Prices sprouting at Snowflower

Longtime condo owners find themselves in right place at right time

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Several of the longtime owners of Snowflower Condominiums, right, have sold their vacation homes as construction of the luxury condos at the adjacent One Steamboat Place has exerted upward pressure on prices in Snowflower. A four-bedroom unit at Snowflower that sold for $650,000 at the end of March is back on the market with an asking price of $895,000.

— For many of the longtime unit owners at Snowflower Condominiums, the summer of 2007 is turning out to be a case of being in the right place at an incredibly lucrative time.

The owners of the modest 1980s-era condos, some of whom have hung onto their vacation homes for 15 years, are seeing them sell for as much as $540 per square foot. And there are signs the prices at Snowflower are headed north. Construction activity at the One Steamboat Place luxury project next door is a major factor in the price surge at Snowflower.

Keith Skytta, who manages vacation rentals for the homeowners association at Snowflower, said his owners and guests see that they will be able to enjoy convenient access to many of the amenities that will be offered in the new public plaza at One Steamboat Place.

"We're almost going to be joined at the hip," Skytta said. "Thirty feet from our back door there will be a stairwell that will lead right into the middle of One Steamboat Place."

Realtor Lisa Olson agreed that current owners at Snowflower and prospective buyers recognize an opportunity to be in the heart of Steamboat's redeveloped base at a price point below the $2 million-plus that people will pay at One Steamboat Place. OSP's units were priced between $2.7 million and $4.5 million as of February.

"The location is good right now, but you're walking across a parking lot to get to Gondola Square," Olson said. "You'll be able to walk to a really nice spa (in the new plaza). How great is that? I've just got to think Snowflower is the next best thing if you don't have $2 million."

Olson and partner Beth Bishop form the Olson Team at Prudential Steamboat Realty. Together, they've listed a four-bedroom corner unit at Snowflower measuring 1,506 square feet for $895,000, or $594 per square feet. The same unit sold March 30 for $650,000.

Bishop said the scarcity of large condos at the ski area is also influencing the asking prices at Snowflower.

"There are only six condos at the mountain listed in the MLS for between $600,000 and $1 million, and this one and another at Trappeur's Crossing are the only four-bedroom units. A lot of the condos are priced at $617 and $630 per square foot. It's really priced below a lot of those."

The four-bedroom unit Olson and Bishop have listed is desirable because it is a corner unit that faces the South Valley and has views of the Flat Tops. A different four-bedroom unit at Snowflower sold in February 2004 for $433,000.

Skytta's wife, Kathi, a Realtor at High Mountain Sotheby's International Realty, has listed a two-bedroom, 1,070-square-foot condo at Snowflower for $662,000. A similar two-bedroom unit sold for $510,00 this spring, and another sold for $580,000. The former sold for $319,700 in December 2003.

Snowflower was built in 1984 as the Steamboat Springs real estate market struggled to recover from the national savings and loan scandal. There were plans for a second phase, but Snowflower II never became a reality. One Steamboat Place will fill the former Snowflower II site as well as the adjacent gondola parking lot.

The mix of condos includes 15 studio units, a dozen four-bedroom units and nine two-bedroom units.

Olson and Bishop agreed there is no doubt the current owner of the four-bedroom unit the Olson Team has listed anticipated its value would increase dramatically due to the influence of One Steamboat Place and saw it as an investment.

"I don't think he thought it would go up this quickly," Bishop said. However, she believes a new buyer can still look forward to appreciation in the value of the condo.

"We came in under what we thought we could get for it," Bishop said. "It's just such a rare listing."

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