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Eagle County welcomes visitors while emphasizing caution

Eagle County is open for business, but residents and visitors are being reminded to continue diligent safety practices to stop local transmission of COVID-19.
Eagle County is open for business, but residents and visitors are being reminded to continue diligent safety practices to stop local transmission of COVID-19.
Photo courtesy of Jack Affleck and the Vail Local Marketing District.
Five Commitments of Containment

Limiting the transmission of COVID-19 is a top priority. Success has been due to the community’s commitment to social distancing and the use of face coverings. All visitors should join residents in adhering to the Five Commitments of Containment:

  • I will maintain 6 feet of physical distance.
  • I will cover my face in public.
  • I will wash my hands often.
  • I will stay home when I am sick.
  • I will get tested immediately if I have symptoms.

More information for visitors is available at www.welcometoeaglecounty.com.

As visitors travel to Eagle County for its world-famous mountain recreation, officials must also ensure visitors are aware of the expectations of residents and local public health orders so they can enjoy a healthy stay.

1. Don’t let your guard down
Travelers may be originating from areas with different guidelines, or they may feel that being on vacation in a perceived “safe haven” from COVID-19 allows them to drop their guard and adopt a more relaxed attitude. Public health officials stress that Eagle County should not be viewed as a safe zone with behavioral exceptions to disease prevention techniques. In fact, because of its popularity as an international resort destination, this area is more prone to outbreaks than areas with fewer travelers. That is why officials seek to ensure that visitors and locals alike are taking all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Visit welcometoeaglecounty.com for more information.
Visit welcometoeaglecounty.com for more information.

2. Follow proper safety precautions
Chiefly, officials would like to emphasize that wearing a face covering in public indoor spaces, and outside where proper social distancing cannot be met, is required by the state and county Public Health Orders and is a legal mandate. Additionally, social distancing is required among parties not sharing a home or hotel room. And lastly, public health officials urge everyone to frequently wash hands and sanitize, stay home if they feel sick, and seek testing if they develop symptoms consistent with the virus.

Visit welcometoeaglecounty.com for more information.
Visit welcometoeaglecounty.com for more information.

3. Respect local containment standards
Locals have made significant sacrifices during the past several months and continue to commit to Eagle County Public Health and Environment’s recommendations and requirements. They are asking visitors to respect their past and ongoing efforts and adapt to local containment standards. And naturally, it is in the best interests of the area’s medical infrastructure as well as visitors themselves to enjoy a healthy stay and return home well.

Consumer confidence is high for the Vail Valley Real Estate Market

Not all industries are being negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Real estate is proving to weather this storm as thoughtful Realtors® guide clients through the process of buying or selling a home with caution and respect that is ultimately leading to successful transactions in the Vail Valley.

A Great Time to Sell

There are several reasons why now is a great time to sell your home: mortgage rates remain at an all-time low, buyer demand is strong, inventory is low so your home will get more attention, and homeowner needs are evolving.

Kevin Kuebert, Chair-Elect for the Vail Board of Realtors®, shared his opinion in a recent conversation. Kuebert feels that a main motivator for clients choosing to make a move now is a need for more space and a desire for change.

“Remote working and online learning play a big role in this decision. Families are taking a close look at how their homes may or may not be adequately serving those needs. Homeowners are examining the equity earned in their homes to assess whether they can make a move up the property ladder,” says Kuebert. Adding, “It’s not only COVID that is motivating the market, tension in metropolitan areas is also a factor. The Vail Valley offers a safe respite from continued unrest in the cities with access to outdoor recreation and the ability to physically distance naturally.”

Best Practices for Sellers

Low inventory can be traditionally good for sellers as this increases market competition; however, sellers should still follow best practices if they want the process to move quickly and efficiently. These practices include following your Realtor’s guidance on de-cluttering and beautifying or “staging” the home, make sure there are great photos or even a virtual tour available to buyers, and most importantly, price the home according to the true value and current comparable sales.

“We provide sellers with an initial list of items to de-clutter, then we go through and review the home a second time and make sure it’s ready for photos and to hit the market,” says Kuebert. “We look at every aspect of the home, interior and exterior and make recommendations.”

There is a lot of activity in the market that started as soon as stay-at-home restrictions were progressively lifted. “Right now, pending sales from June are up while closings are on track and continue to process in a timely manner with minimal delays. Any home in the under $700,000 range that has been properly prepped for the market will not sit on the market too long. If it does, we know quickly that the home could be overpriced,” says Kuebert.

