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Real estate meeting of minds

Realtors gather for Rocky Mountain Resort Alliance annual meeting

Tamera Manzanares

Selling real estate in resort communities is very different from selling real estate in metro areas.

Realtors in resort areas deal with many second-home buyers, who have different motivations than primary-home buyers and, as out-of-towners, require agents who are very informed about their local markets.

“We become their link to the community,” said Dennis Hanlon, president of the Rocky Mountain Resort Alliance, which held its annual meeting in Steamboat Springs on Friday and today.

“We become their eyes and ears about how the market is changing … but more so about what’s happening in the town,” he said.

The RMRA was formed about seven years ago as a platform for sharing information and promoting resort-specific education for Realtors.

The organization has about 4,000 member brokers who are part of 10 boards of Realtors in areas including Steamboat; Aspen; Vail; Telluride; Park City, Utah; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; and Whistler, British Columbia.

About 60 brokers, including some from Steamboat, are attending the series of education classes and networking opportunities in town this weekend.

“Most of our state and national (real estate) organizations are focused on metro areas rather than resorts, and there’s very little resort education out there,” Hanlon said. “That’s what we are trying to do.”

Unlike metro real estate markets, resort markets are driven largely by second-home buyers whose motivation and timing is different from buyers searching for full-time homes.

“Nobody has to have a second home,” said Hanlon, noting resort real estate brokers often work with clients for a year or longer before the clients make a purchase.

Resort brokers also must “keep the fire lit” or prevent clients’ interest in resort properties from waning after they return home to their everyday lives, he said.

Another significant challenge is reaching out-of-state buyers. The RMRA is in the process of developing a Web site that will provide prospective buyers information about Rocky Mountain resorts and properties.

RMRA Realtor boards will report on real estate dynamics in their resort areas. Overall, brokers are optimistic about real estate activity in 2005, Hanlon said.

“The market seems to be very strong throughout the resorts,” Hanlon said. “Everybody seems to be pretty up and positive.”

Although impressive, real estate sales in places such as Routt County, which had record sales volume and transactions in 2004, also mean fewer properties are available to meet buyers’ demands, Hanlon said, noting inventory in some resorts is the lowest its been in years.

Another, more complex issue facing resort communities and Realtors is how to maintain the unique character and flair that attracts visitors and second-home owners to their towns.

A lack of affordable housing for workers and middle-income professionals is a significant part of that discussion, as is open space preservation and the protection of historical and agricultural properties, Hanlon said.

“There’s a very difficult balancing act between the two,” he said. “You have to have growth, but you don’t want to kill the cow.”

— To reach Tamera Manzanares, call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com


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