Want a luxury home in Summit County? $1 million won’t cut it

It's hard to find a luxury home for $1 million. Luxury homes like this one on Tarnwood Court in Breckenridge are typically at least $2 million.
Photo from Leah Canfield / Virtuance Real Estate

FRISCO — It’s no secret that luxury means something different in resort communities like Summit County. 

In many areas, luxury real estate is defined as anything priced over $1 million. However, resort areas like Breckenridge, Vail and Aspen have many properties priced far above that number. In Summit County, the 2020 year-to-date average sale price of a single-family home is $1.2 million, according to Land Title Guarantee Co.’s April sales report.

“Home prices can go all the way to over $10 million in Breckenridge for a ski-in and ski-out newer home,” said Leah Canfield, an agent at Coldwell Banker Mountain Properties. “But there’s a lot more inventory in certain pricing segments depending on what area you’re in.”

In Summit County, what a person can get for $1 million varies. In general, it’s cheaper to live in Silverthorne and Dillon, Canfield said. In June, both Dillon and Silverthorne had listings for four-bed, three-bath single-family homes priced at about $1.06 million.

In Breckenridge and Frisco, $1 million is likely to get you a condo or townhome, Canfield said. A three-bed, 3 1/2-bath townhome in Frisco was listed at $998,000 while a two-bed, two-bath, ski-in, ski-out condo in Breckenridge is just shy of that at $995,000. 

However, local Realtors aren’t likely to consider those properties as “luxury,” the definition of which ranges from Realtor to Realtor and from area to area. 

“Locals housing goes infrequently above $1 million but in general to $1 million,” said Jack Wolfe, broker at LIV Sotheby’s realty in Breckenridge. 

Wolfe and his partner Aniela Wasmanski said anything above $2 million is considered “high-end luxury” to them. 

Canfield defines luxury in Breckenridge to be at least $2.5 million.

Marco Del Zotto, broker at High Elevation Realty in Evergreen, said a luxury property in Summit County is likely to be $1.4 million, but that number rises for single-family homes, which he put at $1.8 million.

Del Zotto, who also sells properties in Denver, Lakewood, Golden and Evergreen, said luxury can be cheaper in other markets. For example, a luxury home in downtown Denver would go for $1.5 million and $1.2 million in the foothills. 

“It’s a little bit cheaper to be in the foothills than it is to be downtown, but that can shift very drastically if you go into areas like Belmar or Lakewood because then the price drops exponentially,” he said. 

However, Realtors agreed that $1 million goes much further in Summit County than surrounding resort markets.

“Over in Vail, $1 million will buy you a nice one-bedroom condominium in Vail Village,” Wolfe said. “At $1 million, you’d have to go down to Eagle Ranch or even Gypsum to find a single-family home.”

When selling a luxury home, Realtors find what’s unique about a property, like this fire pit at a home on Preston Way in Breckenridge.
Virtuance Real Estate/Courtesy of Leah Canfield

Selling luxury

Selling a luxury home is no easy task. It takes a lot of preparation. For Wasmanski and Wolfe, that means inspecting every inch of the house so there are no surprises. 

“We don’t want to waste anyone’s time, including ours,” she said. “If we’re informing people as much as we can and we’re informed, we can strike when the iron’s hot, and we have everything ready. That’s our goal: always to be prepared.”

Canfield said she takes a very similar approach. She looks at what features are unique to the house and the land. 

“When we’re looking at listing and selling a luxury home, we spend a lot of energy ahead of time talking about what makes this home unique,” she said. “Once we gather all of that information, we’re able to develop a marketing plan that highlights those items.”

Presentation is another major factor when it comes to selling luxury homes. Realtors put extra time into staging — decluttering and cleaning the homes so they look immaculate at a showing or open house. 

“One of the biggest things people love about owning a home in the mountains is seeing outdoors and being a part of the outdoors, so (we make) sure it presents itself that way,” Wasmanski said.

Lately, Realtors have been relying more heavily on virtual tools to sell luxury properties while restrictions due to the novel coronavirus make listings more difficult. Wolfe and Canfield use Matterport, a virtual reality tool that allows potential buyers to guide themselves through a property from the comfort of their own home. 

“We sold two properties last year sight unseen,” Wolfe said. “People were buying it off of the quality photography, the virtual tours.”

Del Zotto said selling luxury is about more than just the property.

“When you’re selling luxury, you create a story for that property,” he said. “That’s what buyers look for; they don’t look for just the price range or just a specific location. They look to fall in love with the place.”

Editor’s note: This story previously published in the July/August edition of Summit County Home magazine.

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