Routt County real estate market sees best month of the year | SteamboatToday.com

Routt County real estate market sees best month of the year

— Thanks to a rare winter storm front brewed up by growing sales of condominium intervals, an unexpected $26.7 million sale of mineral rights, and the steady closings of luxury condos put under contract in 2007, the Routt County real estate market in November saw its best month in a year that has tried the perseverance of the industry here.

November's dollar volume was $89,994,700, representing 237 percent of the November 2008 volume and putting last month's total slightly ahead of November 2007, according to research by Bruce Carta, of Land Title Guarantee Co., in Steamboat Springs.

The local market received a jolt of energy Thursday when One Steamboat Place closed $12 million in new condominium sales, including $8.47 million in whole ownership transactions. Most of the contracts on those sales were written in 2007.

Last month's expanded dollar volume was not based primarily on sales of residential housing units generated by contracts written in the preceding weeks.

Pardee Resources, of Philadelphia, announced Nov. 23 the acquisition of a 50 percent interest in an estimated 19 million tons of coal reserves in Northwest Colorado for $20.68 million in cash and $6 million in debt.

The mineral rights transaction was recorded in the Routt County Assessor's Office but is not a typical real estate purchase.

The coal is being leased and mined by Peabody Energy at its Twentymile Coal Co. underground mine in Routt County. A Peabody spokesperson said this week that the transaction would have no effect on its operations. Pardee officials say they expect the coal reserve to generate significant earnings for the company during the next 3.5 years.

Sales of intervals in new condominium projects, some for high-end buyers and some targeting middle-class markets, also contributed $15 million to November's totals.

Closings of Vacation Club membership at One Steamboat Place, set to open early next month, began late in November and racked up $9.645 million, with more closings continuing at a steady pace into the first two weeks of December. The average Vacation Club sales price at One Steamboat Place last month was greater than $459,000, Carta reported.

The Wyndham Vacation Ownership property, The Village at Steamboat, contributed a little more than $5 million on 37 transactions averaging $136,000 in November. Year to date, interval/fractional sales have contributed $34.6 million to countywide dollar volume of $356.58 million through the 11th month of 2009.

First Tracks gets 2nd look

Trailhead Lodge closed about $4 million in whole-ownership sales in November, said Kerry Shea, Resort Ventures West director of sales and marketing. He acknowledged that each closing at Trailhead is proving labor-intensive as the

developers work to help buyers secure financing and close.

"Fortunately, we're seeing a very stable progression through the process of closing the pre-construction contracts," Shea said.

Resort Ventures West has been further buoyed, Shea said, by growing interest among Front Range buyers for the formerly deed-restricted condominiums at First Tracks. A marketing campaign targeting those buyers has resulted in 300 inquiries leading to nine closings and 10 more contracts. The modest condominiums originally were built to satisfy city of Steamboat Springs affordable housing requirements, which since have been modified in the wake of the recessionary economy.

Now, Shea said, full market buyers are attracted to their proximity to the luxury units at Trailhead, and some prospective buyers are looking at both properties.

One Steamboat Place also boosted whole-ownership residential sales volume in NovĀ­ember, with $15.2 million attributable to the sale of four condominiums. The breakdown of individual condo transactions was: $4.4 million, $4.2 million, $3.75 million and $2.85 million.

A total of 48 residential property sales closed in November, including 16 valued at less than $300,000 and another 11 priced between $300,000 and $500,000. There were four transactions between $800,000 and $900,000 and six between $1 million and $1.5 million. It was quiet in the range between $1.5 million and $3 million, with just two closings, including one of the One Steamboat Place condominiums.

David Baldinger Jr., a principal in Steamboat Village Brokers, said the millions of dollars in closings at One Steamboat Place and Trailhead Lodge, although they represent two-year-old contracts, are contributing to renewed interest among other buyers.

"I've been very busy this week with appointments, showing condos and townhomes," Baldinger said. "It's primarily people interested in second homes. I think there's a lot more optimism out there. Some of them don't have to sell an existing property in order to buy."

A significant number of his showings this month have involved existing customers who are familiar with the Steamboat market and see an opportunity to move up to a nicer, larger vacation home.

So far, the recent spate of showings hasn't translated into bona fide deals, Baldinger said.

"I spent two hours showing property today to a man who said he'd be back with his wife after the new year," he said Thursday.

Baldinger said he thinks that with time, the renewed traffic from people looking at real estate will evolve into contracts.

"This isn't normally a very busy time of year, and I'm certainly busier than last year at this time and busier than last summer. Contacts, Web hits, showings and walk-ins are all up. I think we'll see growing sales through the winter, piece by piece. I don't know the timeline, but I know it's happening."