Things are going great, but will they keep getting better?
Rod Slifer, mayor of the town of Vail and managing partner of Slifer, Smith and Frampton Real Estate Company, a division of Vail Resorts, Inc., with 17 offices and a hand in roughly two-thirds of the property bought and sold in the area, says even he’s not sure what to expect with the recent surge in property values and other trends in the Vail Valley real estate market.”I don’t think any of us knows exactly why things are going like they are. Perhaps it’s all the stars have aligned themselves,” Slifer says. “But truly, I believe there’s a lot of pent-up demand out there. And it’s not just high-end buyers; it’s first-time homebuyers all the way up.”If anything, Slifer says, low interest rates for mortgages nationwide are responsible for much of the recent activity.Jair Valero and Myriam Velasquez, for example, say they secured their Eagle town home with a 30-year, fixed-rate loan at just 5.75 percent. As of Dec. 2, according to a Web site maintained by the Vail Board of REALTORS’ Michael Thompson, http://www.realtytimes.com, 15-year mortgages were available at just 5.23 percent, and one-year, adjustable-rate loans were on offer at a remarkable 4.19 percent.”Interest rates are still very low. But a lot of people think they may go up soon. So that’s another motivating factor,” says Slifer. “And if they’re selling, that makes is easier for them.”Several dynamics have changed the market, Slifer says, since the boom of 2000. The Vail Valley has “matured,” he says, with a broader base of buyers both in winter and summer; and people believe it’s a “safe investment,” more desirable than some other resorts.”Retirees these days don’t want to go to Florida, say, or other typical retirement communities,” Slifer says. “And Vail is an active place for active people.”Looking ahead, Slifer says enough contracts have been written in December, typically one of the year’s top-grossing months, to put 2004 away on “a good note.”Michael Thompson, in a recent “Letter from the President” to the Vail Board of REALTORS, says the local real estate market is “on pace for the best year yet” with a total sales volume of almost $1.8 billion.”It’s a good time to be a resort homeowner and the demographics continue to support this trend,” Thompson wrote.And last week Thompson went even further, saying volume for 2004 could exceed $2 billion.Coldwell Banker Timberline’s Diana Meehan, meanwhile, looks at the long term. She offers a mantra, of sorts:”You can’t lose on this market; you just have to get in.”Scott Lindall, a local architect, offers encouraging words, too. He says he’s been busier than ever this year.”It’s a new beginning for this valley after going through a flat time,” Lindall says. “Architecture is a leading indicator. Where we’re busy, it trickles down. For sure, we’re at the beginning of a sustained increase in the Vail Valley.”Slifer, who’s watched the valley grow from nothing in the early 1960s into a world-renowned mountain resort and modern, thriving resort community, remains more guarded.”Sometimes, when I see the market like this, I get nervous,” Slifer says. “One thing’s for sure: It won’t last forever.” VTBy Stephen Lloyd Wood