Safe Virtual Showings

With the availability of advanced technology such as 3D Matterport cameras, “sight unseen” transactions have been on the rise. Clients can enjoy virtual tours to get a great sense of a home during their search. In Kuebert’s experience, “Good photos are key in capturing the buyer’s initial attention however it has been Facetime or some other form of a live video showing that has given our clients the confidence to buy the home without physically walking through it. Since we have been able to show homes again, I have done many of these tours.”

In addition to virtual and live video walk throughs, the Vail Board of Realtors® has created and committed to the Safe Showing Pledge for all open houses and private showings. The complete list of commitments is listed on VBR.net including but not limited to the following: adhere to social distancing guidelines, keeping a detailed log of home visitors
for use as needed in contact tracing, sanitizing high- touch surfaces, traveling separately from clients, asking clients about symptoms, and of course, staying home if the Realtor® themselves is experiencing symptoms.

With a lack of inventory, median home sale prices continue to be higher than last year by 7.2 percent. And, the percent of list price received remains consistent. This illustrates that Realtors® are working hard to present homes realistically and thoughtfully to the market.

Tips for Buyers

These important numbers lead to our final tip to buyers: be prepared to make an offer. According to lender statistics, mortgage applications are up approximately 20 percent with low rates, refinances, and general market activity. For serious buyers, pre-approval sends a confident message to sellers and could be a stand-out if there are multiple offers on the table.

In order for transactions to move smoothly, look into a local lender and secure pre-approval for a loan if the plan includes one. According to Kuebert, “Lenders have the potential to affect the closing process and timing. For those looking to secure a mortgage, an outside lender could slow the process down.”

If you are interested in changing your environment, getting more square footage to make life more comfortable, or have been considering
a move for a while, contact a trusted Realtor® and feel confident in the safe and secure guidance these professionals can provide for you. Learn more at VBR.net.

How to prepare, clean and disinfect commercial buildings for COVID-19

BluSky Restoration Contractors is an emergency service and property restoration company that’s helping commercial buildings improve building hygiene throughout the pandemic.
BluSky Restoration Contractors is an emergency service and property restoration company that’s helping commercial buildings improve building hygiene throughout the pandemic.
Images courtesy of BluSky Restoration Contractors
Do you have a COVID-19 plan for your building?

BluSky Restoration Contractors works with managers and owners of commercial buildings and hospitality properties to develop strategies and plans for dealing with COVID-19. Who should be in the room to develop your building’s plan? BluSky Restoration Contractors will work with your team, using hypothetical situations based on real-life events, to ensure you’re prepared and that your team is on the same page. 

This planning and discussion phase is critical for an effective response. If you’re not sure where to begin, call BluSky Restoration Contractors at 888-882-5875 or visit goblusky.com.

For commercial buildings — hotels, apartments and condominiums, hospitals, offices, ski resort lodges, etc. — COVID-19 can be as much a liability risk as it is a health risk.

Any building that’s professionally managed and owned will have to appropriately respond to a positive COVID-19 case or outbreak, but determining what that response looks like varies greatly depending on the type of building and its ownership.

When the calls came out for COVID-19, BluSky Restoration Contractors delivered frontline team members who are trained and certified to wear respirators and other PPE (personal protective equipment).
When the calls came out for COVID-19, BluSky Restoration Contractors delivered frontline team members who are trained and certified to wear respirators and other PPE (personal protective equipment).
Images courtesy of BluSky Restoration Contractors

Because there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, it’s essential to incorporate certified cleaning and disinfecting professionals into your planning discussions. 

“Each customer we work with has a different financial and legal risk aversion,” said Ryan Rusler, vice president and branch manager at BluSky Restoration Contractors, an emergency service and property restoration company that’s helping commercial buildings improve building hygiene throughout the pandemic. “Building owners want to keep people healthy and have peace of mind that their building is on the higher level of building hygiene, but at what cost?”

What is building hygiene?

Cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting and sterilizing mean different things. In simple terms, cleaning means physically removing unwanted substances

— dirt, germs, viruses, bacteria, etc. — from a surface. When you wash your hands, for example, you’re using soap and rinsing with water to physically remove contaminants and visual dirt, said John Temoyan, vice president at BluSky Restoration.

“That’s cleaning. But when you’re sanitizing, disinfecting or sterilizing, those are chemicals,” he said. “From a simplistic sense, sanitizers reduce the number of disease-causing contaminants; disinfectants are more powerful in that they inactivate them, but not all of them; and sterilizing kills 100% (of the contaminants).”

