Eagle County’s 2017 real estate year its best since 2007 boom days
By the numbers
$2.27 billion: Total value of 2017 real estate sales in Eagle County.
2,150: Number of total sales.
$145.5 million: Eagle County’s largest 2017 real estate sale, the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek.
$28.7 million: Highest price for a residential sale, in Vail Village.
Source: Land Title Guarantee Co.
EAGLE COUNTY — It’s taken a decade for Eagle County’s real estate market to get back to levels set during the boom years between 2005 and 2007. But this market is far different from that market.
According to full-year numbers from Land Title Guarantee Co., the local real estate market in 2017 hit levels not seen since 2007 in both sales volume and transaction numbers. That marks the latest milestone in a long, long recovery.
In terms of sales volume, the market exceeded $2 billion in sales for the first time since 2007. That volume was driven, in part, by some very large sales, particularly the sale of the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, a deal worth $145.5 million. But the residential market was also strong, from one end of the valley to the other.
Tight inventory, along with demand, is driving some value increases, but brokers say the driving forces now are significantly different from the ones in play a decade ago.
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Fundamentals are better
“It’s about fundamentals and inventory,” Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Mountain Properties broker Onie Bolduc said. In 2007, a lot of homes were being built — the joke was that Vail’s official bird was the (construction) crane — and mortgage money was easy to get.
As construction dried up and a national financial crisis led to much tighter lending standards, the real estate market dried up, too.
The result of the busted boom was felt most keenly in non-resort residential area. Some neighborhoods lost 30 percent or more of their boom-era value in the bust. At one point, in 2011, a full 20 percent of all sales were either foreclosures or other kinds of “distressed” transactions.
Sales in Eagle Ranch were “hit really hard,” Bolduc said, and “Gypsum slowed to a stop.”
The market today seems better situated, Bolduc said.
While inventory has grown slowly, the population is growing, and demand is strong in residential areas.
Still, Eagle County is actually a number of smaller markets, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Longtime local broker Bart Cuomo, of Vail Realty, said one portion of the market that seems poised for a comeback is homes priced between $750,000 and $2 million.
Back in the boom days, homes in that price range moved quickly, Cuomo said. But that range hadn’t recovered from the slowdown until recently.
More Colorado buyers
And, while local buyers and Front Range-based buyers have always made up the bulk of the local market, the Front Range’s economic strength seems to be drawing even more of those buyers to the Vail Valley.
“I’ve never seen such a high percentage of Colorado people buying,” Cuomo said.
The local market may have returned to boom days levels, Cuomo said since values today are essentially flat from 2007, “relatively speaking, it’s a value.”
And there are values to be found around the valley.
Bolduc, who grew up in the Vail Valley, said there are some lots available in Cotton Ranch at reasonable prices.
“We haven’t hit the peak sales prices (from 2007) in many parts of the valley,” Bolduc said.
A strengthening real estate market has also brought more people into the business, but not at the rates seen in the boom days.
Kyle Denton was the Vail Board of Realtors’ board chair in 2017. Denton said that more than 100 brokers per year joined the group in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Membership fell off during the slump, but has been slowly recovering the past few years, Denton said. The group began 2017 with about 660 members, and finished the year with about 700 brokers on the membership rolls.
The slow growth in board of Realtors membership in a way mirrors the recovery of the local market.
“I don’t see anything like 2007 happening again,” Bolduc said. “I see a future plateau and a more traditional growth run.”
Again, it comes down to fundamentals.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.
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It’s fitting that Eagle County is proceeding through its reopening phases of COVID-19 in an analogy to ski run difficulties — green to blue to black. Monday marks the transition from the green beginner phase to the blue intermediate phase.