Real estate over $2 billion for year
Sales dollars on track to smash last year's record

Publication: VailDaily.Com; Date: 12/01/2005

By Edward Stoner

VAIL - In October, valley real estate surpassed $2 billion in yearly sales for the second straight year.

Sales through October were $2.21 billion, just shy of the amount for all of last year, $2.22 billion.

One reason for the sustained growth is that baby boomers are looking to buy second homes, said Led Gardner of Led Gardner and Associates Real Estate.

"We're looking at the largest transaction of wealth from one generation to another that has ever occurred," he said.

The overall strength of the economy, low interest rates and the interest spurred by redevelopment in Vail Village and Lionshead are also contributing to the growth, local Realtors said.

Sales were $258.6 million for the month. They were $199.4 million in October of last year. Year-to-date sales are up 28 percent compared to this time last year.

The highest number of transactions was in Gypsum, where there were 45. There were 33 in Eagle and 30 in Avon.

The downvalley market remains strong, said Michael Slevin of Prudential Colorado Properties.

"The low interest rates have allowed a lot of folks to get into properties downvalley," he said.

The highest volume of transactions was in Bachelor Gulch, where there were $36.2 million in sales. Vail Village recorded $27.5 million. High-end properties remain a driving force in the real estate market, Gardner said.

"It's not just the low end of the market that's driving things," he said. "The velocity of high-end sales is quite remarkable."

With talk nationwide of a housing bubble ready to burst, Vail Realty broker Ron Herbinger said he doesn't see that in the Vail Valley. Demand remains as the supply of real estate stays low, he said.

"Going into the ski season, we have one of the lowest inventories I've seen in 10 years," he said.

He especially cited the low inventory of under-$1 million properties in Vail Village and Beaver Creek. Those are popular properties, especially in winter months, he said.

Herbinger said the fractional ownership properties that are being built in Vail Village, such as One Willow Bridge Road, may end up satisfying the demand that can't be met by the tight whole-ownership market.

Slevin is optimistic about the health of the industry during the ski season.

"All signs are still very positive," he said. "Interest rates seem to have remained steady for some time, which is a positive for folks who are not cash buyers."