Building owners and managers who want to proactively protect against COVID-19 may choose to hire professionals to regularly clean and apply disinfectant to high-touch areas — places like lobbies, elevators, stair railings, door handles and restrooms. On the reactive side, all areas where an infected person may have been will be professionally cleaned.
Building owners and managers who want to proactively protect against COVID-19 may choose to hire professionals to regularly clean and apply disinfectant to high-touch areas — places like lobbies, elevators, stair railings, door handles and restrooms. On the reactive side, all areas where an infected person may have been will be professionally cleaned.
Images courtesy of BluSky Restoration Contractors

It’s technically impossible to disinfect a building, but you’ll hear the term thrown around a lot by people or companies trying to get your business. 

Certified and trained professionals

As an emergency service company, BluSky is prepared for environmental disasters. Its teams have been working in mountain communities throughout Eagle County and Western Colorado for the last 12 years, handling emergency responses from floods to fires to mold. 

“We fix broken buildings. When the calls came out for COVID, we have frontline team members who are trained and certified to wear respirators and other PPE (personal protective equipment), so we’re set up for this type of chaos,” Rusler said.

Watch for scams in times of crises

The team at BluSky has seen it all when it comes to scammers trying to capitalize on a crisis. There are people trying to sell snake oil for mold in buildings, and now they’re trying to sell it as cleaning crews. 

“People are out there touting a variety of products, services, and methods that are guaranteeing results,” Temoyan said. “If there’s a profit motive, people will come out of the woodwork. There are unfortunately some really good salesmen selling some really bad things out there.”

Rusler has heard of folks guaranteeing the removal of COVID from buildings, as well as companies claiming they can test for COVID in buildings. 

“Even if you could do that, there would be no reasonable way to do it,” Rusler said. “If I sneeze on a desk and two days later I find out I have COVID, unless you swab that exact spot where I sneezed, there would be no way to confirm.”

What’s really happening is homogeneous testing — some randomly selected areas are tested and they come back negative, so a company will claim the space is clear. 

BluSky Restoration Contractors’ teams have been working in mountain communities throughout Eagle County and Western Colorado for the last 12 years, handling emergency responses from floods to fires to m
BluSky Restoration Contractors’ teams have been working in mountain communities throughout Eagle County and Western Colorado for the last 12 years, handling emergency responses from floods to fires to m
Images courtesy of BluSky Restoration Contractors

“People have an emotional reaction when dealing with environmental issues,” Rusler said. “You have to remove the emotion, step back from the situation and repeat what someone is reading or selling. Does it seem logical? If it sounds too good to be true, it is.”

Proactive vs. reactive

Building owners and managers who want to proactively protect against COVID-19 may choose to hire professionals to regularly clean and apply disinfectant to high-touch areas — places like lobbies, elevators, stair railings, door handles and restrooms. 

BluSky likes to work with clients during these planning discussions to determine what makes sense for the customer. They’ll assess risk aversion along with factors such as access, building type and foot traffic.

“If you have a 100-person group and only five are coming into the office, what’s the frequency of professional cleaning and disinfectant application that makes the most sense?” Rusler said. 

On the reactive side if there’s a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a building, it’s generally an emergency situation. BluSky’s crews will come in and strategically apply disinfectant to the areas where the infected person had been. 

“For both the proactive and the reactive, we prefer to meet with the management of that location, regardless of the type of building, in the initial planning stage,” Temoyan said. “Even in a reactive situation, there needs to be planning.”

VBR looks for meaningful ways to bolster community

Avon’s Main Street Mall is the central point for some of the Town’s public art displays, such as the Home for Hounds Project, a large-scale art display of locally built dog houses on display until July 23.
Avon’s Main Street Mall is the central point for some of the Town’s public art displays, such as the Home for Hounds Project, a large-scale art display of locally built dog houses on display until July 23.
Photos by Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily
Pets and real estate
  • 66% of U.S. households currently have a pet or plan to get one in the future, proving that pets and their effects on a home, various belongings/toys, and accommodations must be considered for a majority of households.
  • 43 percent of households would be willing to move to better accommodate their pet(s).
  • 68 percent of REALTORS®’ clients say that the animal policy influenced their decision to rent/buy in a particular community.
  • 81% of REALTORS® consider themselves animal lovers. 
  • 14 percent of REALTORS® members volunteer for an organization that helps animals. 

Source: “Animal House: Pets in the Home Buying and Selling Process,” published by the National Association of REALTORS®.

Real estate is often referred to as one of the largest, most important transactions of a person’s life, but the real estate industry encompasses so much more than what’s tangible. 

Putting people into their dream homes or dream neighborhoods, or simply in a location that’s best for their family to start creating memories, is what real estate is really about. 

“While we have a huge gap in this valley in terms of demographics, everybody needs that component of home, whether that’s single-family, townhome, multi-family or vacant land,” said Laura Sellards, chair of the Vail Board of Realtors. “Home is where they are — now more than ever — spending most of their time.”

