August caps active summer for real estate
By the numbers
198: Closed real estate transactions in August.
635: Close real estate transactions in June, July and August.
40: August sales in the town of Eagle.
$12.65 million: Highest priced residential sale in August, in Vail Village.
Source: Land Title Guarantee Company
EAGLE COUNTY — People seem to be moving around again in the local real estate market. That, in turn helped fuel a very active summer for brokers, buyers and sellers.
The final numbers for June, July and August — recorded in Eagle County and distributed by Land Title Guarantee Co. — show 635 total sales for the summer, with 198 of those sales coming in August. Those transactions generated nearly $115.4 million in sales volume.
As is usually the case, much of that sales volume was generated by relatively few sales. August’s three sales of $5 million or more generated nearly a quarter of the month’s sales volume.
But the transaction numbers are generated outside the valley’s resort areas. Eagle had the most transactions by community in August — a total of 40 — followed by Gypsum with 21, Eagle-Vail with 17 and East Vail with 13. Those western-valley transactions ran the gamut from first time buyers to people moving up or moving on.
Mallie Kingston is a longtime broker in the Gypsum office of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties. Kingston was surprised when told about the nearly two-to-one disparity in August sales between the two downvalley towns.
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Noting that she was “exceptionally” busy in August, Kingston said that virtually all of her sales in August came in Gypsum.
“Prices are a little higher (in Eagle),” Kingston said. “That market is a little busier right now.”
That business is likely due to a continued lack of inventory in the home market aimed at county-based buyers.
While there isn’t much to buy, county residents are making most of the deals. The Land Title report shows more than 60 percent of all transactions are being made by Eagle County-based buyers.
In the western valley, Kingston said her buyers include first time buyers and people buying different homes.
“We’re seeing more move-ups,” Kingston said. “People can sell, make a little money and get into something nicer.”
That’s a relatively new trend in the market, Kingston said. Actually, the trend may be better described as new-again, since many people decided to stay in their homes during the economic slump that hit the local market full force starting in 2009.
“Prices are almost but not quite back to where they were in 2005,” Kingston said. That was the high-water year for the number of transactions in the county.
Another new-again trend is people moving into larger western-valley homes from their smaller places closer to the ski areas.
Heather Lemon, a broker with Slifer Smith & Frampton, said she’s talking to a number of clients ready to make the move west.
While bargains through foreclosures, or short sales, have virtually vanished from the local scene — they accounted for about 20 percent of sales in 2011 — competition is keen when one of those sales pops up.
“I recently sold a property in Eagle Ranch on a short sale and had multiple offers on the day I listed it,” Lemon said. A similar sale in Gypsum also disappeared quickly, she added.
But, as in the boom days of the previous decade, county-based buyers are again seeing more value when they look down valley.
“When you look at what you can get in Eagle versus what you can get in Avon for $300,000, there’s a big difference,” Lemon said. “A lot of young families need space for the kids. That’s why Eagle Ranch places are hopping — you get much more for your money.”
As in the previous decade, Lemon said young families are again shrugging off commuting distances.
“People think ‘I couldn’t drive that far,” Lemon said. That quickly fades, as soon as kids enter the mix.
“If both (members) of a couple work in Vail, they work as hard as they can to stay,” Lemon said.
But couples who don’t both have to make the drive all the way to Vail often find a way to make downvalley living work, especially once a second child is on the way.
Lemon’s children are all grown and out of the house. But, she said, “If I was a young family starting out, I’d be looking in Eagle.”
Of course, those new-again trends are starting to drive up prices, further complicating the lack of inventory in those communities.
That isn’t likely to change significantly any time soon, either, Lemon said.
“There just isn’t a lot of land available,” she said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org or @scottnmiller.