Vail Valley real estate sales near $3.5 billion in 2020
Records shattered after the market saw deep drops in Q2
This story has been corrected to reflect that 2020 sales activity started in earnest in July.
Eagle County real estate sales shattered records in 2020. And the biggest piece of the transaction pie came in Vail.
Adding up 2020 sales from East Vail to Intermountain, there were 443 transactions. That’s just more than 17% of total sales in the county. Avon had the next-biggest piece of the pie, at just more than 16%. Communities west of Vail usually account for bigger shares of the transaction total.
That explosion in sales comes after a full quarter of sales far below the levels set in 2019. That quarter was the period just after the COVID-19 pandemic in March caused a virtual shutdown of the local economy.
According to Mike Budd of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, Vail Board of Realtors numbers — which tracks only the Vail Valley portion of the county — the bulk of transactions came from July through the end of the year — roughly $2 billion of the $2.6 billion in Vail Valley sales.
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What drove the trend is a matter of some speculation and a few facts.
Ron Byrne of Ron Byrne and Associates is a longtime veteran of the local real estate business.
Byrne said he’s seen a number of people essentially trading one unit in Vail for another. Some people wanted more space — room for a guest bedroom or a second home office — while others decided to downsize.
Those moves created two transactions — a sale and a purchase.
Didi Doolittle Eagle County Sales Manager for Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate, said the activity in Vail and elsewhere could come down to “you only live once.”
“If ever we’ve seen (that kind of) year, it’s 2020,” Doolittle said. “We’re seeing more lifestyle-driven purchases.” That’s an improvement over the boom years of the mid-2000s, which saw prices driven in large part by speculation. Instead of questions about values and appreciation, Doolittle said brokers today are hearing more “user questions,” indicating people are buying to use property.
The facts are that the 2020 county real estate market saw fewer sales to county residents and more sales to those from outside the county.
For instance, sales to buyers from Colorado’s Front Range increased to 21% of the 2020 total. That figure since 2015 had been in the 15% to 17% range. Buyers from out of state sine 2015 had been between 27% and 28% of the annual total. The 2020 portion of out of state sales was 30%.
Budd said a combination of low mortgage interest rates and desire for a change in location have driven out-of-state buyers. Florida and Texas are still the biggest feeder markets for the Vail Valley, Budd said.
While the market was hot in 2020, it’s unlikely the valley can have consecutive $3.5 billion sales years. The limiting factor is inventory.
Doolittle said there are only three current listings in all of the Eagle Ranch area of Eagle. Budd noted there are only three active listings in all of Edwards’ Singletree neighborhood.
Doolittle said homes are often sold before they hit the Multiple Listing Service. If a broker has buyers waiting, and happens to talk to someone thinking about selling, that deal can be complete before a home is even listed for sale.
Budd added that homes that need a bit of work priced at less than $1 million can sell in just a week or so.
Activity has remained solid into January.
Byrne said December activity was a bit slower than the previous months. But, he added, as people had a better understanding of Vail Resorts’ reservation system for mountain access, possible buyers became a bit more confident. That extends to vacation rentals. Byrne manages a small number of vacation rentals in Vail. After a slow start to the season, activity has picked up, Byrne said.
Still, there simply isn’t much to sell right now, in just about any price range.
“I don’t know where we’ll get the product in the $1 million and under range,” Budd said. “There’s not enough major developments out there.”
That means brokers will be encouraging people to sell.
“Vail Valley customers should grow accustomed to seeing (sales) solicitations in their mailboxes,” Doolittle said.
$3.49 billion: Value of all 2020 real estate transactions in Eagle County.
$601 million: Single-month record for 2020 real estate sales, in October.
$57.2 million: Single largest 2020 Eagle County real estate sale, in Vail Village.
Source: Land Title Guarantee Company