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How to find the right REALTOR®

In today’s world, there are so many options at your fingertips with modern technology. It can be daunting to ensure the person you’re hiring to sell or buy a home is a savvy, trustworthy professional. These tips will help guide you through finding the right person for the job.

“It is integral to choose a REALTOR® who not only makes your best interests their No. 1 priority, but also someone who has a strong moral compass, and a personality that is compatible with yours,” says Alex Griffin, chair of the Vail Multi-List Service (VMLS). “Buying and selling real estate is rated as one of the most stressful things in your life — a good REALTOR® will ease your stress and help successfully navigate the intricacies of a real estate transaction.”

Here are a few more tips from the Vail Board of REALTORS® on how to find the right REALTOR®.

Look for the “R” – REALTOR®

When it comes time for you to buy or sell your home, “Look for the R.” A REALTOR® expert provides the Reassurance, the Resources, and the Reliable guidance on the path to property ownership — “That is who we R.”

One of the easiest and most efficient ways to narrow your list of potential real estate agents is to choose a REALTOR® over just someone with a license. REALTORS® are professionals that belong to the National Association of REALTORS® and, locally, the Vail Board of REALTORS®. The reason this distinction matters is because REALTORS® are heavily invested in their profession and hold themselves to a higher code of ethics than agents who might be trying their hand at real estate as a side gig.

“There are so many subtle nuances in our industry that you really want to rely on someone who is competent, very well connected to the industry, who has a daily pulse on the ever-changing market, and who stays on
top of industry changes,” says Griffin. “If you are not well represented by a competent, well-connected REALTOR®, you could be leaving thousands on the table and exposing yourself to a lot of liability.”

A hot topic in the real estate industry is short-term rentals. In the Vail Valley, each area, community, homeowners associations, etc., have different regulations on short-term rentals. REALTORS® know these and a for-sale-by-owner might not have the knowledge of this information, which could lead to a lot of issues.

“It’s so important to hire someone who’s trained, does their homework and knows the area,” Griffin says.

One program that was created exclusively for VBR members is the Vail Pro Designation. This program was established to increase members’ local knowledge and requires members take courses on the history of
the valley, a community update course, a course on the Realfire wildfire education program, and a presentation on schools in the valley.

Do your research

If you know anyone who has bought or sold real estate in Eagle County, ask them for REALTOR® recommendations. “Hopefully, they can make it easy by referring a rockstar, but if they had a bad experience, you’ll know who to avoid,” Griffin says.

Many REALTORS® get business via referrals, but they’re increasingly relying on their online presence to bring in business. Griffin says good REALTORS® present well online, so it is easy for consumers to look at their bios, their listings, previous sales, accreditations, specialties, testimonials, and other available online data.

Ask detailed questions

When meeting with or talking to REALTORS®, here are some good questions to ask:

• How long have you been in the business?
• How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood in the past year?
• What’s the typical price range of homes you sell and where?
• What’s your fee and what comes with it?
• How will you market my home?
• Will I be working with just you or with a team?
• How long are your listings typically on the market? • What’s your average sold-to-list price ratio?
• What separates you from other REALTORS® in our market?

Interview before choosing a REALTOR®

Before choosing a seller’s or buyer’s agent, don’t be afraid to talk to a few REALTORS® to see which person is the right fit. You want to ask the questions mentioned above, but you’re also looking for someone who can meet your specific needs.

“I think it’s worth talking to at least two or three REALTORS®,” Griffin says. “The best agents always provide value— they always look out for your best interests while also adapting their style to the personality, needs, and goals of their clients.”

Value of Multiple-List Service (MLS)

Starting your home search using online real estate sites helps provides a home buyer or seller quick and easy data on some of the available listings in their area, but a REALTOR® is part of the MLS system which has the most up-to-date and real-time information available on the market — ahead of the other websites. Most, if not all, real estate sites syndicate and pull data from the core MLS, but sometimes the algorithms involved don’t always provide the most accurate, real-time data.

For example, some sites refer to a duplex property type as a multifamily property, which are actually two different classifications. One of the biggest values of using a REALTOR® is having an advocate who knows how to use the MLS, along with their boots-on-the ground market knowledge, to help you buy or sell your next home with ease.

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

Vail Valley’s Slifer Smith & Frampton adds Cara Connolly as a broker

Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate, has announced that broker Cara Connolly has joined the firm. Connolly joins the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek office, focusing on luxury resort real estate, as well as helping people throughout the Vail Valley with their real estate needs.

