Sotheby’s Steamboat office prospers in difficult economy
Small Steamboat Springs real estate brokerage sees growth
December 5, 2010
Steamboat Springs — One of Steamboat Springs' smaller real estate brokerages has found a way to prosper and even grow during the past 20 months as the market stagnated.
Bruce Carta, of Land Title Guarantee Co., reported this week that Routt County's 2010 transaction volume through October stood at 1,645 sales compared with 2,685 through October 2005 and 3,021 through October 2006, when transaction (not dollar) volume peaked in Routt County. The net result is that there have been fewer commissions to go around.
Ted Hoffman, of High Mountain Sotheby's International Realty, said last week that his office, with seven Realtors until recently, has exceeded its expectations this year.
"We hit all our targets this year," Hoffman said. "Transaction volume was more than three times, closer to four times what it was last year. And our average sales price was just over $1 million."
Hoffman and partner Mark Brooks, who is a London-based accountant, bought the brokerage in April 2009, with the recession in full swing. They moved the office from a suite on Steamboat's south side to a smaller location at 708 Lincoln Ave.
"We were well-capitalized going into last year, and we've been able to keep expenses reasonable," Hoffman said.
Although he has not been involved in the real estate office on a daily basis, Brooks is an invaluable source of guidance, Hoffman said.
High Mountain Sotheby's is interested in working with well-priced listings at any level, but the Sotheby's brand stands for a high level of service for buyers of luxury properties, and Hoffman expects that will continue to be the strength of his office.
The changes at High Mountain Sotheby's include affiliation with three new broker/associates and the naming of five partners in the business, most selected from within the firm. Ben Weaver has joined Sotheby's as director of property management.
The partners include Charlie Dresen, one of the new brokers who left Prudential Steamboat Realty to join High Mountain Sotheby's. Others are veteran Steamboat Realtors Tom and Marci Valicenti, developer Stephen Zytell and Kristi Hoffman.
The other new broker/associates are Aimee Nagel and Alexa Nachtweih, formerly on the sales team with Resort Ventures West.
Hoffman was particularly pleased to land a veteran broker in Dresen.
"In a market like this, we have to be very focused on the needs of our clients, and obviously, for investment-minded people, the appreciation model has changed," Hoffman said. "We're working with more (vacation home) users and very few investors, which to me is really healthy and more fulfilling."
Broadening the base
The arrival of Weaver at High Mountain Sotheby's signals the maturation of an initiative begun by Kristi Hoffman almost two years ago. Weaver began his hospitality career with Hilton Hotels, working his way up from a job as a bellman during summers while in college to guest services manager at the former downtown Embassy Suites in Denver and ultimately front desk manager. Most recently, he spent five years with Mountain Resorts.
Ted Hoffman said it was part of his original business plan when he bought the business to add boutique property management services to add a revenue stream and generate in-house referrals.
"We have approximately 15 properties including vacation homes, a few long-term rentals and a few caretaker contracts," he said. Ultimately, he would like to have no more than 20 management contracts in each category.
"Property management will always be a smaller portion of our overall business, but we feel there is a great niche opportunity there," Hoffman said.
Weaver said the high level of service High Mountain Sotheby's aspires to isn't just for guests, but also is for property owners. If they succeed in achieving that goal, they hope to generate real estate sales leads.
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