Mountain Real Estate Starting To Rebound; 'Lifestyle Choices' Drive Market
Real Estate properties at most mountain resorts saw a precipitous drop in sales prices and activity levels since the peak in 2006 and 2007-2008 economic downturn. But, things look like they’re starting to improve.
A SnoCountry.com sampling of mountain real estate trends finds the resort-property market is modestly rebounding with some areas and properties further along than others. Today’s buyers are mostly user-owners, with investors or “flippers” now rare. Buyers are making lifestyle choices.
Crystal Mountain, Michigan’s real estate activity has come back since the 2008 downturn, when a 30-35 percent drop was seen in prices, Nancy Mullen Call, associate broker at Crystal Mountain Realty, told SnoCountry.com.
“Prices climbed substantially in 2006 and 2007. Properties are now generally in the same price range as in 2004," she said.
A furnished, 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, top-of-the-mountain townhome currently goes for $325,000 to $345,000. A fractional (quarter ownership) three-bedroom cottage in the heart of the resort sells for $199,900 to $146,900.
“Big Sky’s market (Montana) overall has rebounded substantially in prices and volume,” Brian Wheeler, the resort’s director of real estate told us. Single-family homes sales volume rose 37 percent with medium price up 16 percent. Condo and townhome volume rose 10 percent, median price 42 percent. While land sales dipped, prices were up.
At the Midwest’s Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands, “prices continue to slowly get better, neighborhood by neighborhood. However, some properties -- waterfront and ski-in/out townhomes -- are back to pre-2008 prices,” but mostly it’s still “a buyer’s market with no new product currently being developed,” says Boyne’s Steve Matthews, director of real estate and development.
While ski-in/out townhouses are selling in the $300,000 to $400,000 range, most products are substantially below peak pricing. The best values are condo-hotel units ($100,000-$300,000 for studio to three-bedroom whole ownership) which have very good rents, occupancy rates, and rental yields and are half 2008 prices. A number of lenders are keeping loans in house and interest rates are good, Matthews said.
Lake Tahoe, Calif. area “prices are within 10 percent of the 2006 peak market wide with luxury home pricing even closer to peak,” Jeff Brown, principal broker with Tahoe Mountain Resorts Real Estate told SnoCountry.com. There’s currently a boom in luxury-home construction, particularly around Northstar.
“There’s not much ski in/out property except at privately owned ski areas so it commands high prices,” he explains, adding that year-to-date sales for $1 million-plus properties equal 2013; $2 million-plus sales surpassed 2013; and $5-$10 million (true ski-in or lakefront) are in limited supply but doing very well.
Phil Dodd, editor of the Vermont Property Owners Report, said sales are up in ski towns but prices vary with Stowe being “a market doing better than most.”
Stowe’s single-family home sales rose 20 percent over 2013 and median prices increased from $360,000 to $473,500. Condo sales volume is up 67 percent. Median prices are down 16 percent.
Statewide, ski condo prices have been falling and single-family home prices are down from 2008. Sales volume is above 2008 and while days on the market peaked in 2012, they’ve dropped but still take longer to sell. There are exceptions, Dodd said, saying one broker sold two houses within 10 days of listing in Killington.
Killington condo inventory dropped from 200 to 85 listings, and Ludlow (Okemo) saw condo sales double this year, Dodd said, noting, “Some real bargains are being snapped up.”
“Sugarloaf and Sunday River are seeing substantial increases in business levels and demand. In the last three years there has been a slow but steady improvement in values with most pricing a year away from 2006-07 values,” reports Mark Hall, vice president development for operator Boyne Resorts.
Photos: Top -- Alpine Village at Boyne Highlands, Mich.; Left -- Luxury property at Constellation, Northstar