EAGLE COUNTY — The Vail Valley real estate market had started to lag before the world’s economy fell apart in 2008, but it was still the last of the “good years.”
For at least one month, though, and depending on where you looked, the valley’s real estate market looked like the good years were back.
Back On Track
The most recent sales numbers from Land Title Guarantee Co. showed July sales finally back up to the levels seen in 2008. In July of this year, there were 190 sales, which together added up to $122.9 million in “dollar volume.”
While those numbers rival the ones posted in 2008, they’re miles better than the numbers posed in 2009, the year the economic slump really hit the valley. That year, the July sales figures were 75 units sold for $59.6 million.
As is usually the case in local real estate, the volume in July came overwhelmingly from property priced at $1 million or less. That part of the market accounted for 84 percent of all transactions and was right at half of the dollar volume. A substantial number of those sales were in Eagle and Gypsum, which accounted for one-third of all sales in July.
‘A Normalized Market’
Craig Denton, of Ascent Sotheby’s International Realty in Vail, has been selling real estate in the valley for more than 30 years. Denton said the numbers so far this year indicate a “normalized” market.
“We’re back in a user market — a lifestyle market,” Denton said.
On the other hand, the high end of the market continues to lag. Vail’s Real Estate Transfer Tax collections are down more than 20 percent from last year, and out of all the sales in July, just five were for more than $2 million. Meanwhile, property priced at less than $500,000 often has multiple offers from potential buyers.
Ron Byrne, a longtime broker based in Vail, said there’s currently “a lot of difficulty” between asking prices and offers.
While more expensive property will often draw offers to buy, Byrne said many of those offers are rejected.
“The bids are enough off (the asking price) that we aren’t closing the deals,” Byrne said.
The fact that sellers seem to be firming up on asking prices could be the result of improving markets elsewhere, Byrne said. Steve Cardinale, a broker in Slifer Smith & Frampton’s Beaver Creek office, agreed, saying the luxury markets in places including New York, San Francisco and Hawaii seem to be drawing buyers.
Demand High, Supply Low
One problem in the Vail Valley could be the lack of new inventory, Byrne said. Units at the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons in Vail seem to be drawing more interest, he said. Just about everything else is a re-sale of an existing unit.
But Byrne and Cardinale believe the divide between buyers and sellers may be narrowing, if not closing.
“People who have made (rejected) offers are starting to come back,” Byrne said.
Cardinale, who also has more than 30 years in the local real estate business on his resume, said some “pockets” in Beaver Creek are starting to show some life. But, he said, at the very high end of the market — $7.5 million and above — sellers are in a position of being able to wait for the right price on their property.
“People say, ‘My property’s unique — if it doesn’t sell, I’ve got a nice place when I come skiing,’” Cardinale said.
Time As A Cure All
The gulf between buyers and sellers might have just one cure — time.
But time may be starting to do its work. Cardinale said the markets for high-end items from homes to planes to boats and cars is starting to show life. People who have ridden the stock market to its current level may be ready to cash out and have some fun.
Denton said he’s starting to see a little loosening, too, saying his company, at the moment, has a home at Red Sky Ranch in Wolcott under contract. In fact, Denton said, the entire valley real estate business has put just more than 20 homes priced at $2 million or more under contract this summer. That’s a good thing.
Still, there are a few hundred more homes in that price range on the market.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2939 and firstname.lastname@example.org.