The mountain resort of Vail has a reputation as a skier’s paradise. Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains in the US state of Colorado, it is one of the largest and most exclusive winter sports regions in the USA. After the neighbouring resort of Aspen, it is currently the second most expensive location for ski properties in the world.* Besides the famous “Champagne Powder” and wide pistes, the spectacular mountain panorama and more than 21 square kilometres of ski terrain, it is the seven legendary “Back Bowls” – naturally occurring deep snow basins – that draw skiing enthusiasts from all around the world. Officially opened for its first season in 1962, the resort was planned in a chalet style reminiscent of Europe’s alpine villages. It is home to professional winter sports athletes including skiing stars such as Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn. The high quality of life on offer, with a wide range of shopping amenities and recreational activities, make the region a desirable place to live, even out of ski season. A host of celebrities, including Metallica lead singer James Hetfield, have made this their permanent place of residence. “Vail is exceptional in many respects. Owning a property here not only means you have an outstanding ski resort right on your doorstep. You also get to enjoy the unique lifestyle that makes Vail so special all year round,” says Josh Lautenberg, Licence Partner of Engel & Völkers Vail.
The Alpine World Ski Championships held here in 1989, 1999 and 2015 played a decisive role in Vail’s ascent to a vibrant leisure and winter sports resort. The small town in Eagle County has quickly evolved into a sophisticated alternative destination to Aspen. Prices around Vail Mountain have also risen recently, due to the ongoing shortage of supply and increasingly differentiated demand spurred by greater flexibility resulting from the emergence of the remote working culture. Despite the difficult geo-political climate in 2022, Vail witnessed a 7 percent increase in property prices over the previous year. While the average time to market in the region was around 233 days in 2019, it was just 53 days on average in 2022. “Despite rising inflation rates, Vail’s premium segment is thriving. Last year saw absolutely top prices. We’re seeing a huge appetite for ‘quiet’ luxury. Rather than obvious status symbols, many buyers are interested in a location in direct proximity to nature, as well as high-quality detailing and first-class standards. And that’s what makes Vail so appealing: its abundant natural surroundings with sport at its heart and an exceptionally high quality of life to be enjoyed,” says Josh Lautenberg.
Vail Village, Lionshead Village and Beaver Creek Village, some 20 minutes from the centre of the resort, rank among the best locations. In 2022, top prices per square metre of up to 75,000 US dollars (approx. 69,000 euros) were reached here at the most exclusive addresses like Forest Road and Beaver Dam Road. Premium apartments changed hands for 4.6 million US dollars (approx. 4.3 million euros) on average. The average price for exclusive detached properties was 19 million US dollars (approx. 17.5 million euros). The very top prices were as much as 29 million US dollars (approx. 27 million euros). Substantially sized detached properties in a typical chalet style – architectural designs inspired by European log cabins, with a North American twist – are especially sought after. “Buyers in this region are particularly interested in features geared to sporting pursuits, like their own ski rooms and home gyms. For most clients, having a fireplace and panoramic mountain views is non-negotiable,” says Josh Lautenberg.
Vail’s European charm is very popular with US Americans: National demand dominates in the region, accounting for around 80 percent of purchase activity. This can be attributed primarily to a buyer base from the US East Coast. Only 20 percent of transactions here in 2022 involved foreign buyers – primarily from Mexico and Germany. A ratio that may shift in the long term, according to Josh Lautenberg: “Despite the dominance of domestic buyers, more and more Europeans are willing to make the longer journey to enjoy the unique powder snow and excellent conditions on slopes. Vail’s altitude at 2,500 metres above sea level means there is an above-average guarantee of snow and – unlike in the Alps – skiers in Vail can ski through the forests within the ski region, which often provide ideal natural slalom conditions.”
The experts at Engel & Völkers Vail are optimistic about 2023, due to the recent high level of new construction activity in the region, and the year-round appeal of the Rocky Mountains. “One big trend is energy-efficient homes. Lots of unrenovated properties are in the process of being replaced by new buildings with higher eco standards, and the level of interest is enormous,” Josh Lautenberg reveals, adding: “This development, together with a more differentiated demand that is less and less focused on a particular season, bode very well for the prosperity and value stability of properties in Vail. We expect the real estate market to continue growing in terms of home valuations over the coming years.”
*According to research for the Engel & Völkers Ski Ranking 2022/23. This is based on the top prices per square metre for residential properties in countries where Engel & Völkers is represented.