Vail Valley real estate inventory is declining
By the numbers
23 percent: Decline in active real estate listings from October, 2015 to the same month in 2016.*
228: Closed real estate transactions in September.*
$235.5 million. Cumulative value of those transactions.*
52: Sales in Eagle and Gypsum in September.*
Sources: Vail Board of Realtors; *Land Title Guarantee Company.
EAGLE COUNTY — The valley’s real estate inventory is shrinking as values recover from the steep drops seen starting in 2009. But local brokers say that doesn’t mean we are in a seller’s market yet.
Evidence for that assertion comes from the latest numbers from the Vail Board of Realtors. According to the voluminous statistics available from that group, home sellers in October received an average of 95.9 percent of their asking prices. That’s up slightly from the same period in 2015, but only by 0.4 percent. The year-to-date average is up even less — just 0.1 percent.
In addition to the small increases in selling prices, homes are taking a bit less time to sell. For October, the decline was fairly steep — from 178 days on the market in 2015 to 109 in 2016. Again, though, the year to date numbers show a more gradual decline of just 2 percent.
For October, the number of active listings declined from the same period in 2015, as did the number of months’ supply of homes in the Multiple Listing Service, which tracks almost all listed real estate in the area.
Those October figures show continued strength from September. That’s the last month of data available from Land Title Guarantee Co., which tracks transactions filed with the Eagle County Clerk & Recorder’s Office.
According to data from that company, the number of sales in September declined slightly from September of 2015 to September of this year — there were eight fewer sales this year — but the value of those transactions set a new high for the month over the past five years. As always, a relative handful of sales accounted for the bulk of dollar volume for the month — 10 sales in Vail accounted for $53 million in volume.
Most buyers are locals
As is also the case, the biggest number of transactions came in what are viewed as local resident’s neighborhoods. The town of Eagle and the Eagle-Vail neighborhood together accounted for almost 25 percent of all the county’s sales in September.
In fact, Eagle County residents accounted for more than half of all sales in September. Local buyers make up the majority of sales most months.
Jim Flaum, managing partner of Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate, said that trend has been developing over the last decade.
Flaum said locals buying in the county are often upgrading or downsizing, depending on their needs. In addition, people who owned smaller units in Vail have seen values rise enough to cash in a good bit of equity for larger homes west of Dowd Junction.
“People can take that equity and get a great loan at a great price,” Flaum said.
Farther downvalley, Eileen Duke, a broker with LIV Sotheby’s real estate, said most of her buyers include both locals and people moving into the valley for new jobs.
Duke’s clients run the gamut, from empty-nesters to young, growing families.
Duke is also the chairwoman of the Vail Board of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service Committee. That committee works to ensure that local brokers have access to the most modern and efficient technology, but members also work to make sense of an eye-popping array of facts and figures.
Looking at those facts and figures, Duke said while inventory is down and values are inching up, the valley’s market still offers a good balance between buyers and sellers.
“Sellers are happy with the prices, and buyers don’t seem to mind right now,” Duke said.
Building is tricky
As homes become more expensive, though, many brokers would like to see more homes built in the valley. Flaum said that’s a tricky issue.
“If you can find a home, it’s still a little cheaper to buy used than new,” Flaum said. Those who are building “spec” homes — homes built without a specific buyer — continue to compete against existing construction that’s priced lower.
Flaum said the market may be near a tipping point at which the prices of new and existing homes is about equal. That would allow developers and builders to turn a profit on those projects.
Flaum said construction prices didn’t decline when home values did. And, with the price of land rising now, building new homes will continue to be a difficult proposition.
But while the market is still mostly in balance, Duke said this is a good time to be a seller.
“If people are thinking of selling, the inventory is low right now,” she said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com or @scottnmiller.