Proceeds from the Home for Hounds Project will benefit the Eagle Valley Humane Society and VBR Foundation.
Proceeds from the Home for Hounds Project will benefit the Eagle Valley Humane Society and VBR Foundation.
Photos by Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

It’s this impact on communities that the Vail Board of Realtors (VBR) takes to heart, which is why it also contributes to important local causes every year since 1996 through the Vail Board of Realtors Foundation. 

“As Realtors, we are grateful for the opportunity to provide our real

estate services to buyers and sellers in this community. So, it is our

pleasure to provide financial assistance to Eagle County residents

and not-for-profit (501c3) organizations that serve the local

community, primarily in the areas of education, disaster relief, and

housing-related programs,” said Cynthia Thrall, chair of the Vail Board of Realtors Foundation. “This year we were able to award $31,250 in

donations to local not-for-profit organizations. We received numerous

applications, so we had to choose the ones that correlated the best with

our objectives.”

The 13 dog houses were installed June 23 and will eventually be sold with the help of Vail Board of Realtors partners. Houses will be put on the “market” for $500 to start. For more information, visit homeforhounds.org.
The 13 dog houses were installed June 23 and will eventually be sold with the help of Vail Board of Realtors partners. Houses will be put on the “market” for $500 to start. For more information, visit homeforhounds.org.
Photos by Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Caring for the community

From students to businesses to the land on which we live, the Vail Board of Realtors believes in supporting the people who live, work and play here. 

“We’re a close-knit community, and our philanthropy all ties back to protecting and caring for our community,” Sellards said. “Overall, our giving is about being grateful to live in the environment we live in.” 

As the coronavirus pandemic’s effects have been felt throughout the county, the importance of philanthropy has been thrust into the spotlight.    

“We have a scholarship program that is probably more important than ever right now,” Sellards said. 

The mission of the VBR Foundation is “to assist the community and association members with need-based financial assistance, not-for-profit support, education and disaster relief.”

This is the third year of the VBR Foundation’s Annual Academic Scholarship Program for Eagle County resident students. Funds are raised via silent auction at the Vail Board of Realtors Annual Holiday Party, which the public may also participate in. 

“This past year we asked each real estate brokerage office to donate a gift

Basket — it was fabulous,” Thrall said. “Lots of fun, interesting, and creative gift baskets were donated and sold. One hundred percent of the funds donated are designated solely for the scholarships.”

In 2019, the scholarship program awarded $24,000 to 12 students. The VBR Foundation also donated more than $61,000 to the community, supported 11 nonprofits and provided six families and individuals with need-based aid in 2019. 

“Our largest fundraising annual event is our golf tournament. We have

no problem selling out for this event year after year,” Thrall said. “The location of the tournament changes, but it is always in Eagle County. We have all sorts of fun things going on throughout the day in addition to playing golf. The funds we raise at this event are all designated to support

VBR members and members of the community needing financial

assistance due to catastrophic illness or accident, for use towards

expenses related to medical issues or disaster relief. Our mission is

to be ‘there’ for you when you need us.”

The Home for Hounds art event incorporated local designers with building supplies and sponsors to produce artistic, functional, doghouses to be on display as an amenity to guests in Avon.
The Home for Hounds art event incorporated local designers with building supplies and sponsors to produce artistic, functional, doghouses to be on display as an amenity to guests in Avon.
Photos by Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Home for Hounds

As a sponsor of the Home for Hounds Project, VBR is able to extend its philanthropy to another important family member for many in this community: dogs.

Home for Hounds is a large-scale public art exhibit in Avon featuring locally crafted dog houses that will be on display over four weeks. The doghouses will then be auctioned — or put on the “market” — for bids starting at $500. 

“Nationally, we’ve got six million animals in shelters, and four million of those are dogs,” Sellards said. 

Dogs are Sellards’ passion. She runs a couple of dog nonprofits and believes that our dogs are so much more than pets. For a lot of people, dogs are truly what make our homes feel more like home. 

“They really are family,” she said. 

Proceeds from the Home for Hounds Project will benefit the Eagle Valley Humane Society and VBR Foundation. 

“You look at these animals and they give so much to our communities and their families and our freedoms,” Sellards said, adding that she’s worked with dogs that have supported military, police, sick patients, children in school reading programs or who have to testify in court cases — the list goes on. Sellards’ own dog, a 12 ½ year-old golden retriever, was a local pet partner in the valley who visited patients and staff at Vail Health and the Shaw Cancer Center, in addition to visiting many local schools to support reading programs. 

“Anything we can do for these animals that the Humane Society gets in to support them — they just bring so much light into our lives,” Sellards said. The Vail Board of Realtors® is proud to support this project and find homes for you and your furry friends. 

