13 Oct Jon Cartu Says: Vail Valley real estate sets dollar volume record in August
What a difference a quarter makes.
After a near-shutdown of the valley’s real estate market in April, May and June, numbers since that time have come roaring back, with August setting a new record for the value of real estate sales in Eagle County.
The August sales total was a staggering $418 million. That total dwarfs monthly sales figures dating back to 2014. Only April of 2017 cracked the $300 million mark.
The August sales total shattered the previous monthly record of $361 million, set in 2005.
How big was August? If you throw out the $57.25 million single-buyer cash sale of a duplex near the Vail Interfaith Chapel, August’s sales still roughly tie the old record.
Most buyers are locals
There was a significant amount of action in the market’s upper reaches, with 11 August sales of $5 million or more. Still, a look at where buyers are coming from matches the figures of the past several years. For a long time, the largest slice on the pie chart of where buyers come from has been Eagle County residents. That piece of the pie is always a bit more than 50% of all buyers. The same was true in August.
Didi Doolittle, the Eagle County sales manager for Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate, said the pandemic may have fueled local buyers as well as those from outside the valley.
With people spending more time at home, Doolittle said many residents either “fell in love” with their current homes, or found things that no longer worked for their families.
Combine that with continued low mortgage rates, and people were on the move.
Another part of the buyer equation seems to be people who own second homes in the valley, but want to move into more substantial dwellings.
“A lot of people who have had homes here now intend to spend more time here,” LIV Sotheby’s International Realty Vail Valley Managing Broker Dan Fitchett said. Many buyers are now working from home, or flying to work and setting up residence in the Vail Valley.
Fitchett said one of his newer brokers is a good example. The broker had a real estate business in Washington D.C., and her husband could work remotely. The family decided to make a change, so the broker got licensed in Colorado.
“A lot of people are making those changes,” Fitchett said.
The ‘Why wait?’ question
Michael Slevin, owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Mountain Properties, called the trend the “Why wait?” question.
“People are looking at their lives and their goals, and asking ‘Why are we waiting?’ — whether that’s buying a first home or a next home or moving here,” Slevin said.
What all those buyers have in common is an attraction to the valley, Slevin added.
Slevin also noted that none of the current flurry of real estate activity would happen without full-on efforts from title companies, inspectors, brokers, lenders and people in the construction trades.
“Without that collaboration and teamwork, who knows where we’d be?” Slevin said.
The intensity of activity in the real estate industry is showing up in very low inventory levels.
Doolittle noted that recently there were more homes under contract than there were homes available in the Multiple Listing Service.
Slevin said he expects the number of September sales to match or exceed those recorded in August.
Doolittle said inventory probably can’t keep pace with that kind of demand.
That could slow down the pace of sales. So could a shock to the national or world economy, or a spike in mortgage interest rates.
But no one knows when, or if, those kind of shocks might hit.
One thing will probably remain constant, though.
“Will people want to stop living here?,” Doolittle asked. “Probably not.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at [email protected].