Real estate recovery continues |

Real estate recovery continues

On Friday, homeowner Chris Marsh works in his garage at his new home that is under construction in Gypsum. Local real estate brokers say it is time for more home construction as fewer lower-priced units are now available in the valley.
Anthony Thornton | |

By the numbers

144: July real estate sales in Eagle County.

190: July sales in 2013.

96 percent: Percentage of real estate transactions through July compared to the same period in 2013.

31 percent: Increase in transaction volume for the year through July over 2013.

Source: Land Title Guarantee Co.

EAGLE COUNTY — Pre-sold real estate is returning to the Vail Valley, albeit in a small way.

As the local real estate market continues its recovery from its 2009 collapse, 2014 is looking like the best year since the boom times in terms of both transactions and the money generated by those sales.

The most recent data from Land Title Guarantee Co., which uses county records of closed transactions, shows a continued return to health in the local real estate market. Bank sales, which peaked at more than 20 percent of all real estate transactions a few years ago, now account for about 5.1 percent of all sales through July 31. Sales volume, the amount of money generated by those transactions, is more than 30 percent more than 2013’s totals through the end of July.

The number of sales through the first seven months of the year is off slightly from the 2013 pace, due largely to a bit of a drop in transactions in July.

Unexpected Dip

Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate Vice President Julie Bergsten said the July dip was unexpected. There’s usually a bit of bounce in sales in July she said, and that bounce didn’t materialize this year.

On the other hand, Bergsten said sales in August — transactions either under contract or which haven’t yet shown up on county records — rebounded a bit from July, and are at the same levels seen in the same period in 2013.

Those sales were aided a bit by pre-sales at Brookside Lofts in Avon. Work hasn’t yet started to convert former office space to residential space in the building along U.S. Highway 6, but Bergsten said eight of the 16 units are already under contract.

Those units, which start at about $600,000, are an example of movement in the market for units priced less than $1 million. And activity in the market depends in large part on the neighborhood.

Lack of Inventory

While Vail’s market remains strong, nearly half of all July’s sales were in non-resort areas of the county. And, Bergsten said, the market remains sluggish for single-family homes in Beaver Creek.

Conversely, a less-expensive unit such as a condo will probably move quickly, in part because there aren’t many of those units available.

The lack of inventory is also being felt in Gypsum. There, units priced at $400,000 or less tend to go quickly — depending on the neighborhood and the unit, of course — primarily because there are so few homes available.

Laurie Slaughter, of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties’ Gypsum office, has long sold real estate in that part of the valley. She said the lack of inventory in the lower-priced part of the market is due in part to the fact that the flood of foreclosures and short sales seen a couple of years ago has slowed to a trickle. That leaves fewer units available, although Slaughter said some sellers are trying to venture back into the market.

Some of those sellers are testing the market, setting prices that might be a bit higher than buyers are willing to pay.

Trading Space for Convenience

While the lower end of the market sees the few available units sell quickly — for the most part — Slaughter said the Cotton Ranch neighborhood around the Gypsum Creek Golf Course is selling more slowly. Given the options at about the same price closer to the resorts, Slaughter said it’s possible some buyers are trading space for convenience.

Both Bergsten and Slaughter said given the lack of units in more-active parts of the valley, it could be time for developers to start building more homes.

Slaughter said the Stratton Flats property along U.S. Highway 6 is a “missed opportunity” for builders right now.

“It would have been nice to have homes there for sale,” she said.

While the local market has some dips and rises at the moment, Bergsten said that’s a good sign of a healthy, normal real estate market.

“This is the kind of market we saw before 2005,” Bergsten said. “Normal markets go up and down from time to time.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, or @scottnmiller.

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