In Avon, outdoor art and recreation take center stage this summer

Editor’s Note: This sponsored content was brought to you by the Town of Avon

The Prayer Flag Project is a local art project promoting messages of encouragement, faith and love on display at Avon’s Main Street Mall.

Given the physical distancing guidelines in place this summer throughout the county and the state, the Town of Avon is proud to offer cultural events that don’t require large gatherings. 

For the third straight year, the Town has teamed up with Colorado Mountain News Media to create large-scale public art displays benefitting a worthy cause. In 2018, the Vail Board of Realtors (VBR) presented the Town of Avon’s Playhouse Project, with auction proceeds donated to Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley, the VBR Foundation and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In 2019, the Benches of Avon project featured more than a dozen nonprofits. 

Proceeds from the Home for Hounds Project will benefit the Eagle Valley Humane Society and VBR Foundation. 

“I love that every year, the nonprofit that benefits from the project changes,” said Danita Dempsey, Avon’s Culture, Arts and Special Events Manager. “There are so many local nonprofits in our community and in Avon that do amazing, noble work.”

Home for Hounds in Avon

Home for Hounds of Avon is a large-scale public art exhibit to take place over a four-week period, from June 23 – July 23. This art event will incorporate local designers with building supplies and sponsors to produce artistic, functional, doghouses to be on display as an amenity to guests during our busy summer season.

The 13 houses will be installed on June 23 and will then be displayed for four weeks at Avon’s Main Street Mall. 

The houses will be sold with the help of Vail Board of Realtors partners. A portion of the proceeds of the sale of the houses will be donated to Eagle Valley Humane Society ($5,000 is guaranteed to EVHS plus any proceeds over event expenses). Houses will be put on the “market” for $500 to start. The public is encouraged to place a bid on a house and take one home to their furry friends while supporting a great cause.

For more information, visit homeforhounds.org.

Art on display

Avon’s Main Street Mall is the central point for some of the Town’s public art displays. 

“It’s become a wonderful walkway and collection point for some of the Town’s bronze sculptures,” Dempsey said.

In early June, a smaller-scale art project went on display on the Main Street Mall: the Prayer Flag Project. In an effort to promote messages of encouragement, faith and love during a challenging time in the world, Vail Christian High School art teacher Heidi Cofelice came up with an idea to collect uplifting art on small, square pieces of fabric. She began asking students and the public to create their positive imagery on pieces of white cloth, about 8 inches by 8 inches, called prayer flags. 

“Heidi has strung them on the light poles on the Main Street Mall,” Dempsey said. “They bring messages of hope, harmony and peace.”

To participate, drop your submission in the mail addressed to P.O. Box 754 Edwards, CO 81632, using a standard envelope and stamp. Email heidi@projectseedling.com with questions.

Art anytime

Avon’s Main Street Mall is the central point for some of the Town’s public art displays.

With public art projects on display outdoors, the public can enjoy it anytime. Instead of being restricted to a particular event on a specific day, you can take a stroll down Main Street at your convenience, and when there aren’t many other people around. 

“It’s something to do in town other than hiking and biking or paddling, which of course we all love,” Dempsey said. “You can grab lunch and enjoy a picnic nearby, and check out some local artwork.”

Avon is open

Safety protocols are in place throughout Avon to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean that vibrant activity throughout the Town must stop. Dempsey said since businesses have started reopening, there’s a general sense that people are being personally responsible and socially distancing — “that’s been great to see,” Dempsey said. 

The Avon Recreation Center opened in early June with its own protocols in place, including distancing and restricted areas. The Town also implemented a reservation-only system to use the Rec Center — visit avon.org/reccenter to reserve a time. 

Nottingham Lake and Beach are also open, including paddleboard, pedal boat and kayak rentals through Stand Up Paddle Colorado on the northeast shore of the lake, near the swim beach. 

The Town is also planning on hosting some community-focused events geared toward locals, which can be easily accommodated during the phase 2 public health order, which limits groups to 50 or less. 

“All of our events can easily manage multiple groups of 50,” Dempsey said. “We’ll be posting details at Avon.org/specialevents.”

A flight to quality: Remote working meets the great outdoors elevating a seller’s market in the Vail Valley

Now, more than ever, a move to the mountains seems like a great idea. With remote access changing the way we work, outdoor recreation in abundance all around us, and perfect summer temperatures, why wouldn’t you want to live in the Vail Valley or at least spend the majority of your time here?

The May numbers support that case despite challenges created for our trusted Realtors® by the coronavirus pandemic including social distancing measures, a call to be safer at home, and the transition of public health recommendations.