Connolly has worked with the East West family of companies for 17 years. She began in 2003 with the Slifer Smith & Frampton corporate marketing team. She earned her real estate license in 2008 and had the opportunity later that year to launch a new division, Luxury Home Rentals by East West. Most recently, Connolly led the owner acquisition and business development efforts for East West Hospitality.

“It was in this role that I began to deeply understand the needs of luxury clientele,” Connolly said. “I’ve always loved connecting people with amazing opportunities in our Valley. It is such a special place to call home.”

Slifer Smith & Frampton branch broker Steve Cardinale said, “Cara’s local knowledge and extensive experience with East West makes her a huge asset for us. She’s a charismatic, positive force with excellent customer service skills We are thrilled that she is joining our team at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek office.” 

Connolly is involved in many associations and organizations in her community. She’s on the membership committee of the Vail Board of Realtors and part of the Real Estate Negotiation Institute. She’s also a member of the PTA for Brush Creek Elementary School, part of the Rocky Mountain Pi Beta Phi Alumni club and a member of The Vail Church. 

“Growing up, my family owned a handful of commercial properties and to this day, my father still runs his own small business in the south,” Connolly said. “I grew up understanding how hard work, follow through and curating genuine relationships will shape your life. I look forward to continuing these values here in our valley.”

For more information, go to www.vailrealestate.com, www.beavercreekhomes.com, or call 970-401-4071.

Vail Valley real estate market volume passes 2007 level

It took more than a decade, but Eagle County’s real estate market in 2019 finally roughly matched the historic peak set in 2007 in dollar volume. Transactions are a different story.

According to full-year data from Land Title Guarantee Company, it took 2,019 sales in 2019 to generate the year’s $2.279 billion in volume. That transaction number is a decline of 75 units from the number of transactions recorded in 2018. The 2.150 transactions posted in 2017 is the largest single-year number since 2013.

Michael Slevin, owner and president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, said the number of transactions is primarily a function of available inventory.

“Inventory is down about 10% from (2018) year-end,” Slevin said. “That’s been the driver of fewer unit sales.”

Slevin added that an increase in prices over the past few years has had an effect on the number of first-time homebuyers who can enter the market.

Slevin noted that more new units are coming to market. But, he added, it remains to be seen how construction costs will affect affordability.

Slevin noted that 40 new townhomes will come on the market this spring or summer in Gypsum’s Stratton Flats neighborhood. Those should be priced “well under” $400,000, Slevin said. Those homes will have garages. Most important, they’ll be new, which is what people tend to want.

Waiting for the right thing

“People are still looking for newer construction,” Slevin said, adding that buyers aren’t inclined to take on their own remodeling projects.

“Some of our inventory is not meeting those needs.”

Led Gardner is a broker in Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate’s Bridge Street office in Vail.

“Inventory is our biggest challenge,” Gardner said. Gardner added that once a client runs down his or her wish list for a property, the list of available homes narrows quickly.

A few years ago, that list could include eight or 10 units, Gardner said. These days, it’s more common to have a list of only three or four homes.

While the valley’s dollar volume is once again to the level seen during the boom years of the early 2000s, Gardner said the market is different today, even accounting for inventory.

No ‘feeding frenzy’ today

Gardner recalled the market of 2006 and 2007 as a “feeding frenzy.” Homes across the spectrum sold quickly and appreciated rapidly. Units from new projects such as the Arrabelle at Vail Square sold several times before those buildings opened. Gardner recalled there were roughly four buyers for every available unit.

“It’s not like that now,” Gardner said, adding that “buyers are rightfully waiting” for what they want.

But waiting comes at a literal price. The average price of a single-family home in Eagle County increased by more than $165,000 from 2018 to 2019. On the other hand, that average includes the prices of homes priced at $5 million or more.

There was a decline in the sales of those homes in 2019 from the previous year. But, Slevin said, there are a limited number of homes in that price range. When units in that rarified part of the real estate spectrum come on the market, it’s more a matter of the owners’ preferences than larger market forces.

And those market forces seem solid at the moment — with the understanding that some shock to the national or world economy can occur at just about any time.

Slevin said his brokers at the moment have more units under contract today than they did 12 months ago.

“The valley from East Vail to Dotsero is a sought-after destination,” Slevin said. “It’s a great place to live, vacation or retire.”

And, while prices are increasing, Gardner said the annual appreciation of 1% to 2% “seems to be a sustainable growth trend. We seem to be in a very solid place right now.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2930.

LIV Sotheby’s: Vail Valley’s housing market sees steady growth throughout 2019

No matter the season, the Vail Valley is always a good idea. Homebuyers seem to think so too. The real estate market in this highly coveted resort community during 2019 saw positive activity that is encouraging for both buyers looking to invest in property and sellers hoping to make a profit on their mountain homes.

