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Vail Valley real estate is rebounding from April’s slump

April sales were down dramatically; some May sales running ahead of 2019 pace

Pending single-family and duplex home sales in May have rebounded strongly from April's slump.
By the numbers
  • 55.6%: April decline in pending single-family and duplex sales from April, 2019.
  • 51.1%: May gain in pending single-family and duplex sales from May, 2019.
  • 48.2%: April decline in new listings of single-family and duplex units from April, 2019.
  • 16.7%: May decline in new listings of single-family and duplex units from May, 2019.
Source: Vail Board of Realtors

The latest numbers back up what we all saw: Real estate activity tumbled in April from the previous year.

The latest numbers from Land Title Guarantee Company tell a sobering story. There were just 86 closed transactions in April, a 43% decline from April, 2019. The dollar volume of those transactions added up to just more than $80 milllion, a 53% decline from the same period in 2019.

The slowdown in April and the second half of March derailed what had started out as a strong sales year. In fact, even with April’s low dollar volume, revenue generated through the first four months of 2020 is 98% of the volume recorded through the same period in 2019.

Transaction numbers had a more steep decline compared to 2019, but the number of sales fell only 16% compared to the first four months of 2020.

But sales have rebounded strongly from the slowdown in the first six weeks following the March 15 shutdown of the state’s ski resorts.

“We’ve seen 10 consecutive weeks of increasing (week over week) contracts since the low point in April,” Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Mountain Properties President Michael Slevin said.

A broad rebound

Slevin said it isn’t just his firm that’s seen the rebound. Slevin, a member of the Vail Board of Realtors, said every company participating in the local Multiple Listing Service has seen the same trend.

In fact, he added, there are currently more properties under contract than at this point in 2019.

Slevin credited a team effort, including efforts by Vail Health and local public health officials to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and local real estate firms creating a plan to safely show property and conduct office business remotely. There’s also the fact that the nation’s stock exchanges at this point seem to be recovering from the deep shock caused by the virtual economic shutdown in the U.S.

Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate Vice President of Operations Jason Cole also praised the Vail Board of Realtors’ efforts in creating a “safer showing” pledge that helped lead to opening up the local market.

Another element in the rebound is harder to track: The Welcome Home program.

The program has invited second-home owners to come to the Vail Valley for a season instead of a shorter visit. The idea is both to bring more people to patronize local businesses, and to show off the valley during the summer.

Is Welcome Home working?

That program, at least anecdotally, seems to be bearing some fruit.

Dan Fitchett, the managing broker of the Vail Valley branch of LIV Sotheby’s International Realty, said he’s seen a “lot of people” coming into homes near local golf courses.

And, Fitchett added, he noticed a lot of cars recently in the Vail Village parking structure.

Cole said he recently heard from a local property manager who manages 38 second homes in the valley.

“By mid-June all 38 (owners) will be here at the same time,” Cole said. “He said that had never happened before.”

In addition to inviting current owners to the valley, Slevin said he’s seen people renting units for not just a week, but for two weeks, a month or more.

“People are seeing this is a place to raise a family, to retire or to work,” Slevin said.

Fitchett said he’ll be interested to see if the current activity lasts, or is a bubble caused by pent-up demand. But in this unusual year, no one is making predictions.

“All we can predict is what’s going on right now,” Fitchett said.

The hardest thing to predict is the virus, particularly as businesses reopen.

“Let’s do this reopening right, and not do anything crazy,” Cole said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com.


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