Vail Valley real estate coming back from tough April, May |

Vail Valley real estate coming back from tough April, May

There were a few more out-of-state buyers than usual in May, many from California

This home on Castle Peak Road is listed by Keller Williams Mountain Properties Team Black Bear.
By the numbers
  • 83: Completed Eagle County real estate transactions in May, 2020.
  • 174: Completed Eagle County real estate transactions in May, 2019.
  • $173.6 million: Value of May, 2019 real estate transactions.
  • $102.5 million: Value of May, 2020 real estate transactions.
  • Source: Land Title Guarantee Company.

Lack of business doesn’t necessarily mean lack of work.

Laura Sellards is the co-owner of Keller Williams Mountain Properties Team Black Bear in Eagle. Sellards said her team was busy even while sales slipped in April and May.

And sales did slip — a lot. Transactions in April were just 57% percent of the same period in 2019. May sales were just 48% of those recorded in 2019.

“But we’ve been consistently busy through this whole thing,” Sellards said, whether helping people get their homes ready to list or helping potential buyers look for property, virtually in many cases.

Despite the slowdown following the March shutdown of much of the valley’s economy, brokers say they’re busy, and writing a lot of contracts.

Dan Fitchett, the managing broker of LIV Sotheby’s International Realty, said June and the first two weeks of July have been “exceptional.”

Some of those buyers are relocating to the Vail Valley.

Fitchett said his firm has sold four homes to people coming to the valley from other areas.

Fitchett said he was talking with a client who’s become so used to doing business via email, phone and Zoom meetings that he decided to bring his family to Eagle County.

“He’ll fly back about once a month now,” Fitchett said.

Willing to drive

Another thing Fitchett is seeing is how long people are willing to drive to get to the Vail Valley. Any drive of 15 hours or less is now seen as somewhat acceptable.

Sales to out-of-state buyers have ticked up recently, from about 28% through much of the year to 33% in May.

Many of those buyers were located in Texas, long a solid market for resort area real estate. But just as many May buyers — 29 — were from California.

That’s something new, Fitchett said. Southern California residents can get to western Colorado fairly easily, Fitchett said, adding that many clients he’s spoken with want out of that state, at least for now.

Mike Budd, a broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, said that California has never been one of the valley’s top states for real estate buyers. Buyers have usually come from Texas, Florida, Chicago and the area around New York City, Budd said.

Will summer residents stay?

Budd added that he expects a number of people who summer in the valley to stick around into the fall, or later.

“Usually about mid-August, summer residents start leaving,” Budd said. “I don’t think we’re going to see that this year,” due in large part to uncertainty about school calendars.

With many districts going to virtual classes, “there’s no catalyst to return,” Budd said.

While many people relocating are buying more expensive homes, Budd said a continuing lack of inventory is helping drive demand across much of the market.

And, he added, the low cost of borrowing is driving some buyers into higher price brackets.

Sellards said other buyers are looking for space, both inside and out.

“We’re getting tremendous interest from out of state and higher density areas (in Colorado) — Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins.”

Sellards noted that a trend a few years ago toward smaller homes is being replaced by people seeking space.

“People are now looking for those extra rooms,” she said.

The move toward the county’s more wide-open spaces is welcome. But, Budd said the valley’s economy needs to shift, too.

“I wish we’d see some industries other than the recreation-hospitality industry (come to the valley),” he said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at

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