If she hadn't taken a sabbatical from work to stay home with a new baby, Annie Slothower might never have had the idea to market her family's Steamboat townhome as a swap in exchange for a Denver-area home.
"I'm back to work now," Slothower said. "But I had been a stay-at-home mom, and I was watching an Oprah Winfrey special on how to succeed in the down economy. One of the things she suggested was a (real estate) trade that had worked for other people."
Slothower and her husband, Hill, have their three-bedroom duplex townhome in Longview Highlands listed for sale at $575,000 with Kim Kreissig, of Prudential Steamboat Realty. Not coincidentally, Annie Slothower is employed as an assistant to Kreissig.
When Slothower proposed marketing the townhome built in 2005 as a trade, Kreissig embraced the idea. She promptly alerted her Prudential colleagues throughout the Denver-metro area but said another form of marketing has generated most of the dozen inquiries that have come in from the Front Range.
Most of the dozen contacts have resulted from placing the proposed home swap on the Internet site, Craigslist, Kreissig said.
"Anything you can do to be creative in this challenging market, you should give it a try," Kreissig said. "We've already generated some pretty decent inquiries. It's piqued some people's interest on the Front Range."
Within the past week, new listings at the Denver-area page for Craigslist have offered house swaps including a Frisco townhome to trade for a Denver home and a Breckenridge home to swap for weekends in LoDo.
One of the most intriguing contacts was from a party with a two-bedroom home in Denver's Washington Park neighborhood. However, Slothower said, most of the interest is coming from people with unrealistic expectations of a Steamboat retirement home.
"They have this vision of a ski-in/ski-out home," she said. "When they find out that's not the case, they are disappointed."
The Steamboat townhome also is offered for sale on the Steamboat Springs Multiple Listing Service. The pitch there reads: "Need to sell your home
in Denver before you can buy in Steamboat? Not any more. Sellers of this charming townhome in Longview will consider taking your home in Denver or the surrounding area as the down payment on the purchase of theirs here in Steamboat."
Slothower said she and her husband have agreed, since that text was first written, to open their offer to a full swap instead of looking for a buyer who would put up their home as partial payment on the Steamboat townhome.
"Our goal in selling our house was to relocate to Denver so my husband can go back to school and we can be closer to family," Slothower said. Hill Slothower works in the construction trades and wants to take his career to a new level with a degree in retrofitting existing homes to green energy standards.
The Slothowers purchased their home at a pre-construction price of $379,000 in 2006. Their mortgage of $250,000 gives them substantial equity in the townhome even with the recent price drops.
They had estimated they could clear close to $400,000 on the sale of the Steamboat property and trade down in Denver to end up with a $100,000 mortgage. They realize now they may not be able to realize that goal.
Longview is a subdivision of 64 units in 32 buildings and the fact there are six other townhomes listed in the neighborhood is complicating matters. One owner, who already has purchased a home in Denver and is making two mortgage payments, has listed a townhome with the same floor plan as the Slothowers' for $499,000.