Demand for townhomes on the rise

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Recently published numbers from the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service testify to the growing popularity of townhomes. During the first three months of 2003, townhome sales exceeded regular condominium sales for the first time.

Real estate agents and developers say townhomes are becoming increasingly popular because they can provide the elements of a single-family home with the convenience of common amenities, maintenance and management, and often more affordable prices.

Routt County developers say they noticed this trend before seeing the numbers in the Multiple Listing Service.

Developer and real estate broker Kimberly Kreissig said she noticed the trend well before she and her husband finished three Steamboat Springs townhome projects in the past two years -- Bear Meadows Townhomes in spring of 2002, Willow Brook Townhomes in spring of 2003 and now The Willows Townhomes.

Kreissig said she noticed the great demand for high-quality, affordable homes first, but then found, "it is virtually impossible to build a single-family house in town under $350,000."

Building house-like structures, such as townhomes, is much more cost effective, she said.

"What we've found is that townhomes, more of the duplex style are better than condos, in the sense that there is only one shared wall," Kreissig said. "For some, there is a feeling that it is more of a home than condo. You've got a little bit of a yard. There is more space around you. We've seen that a lot of people like that rather than having people above you and below you."

Residents of The Willows will share more than one wall, as there are four side-by-side units in some of the buildings, but Kreissig said it is more appealing to those who want to veer away from the condo or apartment lifestyle.

Karen Beauvais, a real estate broker at Coldwell Banker, agrees that townhomes are popular now because they offer more privacy from neighbors who would live in apartments or condos above or below the owner's unit.

"There wasn't a wide variety of townhomes until the past two years, because condos are cheaper to build and they can be built with more density," Beauvais said.

Developers are seeing that more and more people don't mind paying extra for the extra space and privacy townhomes provide compared with condominiums, Beauvais said.

Townhome complexes that were built before the recent surge in sales, such as The Mountaineer on Walton Creek Road or Quail Run on Whistler Road, are getting additions for the demand.

Sales of the Quail Run townhomes, which are being offered in the $300,000 range, were somewhat slow starting out but have sold quickly lately, RE/MAX Steamboat owner Ken Gold said. The 20-unit complex is getting a 14-unit addition, and nine of those units were pre-sold, Gold said.

Other townhomes being offered by RE/MAX also have been selling well, Gold said. The Enclave townhomes, in the $400,000 range, and even the ski-in, ski-out Elkhorn town homes, in the $2 million range, have sold well, Gold said.

Gold said that while the townhome market is the strongest it has ever been, it was almost as strong a few years ago. More second-home owners and first-time home buyers are beginning to see the benefits of townhomes as a condo/house hybrid. And besides having some private yard space, townhomes typically have the benefits of a garage.

"It's perfect for those who are looking for something a little bigger than a condo, which is definitely limiting as far as what you can do," Gold said. "It's a good transition for people in between buying a house or a condo."

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