LIV Sotheby’s International Realty produces a Year-End Micro Market Report focusing on the real estate performance for Eagle County, which makes up the Vail Valley, for 2019 compared to 2018. Total sales volume for Eagle County grew by 4.4%, reaching $1,768,165,313 by the end of 2019. As a whole, attached homes (condominiums, townhouses, and duplexes) saw more sales (+8%) last year.

Several communities within the Vail Valley experienced noteworthy increases in the number of property sales closed in 2019. The most impressive rise was seen in Edwards in the Lake Creek community. This community had a 450% uptick in properties sold in 2019 when 11 homes were sold, compared to 2018 when only two homes were sold.

Another dramatic increase in properties sold took place in the Vail Golf Course and Spraddle Creek where the number of sales more than doubled, climbing by 120%. During 2018, 10 homes in this neighborhood sold compared to 2019 when 22 homes sold. Other neighborhoods included in the Vail Valley such as Booth Creek, Potato Patch, Sandstone, Lionsridge, Buffehr Creek, and Highland Meadows also saw rises in sales activity, with the number of sold homes growing from 53 in 2018 to 76 in 2019, a 43.4% difference.

Out of all of the neighborhoods measured in the 2019 Year End Micro Market Report, Bachelor Gulch experienced the most drastic increase in average price for single-family homes. Average price for single-family homes in this community grew from $4,000,000 in 2018 to $7,648,750 in 2019, a 91.2% increase. Not far behind, Edwards-Lake Creek also saw a boost in average home prices. Rising by 82%, the average property price for listings in this neighborhood rose from $1,597,500 in 2018 to $2,907,273 in 2019.

“Throughout 2019, the Vail Valley real estate market showed signs of steady growth,” said Dan Fitchett, vice president and managing broker of LIV Sotheby’s International Realty’s Vail Valley offices. “Slightly lower inventory combined with eager buyers ready to purchase properties in this resort market create conditions that provide opportunities to sellers.”

The real estate market within the Vail Valley is showing signs of health through a gradually increasing number of sales in many cities throughout Eagle County. Learn more about how your real estate goals can be achieved by calling 970-476-7944 or visiting resorts.livsothebysrealty.com. To view the 2019 Year End Micro Market Reports produced by LIV Sotheby’s International Realty, visit coloradomarketreports.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.

Ask a broker: What’s the best way to find my dream second home?

I am looking to buy a second home in ski country that has a good walkability score, amenity access, and sustainable energy options. I know what I am looking for but now how do I choose a broker to help me navigate the market?

— J. Smith

Dear J. Smith: that is a great question. Before we get into choosing a broker, we should go over exactly what a broker is and what they will do for you as a buyer.  To become a real estate broker, we successfully passed the real estate broker exam, and continue to educate ourselves with yearly classes, seminars and designations to constantly improve our knowledge of the profession. 

To become successful real estate brokers, we then became experts on real estate in our community, in order to offer value pricing, negotiating and marketing expertise to our clients. When working with buyers we help them look for properties that match their criteria, conduct negotiations, prepare offers and help them with the many steps between contract and closing date. 

As a broker in a resort community, many times we communicate with buyers across the country and the world so they will have their pulse on the market and feel comfortable making an offer when the right property is listed, even if they aren’t physically here.  

Now, there are a few things you should take into consideration when choosing a broker:

  • You will spend a lot of time with your broker, so choose someone you like. Read their bio to help learn more about them.
  • Do your research. Visit their website. What kind of company do they work with and where are their offices? How many years of experience do they have? What credentials have they earned? What do their testimonials say? You want a broker who has made real estate their profession.

Once you have found a broker that seems like a good fit, set up an interview.  We always feel it’s best to “go on a date before getting married” and meeting with a broker face-to-face is the best way to make sure you’ve found the right one. 

Didi Doolittle and Andy Owen are real estate agents with Slifer Smith & Frampton. You can connect with both at http://vaildidi.com/.

Arrowhead Community Profile

The private gated community of Arrowhead is located in the westernmost village area of Beaver Creek Mountain. The Arrow Bahn Express (#17) provides high-speed access not only to intermediate and advanced terrain, but also serves as a gateway to the entirety of Beaver Creek Resort; Broken Arrow at the base is a popular après-ski spot. In Arrowhead, residents enjoy the tranquility of nature while maintaining access to restaurants, golf, tennis, a swimming pool and of course, skiing.

The community of Arrowhead is more than the village, though. Country Club of the Rockies members enjoy access to the private Jack Nicklaus golf course (which is a prime spot for snowshoeing and Nordic skiing during the winter months) and leisurely lunches and dinners in the public Vista Restaurant at the Club.  Anglers have private access to fish the pristine waters of the Eagle River.