Sales prices increase

Most notably in May, the median sales prices on all property types in the Vail Valley are up 50.2 percent over this this time last year. And, pending sales for Single Family-Duplex are also up 51.1 percent but decreased 15 percent for Townhouse-Condo category. This means the start of summer could be strong for closings.

Moreover, the May numbers give insight to the seller’s point of view. Not surprisingly, listings were down 19.3 percent in the Townhouse-Condo market and 16.7 percent in the Single Family-Duplex category compared to last year, making it abundantly clear, buyers have been quicker to return to the housing market than sellers.

This apparent rebound of buyers seems to have coincided with the county introducing the thoughtfully planned process of reopening for business and tourism in late April. Realtors® are busy according to Alex Griffin, Vail Board of Realtors® VMLS Chair, citing his own experience.

“Our community did a great job flattening the curve in the spread of the virus. In late April, when Governor Polis approved Eagle County’s appeal
to reopen, and local officials announced the three stages of a countywide Transition Plan, we quickly became busy,” said Griffin. “I’m seeing Front Range and Denver buyers eager to come to the mountains and get away from metro restrictions and possibly less of an opportunity to be exposed to the virus.”

“These buyers, in my experience, are interested in turnkey properties with no desire to have a project on their hands,” Griffin continues. “It’s a ‘flight to quality’… quality in homes as well as quality of life.”

Inventory remains low

Another reason home sale pricing is on the rise has to do with the aforementioned lower inventory than usual along with strong home equity.

“COVID-19 aside, May and June are typically the highest influx of new inventory for our market. Although May listings are down, sellers could be patiently waiting through the county’s transition to reopening,” says Griffin. “Now that we are in the ‘blue’ phase, sellers may be relaxing a bit and capitalizing on the current buyer activity. And, as we move into the ‘black’ phase, providing there is no significant increase in virus cases and tourism returns, summer real estate should recover nicely.”

In addition to a safe transition for local businesses resuming limited activity, Vail Resorts is due to reopen to summer guests in late June or July, according to an announcement by Rob Katz, CEO. This, combined with the already open golf courses, variety of hiking and biking trails, river activities and resort leisure all bodes well for real estate to lead the way in an economic recovery for the Vail Valley.

With real estate on a positive trajectory, the low inventory remains a mixed blessing. Although it tends to drive the listing prices up, it also creates a challenge for local sellers looking to make a move.

According to Griffin, “Leaving the valley and selling a home is relatively cut and dry but, if you want to move within the county, it can be hard for locals to find a place to move to and align the transaction timing perfectly. This is where a knowledgeable Realtor® can make a big difference.”

So, despite uncertainty created by coronavirus, now appears to be good time to put a home on the market. This is confirmed by consistent, and in some cases an increase in, the percent of list price received which is hovering in the 94 to 97 percent range.

Griffin is looking forward to this summer’s selling season, “The luxury market is very strong. Singletree and EagleVail continue to be popular, and anything west of Edwards is traditionally in high demand this time of year. Buyers want to get outside, stay active and be in the open air. And, with remote working as a much more acceptable way of life, buyers are eager to live, work, and play in the mountains.”

If you are considering putting a home on the market, Griffin’s best advice is to plan ahead. Appraisers are very busy and booking a month in advance. Mortgage rates continue to be at record lows. And, there are some new construction opportunities in a variety of price ranges, but it’s not enough to offset the low inventory.

Contact a Realtor® today and discover the options that exist in the current market. Make lemonade out of the overabundance of lemons, and treat yourself to a rewarding summer with a new home in the mountains.

The good, the bad, the prepared; 2020 wildfire predictions for Eagle County

Positive outlook

Thanks to above average snowfall in our beloved Rocky Mountains, Eagle County and Colorado in general are looking forward to an average wildfire season, according to the 2020 Wildfire Preparedness Plan released in April by the state’s Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

This is great news for our rural community nestled along the edge of the White River National Forest, and could not have come at a better time as we work our way through the effects of an unprecedented pandemic that has rocked our community to the core.

For those owning a home in a region that can be very susceptible to wildfires, this is a breath of fresh air. However, despite the positive outlook, awareness and proactive approaches to protecting a property from nature’s wrath should always be a top priority.

As such, the Vail Board of REALTORS® (VBR) created the REALFire program six years ago to aid homeowners in preparing for the unexpected.

Co-developed with Eagle County in 2014, REALFire promotes wildfire education, awareness and action. By engaging local residents, Realtors, fire protection districts, and the professional expertise of qualified assessors, homeowners can assess their property’s vulnerability to wildfires at no cost. This free service provides owners with an understanding of wildfire hazards in the “ignition zone” surrounding their homes, and guidance to fortifying this area by converting it to “defensible space”.

