Local neighborhoods seeing strong sales
By the numbers
15 percent: Increase in real estate transactions through Nov. 30, 2015 over the same period in 2014.
14 percent: Increase in the dollar value of those transactions.
46 percent: Portion of November sales for $500,000 or less.
31: November sales in the town of Eagle.
Source: Land Title Guarantee Company
EAGLE COUNTY — The Vail Valley’s real estate market is a bit like the tourism business — it has seasons of greater and lesser activity. This year seems to be an exception.
While real estate sales in November were far off the busiest months of the year — September and June — there were still 166 transactions with a dollar value of $137.1 million. Those figures come from Land Title Guarantee Company, which tracks sales recorded at the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder’s office. Much of that business was in areas associated with year ’round residents.
The town of Eagle saw the most transactions — 31 — followed by Gypsum, 16, Avon, 14, and East Vail, 13.
“It’s kind of a local’s market right now,” Keller Williams Mountain Properties broker Barbara Hogoboom said. Hogoboom, who’s been a broker in the valley since the 1990s, said it seems many potential sellers have seen their home values rise to pre-crash levels and have decided to sell.
Prices going up
Meanwhile, buyers are attracted by still-low interest rates and, perhaps, the idea, that prices aren’t going anywhere but up for the foreseeable future.
Michael Slevin, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, said in areas including Avon and East Vail, there wasn’t really an offseason for real estate sales.
“Activity was very consistent through the fall,” Slevin said. “The breather we usually have in the fall didn’t happen this year.”
People in the market seem to be interested in either moving into a larger home or down-sizing, Slevin said. That’s been true across the price spectrum, he said.
Slevin said his company recently has been working with a homeowner in Beaver Creek who just sold a large home there, and is now looking for a smaller place as the family’s needs have changed.
Conversely, Slevin said there are new buyers coming into the resort market, too.
And sales of expensive property — just in time for ski season — seemed strong in November. The most valuable single sale in November was in Vail Village for $6 million.
While interest rates did tick up in the fall, Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate Managing Partner Jim Flaum said the increase wasn’t big, but may have helped convert some lookers into buyers.
“(Rates) may be moving some people off the sidelines,” Flaum said.
While sales are still fairly strong, there’s a relative lack of homes available for sale. Hogoboom said prices have risen enough in under-$500,000 market to the point that “there isn’t a lot of value there.” But, she said, there are still some good values in homes priced at $500,000 or higher.
Hogoboom said the combination of availability and rising prices is starting to spur sales of buildable lots, particularly around Eagle and Gypsum. There’s always an attraction in something brand-new, she said.
“Lots always come second to a real estate recovery,” Flaum said. “People think, for (a bit) more, I could have brand new. That’s going to be a big trend coming.”
On Construction Costs
On the other hand, construction prices have been rising steadily for a few years. Flaum said those prices climbed even during the national recession.
Those prices are still rising.
Travis Bossow is President of R.A. Nelson, one of the valley’s oldest construction companies. Bossow said R.A. Nelson’s 2016 work includes a bit of everything, from custom homes to renovations. And, he added, with more work in 2016, he expects “incremental” increases in costs through the year.
All those factors seem to indicate a strong finish to the year, and bode well for the market in 2016.
“We had a pretty decent December,” Flaum said. “And we’re starting to see some interesting deals that are in the works right now.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.