Half of units sold at Howelsen Place and Alpen Glow are to Steamboat residents
January 17, 2010
Steamboat Springs — The decision to give up her single-family home and flower garden in Steamboat II wasn't easy, Audrey Williams said. But now that she and her husband, Tom, have settled into their two-bedroom condominium at Howelsen Place, she doesn't miss lawn chores.
"I never have a bad day because I never have to mow the lawn," Williams said.
The Williamses represent a trend that has surprised executives at Greene Court Partners, owners of the Howelsen Place and Alpen Glow mixed-use developments in the heart of downtown Steamboat Springs.
"Our buyers are 50 percent locals, which is really interesting and surprising to me," said Mark Scully, who oversees Colorado operations for Chicago-based Green Courte. "The underlying trend is that Steamboat residents know what we all know — that summer here is better than winter."
His sales staff, led by managing broker Beth Postemski, achieved two closings on one-bedroom units in November with another sale set to close within 45 days. One of the recent sales marked the first-ever sale of an Alpen Glow townhome.
"The price point is below $1 million and, particularly, below $800,000," Scully said.
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Green Courte has sold 11 of 56 units spread between Howelsen Place and Alpen Glow.
Green Courte Chairman Randy Rowe, who owns a home in the south valley, was in Steamboat in December and rallied the troops during a meeting with approximately 30 leading Realtors and business people.
During a PowerPoint presentation, Rowe showed a graph intended to illustrate how today's historically low interest rates present an opportunity for people with the wherewithal to purchase real estate. The graph also underscored how quickly buyers' purchasing power erodes as interest rates increase.
Scully said Rowe told his audience that he foresees "a reversion to the mean." The phrase implies that the increase in home values and corresponding growth in equity would return to a calmer annual growth of 4 percent. Also implicit in the trend is that increases in valuation would track a more modest growth in replacement cost for a similar home. The wild card in such a scenario for Steamboat Springs could be the replacement cost of land factoring into the equation, Scully said.
Scully said his company remains focused on selling the condominiums to second-home owners. The challenge, he said, is to convince buyers of the value proposition inherent in buying a new urbanism condo in downtown Steamboat.
"Our HOA fees are half of what they are at the mountain," Scully said. "We have the river, Old Town Hot Springs, and you don't have to pay for shuttle buses. You can walk to the new library."
The Williamses gets the value proposition.
The Williamses gave up one of their two cars and the space offered by their four-bedroom, 1,700-square-foot house. But Audrey Williams has grown to enjoy walking out the front of her building and catching the Steamboat Springs Transit bus to work. She is the facilities manager for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.
"The hard part was that our mortgage was close to being paid off," Williams said. "We had an awesome yard and flower garden. But we were spending a lot on remodeling and upkeep. When Howelsen Place started construction, my husband said, 'Why don't we just move downtown?' and I'm like, 'Amen.'"
The Williamses' condo is adjacent to an interior courtyard at Howelsen Place and somewhat insulated from the noise of the city. However, they've learned during summer nights to keep the windows closed and let the air conditioning at Howelsen Place do its thing.
"If you leave the windows open, you'll hear noise for sure," she said. "I used to wake at 2 a.m. and hear some bar noise. We said, 'Let's put on the air, it only costs us $20 more a month.'"
Williams figures that a fair trade for the ability to go kayaking or mountain biking at Howelsen Hill right outside the door of her condominium building.