“From a broker community perspective, this free program is an extremely beneficial opportunity that we feel is critical for more than protecting property values, it’s protecting our families and our memories from destruction,” said Laura Sellards, VBR Board Chair. “After seeing the recent devastation in Australia, and experiencing the close proximity of the Lake Christine Fire in 2018, we know preparedness is critical to avoid tragedy.”

A recent local success of wildfire mitigation was the April 2018 fire just west of Edwards in the Brett Trail neighborhood. Wildfire risk was high from the start of the season that year. Residents of Brett Trail were ordered to evacuate for safety. However, the neighborhood was planned with wildfire mitigation in mind and homeowners actively maintain the defensible space around their homes. This allowed firefighters to contain the fire within hours of ignition and no homes were lost.

A challenging virus

Although our wildfire season is predicted to be average, COVID-19 has made it anything but normal. According to a recent Denver Post story, fire officials state that “firefighters will fight more than 4,400 fires with less flexibility and fewer resources due to the coronavirus.”

According to the article, our first line of attack, local firefighters, will be short staffed. Moreover, traveling firefighters may not be able to leave their home districts to aid with fires across the region. In fact, fire officials are challenged with rethinking the way wildfire crews currently work including riding closely together in fire trucks and living in close quarters in fire camps that are far from hospitals and medical care while they work to contain a fire.

State fire officials are in the process of revising fire camp management by altering how crews sleep, eat and bathe. Currently, the way camps and larger fire Incident Command Posts run creates an “environment conducive to the transmission of an infectious disease.”

Importance of preparedness

Now, more than ever, Eagle County homeowners should practice preparedness and consider ways of protecting their properties from wildfire. Colorado fire seasons have become longer and more intense in recent years. And, because of the coronavirus challenges, our state’s fire officials are erring on the side of caution. Like many rural mountain fire districts, Eagle County was placed in a Stage 1 fire restriction in April.

Sellards recommends action now, “At the moment, thoughts of wildfire may be low on priority lists with all that we are challenged with. But, now is the perfect time to have your home assessed.

In addition to saving what we hold most precious, there are other benefits like the possibility of saving on homeowner insurance premiums, grants and funding assistance for mitigation costs, and income tax benefits.”

For more information and benefits about the REALFire program, and to apply for a free assessment, visit REALfire.net

COVID-19’s impacts on Vail Valley real estate

Over the last month, the nation’s economy as a whole has seen a significant impact due to the coronavirus. The Vail Board of Realtors® is supporting our members of the real estate community by providing education and tools to get them through a challenging time and prepare for the future. As we look to helping each other and the community, the question of how the market is doing comes up.

‘People are still buying and selling real estate’

“The Vail MLS March indicators prove that uncertainty relating to the coronavirus has impacted Vail Valley real estate,” Betsy Laughlin, Vail Board of Realtors® Past Chair, said. “The reports for April and May will be more telling in terms of the bigger picture impact. We’re still seeing properties come onto the market daily — people are still buying and selling.”

For example, there were two recent listings in EagleVail that went under contract in less than a week. Two large units at the Four Seasons went under contract in March — one priced at $16.9 million and the other at $8.2 million. “People still believe in Vail,” Laughlin said.

Compared to March of last year, transactions in Eagle County were down almost 24%, but sales prices were up 1%. Total dollar volume was down 25%, but the average price per square foot went up 13.4%.

Immediate impacts

“Since March 15, 88 properties in the county were either withdrawn from the market or had contracts canceled. Homes coming off the market are most likely seller-initiated, especially if the homes are occupied,” said Laughlin. Starting April 27th, Realtors are allowed to do showings following social distancing measures, though open houses are not allowed until we know it is safe for the community. Potential buyers can view properties, virtually or online, thanks to virtual tours, videos and 3D walkthrough technology. 

“It’s not business as usual, however with advancements in technology, we’re still able to get things done,” Laughlin said. “Inspectors and appraisers are allowed to enter homes and conduct business, so they have not been stifled under the current situation.” 

Not like the last recession

The Great Recession from 2007 to 2009 was due to the subprime mortgage crisis. It devastated financial markets, banking and real estate, but the current economic situation is much different. “After a run-up in housing prices in the early part of the decade, home prices plummeted, and thousands of borrowers couldn’t afford to pay their loans, which was what caused the recession last time,” Laughlin said.  “Colorado overall, and especially the resort areas, remain attractive locations for real estate investment. We should all try to remain calm and positive.”

