community did a great job flattening the curve in the spread of the virus. In late April, when Governor Polis approved Eagle County’s appeal
to reopen, and local officials announced the three stages of a countywide Transition Plan, we quickly became busy,” said Griffin. “I’m seeing Front Range and Denver buyers eager to come to the mountains and get away from metro restrictions and possibly less of an opportunity to be exposed to the virus.”

“These buyers, in my experience, are interested in turnkey properties with no desire to have a project on their hands,” Griffin continues. “It’s a ‘flight to quality’… quality in homes as well as quality of life.”

Inventory remains low

Another reason home sale pricing is on the rise has to do with the aforementioned lower inventory than usual along with strong home equity.

“COVID-19 aside, May and June are typically the highest influx of new inventory for our market. Although May listings are down, sellers could be patiently waiting through the county’s transition to reopening,” says Griffin. “Now that we are in the ‘blue’ phase, sellers may be relaxing a bit and capitalizing on the current buyer activity. And, as we move into the ‘black’ phase, providing there is no significant increase in virus cases and tourism returns, summer real estate should recover nicely.”

In addition to a safe transition for local businesses resuming limited activity, Vail Resorts is due to reopen to summer guests in late June or July, according to an announcement by Rob Katz, CEO. This, combined with the already open golf courses, variety of hiking and biking trails, river activities and resort leisure all bodes well for real estate to lead the way in an economic recovery for the Vail Valley.

With real estate on a positive trajectory, the low inventory remains a mixed blessing. Although it tends to drive the listing prices up, it also creates a challenge for local sellers looking to make a move.

According to Griffin, “Leaving the valley and selling a home is relatively cut and dry but, if you want to move within the county, it can be hard for locals to find a place to move to and align the transaction timing perfectly. This is where a knowledgeable Realtor® can make a big difference.”

So, despite uncertainty created by coronavirus, now appears to be good time to put a home on the market. This is confirmed by consistent, and in some cases an increase in, the percent of list price received which is hovering in the 94 to 97 percent range.

Griffin is looking forward to this summer’s selling season, “The luxury market is very strong. Singletree and EagleVail continue to be popular, and anything west of Edwards is traditionally in high demand this time of year. Buyers want to get outside, stay active and be in the open air. And, with remote working as a much more acceptable way of life, buyers are eager to live, work, and play in the mountains.”

If you are considering putting a home on the market, Griffin’s best advice is to plan ahead. Appraisers are very busy and booking a month in advance. Mortgage rates continue to be at record lows. And, there are some new construction opportunities in a variety of price ranges, but it’s not enough to offset the low inventory.

Contact a Realtor® today and discover the options that exist in the current market. Make lemonade out of the overabundance of lemons, and treat yourself to a rewarding summer with a new home in the mountains.