Mark Seltenrich and Bridgett Murphy, Directors for the Park City Board of REALTORS®, recently returned from the annual winter meeting for the Rocky Mountain Resort Alliance (RMRA) held in 2008 at Winter Park, Colorado. There were three sessions over the two days of meetings, including a panel discussion from representatives from Winter Park, Vail, Jackson Hole and Sun Valley, a panel discussion from representatives of the respective Boards of REALTORS® for all resorts attending, and a RMRA business meeting. As you might expect, sales numbers and volume are down in 2008 compared with 2007 at all member resorts. Most resorts are experiencing the same conditions as we are here in Park City, although some are a little worse off and others are better. While final numbers were not available for the winter meeting, trends and percentages reported below will be close. Look for final year end statistics from all resorts in February. Highlights of the meeting and perhaps interesting facts follow:
Grand County, CO (Winter Park)
Intrawest entered a long term lease agreement with the City of Denver to run the Winter Park Resort and develop the base facilities. They have spent $40 million in the past four years developing a village at the base of Winter Park Mountain (two mountains make up the resort – Winter Park and Mary Jane), and are in the last stages of selling residential units (condos) and leasing commercial space. They don’t foresee any new development in the near term, and in fact are looking at a new (different) model than they have used in the past at resorts such as Whistler, Copper Mountain and Mount Tremblant although they don’t know what that is at this point. Intrawest is attempting to drive more destination resort business to the area trying to transition from a ski area to a ski resort, but realize the resort is the closest major ski area to the Front Range cities, and that “weekender” business and condo owner will always make up a large share of the activity. Sister resorts in Colorado include Copper Mountain and Steamboat Springs. The area has been severely impacted by the pine beetle, and much of the lodgepole pine forest is dead or dying. The Grand County real estate market is off about 60% in 2008 compared to 2007, and there is a fairly large amount of standing developer product that is not selling, as well as a number of projects that are approved accounting for about 1500-2000 units of density that are on hold for the time being. There are some short sales and foreclosures.
Summit County, CO (Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain)
Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basin and Keystone along with Vail and Beaver Creek are all owned by Vail Associates. For the past several years they have offered a season’s pass in the low $400 range that allowed limited skiing at Vail along with unlimited skiing at Breckinridge, Keystone and Beaver Creek. This season they have offered the Epic Pass which allows unlimited skiing at all the Vail Resorts (including Heavenly Valley in Lake Tahoe) for $579. This pass was available for anyone including non-Colorado residents. This has increased weekend traffic, especially at Vail. Interestingly, day pass prices at many of the Colorado resorts, including Winter Park, are well over $90/day. Improvements at Breckenridge include a new high speed lift that is the highest lift in North America with a top elevation of 12,840 feet. Interested parties are doing initial planning for a high-end condohotel at the base of Breckenridge but the land in question is owned by Vail Resorts and at this point they are not too interested. Real estate sales are well down from the previous year, with practically no sales of vacant land. To give an example of the current market, in the last couple of years there were no homes on the market under $275,000, and as of the first of the year there were 175 for sale at that price or less.
Vail, CO (Vail and Beaver Creek)
Major issues surrounding Vail continue to be affordable housing, parking and transportation. 78% of all residential units in Vail are second homes, pushing “real” people down valley. As for transportation issues, Vail pass was closed 43 times in the winter of ’07-’08, causing huge traffic backups. When the pass is open, there is not enough parking so cars end up parking everywhere. It could even be worse this year with the above mentioned Epic Pass. If you are early enough to get a spot in one of the parking garages, it will cost $25+ for the day. Vail real estate keeps churning along, with sales over $2 billion for the fourth year in a row. Vail’s highest dollar volume year was 2007, reaching almost $3 billion in sales, and without yearend figures, it looks like 2008 will be about 25% below that. A fair amount of that dollar volume was the closing on new projects which were put under contract in previous years. This includes very high dollar product, with average sales prices coming in over $2200 per square foot. Solaris, currently under construction in the village, is currently listed at nearly $3000/ft. Other high end projects include Vail Mountainview Residences, Four Seasons, The Arrabelle, Tower Residences and the Ritz-Carlton Residences. Active listings as of the first of the year were just over 2000, which is up from previous years. Current Vail BOR membership is at 774 members, down just 36 from a year ago.
Continued on Part 2.
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