Ski Resort Real Estate Markets Making a Comeback

Hello from snowy Crested Butte!

The story of this year’s ski season? Lift ticket sales are up, jets are flying skiers to our resort and the snow is stacking up everywhere. The resort received another 12 inches of snow just before New Year’s Eve giving CBMR a season-to-date total of over 15 feet of the white gold. Even the Weather Channel took notice, ranking Crested Butte in the Top 5 for America’s Snowiest Cities.

Ski Resort Business Improving
The Gunnison Country Times reported last week that Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) sales numbers were trending upward compared to 2009. According to a resort sales executive, lift ticket sales were up 5.2 percent for December and up 7 percent year to date. Season pass sales are up about 26 percent from last year. Lodging reservations during the month of December were up about 13 percent vs. last year, and are up 10.4 percent through the remainder of the season. Another key ski resort metric, booked airline seats, is looking better too. Through mid-December, total airline seats sold were up 6.6 percent from the same time last year, with increases over 2009 for every month but April and November. And, group sales at the resort are picking up too. The private group business is experiencing an approximate 35 percent gain over last year, with large group visits and events like the Texas Ski Council planned for later in the season.

Colorado Ski Resort Real Estate Doing Better
Ski resort towns around Colorado experienced better real estate sales activity in 2010.  Discounted real estate offerings caused sales to pick up speed in places like Steamboat, Aspen, Vail, Summit County and here in Crested Butte and the rest of Gunnison County the sales volume reached $119 million in 2010.

2010 Real Estate Sales Volume by Colorado Counties with Ski Resorts

Pitkin County*
Eagle County*
Summit County*
Glenwood Springs
Garfield County
Crested Butte
Gunnison County
Steamboat Springs
$1.02 billion
$1.27 billion
$567 million
$191 million
$119 million
$193 million
*Thru October 2010, Source: Land Title Guaranty Company and Local MLS, Assessor Information

Resort Real Estate Making a Comeback, Buyer Types Shifting According To Survey
Contrary to some folk’s belief, the ski resort real estate market is not dead. According to a key real estate industry report, resort real estate markets are staging a comeback. The most recent edition of the Kelsey & Norden Resort Real Estate Survey reveals some very interesting facts about consumer buying trends and new attitudes toward second home and vacation home purchases. According to theKelseyNorden survey, “resort real estate shoppers are buying again and there is a strong emergence of younger buyers.” Resort real estate pros across the country believe prices will continue to be discounted 30 to 40 percent for the next two to three years, to move existing high levels of inventory.” The detailed report details how “buyers, for their part, are budgeting more carefully. They are willing to trade down on unit size and services, and exclusivity is not as important as in the past. Buyers simply won’t accept high carrying costs, in particular association (HOA) and management fees. And they are seeking second homes, not vacation homes. They intend to use these homes often, to share quality experiences with family and friends.”

Generation X
Of particular interest and relevance to our youthful, energetic, community-driven Crested Butte area? Generation X’ers and younger people are replacing Baby Boomers as serious, ready resort real estate buyers. Generation X comprises almost one-half of the current buying population, and they are aware of the discounted price opportunities and they seem to be taking advantage. The survey also reveals that “Generation X buyers draw a distinction between vacation homes and second homes. They don’t see their resort property as a place for vacation; they think of it as an extension of their home lives—they want it to be part of raising their famiilies, connected to the community.”

Today’s Buyers Reject High Carrying Costs, Vacant Land is Harder to Sell
The sensitivity to ongoing carrying costs is immense. Both the survey and feedback from developers indicate this is the biggest obstacle to successful resort real estate sales today. There is major frustration with a property’s infrastructure that creates ongoing monthly HOA fees, and a perception of a lack of control with clubs, homeowner’s associations, and master-planned communities.

Additionally, the survey reveals what many of us already know here in Crested Butte. Vacant lots will continue to be a hard sell. People want to buy an existing home. Most of the standing inventory in Crested Butte is vacant land, so sellers and developers will continue to deal with a very challenging climate in 2011.

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Channing Boucher
Broker Associate
Benson Sotheby’s International Realty

Contact Channing at 970-596-3228 or via his website.
Channing’s Blog: The Crested Butte Real Estate Letter

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