Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to better reflect Craig Denton’s comments about a home sale on Forest Road in Vail.
EAGLE COUNTY — For much of this year, local real estate sales stories have had at least some variation of, “transactions are up, but dollar volume (the amount it sold for) is down from last year. September turned that sentence on its head.
Eagle County real estate sales in September — the last month for which numbers are available from Land Title Guarantee Co. — were actually down a bit from the same period in 2012. There were 175 total sales in September of 2012, and 157 for the same period this year. The difference is in price. Those sales this year added up to $151.3 million, an 8 percent increase over September of 2012.
The difference in that dollar volume came in large part from sales of very expensive homes — $4 million and more. There were eight such sales in September, which accounted for nearly one-third of the total sales volume for the month.
Those eight sales also made up a significant portion of the 33 total sales of $4 million or more through the first nine months of the year.
Buyers and sellers finding middle ground
Craig Denton, managing broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, works the high end of the market. He said it looks like buyers and sellers seem to be finding common ground after those two groups had been in something of standoff regarding home values. In that part of the market, buyers don’t have to buy and sellers don’t have to sell, Denton said. That means there can be disagreement about what a home is worth.
What’s selling now are the premier properties in “coveted locations,” Denton said. Those homes also tend to be either relatively new or recently renovated with modern technology and conveniences.
From ‘listed’ to ‘sold’
Those homes have also started to move from “listed” to “sold” over the past few months.
“We really started to see it starting about in June,” Denton said.
But those very expensive homes aren’t selling for as much as they once commanded. Denton said his former company, Ascent Sotheby’s International Realty, recently closed on a Forest Road home that first hit the market in 2010.
The original listing price was more than $10 million. It sold this week for just less than $7 million.
While September’s dollar volume was an improvement over 2012, the sales volume so far for the year is still less than the sales through September of 2012 — albeit by just 2 percent.
And as is usually the case in the Vail Valley market, homes priced at $1 million or less make up the vast majority of transactions — 74 percent in September. But those sales accounted for 34 percent of the dollar volume.
Bank sales declining
The good news for the lower end of the market — $500,000 and less — is that various kinds of bank sales, from foreclosures to short sales, keeps declining. In 2012, bank sales made up nearly 20 percent of all transactions. In September, there were only six such sales, down from 15 in August.
As you’d expect, many of the 157 September sales — 32 — were in the primarily residential areas of Eagle and Gypsum. There were 13 sales in Avon. But there were 39 total sales from East Vail to Intermountain.
Eagle County home buyers are primarily from Colorado — 62 percent. A regional report from Land Title that covers Eagle, Summit, Pitkin, Grand, Garfield and Routt counties shows in-state clients make up about 60 percent of all clients.
Of the remaining regional buyers, just more than 1 percent are from other countries. In Eagle County, 3 percent of all buyers were from international markets.
While real estate seems to be improving across the spectrum, the business still remains below the pre-recession rocket ride it was on.
Bill Wilto, a broker at Re/Max Vail Valley, said business at that small office is “spotty,” although there was a bit of bounce in August.
“I think we’re finally starting to show some normality,” Denton said. “We still have a way to go in our recovery.”
“I think we’re finally starting to show some normality. We still have a way to go in our recovery.”
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties managing broker