Year starts strong for Eagle County real estate sales
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – The local real estate market is usually pretty quiet in January. But numbers from the first month of 2012 show some real strength.According to the latest information from Land Title Guarantee Co., the number of completed sales in January of this year – 90 – is actually the same as January of 2011. The big difference is the price of those transactions. The total value of all those sales was nearly $104.5 million, the biggest volume number since 2008, and a 21 percent jump from last year’s number.Last year, total transactions in the county were up, but dollar volume was down. In fact, the year’s dollar volume total was down 23 percent from 2010.As is often the case in Eagle County, a handful of transactions – six sales of $4 million or more – accounted for about half of January’s dollar volume. And sales of $2 million or more – just 10 transactions – made up more than 60 percent of the month’s total.At the other end of the market, there were 52 sales of $1 million or less in January. All those sales accounted for 20 percent of the dollar volume.But Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate Vice President Julie Bergsten believes the local real estate market may be poised for at least something of a comeback. While short sales – deals negotiated between homeowners and lenders to sell a unit for less than the amount owed – foreclosures and sales of bank-owned units still make up a significant portion of the county’s transactions these days, Bergsten said there’s also quite a bit of interest throughout the valley’s market.”People are starting to realize (prices) might not go a lot lower,” Bergsten said. “And sellers are so much more realistic about pricing.”Then there’s the matter of consumer confidence – or at least desire to get into the market.”A lot of buyers are to a point they don’t want to wait,” Bergsten said. “They want to buy now and enjoy a home with their families.”While Bergsten looks at numbers for the valley’s biggest real estate company, Bill Holm is seeing the same thing, albeit on a smaller scale. Holm is the sales representative for the Stratton Flats and Sky Legend projects in Gypsum, both of which are owned by the same company, and both of which are selling new homes.Holm, a longtime veteran of the valley real estate business, said business is usually light in the first quarter of just about any year. This year is different. “We’ve seen a huge uptick in traffic in January and February, and I think that’s going to translate into transactions,” Holm said. Like Bergsten, Holm said he believes potential buyers believe the local market might be near or at its bottom right now. Combine that with historically low mortgage rates and the availability of 100 percent financing for the right buyers, and there’s renewed interest in real estate.While Gypsum, in particular, has a lot of bank-owned property on the market at bargain prices, Holm said those units are starting to sell.”In fact, we’re starting to see over-bids on some units,” he said.That’s why the company that owns Stratton Flats and Sky Legend has started foundation work on nine new homes in the two neighborhoods, and may start as many as 20 homes this year.”This year, interest in January and February is more than I’ve ever seen,” Holm said. “If that’s any indication, then let’s get some (foundation) holes dug.”
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