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2018's Top 3 Colorado Ski Town Investments

Plus, Telluride to marry Vail?


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Although the snow has been the worst in 60 years for many Colorado resorts, there is still plenty of snow up top and real estate continues to move forward. A big change was recently announced: Telluride is joining Vail's Epic Pass and Aspen/KSI is rolling out the Ikon pass to rival Vail Resorts. All this will impact Colorado mountain town investments. What are the best Colorado ski town investments for 2018?

To refresh, my top picks for last year were Winterpark, Crested Butte and Nederland (near Eldora in Boulder county). All performed well in 2017 and look to be continuing that streak into 2018.

TELLURIDE MARRIES VAIL

Maybe marriage is a little strong, but Telluride is now in bed with Vail and their Epic Pass. This is a major change since last year, Telluride was connected with the Rocky Mountain Collective –  a competitor to Vail's Epic Pass. The industry consolidation is now on super-drive with two major players gunning for resorts either through partnerships or acquisitions.

MAJOR SKI INDUSTRY CHANGES

To refresh: If you missed the news, there have been several purchases and mergers involving many Colorado ski resorts. Each will have a substantial impact on real estate in their respective markets. If the purchase of Eldora by Powdr corporation is indicative of the future, look for KSI (Aspen group) to put substantial money into Winterpark and Steamboat over the next several years.

  1. Aspen buys Winterpark and Steamboat (and more)
  2. Copper (Powdr Corp.) buys Eldora
  3. Purgatory is sold to James Coleman (local Durango resident)

In Colorado and throughout the country, the big are getting bigger and many of the smaller players won't survive.

A good example is Granby Rance, which is on the market with no major viable buyers. It would be ill-advised to buy in a market like Granby Ranch. Due to its size and location, it doesn't fit any need for the major resort operators.

WHAT ARE THE TOP 3 COLORADO SKI TOWN INVESTMENTS FOR 2018?

1. STEAMBOAT SPRINGS

Since the announcement last year that Aspen/KSI was buying Steamboat, the market has been on fire. There is no inventory under $1 million and supply is severely constrained. Steamboat is a unique market that is growing exponentially in the summertime as well. It is substantially undervalued compared to places like Vail and therefore more attractive to many buyers. The market should continue to appreciate nicely as supply is nonexistent and demand continues to increase. The announcement of the purchase of the resort should spur continued investment in the base area as well.

2. DURANGO

Durango is just south of Purgatory (Durango Mountain) and is a well-educated, progressive mountain town. You can also get to world-class skiing at Wolf Creek, which is about 80 miles away. The city has done an excellent job reinvigorating the downtown core with restaurants, bars, etc. It is an outdoor mecca consistently ranked in various reports as a top small town city and ranked in Outside Magazine as one of the top outdoor playgrounds in the U.S. Durango presents value relative to the glitzier Front Range resorts. As Durango continues to be discovered prices will further appreciate.

3. GLENWOOD SPRINGS

Although not a ski town per se, Glenwood is the Gateway to the Roaring Fork Valley including Aspen and Snowmass. Glenwood just completed a massive downtown revitalization project replacing the main bridge off I-70 and linking the downtown corridor across the river. It is the last "affordable" town in the valley. This area will continue to appreciate as the "upvalley locations" continue to price everyone out. It is a very walkable and livable town.

LOCATION IS KEY

In any mountain town/ski town location is key to success in real estate. For example, in Steamboat there are four unique markets – the mountain base, between mountain and downtown, the downtown core and west side of town.) Values and appreciation rates are different for each of these markets. When you are looking at real estate in any of the mountain towns make sure you understand fully the submarkets that are driving values since not all areas are equal. For example, on the west side, values are limited to around $1 million and less, in the mid-mountain and mountain areas houses are going north of $5 million.

HOW CAN A COLORADO HARD MONEY LOAN HELP WITH YOUR SKI TOWN INVESTMENT?

Every year, I write the list of best ski town investments from personal experience. I spend considerable "windshield" time looking at transactions in both the Front Range and various ski towns throughout the state of Colorado. Each mountain town is unique with its own submarkets. Understanding these submarkets is the key to real estate success.

This intimate knowledge of the various ski towns in Colorado allows us to understand the uniqueness of each submarket to structure a transaction that fits your needs.  Furthermore, all three of the markets above are “hot” markets with limited inventory. Time is one of the most important factors in getting a transaction closed.    We can close transactions in 5-10 days.  We can also lend on properties that don’t qualify for traditional financing like nightly rentals/ condos that can’t qualify for government loans and have made loans on many commercial properties that don’t fit bank guidelines.  For example, we loaned on a partially occupied commercial property in Telluride that had an outstanding location but couldn’t cash flow for traditional bank financing.  As you are looking at the mountain communities and have questions feel free to contact me.

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Glen Weinberg

Glen Weinberg is and owner and the chief operating officer of Fairview Commercial Lending, a privately funded hard money lender based in Evergreen.  Fairview has been lending since 1975 He is recognized throughout the industry as a leader in hard money/non-traditional real estate financing on both residential and commercial transactions throughout Colorado. More information on Colorado hard money loans can be found at www.fairviewlending.com  Reach him at 303.459.6061 or glen@fairviewlending.com

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