Steamboat Springs No scientific studies have ever been done, but David Baldinger, Jr. claims more skiers are likely to stop by his real estate office in Torian Plum Plaza on sunny days than powder days.
Although tourists might be attracted to Steamboat because of the ski resort's legendary champagne powder, it is the sunny days that draw them to the real estate offices. Baldinger, who is the managing broker for Steamboat Village Brokers, said that is because skiers are usually too tired after a hard day of powder skiing to venture into real estate.
"(At the end of powder days) people are passed out or sitting in the hot tub. No one goes out, everyone misses their dinner reservations and orders a pizza," Baldinger said. "On sunny days, they cruise the groomers, may stop for a beer and come over (to our office)."
Regardless of the weather, Steamboat Village Brokers is among the handful of real estate offices that rely heavily on the walk-in traffic that is spurred by the ski slopes.
It is the reason, Baldinger said, despite the higher cost and less space, the company has always been located at Ski Time Square.
"I think our location is a very important part of our business," Baldinger said. "Because of our location we do get a lot of walk-ins."
Pete Wither, who is the office manager for Colorado Group Realty's mountain office, also sees the importance of their real estate office at the Sheraton Resort Hotel and just off the ski slopes.
"We're the only ski-in/ski-out office in Steamboat," Wither said. "We think it is particularly important to place the office there. We get a lot of people walking by."
Location -- even a matter of 400 feet -- is key to attracting walk-ins.
From Steamboat Village Brokers, Lake Catamount Realty sits just a few hundred feet down Ski Time Square, and few walk-ins occur.
"Very few people walk by our office," agent Willie Markowitz said. "The way we do most of our business is by referrals."
Even for those with a prime location, window displays are key in getting people to come inside.
Steamboat real estate offices might not have the hired designers of Saks Fifth Avenue, but they do give it some thought.
Wither said Colorado Group Realty attracts visitors by displaying the units for sale where visitors are lodging.
"We have all of the condo complexes, so people can see that is where they are staying -- and oh -- it is only that much money, and some of them stop in," Wither said.
He also said the window display pushes some of the office's major projects like the Porches at Moore's Corner and the Chadwick.
Baldinger said the use of a window display has been debated among realtors.
He points to real estate offices in Vail and Aspen that use no window displays, but try to lure visitors in with an inviting, living room-like look and atmosphere.
Baldinger said when Steamboat Village Brokers remodeled they decided to keep the window displays, largely to have information available at night when visitors walk by.
Walk-ins do not necessarily mean a sale that day or even that year. Baldinger said that skiers might walk-in to his office during their first visit to Steamboat to start their real estate shopping, but a property might not be bought until the next year or even the year after that.
"Many people that buy real estate stop by and meet one of the real estate agents. They learn about the market on the first visit, and the second or third visit they start to make offers," Baldinger said.
Because of the importance of walk-ins, Baldinger admits to watching the lodging barometer like many of the other businesses in town. But he said extra staff is not added for the especially high pillow counts.
Baldinger said the agents at Steamboat Village Brokers keep their schedules open to accommodate walk-ins, and interested buyers can be looking at properties within a few minutes of walking in the door.
Both Baldinger and Wither said the Christmas season could be a difficult time to show properties because most condos or homes are booked or being used by their owners, but it can be done.
Wither noted that it is not uncommon for people to come in the last day of a vacation after they get off the slopes and are waiting to pick up their children at ski school.