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Thank You, Inflation

Inflation in our economy has reared its ugly head for the first time in over 40 years, at the rate of 7.04 percent for the 12 months ending in December. I hear everywhere from people that it is hitting the pocketbooks of everyday Americans pretty hard. Of particularly hard-hit areas, consider that the consumer price index for food prices was up in December 6.3 percent over the previous year, used car and truck prices are up something like 37 percent with new cars clocking a 14 percent jump, gasoline prices are up 50 percent year over year, natural gas prices nearly doubled in 2021, and housing costs are on the rise — rents, yes, but especially in home building. There are many other sectors posting significant price increases as well, like apparel, appliances and other household goods, and electronics.

What’s fascinating to me about all of this is that inflation has been so relatively low for so long — posting years and years of rates hovering in the 0 to 3 percent area since the early 1980s — that most people under 60 years of age have no experience with inflation, and those of us over that age have gotten used to those mild hits and don’t remember much about the big bouts.

I do, though. Just as I was, as they say, coming of age in 1974, the inflation rate for the year topped 12 percent and was very hard on the populace. That autumn, our very new and unelected president, Gerald Ford, announced a big-deal program called Whip Inflation Now, WIN, and with a rousing speech and programs asked the American people to curtail spending, plant “victory gardens,” carpool, turn down thermostats, and put more money into savings. Also, the White House asked Americans to send in their ideas on how we could all “whip inflation;” in return people were sent a very nice WIN button that would signify how we were on the anti-inflation team. (I wish I still had mine.) The program didn’t work, of course, as inflation continued to surge for another eight years or so, costing Ford the 1976 presidential election and then also claiming his successor, Jimmy Carter, a re-election attempt in 1980.

Each era, of course, has its own causes for inflation, and back then it really began with the end of the Vietnam War coupled with the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, an energy crisis that hit us hard for years. Today it was set off by the worldwide COVID pandemic and the subsequent supply chain issues, both events that have hit the laws of supply and demand very hard, fueled by unusually enormous government spending.

In any case, inflation has always been cast as an economic villain, “hitting” people in the wallet and disrupting everyday life. But in this case inflation may just be the thing that our economy needed.

With the Federal Reserve Bank apparently poised to raise interest rates perhaps as much as four times this year to damper inflation – a less flashy modern day Whip Inflation Now program – we could easily start to see benefits essentially created by inflation. Higher rates will dampen demand for housing and perhaps cool the record hot real estate market, and also cool off demand for cars and other big-ticket items. Prices may not come down, but they could plateau for a time and that will eventually be a boon to us all.

And I am encouraged by the news that computer chip manufacturer Intel is planning to invest $20 billion in two plants near Columbus, Ohio, to make the chips here in America rather than overseas. This move, I believe, is in response to worldwide inflationary constraints and may just be the first salvo in an economic push to move more manufacturing back to U.S. soil and stability after years of movement out of the country. These goods will eventually cost more, but the broader benefits to the economy in domestic production will resonate throughout the country.

So thank you, inflation. We could all use a period of chilling out, taking a breath after years of go-go and more-more, and reassess what we really want. Whip-Up Inflation Now, a real WIN disguised as a problem.


Jeff RundlesJeff Rundles is a former editor of ColoradoBiz and a regular columnist. Read this and Rundles’ blog, Executive Wheels, at ColoradoBiz or email him at [email protected]

2022 Colorado real estate market report

Elevationeast2 Bhhskyledenton
Elevation Vail, Lionshead | Representing one of the five remaining luxury residences at Elevation Vail in Lionshead, this 2,900 sq. ft., 4 bed/5 bath condo at 534 East Lionshead Circle offers the latest in contemporary, open-air living and high-tech comfort. Features and amenities include outdoor deck with mountain views, private elevator access, underground parking, heated tile and wood floors, plumbed-in oxygenated systems and app-controlled heating and air conditioning. Listed by Kyle and Craig Denton of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties for $8.775M. 

How does Eagle County set a record for dollar volume and (unit sales) in a historically low inventory environment?  Demand and creativity. 

According to the MLS, Eagle County residential sales hit an all-time high of $3.3B for 2021. The dollar volume almost speaks for itself. Inventory shortages coupled with unprecedented demand carried over from 2020 and continued to elevate prices – simple supply/demand economics.   

Overall, in 2021, residential unit sales reported in the Vail MLS were down slightly (3%) and dollar volume for Eagle County was up 21%. This time one year ago there were 382 residential properties in the Vail MLS.  Today it is 160 – that’s down 58%. From a real estate perspective, expect 2022 to look and feel a lot like 2020 and 2021. Demand should continue to exceed supply and prices are likely to rise, though perhaps not at the levels of the last two years. 

Speculation that interest rates will rise in Q3 and Q4 of this year may put pressure on those looking to finance homes, culminating in some pressure on prices. But in an environment where cash purchases have become more of the norm, the impact might not be as significant as other markets around the country. 

