Survey: Healthy lifestyle important to buyers, regrouping mountain real estate market
Steamboat Springs — The purchasing preferences of vacation-home buyers in mountain towns are changing even as resort markets like Steamboat Springs work to gradually absorb existing inventory.
The recently released Kelsey/Norden survey of 6,000 vacation-home owners and buyers concludes among other things that the oldest of the baby boomers may have moved beyond the years when they consider buying in a winter resort, expanding the emphasis on an increasingly affluent group of Gen-X’ers in their 30s. Similar surveys were conducted with real estate professionals in 20 key mountain markets including Steamboat/Routt County.
The study found that:
■ Discounted values of as much as 40 percent are expected to continue until existing inventory is absorbed — perhaps two or three years.
■ Buyers are so intent on obtaining good value for their money, they are willing to compromise on the size of their vacation home.
■ A high cost of ownership beyond the purchase is undesirable.
■ Buyers intend to make more frequent use of their vacation homes, making drive markets more important to ski town real estate.
■ Vacation destinations that offer a healthy lifestyle are particularly attractive.
■ Green building is no longer a rare quality in a mountain home. It’s become the standard.
Christopher Kelsey is with a development consulting firm in Whitefish, Mont., and David Norden is with Owls Head Partners in Stowe, Vt. Clair Humber, of the SE Group in Burlington, Vt., also was instrumental to the survey.
Cam Boyd, a broker co-owner with Prudential Steamboat Realty, and Ulrich Salzgeber, of Buyer’s Resource Real Estate, agreed that many of the findings of the Kelsey/Norden survey match the Steamboat market.
“The thing that stuck out in my mind is that discounted prices may not last beyond three years,” Boyd said. “It’s not a huge window, and this isn’t going to go on forever. The people who are buying right now won’t need to wait a lot of years before they realize equity.”
Salzgeber said Steamboat, with its preoccupation with distance running, cycling and hiking, already is in a sweet spot for offering vacation and retirement buyers a healthy lifestyle.
“A healthy lifestyle and consciousness about the environment and green building practices are elements that are more appealing than the glitz and glitter,” Salzgeber said. “Of course in some aspects, this has generally been true of the Steamboat market anyway and the reason we were able to carve such an enviable niche.”
Boyd said that although Steamboat might not be best situated as a drive market for metro Denver, it works well for the western suburbs as well as Northern Colorado, particularly Fort Collins and Greeley, stretching all the way to Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyo.
Salzgeber had a different take on the matter.
“I agree that convenience is king, but I am not convinced that this gives the drive market an advantage, particularly in Colorado with the issues we have with weather and traffic along the I-70 corridor,” he said.
“It is my belief that Steamboat is well-positioned with Yampa Valley Regional Airport and our current airline program. It isn’t rare in the wintertime for it to take less time for someone to fly from Chicago to Steamboat than it would to drive from Denver to Breckenridge or Vail. The missing link for us is the year-round aspect of a reliable, affordable service from YVRA.”
Arlene Zopf, of Steamboat Village Brokers, rejected the survey’s finding that the oldest baby boomers may drop out of the mountain markets before a real estate recovery is fully realized.
“I still have buyers in that little age group from 58 to 65 who still have a strong desire to move to the mountains and slow down their lives,” Zopf said.
On the other hand, she has repeat clients from Tennessee in their early 40s who have sold their second condominium in the Trappeurs Crossing development and are looking for a ski-in, ski-out property for the convenience it offers in getting young children out the door and onto the slopes.
Boyd’s prototypical Gen-X client is a man from Evergreen in his late 30s who has prospered with an Internet-based business.
“He’s going to buy a place and won’t put it in the rental pool because he wants his friends to be able to use it any time they want to, and he doesn’t want strangers drinking his scotch,” Boyd said.
Can we assume that it’s single-malt scotch?
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