Million-dollar trend goes local |

Million-dollar trend goes local

Kimberly NicolettiHigh Country Business Review

While Vail sales of million-dollar plus homes havent been news for more than a decade, Vail is experiencing a new trend in high-end home sales: Locals are now buying high-end homes.In the last two to three years, locals who have established equity in Vail, as well as professionals including real estate brokers, builders, doctors and lawyers, are beginning to buy million-dollar-plus homes, said Josh Lautenberg of Sonnenalp Real Estate in Vail Village.However, second homeowners are also helping price locals out of downvalley communities. Part-timers who cant quite swing $5 million or more for a Vail home are opting for $1.1 million homes in Avon or Edwards, Lautenberg said, pushing locals farther down valley, where prices are lower.Summits sideWhile million-dollar plus homes sales have been robust in Vail for years, it hasnt always been that way in Summit County. But thats changing.This year, so far 10 properties have sold for more than $2 million. Last year at the same time, only two had sold, said Eric Thompson, managing broker for Slifer Smith & Frampton in Summit County.The high-end buyer has a lot of confidence in the market, Thompson said. They are savvy and have lots of experience with the Summit County market, and if theyre willing to commit their money (thats a good thing).When Crystal Peak Lodge sold about two-thirds of its units for approximately $928 per square foot when they first hit the market, it enhanced other million-dollar plus sales. As Realtor Casey Kellermann of Slifer, Smith & Frampton in Breckenridge said, when people look at a $1 million home that averages $300 per square foot (which, of course, wouldnt be a ski-in, ski-out), it looks like a deal. For example, in Silverthornes Eagles Nest golf course community, plenty of million-dollar plus homes are selling and they arent even golf-in, golf-out.In the $900,000 to $2 million range, 243 properties sold in Summit County from July 2006 to July 2007. From July 2005 to July 2006, 135 sold, said Dan Burnett, Realtor at Summit Resort Group in Dillon. Currently, there are 239 properties in that price range for sale, which is less than a years supply of inventory. A couple of years ago, Summit County had a five-year supply of million-dollar plus homes, he said.One of the main factors in attracting the older buyers who are better able to purchase expensive real estate is the new hospital.In the 26 years that Ive been watching the real estate market, there has never been an economic engine the magnitude of the new hospital, Burnett said. Sixty- and 70-year-old people dont put millions into a house if theres no hospital nearby. If I had a dime for every time I lost a real estate deal because of not having a full-service hospital (in the past), Id be a rich person.Kellermann agreed, saying his clients ask about the quality of the medical facilities in Summit County.If you had talked to Burnett a couple of years ago, he would have cautioned you against owning a million-dollar plus home.(The million-dollar plus building trend) has looked really bleak for the past several years, but now its looking pretty good, he said. People who took a gamble and bought million-dollar properties theyre going to be fine, if nothing changes but theres always going to be change in the world.But Kellermann has so much faith in the rising market that he invested in property in October. Prior to his purchase, he watched land prices rise between 5 percent and 15 percent in a season. And high costs of vacant lots almost always mandate building million-dollar plus homes.

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