This article was originally published on VailDaily.com.
Eagle County real estate sales in October set a third consecutive monthly real estate sales record, with more than $600 million worth of property trading hands.
According to data from Land Title Guarantee Company, October’s record shattered September’s record of $515 million in sales. That month, in turn shattered the August monthly record of $418 million. That record eclipsed a 15-year-old record for monthly sales.
The sales records follow a spring slump caused by COVID-19 limits on business, which began in March.
The three-month run of sales volume records pushed the sales volume over $2.6 billion for the first 10 months of the year. That figure is higher than the full-year total for 2019.
The number of transactions since has also far surpassed those seen in 2019.
After transactions fell sharply in April, May and June, sales have run far ahead of the pace set in 2019. October sales this year were nearly double the number of transactions in October of 2019. In fact, transactions so far this year — 1,952 — is only 67 sales short of the full-year figure for 2019.
Can this go on?
Dan Fitchett is skeptical. Fitchett is the managing broker of LIV Sotheby’s International Realty in the Vail Valley.
Fitchett said he doesn’t believe this level of market activity can go on much longer. But, he added, he expects the current sales environment to continue for a while, adding that activity in February through April of 2021 is anyone’s guess.
In the long run, a combination of low inventory may meet a diminishing pool of possible buyers. People may want to move, Fitchett said, but only some possible buyers have the combination of income and work flexibility that would enable them to buy into resort markets.
For now, though, there’s still demand. Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate Eagle County Manager Didi Doolittle said there are still plenty of buyers looking among relatively few listings.
“The need is still here,” Doolittle said. “We just need more (inventory).”
Some of that could be coming given the increase in vacant land sales. While there’s limited inventory in that market, too, Doolittle said she hopes land sales this year may lead to home construction next year.
A new kind of business
While sales may ease at some point, Fitchett said he and the 22,000 other brokers in the LIV Sotheby’s network have been talking about how the real estate business is changing.
“We’re going to learn a new business,” Fitchett said, adding that business in general is changing as more people work from wherever they are.
Ron Byrne, owner of Ron Byrne and Associates Real Estate, has a slightly different view of the market.
Byrne’s firm works mostly in the upper end of the local market. He acknowledged that inventory is very low right now. But, he added, he believes the valley’s market will stay strong into 2021.
“There’s still the demand that want to come here,” Byrne said. While his company no longer has a rental arm, Byrne said the company is fielding a lot of calls from people who are willing to spend a good bit of money to stay in the valley through the winter.
“People feel that being up in the mountains is a great place to be,” Byrne said.
Byrne added that he’s talked to brokers in other mountain resorts, and the story is largely the same in those area — a lot of sales, low inventory and a desire to move to the mountains.
“I’ve asked if it’s all the Front Range, and they tell me a lot of people are coming from (other cities),” Byrne said.
Those potential buyers aren’t new to mountain resorts, either, he added. Many potential buyers have spent vacations in resort areas, and are now looking to buy.
Getting out of cities isn’t limited to mountain resorts, either. Byrne said a friend recently told him about a school teacher who moved to Maui with her family, and is able to teach from there.
New wealth spurring sales
Aside from flight from cities, Byrne said the resort-area boom is also being driven by the run-up in the nation’s financial markets. That increase in value, particularly in tech stocks, has created a lot of wealth, Byrne said.
And while no one knows where the financial markets are heading in coming months, Byrne said there’s new and seemingly enduring demand for Amazon or Zoom.
Both Byrne and Fitchett said while inventory is low right now, there’s always some natural churn in the market.
Fitchett said between 8% and 10% of homes in an area will trade hands in any given year.
Byrne noted that some people want to upgrade, while others essentially age out of a resort market in a given year.
But, Fitchett said, it’s important for potential sellers to be realistic about what they have.
Fitchett said potential sellers who are over-exaggerating their asking prices can actually be a brake on a market.
“You need to talk to a broker who’s active in the market and take their advice,” Fitchett said. “You can still take advantage of inflation, but you can’t double down.”
Sellers also need to be able to let go of their emotional attachment to a home.
If that happens, a home will sell quickly, Fitchett said.
At least for now, those quick sales are happening at a record pace.