By all accounts, the local real estate boom some are calling the pandemic gold rush started in late May, when agents who had been idle since March suddenly were hosting multiple showings, fielding full-price offers that resulted in clean, fast closes. As inventory evaporated into summer, prices spiked, culminating with 298 transactions in August totaling $418 million, dwarfing a previous record set in 2005 at the height of Vail’s vaunted New Dawn. “This market is completely different,” says Michael Slevin, president of BHHS Colorado Properties, whose grandparents relocated to the valley before Vail’s first winter. “It’s about lifestyle, safety, and community. People are buying here to live here, not as an investment.” Ron Byrne, president and CEO of Ron Byrne & Associates, explains it this way: “What people want now is a return on enjoyment rather than a return on investment.” To help with that quest for ROE, we’ve compiled a buyer’s guide to the valley, from East Vail to Gypsum.