Sellers

Sellers who removed listings in March are likely in a temporary holding pattern to see what happens next with the coronavirus rather than keeping the listing active only to accumulate days on the market. Laughlin has sellers who are keeping their listings on the market for online exposure. “We’re in a transitional or shifting market, and time will tell — depending on how long this pandemic lasts — whether we’ll see an adjustment on pricing and an increase in inventory,”  Laughlin said. “Typically, this is a time when you’d see homeowners list their homes to gear up for summer marketing, yet we haven’t seen a flood of properties come on the market,”

Buyers

After the recession, there was an influx of buyers from urban areas who decided to ditch the city lifestyle for the mountains. Laughlin expects a similar impact  from the coronavirus. 

“People want to experience the resort lifestyle,” she said. “Not every sector has been shut down, and there are buyers out there looking online for the right home.” Historically low-interest rates are also positive for buyers, which can help increase their buying power. Someone who may not have been able to afford a home previously might be able to afford a home now. 

“If you are comfortable with the new virtual way of buying and selling real estate right now, there are some great opportunities for everyone,” Laughlin said. 

The March indicators for Eagle County, real estate show, declines in both pending and closed sales. However, an increase in new listings is a promising indicator for the local market. A slowdown in the market was expected with the recent coronavirus pandemic. Real estate transactions were postponed in the short term, but many Realtors® believe buyers and sellers will return to the market soon.

“Local supply has been low over the past few years and has become the new normal before the coronavirus pandemic closed Colorado ski resorts in mid-March,” said Laughlin. “There could be a pandemic-related surge of listings in the coming months. It’s all uncharted waters at this point,” Laughlin said. 

“Home is where the heart is”

In this time of uncertainty, homes have become so much more than they have ever been. They are not only shelter, they are now also offices and schools. The real estate community is following the stay-at-home work orders and taking precautions for buyers and sellers and the community as a whole. We will get through this together. If you have questions regarding the market, contact a Realtor® who will help guide you during this time.  

Visit vbr.net for additional information about Vail Valley real estate and to find a local Realtor®.

Official COVID updates from Eagle County in real time

Editor’s Note: This sponsored content was brought to you by Eagle County Government.

One Valley Voice is Eagle County’s official Facebook forum. Come here with your questions and receive factual answers from your local government officials.

Ecemergency.org is the official website for Eagle County’s public safety information and is managed by a community of local communication professionals.

These feeds are operating in real-time. Bookmark a link to this article page to view timely information from the county and its partners. Both feeds will be used to communicate local news relating to COVID-19 in Eagle County with the public.

En espanol:

De ahora en adelante esta es la página de Facebook de condado de Eagle para COVID-19, en adición a la pagina de www.ecemergency.org/.

Este es el canal principal que utilizaremos para comunicar noticias de última hora al público. Visítela seguido, para obtener información oportuna del condado y sus asociados.

Eagle County’s official forum about its response to COVID-19 (www.facebook.com/onevalleyvoice):

Eagle County Public Safety Information about COVID-19 (ecemergency.org):

375 Mill Creek Circle offers the best of all worlds

Mill Creek Circle is one of those coveted addresses in Vail where once a property comes up in that area, it’s not there for long. 375 Mill Creek Circle is steps away from the base of Golden Peak and a short, flat stroll into town. Not only is the home site unique, but the home itself was built with such thoughtfulness and care to sleep 18 people but still maintains a cozy, comfortable atmosphere with custom touches throughout this Austrian chalet-style home.

“When I walked into this home I said, ‘this is one for the ages.’ We don’t know what trends will come and go, and I love the mountain modern look, too, but an Austrian chalet looking at the Gore Range with close proximity to town will never go out of style,” said Tye Stockton of The Stockton Group of LIV Sotheby’s International Realty.

At over 7,700 square feet, there’s plenty of room for seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a professional-grade kitchen, library, dining room and great room that has massive views of the Gore Range. Entertain in a media room large enough to watch a movie or the big game with your guests and play a round of pool on the billiards table. Take a dip in the pool that is open year-round, all surrounded by old-growth aspens and fencing that gives plenty of privacy.

“One thing to note about the Vail Valley market right now is that there are only 14 ski-in, ski-out single-family homes in all of Vail,” Stockton said.

“Your chances of getting your hands on any of those 14 homes are very small,” Stockton said. “Here’s one, right now. This is very rare.”

Square footage and odds aside, 375 Mill Creek Circle is a memory maker for families.

“In talking to the family that currently owns this home, the memories that they’ve created here since the mid-90s are irreplaceable. The family lives all over the place now but they talk about their time in Vail more than anything else,” Stockton said. Start making your own memories and learn more about this rare opportunity by contacting Tye Stockton at 970.471.2557.