Trend goes higher-end |

Trend goes higher-end

Kimberly Nicoletti

How about $3.4 million? Yes, you can buy a gorgeous five-bedroom, 9,600-square-foot house full of large windows that open up magnificent views, and its a short pitch to slide down to the base of Peak 8.But what would you pay for 1,200 more square-feet, even closer to the Peak 8 run a home with incredible views; a granite-adorned kitchen with three sinks, three dishwashers and a dual range with a mossrock hood vent; a system that controls the shades, seven gas fireplaces, music, lighting, temperature and snow-melt zones; Venetian plaster walls with an Old World look; barrel-vaulted hallways; walnut floors; a rooftop deck; a full bar downstairs; a custom wine cellar; a fully-loaded home theater that seats 13 in overstuffed leather chairs; and a four-story elevator. Wait did we mention the hidden passageways? Those are just some highlights of a home Realtor Casey Kellermann, of Slifer, Smith & Frampton in Breckenridge, aptly calls The Castle of Breckenridge. It wins the prize for the most expensive home on the market during Summit Countys 2006-07 season; its $7 million.But what if you simply want a ski-in, ski-out condo? Well, there were four new one- and two-bedroom condos for less than $1 million at Peak 7 in Breckenridge, called Crystal Peak Lodge. But most ranged from $1 million to $2 million approximately $928 per square foot. Within a couple weeks of their initial offering, two-thirds of the units sold, Kellermann said.The high square-footage price helps other million-dollar-plus sales, because as Kellermann pointed out, when people look at a $1 million home that averages $300 a square foot (which, of course, wouldnt be a ski-in, ski-out), it looks like a deal. For example, in Silverthornes Eagles Nest golf course community, plenty of million-plus dollar homes are selling and they arent even golf-in, golf-out homes.And in the $800,000 to $2 million range, 189 single-family homes sold in 2006; the majority were in Breckenridge (116). On Dec. 21, there were 162 single-family homes for sale in Summit County in that price range, which Realtor Dan Burnett with Summit Resort Group in Dillon saw as a good sign, because more than that number sold in 2006.Four years ago, a search in that price range would have shown a three- to four-year backlog of high-priced homes, meaning that 100 might sell in a year, but there would be 400 on the market, Burnett said. Keystones River Run suffered from a gluttony of newly-built, high-priced condos that werent moving a couple of years ago, but the market changed, and the condos sold.(Keystone real estate) agents made a bucket of money (in 2006), Burnett said. And prices are going to go up in the next 10 years because the backlog has moved out, and Vail Resorts pumped millions of dollars into Keystone.Whats going on?Kellermann said the primary reason real estate prices are rising so quickly involves rapidly disappearing vacant land. He predicts that within four to six years, Summit County wont have any vacant land. As a result, lot prices keep increasing. On the low end, lots cost a bit below $200,000, but Kellermann said theres not many that cost less than $300,000. Other parcels are easily $500,000. When the lands price should cost approximately 25 percent of the homes value, developers must build million-dollar-plus houses.Soon, he said, real estate trends will parallel whats happening in Vail and Aspen, where people are buying older houses and tearing them down to build larger ones. Burnett, when asked if Summit County is headed toward outrageous Aspen and Vail real estate prices, said, were chasing it fast.Both Kellermann and Burnett think some homeowners are pulling out of Vail, where perhaps they bought a condo 15 years ago and now can trade it in for a large home in Summit County. Congestion in Aspen also may be causing people to move to Summit County, where 80 percent of the land is national forest, Burnett said. First-time mountain home-buyers may get sticker shock in Summit County, but when they take a look at Vail or Aspen, the decisions easy.The common denominator is people want to buy a family magnet a place where their family will want to come, Burnett said. Its better to have a four- to five-bedroom home here than a little condo in Vail or Aspen.Baby boomers, especially 55- to 65-year-olds, continue to move to Summit County, and now that the stock market is bouncing back, they have more money to buy higher-end homes, Burnett said. Kellermann said the top three regions his buyers come from are Texas, Chicagoland and Florida. Denver, California and the upper Northeast are the next top regions.The fact that Summit County is so close to Denver makes it desirable, and the number of ski resorts, the reservoir, golf courses and other recreational opportunities are a plus. But, what has made a huge impact on buyers especially older generations is the new hospital.In the 26 years that Ive been watching the real estate market, there has never been an economic engine the magnitude of the new hospital, Burnett said. Sixty- and 70-year-old people dont put millions into a house if theres no hospital nearby. If I had a dime for every time I lost a real estate deal because of not having a full-service hospital (in the past), Id be a rich person.

Kellermann agrees, saying his clients ask about the quality of the medical facilities in Summit County.Forecasting the trendIf you talked to Burnett a veteran Summit County Realtor a little more than a year ago, he would have cautioned you against owning a million-dollar-plus home.(The million-dollar-plus building trend) has looked really bleak for the past several years, but now its looking pretty good, he said. People who took a gamble and bought million-dollar properties theyre going to be fine, if nothing changes … but theres always going to be change in the world.

Burnett still feels cautious about, say, buying a $300,000 lot and building on it. Kellermann has so much faith in the rising market that he invested in property in October. Prior to his purchase, he watched land prices rise between 5 percent and 15 percent in a season. And no matter how skeptical Burnett may feel about high-end real estate increasing, hed like more. A year or two ago, it wasnt great to have multi-million dollar homes for sale, but for the foreseeable future I would like to have some more to sell, he said, adding that he recently sold the most expensive home in Frisco.

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