Unit at Storm Meadows sells for more than appraised tax value
October 4, 2009
Steamboat Springs — When the two-story condominium in the Val Gardena building at The Trails at Storm Meadows sold for $1.225 million this week, it was swimming against a brisk current in the local market.
It was noteworthy that the four-bedroom condo on a hill overlooking the trio of ski trails known as Vogue, Voo Doo and See Me, sold for $550 per square foot. But it stood out more for the fact that, unlike most properties selling in the past two months, the sales price was higher than its appraised value for taxes of $1.113 million.
Real estate professionals don’t put a great deal of stock in the county appraiser’s valuation. That’s because state law mandates that the figure is about two years old by the time owners get their valuation notices. Everyone who follows the market knows that values have retreated significantly during the recession and since tax notices came out in the spring.
“I like to look at the last prior sale of the property,” said Susanna Field, of Buyers Resource Real Estate in Steamboat Springs. “Yes, we look at the asking price, and I tell buyers right now that we won’t know until an offer is made how serious the asking price is. A lot of sellers still have a 2007 appraisal in mind and aren’t willing to let go of that. But there might be four condos for sale in the same building (for example) and one may be a lot more anxious to sell than the other.”
Tax valuations do serve as a benchmark in the Steamboat market, because they are based on comparable sales that capture the peak of the market in the spring and summer of 2007.
During August and September, a few condominiums and townhomes within three-quarters of a mile of The Trails at Storm Meadows sold for prices ranging from $100,000 to $200,000 less than their valuation for tax purposes.
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Barb Shipley, of MR Realty, has seen it all in tracking three decades of sales activity at Storm Meadows. Her parents purchased one of the first condos at Storm Meadows in 1973. Her mother, Marie Johnson, is about to turn 90 and still vacations in her Storm Meadows unit.
“I call it Storm Meadows Summer Camp for Seniors,” Shipley quipped. “Everyone there leaves their doors open, they have cocktails together and they hike up the mountain together.”
So, in addition to the fact that the neighbors share conviviality, why did the Val Gardena unit sell this week for more than its tax valuation?
Shipley, who shared the listing with Adrienne Stroock, of Prudential Steamboat Realty, said it’s the oldest truism in the business.
“What this is telling us is that this is the best location on the beach,” Shipley said. “You can ski within 10 to 20 feet of your downstairs bedroom off (the Right of Way trail), yet it’s private and it’s protected.”
Storm Meadows is really four or five projects under one name. The buildings within The Trails at Storm Meadows, all with names taken from European resorts such as Val Gardena, were built on the former site of the old Storm Meadows Athletic Club and restaurant. Val Gardena sits where the outdoor pool once was, Shipley said. Right at the edge of the ski trails are the two large Storms Meadows at Christie Base buildings. The eastern-most of those was being actively considered for redevelopment until the
recession turned everything upside down. Farther up the Right of Way trail are the 34 Storm Meadows Townhomes, with their distinctive, old-school flat roofs. They measure 1,500 to 1,800 square feet.
Wrapped around The Trails at Storm Meadows buildings are the Storm Meadows Club Condominium buildings, which also hark to another era in Steamboat, but have been remodeled consistently and upgraded.
“Owners in the Club A, B and C buildings have invested $25,000 to $45,000 several times,” Shipley said. “I sold a top-floor club two-bedroom unit in April for $550,000.”
The purchase price worked out to $800 a square foot.
“There are a lot of cash buyers out there right now who know exactly what they want,” Shipley said. “Storm Meadows is old Steamboat, and there’s not a lot of supply.”