Real Estate Watch

Vail Valley is a little quieter than it has been after years of bustling real estate deals. Residential sales dropped 44 percent in 2008, and consumers are no longer building and remodeling in record numbers.

Yet this Colorado ski valley is not collapsing like the rest of the country with foreclosures and plummeting home prices. The average Vail Valley home price hit its highest level in 2008—$1.4 million, up from $696,000 in 2006.

“Buyers want 40 percent off, and they’re not seeing that,” says Amy Dorsey, president of the Colorado Association of Realtors and a broker with Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate. Homebuyers are being thoughtful and aren’t rushing to buy, and sellers hold out longer without showing big price drops. The number of Beaver Creek sales fell 65 percent this year, but the average sales price declined only 11 percent to $2.3 million.

Sale prices hit a record high this year in part because of the $3 million and $4 million homes sold as part of a massive redevelopment underway in Vail Village and Lionshead Village at the base of Vail Mountain. Last spring, Vail Resorts finished an expansive $250 million project, The Arrabelle at Vail Village, a luxury resort with a 36-room hotel, 66 condos, a spa, conference center and European-style town square. At least 35 other construction projects—worth an estimated $1.6 billion—are either planned, underway or finished in Vail Village and Lionshead.

So what’s selling in a bad economy?

High-end homes. By September of 2008, 72 properties had sold for more than $4 million each. Some people with big money see safety in hard assets like real estate, says Dorsey.

Slopeside property. People covet those plush, ski-in ski-out residences at the base of Vail Mountain because some come on the market only every five years or so. A home at Gore Creek Place, just a short walk from the Eagle Bahn Gondola and along Gore Creek, recently sold for $6.5 million. The seller paid $4 million for the home in 2004.

Condo-hotels and timeshares. There’s a buzz about the convenient condos at the new Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa in Avon, which mixes hotel rooms with private condos. You can buy a furnished studio suite for $330,000 and enjoy all the conveniences of a hotel, including room service and a fitness center. A new gondola links the hotel, in the town of Avon, to the base of Beaver Creek Resort. Three-bedroom penthouse suites sell for up to $2.4 million. “This is certainly the talk of the town,” says Tom Vucich, the listing broker with Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate. While sales have slowed the last six months, the Westin sold 140 of its 210 condos. Only one buyer backed out when the economy went south, Vucich says.

Want to live in the Vail Valley?

Consider these options:

Four Seasons Resort, Vail Village

The Four Seasons Resort, to open this year in Vail Village, is selling fractional-ownership condos with hotel perks such as a pool, concierge and room service. For $405,000 to $700,000, you get four weeks each year, and while pricey, it’s relatively inexpensive real estate just steps from the chairlift.

Renovated Ford Mansion, Beaver Creek
When Beaver Creek Resort was designed, President Gerald Ford got first choice of all spots to build his dream home. The newly remodeled 9,854-square-foot, seven-bedroom home boasts views, easy ski access, private indoor pool, former Secret Service quarters and a presidential seal placed in the foyer. The price: $14.9 million.

Ritz-Carlton Residences

The planned luxury resort in Lionshead has two- to six-bedroom condos available for $2 million to $11 million each. You’ll get all the service you’d find if you were staying at a hotel, but with Ritz-Carlton style. “The Ritz is the epitome of luxury,” says listing broker Larry Peterson.

Categories: Entertaining, Stylemakers