Real estate offerings in Arrowhead range from slope-side condominiums and duplexes to elegant single-family houses designed with mountain aesthetic in mind. For those discerning buyers who are willing to spend the requisite seven figures on a mountain home, Arrowhead has a diversity of options sure to satisfy even the most particular taste.

Arrowhead is an established resort neighborhood perfect for avid athletes as well as those who simply want a relaxing retreat in which to sit back and enjoy the views. Find a home here and the rest of the world simply seems a bit brighter.

Community Map

Vail Valley real estate market remains active

The last month of 2019 proved to be a productive month for homes in the Vail Valley real estate market. According to statistics reported in LIV Sotheby’s International Realty’s monthly market reports, both buyers and sellers in the resort communities within the Vail Valley experienced favorable market conditions during the month of December.

Total year-end sales volume in the Vail Valley increased by 4% compared to the same time frame of 2018. The number of listings sold also rose by 4% over the last year. The average sold price for homes in this region remained nearly the same as compared to the previous year, with an increase of 1%.

The current average sold price for listings in the Vail Valley is $1,262,074. Similarly, the average list price held steady, increasing by 1% from $1,329,674 in 2018 to $1,338,110 in 2019. The period of time homes in the Vail Valley typically spend on the market lengthened slightly, growing by 5% from 116 days to 122 days, which is typical for resort homes.

Just before 2019 ended, some impressive home sales took place in these coveted mountain and resort towns. One of the most notable sales during the month of December for the Vail Valley was the purchase of 120 Holden Road for $4,615,000 in Beaver Creek. LIV Sotheby’s International Realty represented both the buyer and seller, with David McHugh, Heather Losa, and Jeffrey Morgan representing the seller and Chris Scherpf representing the buyer.

4870 Meadow Lane was also a notable sale, which sold for $3,559,810 and was listed by LIV SIR broker Malia Cox Nobrega. This brand-new modern mountain home is a rare find in the Vail Valley with a flexible floor plan that encompasses four bedrooms and six bathrooms.

Another significant sale last month was the purchase of 728 West Lionshead Circle R-4. LIV SIR broker Patrick Barrett represented the buyer of this spectacular penthouse at The Ritz-Carlton Residences in Vail. This elegant listing, which sold for $3,795,000, is conveniently located at the base of Vail Mountain within walking distance of exceptional shopping and restaurants.

Each month, LIV SIR analyzes the various Colorado markets by looking at performance comparing 2019 to 2018 statistics year-to-date and the last 12 months — year over year. The purpose of these reports is to assist home buyers and sellers by keeping them informed with the latest performance updates on local real estate trends. With this valuable information, consumers can make more informed financial decisions.

As we kick off 2020, time will tell what the new year will bring regarding the real estate market in the Vail Valley. Some of the market’s momentum from December may carry over into January and provide opportunities for success to interested home buyers and eager sellers. Learn more about how your real estate goals can be achieved by calling 970-476-7944 or visiting resorts.livsothebysrealty.com. To view the monthly reports produced by LIV Sotheby’s International Realty, visit coloradomarketreports.com.

Vail Valley’s Brooke Gagnon honored for performance in luxury real estate

Brooke Gagnon with Keller Williams in Edwards recently earned The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing’s Million Dollar GUILD recognition for experience, knowledge, and expertise in million-dollar and above residential properties. Gagnon is a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist, an exclusive group of real estate professionals who have completed The Institute’s training and have a proven performance in the upper-tier market.

 “Agents who have earned the CLHMS designation are performing at the highest level in their community,” said Diane Hartley, president of The Institute. “It takes a superior level of service to be successful and consistently close sales at or above one million dollars. We want to recognize this performance, and give these elite professionals the earned distinction that they are the agent of choice for affluent buyers and sellers.”

The specialized training and ongoing membership with The Institute provide Gagnon with the knowledge and tools to better serve affluent clients. The GUILD recognition provides evidence of the successful commitment to service at the highest level. “As a lifelong local of the Vail Valley,  I am passionate about bringing Buyers and Sellers together in our incredible community!” Gagnon said.

Brooke has been in real estate since 2006 and specializes in mountain property and vacation homes. Brooke is a member of the Vail Board of Realtors, a Keller Williams Luxury Agent, has done over 73 Million dollars in Real Estate sales, and is the top producing agent at Keller Williams.

For more information about the luxury market in Vail, contact Brooke Gagnon with Keller Williams at (970) 688-0915 or BrookeVailKW@gmail.com.

