Vail Valley real estate sales in September: A dip in an otherwise strong year
By the numbers
• 36 percent: Decline from 2016 in September sales volume in Eagle County.
• 15 percent: Decline in total transactions year over year from September 2016.
• 71: September sales of $500,000 or less.
• 1: Sale of more than $3.5 million in September.
Source: Land Title Guarantee Co.
EAGLE COUNTY — Market trends aren’t defined in a single month. That’s the good news when looking at September’s Eagle County real estate sales.
Land Title Guarantee Co. recently released sales data from September. That data was gleaned from Eagle County records. After strong year-over-year results from January through August, September sales and dollar volume took a step back.
For the month, sales volume totaled just more than $151 million, a 36 percent decline from the same month in 2016 and the lowest September total since 2014. There were 194 transactions, a 15 percent drop from the same month in 2016, and the lowest total since 2014.
That’s a significant change from the rest of the year. Even with the September decline, Land Title Guarantee reports that year-to-date transactions are up 7 percent from 2016. Sales volume is up 28 percent from the previous year.
Land Title reports total sales of $1.65 billion through the first nine months of 2017. Total sales in 2016 hit $1.95 billion.
Industry professionals acknowledge they’re a bit baffled by September’s setback.
“September is a bit of a mystery,” Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate Director of Operations Jason Cole said. “You usually can point to a certain indicator, but we can’t.”
Is it inventory?
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties President Michael Slevin said there could be a reason for the dip. Brokers for the past few years have said there isn’t enough inventory in the local market. Slevin said the September drop might reflect lack of inventory in what’s been an active market.
“September is a natural time to trend down in inventory,” Slevin said. “But inventory this year is lower than it was two or three years ago.”
Then there’s the fact that transactions were higher in the three months before September.
“We had a very good summer,” Slevin said.
Cole noted that Slifer Smith & Frampton’s October business bounced back strongly.
Tye Stockton, a broker with Liv Sotheby’s International Realty, said his business seemed to track with the official numbers. But, Stockton said, his October business has been strong.
“I’d chalk it up to a timing thing,” Stockton said of the September slowdown.
Stockton said while potential sellers are wondering if it’s a good time to list their homes, some potential buyers may be hesitant.
“The longer the market is stronger, then people wonder when a correction is coming,” Stockton said. But, he added, little has changed in national and local market fundamentals, and those fundamentals remain strong.
What buyers want
Stockton agreed that inventory may have something to do with the September dip, especially in the higher reaches of the market.
At the market’s high end — homes priced at $3 million and above — the September slump was particularly noticeable. In September, two homes sold for between $3 million and $3.5 million, and one home sold for more than $5 million.
That’s a step back in a segment of the market that has performed well in the rest of 2017.
In fact, there have been 35 homes priced at $5 million or more sold so far this year. There were 28 homes priced at $5 million or more sold in all of 2016.
The high-end market is a unique one. By definition, there aren’t many homes available, and buyers tend to have very specific wants when looking at property in that price range.
Stockton said what he’s seen is that buyers in that range tend to want “turn-key” property.
“We’ve taken a couple of listings in that price range, but those houses need work,” Stockton said.
On the other hand, Stockton said his company has a Vail Village penthouse condo under contract for more than $10 million.
“There are good sales when you get the right timing and the right product,” he said.
At the other end of the market, homes are still moving fairly quickly, and that’s where the bulk of sales are conducted.
In September alone the 71 sales of $500,000 or less accounted for 46 percent of all transactions. But, thanks to the upper reaches of the market, those sales made up less than 20 percent of the month’s sales volume.
Despite the September decline, those interviewed for this story remain confident in the strength of the local real estate market.
“The jury is still out on how the balance of the off season will shake out,” Slevin said. “But activity is strong, and new listings generate a lot of interest.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.