Financial slowdown ‘not surprising’ in Vail Valley | VailDaily.com

Financial slowdown ‘not surprising’ in Vail Valley

Vail Daily Staff Report
newsroom@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – The economic numbers for Colorado’s Vail Valley found in a new report by the Economic Council of Eagle County aren’t pretty, but they’re not surprising either, said Don Cohen, executive director of the council.

“We didn’t see any surprises in the first quarter,” Cohen said. “Real estate transactions were down 62 percent and dollar volume down by 72 percent from 2008. Additionally, building permit value is at its lowest level since 2007.”

The economic report released quarterly by the council is a compilation of real estate numbers, building permits, employment data, area median income and foreclosure statistics.

The number of real estate transactions in the county was down 62 percent compared to the first quarter of 2008 and 78 percent from 2007.

“Perhaps the only surprise in the real estate indicators for the first quarter of 2009 is the precipitousness of the drop,” the report says.

There were 44 sales in the county in March, 55 in February and 46 in January, according to the report.

The amount of sales in dollars was down 72 percent from 2008 and 77 percent compared with 2007.

The county’s unemployment rate is up, but not as much as the rest of the state and the country, according to the report.

Unemployment in Eagle County in March was 6.1 percent. In January the figure was 5.1 percent. The past two years it’s been around 3 percent. The state unemployment rate in March was 7.5 percent – the highest it has been since the 7.7 percent figure in May of 1987, according to the report.

Eagle County’s unemployment rate could surpass 7 percent this summer, the report said.

“Anecdotally, with the loss of local jobs, we’re seeing an outmigration of residents through exit interviews from renters and homesellers who are leaving the area in search of employment,” Cohen said.

“While there is no accurate way to measure outmigration, it is quite possible that there may be a slight decrease of population in Eagle County for the next year or two driven by the decrease of construction and tourism,” he said.

The 2009 area median family income for an Eagle County family of four is $86,600 – a $2,800 increase over 2008, according to the report.

Median income numbers are used to calculate the sale prices of deed-restricted homes and affordable sale prices in the county.

The income figures, which come from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, were calculated prior to the recession.

Foreclosures in Eagle County have increased compared to 2008, according to the report.

There were 157 active foreclosures in the county with about a week left in May. More foreclosures have been filed in each month of 2009 compared to the same month last year.

An active foreclosure doesn’t necessarily mean someone has been evicted from their home. Once a home goes into foreclosure, the owners have several months to pay what they owe before they lose it completely.

“While the foreclosure rate is up, the volume of foreclosures in relationship to currently owned homes is quite small,” Cohen said. “Of the 157 active foreclosures, nearly one-third are timeshares in Avon.”