The year in Vail Valley real estate: Market sees gains from 2018

The Vail Valley real estate market saw overall gains in residential unit sales (+3.82%) and dollar volume (+4.70%) compared to 2018. The strength of the overall market was due in large part to strong sales numbers in the “non-core” parts of Vail, Beaver Creek, the middle part of the valley (Minturn to Edwards) and down the valley in the Gypsum area. Dollar volume gains were limited due in large part of a softening of the market for properties above $5 million, which declined by about 27% from 2018.

Vail Village

For the core area of Vail (Vail Village, Lionshead and Cascade), unit sales declined 11.32% while dollar volume fell 24.53%, primarily due to fewer ultra-luxury sales. However, Beaver Creek Resort saw gains of residential unit sales by more than 3% but at lower prices than in 2018, resulting in a drop in dollar volume of 7%. 

Vail Valley and downvalley

The middle part of the valley (Minturn to Edwards) outperformed the market with unit sales increasing almost 6% and dollar volume surging 33% due to some larger luxury sales in the non-core resort areas. Eagle and Eagle Ranch saw a dip in sales, down about 10%, while Gypsum and Dotsero’s activity increased by 6.5%. 

Inventory challenges 

Inventory remains a concern as available homes for sale throughout the valley at the start of 2020 are down 9.5% from this time in 2019. New projects such as Altus Vail in Vail Village and the Westin Riverfront Lodge will help with resort availability while a number of new projects in the middle and western regions of the county should supply much-needed new homes to the market in time for the busy spring and selling season. Showings remained strong throughout the holidays indicating strong buyer demand. The limited inventory, coupled with buyer interest, may indicate an earlier start to the selling season.

What it means for sellers

Laurie Slaughter, broker associate for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties states, “There may be a great advantage to sellers to list earlier than the typically high Spring selling season. The race is already heating up for buyers looking to buy now. If priced reasonably, sellers could see a quick sale or even multiple offers.”  

What it means for buyers

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties’  broker associate Mark Weinreich offers the following insights: “Every area and value range is unique in Eagle County so it’s important buyers understand the market. With limited inventory in most areas, as well as price ranges, buyers should be ready to act quickly and decisively when a home fits their needs. Competing buyers will have seen all the homes in a specific area/price range and they too will know when “the home is a value” in the marketplace. Sellers will be aspirational with pricing but do not hesitate to make a market-based offer. Lowballs typically do not work as very few sellers “have to sell.”

Looking ahead into 2020

The year is starting out on a positive note, with overall contracts throughout the valley up 5% from the start of 2019. This reflects what is expected to translate into strong sales for the first quarter of the year.

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

The wonders of Beaver Creek

Within the gated Beaver Creek community rests an exquisite ski home that embraces the full richness of its European influence, and beautifully reflects the vision the original founders of the resort envisioned for its prestigious properties. Private and quiet, 219 Borders Road is a special mountain retreat that provides a year-round lifestyle of enviable comfort and luxury with a location that brings outdoor activities to your front door.

This timeless home was designed and built by esteemed local architect Douglas M. DeChant and Beck Builders. With an eye for excellence and dedication to detail the result is a charming and irresistibly inviting home for the ages.

Rich European accents and rustic beams reflect real mountain living and every nook and cranny is warm and beckoning.

Always the heart of the home, the open kitchen has space for everyone to gather. Its cozy hearth room, complete with a toasty fireplace, is perfect for snowy Colorado days and frosty mountain nights.

Large bedrooms, den, office, media room — each reflect the quaint nature of this exceptional home and display their own inimitable charm.

Beautifully scaled for comfortable living, this is a home made for family, friends and creating memories. Whether entertaining large gatherings or hosting quiet evenings for two, an ambience of grace and charm pervades throughout this cozy home.

The relaxed and perfectly selected furniture and design make this house immediately feel like home. Everything about this home softly roars, “Welcome – come in and make yourself comfortable!”

The extensive outdoor spaces are equally intriguing. Embraced by picturesque pines and aspens, your private heated patio area is complete with a double-sided fireplace and custom built-in spa/hot tub. Sheltered by nature this area beckons an outdoor experience in your own secluded sanctuary throughout the year.

A privilege of Beaver Creek homeownership is exclusive access to the Beaver Creek Club, an elite private club available only to residents. Whether your interests lie on the ski slopes, the golf course, gourmet dining, social activities or all the above, there is a membership to fit every individual desire. Meet neighbors and make this opportunity as social as you like — it was built and designed for you!

Beaver Creek is a magical place — summer, fall, winter and spring. This is a community that offers a lifestyle that few can experience. 219 Borders Road is an enchanting place from which to make the magic happen!