Steamboat Springs The first flight from Tokyo’s Narita International Airport to Denver International Airport on March 31, 2013, may not come packed with eager Asian buyers for ski town real estate. But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
Joanne Erickson, of Colorado Group Realty, a veteran international traveler, has been attending a series of gatherings of Realtors from across the world, but not to meet prospective buyers. Instead, Erickson is cultivating relationships with Realtors from countries like Argentina and Tanzania with clients of their own who have a global perspective.
Erickson returned in May from five days in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she made a presentation about Steamboat Springs in front of Realtors who had gathered there from 65 countries. She didn’t pitch individual property listings; instead, she gave them a feeling for Steamboat’s laid-back culture and a broad survey of the types of vacation homes available as well as the price ranges.
“I only had three to five minutes, so I presented the lifestyle,” Erickson said. “I told them about what distinguishes Steamboat from other ski resorts. I didn’t talk that much about skiing but all the other fun things to do, like horseback riding in snow. I emphasized the outdoor lifestyle.”
The convention was hosted by FIABCI, the International Real Estate Federation, which has a Colorado chapter. The 63rd FIABCI World Congress attracted more than 800 Realtors.
The reaction Erickson received from her luxury-oriented audience for her slide presentation on Steamboat was that the prices in the Yampa Valley struck them as being quite reasonable, Erickson said.
“Right now, Australians make up a large segment of our international buyers,” Erickson said. “The new winter flight from Los Angeles to Hayden/Steamboat Springs will make it easier for the Aussies to get here. I do expect to see an increase of Brazilians and other Latinos, as well.”
Colorado Group’s marketing coordinator, Laurie Peter, said she thinks Erickson’s strategy of skipping direct promotion to buyers and reaching out instead to Realtors with international clients is a sound one.
Erickson is quick to say she hasn’t closed any deals involving international buyers, but she is working with people from Australia, providing guidance to a commercial developer from Mexico and cultivating a contact in Dubai who tells her “ski resorts are sexy.”
Her colleague, Jon Wade, had a client from the British Virgin Islands this week who considers cabins in the Rocky Mountains nostalgic.
“I have someone from Tortola who closed on a cabin at Steamboat Lake here Thursday,” Wade said. “He is buying because his family grew up going to his grandpa’s cabin in Colorado and wants his kids and extended family to have the same experience.”
Wade happened to be monitoring his website traffic this week when a prospective buyer from Canada visited to look at high-end homes. He said he closes two to three sales each year involving clients from abroad, primarily from the United Kingdom and Australia. But it’s not out of the ordinary to talk to or exchange emails with people from Canada, France and even Dubai, he said.
A global outlook
Erickson grew up speaking French, Spanish and a smattering of Portuguese.
“I was skiing on Mount Werner this winter when I heard people speaking Portuguese, but I resisted (the impulse) to approach them,” she said.
A recent trip to a state real estate convention in Vail reinforced her instinct that now is a good time to position Steamboat to receive international buyers.
Erickson said Michael Driver, director of international marketing at the Colorado Tourism Office, told the group that Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Brazil are the top nations in terms of generating international visitors to Colorado.
In addition to the inaugural United Airlines flight from Tokyo on a 787 Dreamliner near the end of next ski season, Driver pointed out to his audience that there now is new direct service from Denver to Iceland.
The top buyers for the Reykjavik flight are from Paris, Amsterdam and Copenhagen, Driver was reported as saying by Erickson.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com