Vail Valley real estate market on an upswing in the wake of COVID-19 shutdown |

Vail Valley real estate market on an upswing in the wake of COVID-19 shutdown

Pent-up demand is resulting in some quick sales across the price spectrum

Real estate activity is picking up two months after the mid-March shutdown of the local economy.
By the numbers 82%: Eagle County real estate transactions through March, compared to 2019 119%: Value of real estate transactions through March, compared to 2019 79: Home sales in Eagle and Gypsum through March. 15: Home sales of $3 million or more through March. Source: Land Title Guarantee Company.

Eagle County was on track for a pretty good year in real estate through mid-March. We all know what happened next.

Recent data from Land Title Guarantee Company shows that even with a mid-March shutdown, the valley’s real estate market was on a roughly parallel track with the first quarter of 2019. Overall transactions were down, but the value of those transactions was up.

Now, a couple of months past the mid-March shutdown, the local real estate market seems to be getting active again.

John Pfeiffer, president of Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate, said that firm keeps weekly totals of activity in the company. For the past several weeks, every week’s business has been a little better than the week before, Pfeiffer said. In fact, business for the week of May 16 — 22 showed twice the written deals than the same week in 2019.

Given that this is the heart of the firm’s off season, “We are just thrilled,” Pfeiffer said.

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At Ron Byrne and Associates Real Estate, company owner Ron Byrne said the current market is “looking really, really good.”

There are some caveats, of course.

Byrne noted that one deal his company wrote was extended for a buyer to feel more confident about his family’s ability to travel.

“We need to wait for people to feel more comfortable,” Byrne said.

Pfeiffer said Slifer Smith & Frampton has also worked with buyers and sellers to extend the closing dates for contracts. So far, he said, very few buyers have cancelled purchase contracts.

At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, company president Michael Slevin said that firm has also seen an uptick in activity.

“When (state restrictions on showings) were loosened at the end of April, activity really picked up,” Slevin said.

“The market definitely paused, and it was appropriate that it paused,” Slevin added. But, he added, it seems that potential buyers used that pause to really consider their next move.

“That happened while we were all safe at home,” Slevin said. “When restrictions eased, people were ready.”

People were able to line up financing, and many took advantage of online listings and open houses.

That’s led to some quick action. Byrne said one of his company’s employees listed her own home recently, and had a contract in two days.

The uptick in activity isn’t unique to the Vail Valley.

Slifer Smith & Frampton was recently chosen as the listing broker for a large redevelopment project in Snowmass Village.

“Our phones are ringing off the hook,” he said.

Slevin said he was recently on a conference call with brokers in other resort markets.

“They’re all saying the same things,” he said.

The increase in interest may continue. Byrne noted that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that as much as 50% of that firm’s workforce will be allowed to work remotely in the next few years.

“If you work for Facebook and can work anywhere,” an employee might be willing to look at smaller communities. That could be true of other businesses, Byrne said.

Remote work and other changes have the potential to affect the local real estate market, Byrne added. Buyers may be more interested in home office space than they might have been just a few years ago.

Byrne said a longtime client recently moved his family to Vail.

“He told me ‘This might be the place for us for quite a while,’” Byrne said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at

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