90 Ambleside Place Bhhs Kyle Denton
90 Ambleside Place, Arrowhead | Located within the Greens at Arrowhead in Edwards, this 4,815 sq. ft., 6 bed/7 bath single family home at 90 Ambleside Place offers privacy, open views, and spacious outdoor living area. Conveniently located just two-minutes walking distance to Arrow-Bahn ski lift, residents also have access to Country Club of the Rockies, pool, tennis courts, golf course and more. Listed by Kyle Denton, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, which sold for $3.1M in May 2021. 

As we enter spring, expect the supply of homes to loosen and patient buyers should be rewarded with more homes from which to choose. We generally see a slight supply increase in January and February in the resort/luxury market areas with inventory starting to build in March through end of ski season (mid-April) down valley and again in the summer months valley wide. 

There is good news for both sellers and buyers. Sellers understand there is a window to leverage the market and sell today, which is benefitting home buyers with more inventory. Buyers need to be prepared to act quickly, which is where working with an experienced local broker who can uncover off-market and coming to market opportunities. In addition, these brokers also understand the subtle nuances of putting together attractive offers for sellers, which will give buyers a leg up on the competition. 

993 Fourth Of July Road Bhhs Rickmessmer Copy
993 Fourth of July Road, Eagle | This newly constructed, 5,489 sq. ft., 6 bed/6 bath single family home offers the perfect blend of contemporary mountain and traditional design, including large windows and mountain views. Listed by Rick Messmer and Jennie Longville May with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties for $2.55M. The home went under contract in 49 days. 

Luxury/Resort Market 

Kyle Denton, broker associate with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties and member of the Denton Advisory Group, shares insights on the luxury/resort market in the Vail Valley and what the year ahead means for buyers and sellers. 

 What it Means for Buyers 

As we continue to see upward pressure on pricing, be prepared to act quickly if the right property presents itself. Having firsthand or real-time knowledge of new listings, being well educated on the different values in a specific neighborhood, presenting a solid offer, and putting together a well thought out negotiating strategy are just a few key factors in successfully purchasing that right property. It’s also important to note that the standard Colorado Real Estate Contracts just went through some significant changes effective January of this year,  which will impact how offers are now written and potentially negotiated. This is something to which buyers and sellers will need to pay close attention. Partnering with an experienced real estate advisor could mean the difference between successfully purchasing the right property or not.    

What it Means for Sellers 

In addition to the Colorado Real Estate Contract updates and how they affect offers and negotiations, understanding the values, trends, and inventory levels for each specific neighborhood, along with a sound strategy for marketing, negotiating, and potentially dealing with multiple offers are key factors to optimizing the final sales price and general contractual terms.  Determining the right timing on when to bring a property to market based on the location of a home and time of year are also key factors to ensuring a home receives the most showings and ultimately sells for the highest price.    

201 Osprey Lane Bhhs Rickmessmer
201 Osprey Lane, Gypsum  Located at 201 Osprey Lane in Gypsum, this new, 1,480 sq. ft., 3 bed/2.5 bath site-built townhome offers contemporary amenities and finishes with spacious and bright living areas. Features include vaulted ceilings, LVT floors, kitchen pantry and attached two-car garage. Listed for $482,000 by Rick Messmer and Jennie Longville May as part of The Stratton Team and also with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties. Sold on January 2, 2022, for $487,000. 

Down Valley 

Down Valley, Rick Messmer, managing broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties and member of the Eagle-based Messmer Group, notes that homeowners who were able to sell greatly improved their financial positions in most situations. Buyers who were able to purchase a property did so by outcompeting other buyers, and in some cases, up to 20 buyer groups, for a single home or townhome/condo. Overall, those who decided to both sell and buy in Eagle County typically bettered their positions. 

 What it Means for Buyers 

Teaming up with an experienced real estate broker becomes even more important to assist buyers not only in the search, but also in the preparation of the offer to make it stand out above the masses and have it selected. Qualified local brokers have a network and market knowledge base that allows them to often learn of properties coming to market before they hit the MLS. This puts those buyers in a distinct advantage of being able to put in an offer ahead of the competition.  

What it Means for Sellers 

Don’t leave money on the table trying to go about the sale process on your own. Exposure to the masses with a pricing strategy that will attract the most attention will net sellers a lot more money than the commission paid to the listing broker. According to the National Association of Realtors, homeowners net 17% less when trying to sell their home on their own and it takes a lot longer due to the myriad of hurdles involved in closing a sale.    

Eagle County is one of the most desirable places in the world to call home. Buyers who put forth the right strategy will continue to find homes. Sellers who price their home correctly will continue to reap the financial gains of owning in a high-demand region. 

Michael Slevin is the President, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties.