Catamount sales pick up in Steamboat |

Catamount sales pick up in Steamboat

December rush at neighborhood redefines market

— Perceptions of the Steamboat Springs real estate market changed forever 12 years ago, when the developers of Catamount Ranch & Club began offering golf course lots just south of city limits for more than half a million dollars.

Those prices were unheard of at the time, Realtor Darlinda Baldinger agreed, but people who made original purchases in 1999 have seen their investment grow and hold value even in a down economy.

"Everyone thought people were crazy back then," Baldinger said. "In hindsight, it's become a phenomenal community. We still have annual parties, and everyone in Pleasant Valley is invited."

An 8.79-acre lot that sold for $517,500 in '99 was valued for taxes at $1.4 million two years ago, and another comprising 7.85 acres that sold for $877,500 now is valued for taxes at $1.7 million. Those values captured the peak of the market at the last assessment, and it remains to be seen how 2011 tax bills due to arrive in early 2012 reflect changing comps in Catamount. The development has not been immune to foreclosures.

Catamount is two distinct neighborhoods, one at the golf course and the other at Lake Catamount, several miles south at the base of Rabbit Ears Pass.

Baldinger attributes a recent burst of activity at Lake Catamount to the scarcity of listings.

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"As recently as there were quite a few listings on the market, it changed and they sold," she said. "There's only one house for sale at the lake now and four cabins."

Baldinger lives in one of the cabins, and as a member of the board of the Catamount Metro District, she's well situated to keep tabs on that finite market.

Catamount had been relatively quiet through the first 11 months of 2010, with two sales for a combined $3.83 million. Baldinger said she finished the year with more than $10 million in sales at Catamount. She brought the buyer to a bank-owned home on the golf course that sold for $2.999 million in mid-September from a list price of $3.057 million. Ryan Stafford, of High Mountain Sotheby's International Realty, listed it.

"The buyers called me in response to my newspaper ad in the Steamboat Pilot for another house in Catamount," she said. "They weren't sure about that house, but I showed them the Martell house, and they loved it. They've since done some remodeling and plan to redo all of the landscaping in the spring. That's good work for some local people."

Pam Vanatta, broker co-owner at Prudential Steamboat Realty, has several homes listed for sale at the golf course, but when Catamount came alive last month, she and Baldinger collaborated on the Dec. 17 sale of a lake home on a smaller lot in a neighborhood where parcels originally zoned for cabins were re-platted to allow single-family homes now known as the Cottages.

Vanatta was the listing broker on the home on Lakeside Trail that sold for $2.4 million. Steamboat contractor Jim Comeau originally built it for a development team that included Jon Peddie, Stephan Baden and Dave McDonald. Baldinger and associate Chloe Lawrence brought the buyer to the sale. The house had sold for $3.4 million in 2007.

Then, also in December, the two Realtors engineered the exchange of a cabin and a $3.925 million home at the lake. Baldinger said she also represented both sides of a pair of lot sales at Lake Catamount.

Vanatta said the sudden and cyclical nature of the sales spurt at Catamount has become typical of this market.

"That's how this market is going to be," she said. "There are buyers out there that are feeling they are going to miss opportunities, because when they're gone, they're gone. It's still about price, and people want the best — they're getting it, and there's a lot of inventory, but we're absorbing the best of them, and soon we'll be working with properties that are harder to sell, but they are going to sell, too.

"I saw this years ago at The Sanctuary. It's a revolving door."

She has two homes listed for sale on Catamount Drive at the golf course, both of which have been on the market for an extended time. The 9,792-square-foot Acanthus House sits on 9 acres and is listed for $6.25 million. The Covered Bridge House, built in 2003, overlooks the seventh fairway and is priced at $5.9 million. At 11,500 square feet, the asking price on a per-square-foot basis is $513.

Baldinger and Vanatta, who often find themselves on one side or the other of high-end real estate deals, agree that Catamount is something of a micro market where scarcity of properties for sale support the prices.

"It's so rare to find a golf course like that surrounded by only 16 lots," Baldinger said. "The reason people pick Steamboat compared to other towns in the area is that we're a community first. It's almost more important now than ever."

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