Archive for February, 2011

Existing home sales up 2.7% in January

By Steve Goldstein

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Sales of existing homes rose a seasonally-adjusted 2.7% in January for the fifth monthly rise in six, a trade group said Wednesday as it also announced a major review into the quality of its data. The National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes were at a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 5.36 million from a downwardly revised 5.22 million in December. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected a 5.22 million pace for January. On a year-over-year basis, sales rose 5.3%, and activity is now above the level when a now-expired tax credit existed. The realtors group also, as planned, revised monthly figures from 2008 to 2010 ahead of a bigger review that’s due in the summer. The trade group’s data has been called overstated by as much as 20% though the NAR’s chief economist said he hoped the revision would be in “single digits.” The median price of home sales – which weren’t affected by this revision and aren’t expected to be by the summer review – fell 3.7% from last year to $158,800, the lowest since April 2002

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Ultra High-End Real Estate in the Vail Valley is Red-Hot

All indications are that the overall real estate market in the Vail Valley has turned the corner and a long, slow recovery is underway.  It appears the recovery is being led by the very strong ultra-high end market.  Sales over $4 million jumped from 27 in 2009 to 71 in 2010, a 260% increase.  A portion of this increase can be attributed to high-end closings at the Solaris, but even without the Solaris closings, sales more than doubled.

How do we account for this increase?  I still believe buyers are looking for quality and “location, location, location”.  Both are represented well in the high-end market in the Vail Valley.  People are attracted to the Vail Valley lifestyle and, with two world-class ski resorts in the county, it’s hard to go wrong.  Another factor is discounting.  High end real estate was heavily discounted to the tune of 21% between original list price and final sales price.  Folks with a high net worth recognize good deals. 

The graph below clearly shows the increasing trend in high dollar real estate.  The amazing thing is that 2010 sales exceeded sales in 2006, one or our high water years.  It will be interesting to see how 2011 turns out. 

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Freddie Mac: 30-year Mortgage Highest since April

By Sue Chang

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Freddie Mac /quotes/comstock/11k!fmcc (FMCC 0.59, -0.16, -21.24%) said Thursday the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage average surged to 5.05% for the week ending Feb. 10, its highest since April. In the previous period, the average was 4.81%, and the year-ago average was 4.97%. “Long-term bond yields jumped on positive economic data reports, which placed upward pressure on mortgage rates this week. For all of 2010, nonfarm productivity rose 3.6%, the most since 2002, while January’s unemployment rate unexpectedly fell from 9.4% to 9%. Moreover, the service industry expanded in January at the fastest pace since August 2005. As a result, interest rates on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to the highest level since the last week in April 2010,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist, in a statement. 

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2010 Bachelor Gulch Condo Sales Up 67% Over 2009

Finally, some signs of life in our Bachelor Gulch real estate market.  Click below to see my latest market update and current listings and 2010 sales in Bachelor Gulch.

Market Update Jan 11

Listings & Sales Jan 11


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Home Ownership Offers Plenty of Tax Benefits

While renting offers zero tax breaks, buying a home offers several tax benefits that can make homeownership more affordable.  The following is a few of the tax benefits to home ownership, according to Stephen Fishman, an author and lawyer who specializes in small business, tax and intellectual property law.

▪ Home mortgage interest: Home owners can take an itemized deduction on interest paid on a mortgage or mortgages of up to $1 million for a principal residence and/or second home. This deduction could potentially reduce the cost of borrowing by one-third or more.

▪ Property tax deduction: Home owners can deduct from their federal income taxes the state and local property taxes that you pay on the home.

▪ Deductible home buying expenses: Several closing costs in a home purchase are also deductible, such as loan origination fees (points), prorated interest on a new loan, and prorated property taxes paid at settlement.

▪ $250,000/$500,000 home-sale exclusion: Home owners who have lived in their home for two of the prior five years prior to its sale do not have to pay income tax on the majority of their profit –  $250,000 for single home owners and $500,000 for married homeowners who file jointly.

▪ 14 days of free rental income: Home owners can rent the home up to 14 days during the year and pay no tax at all on the rental income.

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Ski Tips – Skiing on Groomed Runs. Part One – Stance and Balance

Don’t we all just love skiing on freshly groomed snow?  What a great feeling to make those perfect turns on snow that feels like butter.  Is there a technique for skiing on the groomed runs?  Let’s focus first on our stance, probably the most important skill in skiing.

  1. Groomed runs are perfect for having fun but are also great for perfecting our technique.  If we can perform a technical maneuver on a groomed run, we have a much greater chance for success on more difficult terrain.
  2. For my first few turns on a groomed run, I check my stance and balance.  We need to maintain a centered, flexed, athletic, aggressive stance to take full advantage of the new ski technology.
  3. What is a centered, flexed, athletic, aggressive stance?  Think of other sports you may participate in.  How do you stand when you address a golf ball?  How about receiving a serve in tennis?  Or working out on a stair step machine?  We need to balance on our whole foot, with most of our weight on the ball not the heel of our foot.  We need to flex (bend) at the ankle, knees, and hips.  We need to be looking forward in anticipation of the next move.  Think about how a middle linebacker in football stands.
  4. A good indicator regarding your stance in the interaction between your body and your boots.  I suggest you maintain contact between your shin and your boot at all times.  You shin should be nestled into the boot – not crammed into it. 
  5. The most difficult part of the turn to maintain the connection is as we turn through the fall or gravity line and pick up speed.  Our natural tendency is to lean back as we gain speed.  We need to do just the opposite and flex our body to maintain the connection with our boots. 
  6. In addition to our boot/shin connection, our hands and arms can be great indicators of our position on our skis.  If my arms are leading me through the turn, I’m probably centered on my skis.  If I find my arms behind me, I’m probably leaning back.
  7. Note the beginning skier below.  He is flexed, shins are connected to the boots, hands are in front, and he is ready for whatever happens next. 


    8.   Note the two more advanced skiers below.  They are also in a centered, flexed, athletic, aggressive stance.


In summary, there is nothing that is more important or has a great impact on your skiing than your stance.  If you work hard on the groomed runs to find and maintain the perfect athletic stance, you will find transitioning to more difficult terrain much easier.

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Beaver Creek Lift #4, Rose Bowl Life, May Get Replaced This Summer

The US Forest Service recently began accepting comments on Vail Resorts proposal to install a 4-passenger high-speed detachable chairlift in the Rose Bowl area in Beaver Creek.  The Company announced that if the proposal is approved by the Forest Service, they plan to install the chairlift during the summer of 2011 so it is operational by the 2011-2012 ski season. 

I think that is great news.  Some people will object to the additional traffic in Rose Bowl but I don’t think it will be that much of an increase.  Many skiers use the Rose Bowl lift to access other lifts on the mountain, particularly chair #5 (Drink of Water) and chair #8 (Cinch Express).  However, it would be nice to see some additional terrain opened up in Rose Bowl.  There appears to be some excellent steep terrain between Ripsaw and Spider.  I also think they could find some great terrain west of Cataract. That may be planned at some point in the future.  For now, I’m simply excited about the new chair.

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