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Vail Village, Lionshead homes outsell downvalley areas

Current market, especially in resort areas, being fueled in part by people moving out of cities

A duplex on Vail Road near the Vail Interfaith Chapel recently sold for $57.2 million.
Scott Cramer Photography
By the numbers
  • 5%: Decline from 2019 in Eagle County real estate sales volume through July 31.
  • 16%: Decline from 2019 in Eagle county real estate transactions through July 31.
  • 54: Real estate sales in Vail Village and Lionshead through July 31.
  • 35: Real estate sales in EagleVail through July 31.
  • Source: Land Title Guarantee Company.

How hot is the valley’s real estate market right now? July home sales in Vail Village and Lionshead outnumbered all sales in EagleVail.

The current real estate boom is consistent across all price ranges in the valley, but the sales in Vail’s resort villages are expensive homes.

The average Vail Village sale in July was $5.8 million. The Lionshead average for the same month was $2.18 million. The average sale price in EagleVail was $845,000.

Craig Denton, a longtime local broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, said the boom isn’t unique to the Vail Valley. Denton said he was on a Monday call with other Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices offices in Jackson, Wyoming, Big Sky, Montana and other resort areas.

“They’re all seeing the same thing,” Denton said.

The current boom has this year’s numbers, in both transactions and dollar volume, close to even with levels seen in 2019. That dip comes with a significant caveat: COVID-19.

The pandemic-related virtual shutdown of much of the nation’s economy meant an end to in-person home showings and other real estate business. Transaction numbers in April, May and June were 47%, 59% and 60% of those same months in 2019.

No surprise?

Denton said he isn’t surprised by the current boom.

“I predicted we’d see a surge,” Denton said, noting there was a similar surge in 2001 and 2002 in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York City and Washington D.C.

Still, he said, the current boom is “amazing.”

Dan Fitchett, the managing broker for LIV Sotheby’s International Realty in the Vail Valley, is a longtime valley resident. Fitchett said he’s never seen anything like the current boom.

Not only are homes moving quickly, Fitchett said, but many units are seeing multiple offers.

Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate Managing Broker John Pfeiffer said that firm has seen week-over-week transaction increases from 2019 through much of the summer.

“Properties are going off the market in hours, if not days,” Pfeiffer said.

Much of the market activity, particularly in the market’s upper reaches, is being driven by people moving from urban areas.

That’s where the Vail Valley has an advantage, Fitchett said.

We have ‘social infrastructure’

The Vail Valley is more than just a mountain town, Fitchett said, adding that there’s a “social infrastructure” in the valley that includes events including the Bravo! Vail Music Festival. In a non-pandemic year, the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater and the Vilar Performing Arts Center have plenty of performances. There’s also plenty of fine dining, Fitchett said, along with good medical facilities and a “decent” public school system. Those are things people relocating to a new community need, he said.

The Vail Valley also offers easy access to Denver via Interstate 70, and generally better weather than other, higher-elevation locations.

The move to the mountains comes with a few question marks, though.

Denton noted that many new arrivals may not have lived through an entire Rocky Mountain winter.

There are also lingering questions about how Vail Resorts’ new reservation system will work this winter. Beyond that, restaurants remain at limited capacity. Does that mean new residents will order takeout or cook at home? Only time will tell.

While the current market is hot, Fitchett said this market is more stable than the overheated buying the valley saw between roughly 2005 and 2007.

The market of those years was booming for the “wrong reasons,” Fitchett said, adding that many buyers were putting down money on new units, then hoping to resell before closing. Many new units changed hands more than once before they were available to occupy.

Today’s buyers have a longer time horizon, Fitchett said.

“People buying today are users,” he added. “Their time horizon is five years or more.”

Pfeiffer said the problem is available inventory, as it has been for some time.

“If you’re considering selling, you should,” Pfeiffer said.

The problem then, of course, is finding something else in the valley to buy.

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


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