Totals tell a prosperous tale

Construction in the valley was up for 2004.
Dominique Taylor/Vail Daily
Photo by Dominique Taylor/Vail Daily

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Cliff Thompson
January 7, 2005

EAGLE COUNTY - When Edwards contractor Larry Castruita received building permits for a new home and a remodeling project, he was one of many contractors were busy in 2004.

Castruita's permits, along with all the others issued last year, show the county's building industry is recovering from an economic recession, war and terrorism worries.

Statistics logged in 2004 across town and county offices reveal figures for building permits, foreclosures, tax sales and bankruptcies that indicate an improvement over 2003.



Foreclosures

In 2004 foreclosures on property across the county dipped 7 percent from last year's 263 to 245. They're considered one indicator of the health of the economy.

Foreclosures are made by lenders when a borrower on a property fails to make mortgage payments. The bank takes possession of the property after the public trustee in the county treasurer's office sells the property for the lender.

At the height of the building boom in 2000, only 64 foreclosures were recorded. The record year for foreclosures -1987 - saw 599.



Bankruptcies

The second cousin to foreclosure - bankruptcy - also declined. In 2003 there were 35 business and personal bankruptcies of all types logged in Eagle County. During 2004 that number dipped 26 percent to 26.

"People go into bankruptcy to stop everything and reorganize," said Kathy Knox, deputy public trustee. "It prevents creditors from going after them."


 2004 by the numbers

Second highest number of building permits issued by Eagle County since 2000.

There were 7 percent fewer foreclosures this year than last.

The number of properties sold at delinquent tax sales declined by 31 percent from 118 to 81.

County building permits

A record number of building permits - 686 - were issued by Eagle County in 2004. Building permits are one indicator of how busy the building trades were and will be.

The permits translate into 146 new single-family homes and 239 multi-family homes. These building permits carried an estimated value of $223 million.

In the previous record year of 2000, a total of 557 permits carrying a value of $322.8 million were issued. The slimmest year in the last five was 2002 when $135 million in building permits were issued.

The new records come in the midst of a 14 month-long real estate boom that will see a new record of at least $2.2 billion in sales when the final statistics for 2004 are added up next month.

The previous record, set in 2000, was $1.7 billion.

Continued low interest rates coupled with a rise in the disposable income that baby boomers have is driving the trend, real estate brokers said.


 Town building permits

Vail led all towns in the county in the number of permits issued and in the value of the new buildings and remodelings with 322 that carried an estimated value of $131 million.

Vail is in the early stages of a $1 billion revitalization of Vail Village and Lionshead that will occur over the next six years.
Avon saw an 8 percent decline in the number of building permits issued - from 131 last year to 121 in 2004. But the value of those permits, however, jumped from $11.4 million in 2003 to $16.2 in 2004.

The number of residential permits issued was the same - 20 - while the commercial square footage of the permits jumped from 97,959 in 2003 to 140,059 in 2004.

Minturn issued 37 permits, but no valuation information was available. Most were for remodeling projects, but that may well change next year.

Earlier this month a Florida-based real estate developer, the Ginn Company, announced a $32.75 million purchase of 6,000 acres between Minturn and Red Cliff. The company is exploring building a private ski area and golf course community, and early discussions with the town centered on building up to 500 homes.

Building was a big business in Eagle, which issued 169 building permits - 152 for dwelling units. The total estimated valuation of the residential and commercial permits was $38.6 million.

Gypsum surpassed Eagle in the number of building permits issued - 173 - but many of those permits were for remodels. The valuation of the permits issued by the town was just over $16 million.

Tax sales

When residential and commercial property taxes aren't paid, the county sells a tax certificate on the property at auction to investors for the amount of the unpaid taxes plus interest and other fees.

If the owner of the property doesn't pay the taxes and penalties in three years the property becomes owned by the person purchasing the tax certificate.

Based on the number of tax certificates sold by the county during tax sales, the number of people paying their taxes in 2004 also improved over 2003.

County tax sales in 2003 yielded $517,854 with 118 tax certificates sold. In 2004 the county sold 81 tax certificates and collected $359,169.


All those sales reflect real property and include any additional bid made by investors during the tax sale.

Most of the properties sold at the county's auction in November are eventually paid off by the delinquent property owner, said Margo Painter, deputy treasurer.

Investors purchasing the tax certificates for properties with delinquent taxes earn 12 percent interest, or 9 percent more than the prime rate, as the law requires.


Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 450, or cthompson@vaildaily.com.