Eagle County real estate sales top $1 billion for the first half of 2017

EAGLE COUNTY — One very large transaction — and a lot of more normal activity — has pushed the local real estate market to a place it hasn’t been in nearly a decade.

Thanks to the April sale of the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek — a $145 million deal — real estate sales for the first half of 2017 exceeded $1 billion. The last time the county’s sales volume exceeded $1 billion in the first half of the year was 2008.

That puts the local real estate market well on track to crack the $2 billion mark, another milestone that dates to the previous decade.

Besides that very large sale in April, sales of high-end residential property have also been strong this year. There were 26 sales of $5 million or more in the first six months of this year. There have been another 25 sales this year between $3 million and $5 million. The highest price seen in June was $12.6 million.

Building confidence

According to Mark Bergman, association director at the Vail Board of Realtors, sales at that end of the market can drive other transactions.

“A wealthy buyer who sees other affluent buyers (purchasing) in that range captures attention and bolsters confidence,” Bergman said.

While sales in the high end of the market drive up total sales numbers, the vast majority of sales in the valley are for $1 million or less. Of the 735 transactions in the first half of 2017, 531 were for $1 million or less, with 298 of those sales at $500,000 or less.

“There’s really been no off-season in the market this year,” Slifer Smith Frampton Real Estate managing broker John Pfeiffer said. “The boom has continued through April, May and June.”

April, when sales usually wane in the wake of the ski season, was “incredibly busy,” Pfeiffer said.

The biggest problem in the market is inventory, particularly for homes priced at $500,000 or less.

According to Vail Board of Realtors data, the average time on market for homes in that range — that is, between listing and having a unit under contract — is a matter of days.

Given the activity in the lower end of the market, it’s no surprise that the lower valley market is buzzing.

In June, 39 percent of all sales came from Eagle and Gypsum. For the year so far, about 31 percent of all sales have been in Eagle and Gypsum.

Units priced lower than $500,000 are also seeing mostly full-price offers. Bergman said units sold in that price range are seeing 96 percent of the asking prices.

Rising values

The pace of sales has values rising. Pfeiffer said average sale prices in Eagle-Vail have increased about 10 percent from 12 months ago.

A sizzling local market raises some decade-old fears of a possible bubble developing, but Bergman said economists with the National Association of Realtors don’t believe a bubble is inflating.

“There’s a high amount of consumer confidence in the economy right now,” Bergman said.

Lending standards have changed from a decade ago, Pfeiffer said. That means more-qualified buyers are getting mortgage loans.

And, in the second-home market, buyers seem more set on enjoying their homes.

“We don’t hear the word ‘investment’ like we did (in 2007),” Pfeiffer said. “Buyers want to be here.”

And, while a 10 percent year-over-year value gain — that’s what Eagle-Vail has seen in the past year — is significant, it’s nothing like the 30 percent and more gains seen in the last real estate boom.

Eagle County’s proximity to Denver also seems to have helped the local market.

Land Title’s buyer abstract for the year so far shows about 15 percent of sales so far in 2017 have been to people from the Front Range.

“Denver’s economy seems far more balanced,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s a big, booming healthy city.”

That economic stability has affected buyer confidence, he added, with even local buyers willing to jump into an active market.

“They believe there’s a lot of room for growth,” he said.

Vail Daily business editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com or @scottnmiller.

By the numbers

• $1.1 billion: Real estate sales volume through June 30.

• 219: Real estate transactions in June 2017.

• 39 percent: Percentage of June sales in Eagle and Gypsum.

• 26: Sales of $5 million or more from Jan. 1 to June 30.

Source: Land Title Guarantee Co.

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