Eagle County real estate market cracks $2 billion mark, the first time since ‘08 | VailDaily.com

Eagle County real estate market cracks $2 billion mark, the first time since ‘08

The Lion, a new condo complex near Lionshead, has been attracting a lot of potential buyers. A strong real estate market the length of the valley pushed total sales past $2 billion through the first 11 months of 2017.

EAGLE COUNTY — The local real estate market hadn't hit $2 billion in sales for a year since 2008. That plateau was reached in 2017 with a month to spare.

Because Land Title Guarantee Co.'s data reflect transactions reported with the Eagle County Clerk & Recorder's Office, there's always a bit of a lag in reporting. But for the first 11 months of 2017, the value of all real estate sales in the county was $2.055 billion. That's a 16 percent increase over 2016's dollar volume through the first 11 months.

That dollar volume came on 1,956 transactions a 4 percent increase over transactions through the first 11 months of 2016.

A few notable sales helped drive the market above the $2 billion mark. Vail set two new records for home sales, both in the slopeside area near Vail Village. The first record-setter came in January, when a home on Rockledge Road sold for $23 million.

In August, a home on Mill Creek Circle sold for $28.7 million.

A handful of homes in Vail's slopeside area — primarily Forest, Beaver Dam and Rockledge roads — are on the market for $30 million or more, but didn't sell in 2017.

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Strength despite dips

The strong market performance in 2017 came with a couple of dips, in September and November. Both those months' sales were more than 30 percent off the numbers recorded in 2016.

John Pfeiffer, president and managing broker of Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate, said the strength of the 2017 market is so far seeping into the new year. And, he added, some of those sales came because of, not despite, current snow conditions.

Pfeiffer said a couple recently walked into the firm's Lionshead Village office, spent a couple of days looking at property, and soon had signed a contract for what Pfeiffer called "a substantial deal."

"I don't believe we'd have that deal," with good snowfall, he said.

Pfeiffer said clients at the moment seem to be taking current snow conditions in stride, adding that plenty of people are looking at vacation property.

Slifer Smith & Frampton recently became the listing brokerage for The Lion, a new condo complex near Lionshead.

"I'm astounded at the activity there — I'm blown away at the amount of people coming through the sales center," Pfeiffer said.

People are looking at second homes in Vail for a number of reasons, Pfeiffer said. The national economy is solid, he said, and the country's stock exchanges are setting records on a regular basis.

Supply and demand

One of the biggest factors, though, is the oldest law in capitalism: the law of supply and demand.

"Across the board, the only thing holding us back is inventory," said Michael Slevin, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties. "Our numbers would have been even stronger if we'd had available product for people to purchase."

Pfeiffer said one advantage of the current low inventory, at least in the upper reaches of the market, is that people are starting to turn to homes that have been on the market for a while.

On the other hand, Slevin said location is still the main thing that attracts buyers.

People "are really attracted to where they want to be," Slevin said. Homes that aren't exactly what buyers want keep architects, designers and construction companies busy, Slevin added. And those firms are busy right now.

While inventory is tight, Slevin still believes the market is mostly balanced between buyers and sellers.

Up and down the valley, "buyers are much more critical … in terms of price sensitivity," he said.

Before the recession that began in 2008, Slevin said there was something of a "frenzy" on buyers' part. These days, there isn't that urgency to get into a home.

Buyers will wait until a home's price reflects market values, "unless it's a unique property," Slevin said.

The current market strength seems to be continuing into the new year.

"We haven't seen dramatic appreciation," Pfeiffer said, adding that while mortgage interest rates have inched up in the past year or so, rates remain very low.

Pfeiffer said industry analysts looking at the Colorado market predict continued strength into 2018.

Current activity, combined with continued strength in the national economy, is good news, Slevin said, adding that it "bodes well for the spring season."

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

By the numbers

$2.055 billion: Value of Eagle County real estate sales through Nov. 30, 2017.

1,956: Total transactions through Nov. 30, 2017.

43: Sales of $5 million or more through Nov. 30.

28: Sales of $5 million or more for all of 2016.

Source: Land Title Guarantee Company.