Valley real estate ends best year since 2007
By the numbers
2,061: Total Eagle County real estate transactions in 2015.
550: Out of state buyers.
$1.98 billion: Value of all 2015 sales.
$2.96 billion: Value of all 2007 sales.
Source: Land Title Guarantee Co.
EAGLE COUNTY — The Vail Valley’s real estate market is in a good place right now — 2015 was the best year for the business since the pre-bust year of 2007.
Land Title Guarantee Company recently released its full-year data for 2015, and the numbers show a market that may be fully recovered from the economic slump that hit the valley full-force in 2009.
According to the numbers — completed transactions filed with the Eagle County Clerk & Recorder’s Office — 2015 was the best year since 2007 for both the number of transactions — 2,061 — and the value, or dollar volume, of those transactions. That dollar volume was a whisker below $2 billion.
On the other hand, the 2015 dollar volume was still $1 billion less than the volume recorded in 2007.
Jim Flaum, the managing partner of Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate, said the difference in volume could be due to the kinds of units being sold during the peak of the previous decade’s real estate boom.
“So much of what was sold was high-end, ski-in, ski-out property,” Flaum said. “That could account for that $1 billion difference by itself.”
While the dollar volume is still below previous records, Flaum said the current market is actually doing fine.
“I said a long time ago that a $2 billion market is a nice, steady, sustainable market,” he said.
The current market also seems to be encouraging more construction than the past few years. There were 121 new homes built and sold in 2015, and 166 pieces of vacant land were sold last year.
A lot of that activity is in the western valley.
Rick Messmer, a broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ Eagle office, is also a member of the Eagle Ranch Design Review Board. Messmer said that group’s Thursday meeting included presentations for new homes. That’s a lot, especially compared to the past few years.
“We’re seeing a variety (of homes built),” Messmer said, adding that people are building both for themselves and spec homes — units built without a pre-arranged buyer.
Flaum said the increased construction activity is due in large part to pricing. As prices of existing homes have risen, new construction becomes an attractive alternative.
“And a lot of people enjoy the process,” Flaum said. “You’re able to have everything just the way you want it.”
A number of the new homes in the valley are homes being set up at Two Rivers Village in Dotsero.
Mallie Kingston, a broker in Berkshire Hathaway’s Gypsum office, said there’s enough of a price different between those homes and the few homes available for sale in Gypsum that Dotsero is becoming an increasingly attractive option. And, she said, people buying at Two Rivers are getting brand-new homes.
There’s also the fact that there are lots and homes available in Dotsero.
Kingston said she had a “very good” year in 2015, but a continued frustration is the lack of homes for sale. People in the market for their first home, or those who want to move up from their first homes, are out and looking, Kingston said, but there’s not much available.
And, while prices did rise in 2015, both Kingston and Messmer said prices seem to have stabilized.
“(It) was a great year for buyers and sellers,” Messmer said. “It was a year where both sides at the closing table were happy. Sellers were getting the prices they wanted or needed, and buyers felt like they were still getting a good deal.”
On the other hand, units that aren’t priced right, or that don’t have the right amenities, spend more time on the market.
“People are being more careful,” Kingston said. “They’re not buying just anything, and they’re really focusing on what they want. Properties that haven’t gone under contract don’t have what people want.”
With one good year in the record books, Flaum said he’s looking forward to another strong year in 2016.
“It’s been good year so far,” Flaum said. That’s even with a jumpy start to the year in the nation’s financial markets.
“Overall, it’s a good, steady market right now,” he added. “I have no complaints.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.