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“Everything about 2020 has been surprising to me, including our local real estate success,” says Vail Board of Realtors® Past Chair, Laura Sellards. “No one could have predicted a record-breaking sales year. Ending 2020 with more than $3 billion in closing sales was unthinkable back in the spring when Eagle County shut down to address one of the first COVID-19 pandemic outbreaks in Colorado.”

But, when businesses shut down, the VBR got to work. There are many things that make this community great. In 2020, our ability to work together to address seemingly unsurmountable challenges, was a highlight.

“It was incredible to see our community jump into action,” recalls Sellards. “Our public health, business leadership, the VBR, and county commissioners immediately got to work. One the most important things we did for our local economy was to lobby for real estate to be recognized as an essential service. This allowed the VBR to create safe guidelines based on county health requirements for listing, showing and selling homes—a gamechanger.”

Once these guidelines were created, distributed and committed to, in the late spring/early summer when the county re-opened, the market literally took off. Real estate closings in 2020 increased 24% across the board, on all properties, over 2019 sales. Specifically, Single Family home sales increased 28.3% over the previous year, and Townhouse/Condo sales increased 20.4%.

With an increase in sales came an increase in Median Sales Price, which has been on a steady rise since June. This rise is attributed to a few notable factors including low inventory on the market in an area that is in high demand, and a handful of record-breaking luxury sales in the resort villages that skew the numbers slightly. However, this trend does not seem to be ending anytime soon. In this competitive market, trusting an experienced local REALTOR® is critical for success.

“Our team finds success when we understand and address what our buyers are asking for,” says Sellards. “In 2020, buyers were asking to be in an area with an abundance of outdoor access and living spaces that offer families versatility for working from home as well as remote learning capabilities.”

Timing is everything

The 2020 spring shut down allowed for thoughtful planning. Among other things, it highlighted the need for top quality interior photography and strong virtual showing tools, including Matterport, an online 3D home showing platform that allows buyers to spend as much time as they desire touring a home as many times as they need to make a decision from afar. It was not uncommon in 2020 for Vail Valley homes to sell without a physical tour of the property. Early adaptors of these tools saw positive response almost immediately.

Economic downturns tend to trigger low interest rates creating an opportune time to buy a home. Armed with effective selling tools, local REALTORS® were able to move these properties quickly. New Listings were slightly higher for all properties in 2020, increasing 8.8% over 2019. The bulk of Single-Family New Listings came on the market during the summer months with the Townhouse/Condo New Listings to follow in late summer, early fall. However, it did not take long for this modest inventory increase to dwindle.

By December, traditionally a big month for real estate in the Vail Valley, a lack of inventory was painfully obvious. Overall New Listings were down 25.7% from December 2019, with Single Family dropping down 9.1% and Townhouse/Condos dropping 34%.

While the challenging inventory made finding the right home for clients difficult, local REALTORS® were busy Closing Sales from late summer and fall. Remarkably, December 2020 had a 100% increase in overall Closing Sales compared to December 2019, with Single Family home Closings increasing 20.4%, and Townhouse/Condo Closings increasing a whopping 185.7% over the same time in 2019—an economic bright spot to highlight indeed.

Future developments

It has been some time since the Vail Valley has seen a boom in new construction aside from the renovations market, but now seems to be the right time for land developers to address a glaring need—more homes.

“2021 looks to be an exciting year,” says Sellards. “Our team is looking forward to getting to work on a new neighborhood in Gypsum, near the airport. The Siena Lake project will offer 591 new homes, including properties that should be affordable for local residents who tend to be priced out of the luxury markets in the resort areas. The lack of home inventory and steep competition for homes has made it quite difficult for some local families to compete in this market.”

Indeed, groundwork and infrastructure are already underway with this project. The development team has been diligently working on this property since the land purchase in 2016 and Town of Gypsum approvals in 2018. In fact, presales could come to market as early as late spring or early summer according to Sellards.

“There are so many positive attributes that real estate brings to our local economy,” says Sellards. “Currently, during this economic crisis brought on by COVID-19, real estate is a driving economic resource, including the transfer and property taxes that fund our local schools that have been hit hard by state budget cuts. Many second homeowners have decided to make Eagle County their home base, fueling our local businesses. This truly has been a bright spot in such a hard year.”

The Vail Board of Realtors® is a professional membership organization with more than 700 REALTOR® members and over 100 Affiliates who provide a variety of real estate services. To learn more about the VBR, visit