Audrey Bortz and her husband, Clyde Nelson, signed up to purchase a condominium at Sunray Meadows on May 1, 2003. They expected it would be a good investment.
The 1,007-square-foot condominium already has exceeded their expectations.
Bortz and Nelson sold their Sunray Meadows condo this month as soon as they closed on the purchase. They closed on the property for $199,900 and sold it the same week for $299,000. They made $99,100 on the deal.
Bortz originally purchased the condo with the intent of finding long-term renters and hanging onto it until it appreciated substantially. It is less than a mile from the gondola at the Steamboat Ski Area, and it is one of 128 one-, two- and three-bedroom units being built in 16 buildings.
If you're thinking this is a tale about a speculative real estate flip, you've got the wrong impression. Everyone knows Steamboat's real estate market, especially at the low end, is appreciating dramatically. But no one could have anticipated the circumstances that allowed Bortz and two other buyers to resell as quickly as they closed.
"We reserved a unit in the last building of the first phase," Bortz said. "Ours was one of the smallest that you could buy. It was only $5,000 to reserve it; you almost forget about it. Our intent was to hold on to it. It was a viable rental; we were hoping it would at least pay for itself."
The developer of Sunray Meadows is Wintergreen Homes of Avon. The company had established its reputation locally with two successful projects -- The Villas at Walton Creek and Quail Run. Unlike the first two projects, Sunray was planned for factory-built housing with attractive architectural details added on site. The original building was built that way, but the manufactured housing provider was unable to keep up with the pace or specifications Wintergreen requested.
The result was a series of delays. Ultimately, Wintergreen continued the project, stick-built on site.
Lisa Bickford, licensed assistant to listing broker Kenny Gold of RE/MAX Steamboat, said some people dropped out of their purchases. But many stuck with the project.
"A lot of peoples' lives had changed," Bickford said. "Some bought elsewhere. But the majority hung in there."
Bortz and Nelson did both. They didn't feel any urgency about closing at Sunray, she said, and in the meantime, they purchased half of a duplex, also with the intent of finding tenants.
As it turned out, Bortz has not been able to find tenants for the duplex. Faced with closing at Sunray, she contacted Lisa Stoll of Colorado Group Realty, her longtime Realtor.
"It was frustrating for (Bortz) because the developer was so delayed," Stoll said. "On the flip said, they got in so early -- before the project even broke ground, and values over three years had skyrocketed. You couldn't touch anything for that price now -- a brand new product like that."
Stoll contacted Bickford, and there was little trouble lining up a buyer. Bickford confirmed she has a waiting list of 70 people in line for the remaining 17 units yet to be built in buildings 15 and 16 at Sunray Meadows.
Bickford advised that people interested in acquiring real estate for investment purposes keep their eyes open and pay attention to new projects and be prepared to follow through and close on their purchase.
"You need to be set up for a loan," she said. "You don't want to lose that earnest money, and you don't want to lose all that equity."
Whether there will be another opportunity in entry-level housing in the Mount Werner area is another question. Wintergreen acquired the site for Sunray at raw land prices that would look very reasonable in today's market. And Wintergreen's $5,000 earnest money isn't the norm -- some developers have to ask for more because their banks require it.
The twist at the end of this story is that Bortz put her unit under contract in late December, expecting that it would close in February. Had she known it wouldn't close until June, she might have sold it for more.
"There's one like that under contract right now for $340,000," Bickford said.
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