Offers at Sunray Meadows signal market changes in Steamboat |

Offers at Sunray Meadows signal market changes in Steamboat

— Realtor Lisa Ruffino has been tracking sales at the 136-unit Sunray Meadows condominium project on Village Drive for eight years and has seen it evolve from stalled construction project to red-hot seller's market to "distressed city" and now, finally, to a property with increasing demand.

"I've seen 13 short sales there, and I have another one closing on Monday, but I never even listed it because I have a buyer already lined up," Ruffino said Thursday.

The two-bedroom, two-bathroom condos with garages that have been in demand at distressed prices below $200,000 are suddenly gone, and multiple offers are driving up the prices modestly for bank-owned units, she said.

Cindy MacGray, Ruffino's colleague at Prudential Steamboat Realty, said she closed the sale of one of the smallest two-bedrooms April 18 for $205,000, and there were three competing offers for the 959-square-foot unit that had last sold for $410,000 in July 2007. BankUnited was asking $189,000 for the condo.

"I think people have seen tremendous value in the projects, and when prices went under $200,000, it started to fly. I'm not saying we're at the bottom of the market, but in that particular product that's been the bottom," MacGray said.

Ruffino said she's not aware of any more distressed two-bedroom units coming on the market and said she thinks the distressed properties have worked themselves out at Sunray.

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MacGray said there are four active Sunray listings, including a pair of one-bedroom units at $165,000 and $190,000 that are probably overpriced compared with the last sales prices for two-bedroom units. There is also a pair of two-bedroom units listed for prices greater than $300,000.

"Those folks apparently aren't motivated sellers," MacGray said.

Ruffino, who had competing offers on a Sunray unit in early February that sold for $220,000, said it would be interesting to see what happens with any new two-bedroom condos that come on the market in that project.

"Anyone who hasn't already bought may have missed the boat in terms of $200,000 two-bedrooms," she said.

The story began in 2003

The project, about three-quarters of a mile from the Steamboat Ski Area gondola, got its start in 2003. Wintergreen Homes, which had successfully developed the Villas at Walton Creek and Quail Run projects just to the west on Whistler Road, experimented with a modular project in the first building at Sunray.

The first units that were delivered by truck were not as complete as the contracts and government approvals had called for. The result was a construction stoppage of more than a year. After the delay, the company switched to stick-built construction for the majority of the 136 units in the 16-building project.

The developers also made certain that the original modular units were brought up to the same quality, Ruffino added.

Significantly, the 18-month delay in construction allowed the project to incubate and values to rise as the Steamboat market heated up.

"We started marketing in 2003, but the project wasn't finished until 2008," Ruffino said. "We closed the first and second buildings in February and March 2005 and closed the third and fourth buildings in May and June of 2006."

One buyer in the second phase ended up having two closings in a single day, the first to buy, the second to sell a Sunray unit, and cleared $50,000.

Ruffino closed the sale of a top-floor unit she owned for $445,000 in September 2007.

She continues to own two Sunray units, one she bought in fall 2007 for $280,900 (it was a developer sale that had been under contract for about a year), and another she bought for $325,000.

"I just refinanced it, and I'm ready to hold on to it," she said.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email

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