Downvalley real estate market: too hot? | VailDaily.com

Downvalley real estate market: too hot?

EAGLE COUNTY — The local real estate market has found its footing again in the past few years in the wake of the nationwide economic slump that first hit in 2008. Brokers in the western valley are particularly busy.

The most recent figures are available from Land Title Guarantee Co. — which covers transactions recorded through the Eagle County Clerk & Recorder's Office in August. Those figures show the town of Eagle with the most sales of any single area — 42. In something of a surprise, the dollar volume of those transactions — about $22 million — topped any single area of the county.

That statistic is a bit misleading, though, since Land Title breaks the Vail market into 12 distinct pieces. Taken as a whole, sales in Vail generated about $34.5 million in August.

Still, the transactions in Eagle generated more revenue in August than the month's $20 million in transactions in Beaver Creek. Of course, it took just 12 sales in the resort area to hit that level.

The Eagle market, along with the rest of the western valley, is as busy as it's been in some time.

Barb Hogoboom, a longtime local real estate broker with the Eagle-based Team Black Bear of Keller Williams Realty, said the market has been active enough that homes priced at $500,000 or below are in most cases back to their pre-slump values. With that rise in value, many people who bought at the last market peak — between about 2006 and 2008 — see the current market as an opportunity to sell.

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Moving up, down, or out

Hogoboom said those buyers in many cases are buying larger homes, moving into smaller units or, in some cases, moving out of the valley.

Whatever the reason, homes that are priced right tend to sell quickly.

Lori Slaughter, who manages the Gypsum office of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Mountain Properties, said pricing is crucial to a quick sale.

"If you're priced right, you'll get under contract in 30 to 45 days," Slaughter said.

On the other hand, homes that aren't priced right will linger on the market.

"Maybe last spring, you could push the market a little bit" in terms of asking price, Slaughter said. That doesn't happen now.

But homes are selling, and selling in places that had been sluggish.

Hogoboom said a number of homes in Eagle's old downtown area have sold recently, and for pretty good prices. Again, though, being priced right is the key.

"We had one listing in downtown Eagle that came in under $500,000," Hogoboom said. "We probably had 12 showings in the first few days it was listed."

The home was under contract shortly after that, Hogoboom added.

Part of the activity in the $500,000 and lower market is because there simply isn't much available in that price range.

Some builders are trying to put more homes into that end of the market.

Chad Cremonese, the managing broker for Avon-based Fortius Real Estate and Construction, is one of the listing brokers for a couple of western valley project. Two Rivers Village in Dotsero has seen not quite 30 homes sold and assembled on site this year.

Another Fortius project, Aspen Ridge in the Buckhorn Valley neighborhood just south of the Eagle County Regional Airport, has put eight duplex units under contract this year. The first of those units are just about ready to be occupied.

There are other units in other neighborhoods under construction by other companies, including the Villas at Cotton Ranch and Hawks Nest.

More homes needed

"But the areas as a whole could use more homes being built," Cremonese said. That's easier said than done, though.

"It takes a lot of time to get a (development) ready to go," Cremonese said.

With the activity in the western valley, Hogoboom said she's concerned that the market may be in danger of overheating, as it did in the couple of years before the national recession hit.

"When you're paying $500,000 for a townhome or a single family home that needs a lot of updating, we're pushing the envelope again," she said.

Slaughter isn't so sure.

The quick rise in home values seen in the past year or so has leveled off, particularly outside of Eagle.

"We're seeing more price reductions," Slaughter said. "If it had kept up like it was, I'd be worried."

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

By the numbers

$22 million: Value of August real estate sales in Eagle.

$20 million: Value of August real estate sales in Beaver Creek.

$8 million: Largest single August transaction, for a home in Bachelor Gulch.

15: New home sales in August.

Source: Land Title Guarantee Company.