Home-buyer interest and price increases have exploded in mountain markets.

International Ski Destinations Have Seen Influx of Buyers

From Aspen to the Swiss Alps, buyers have been racing to buy.  The result?  Shrinking inventories and rising price as more and more buyers now have the flexibility to work remotely for longer periods of time.

Heather Sinclair, founder and managing partner of The Agency in Aspen CO, said, “We’re seeing some really big numbers trading in Aspen, and we have a lot of wealth and new buyers coming from all over the world.”

Last Summer’s Mountain Markets More Frenetic than This Summer’s

Stephanie Skinner with Glacier Sotheby’s International Realty in Whitefish Montana said, “There was more of a feeding frenzy…last summer versus this summer.  It’s (now) gotten to the point where buyers ae coming in and saying ‘let’s negotiate’ and they’re willing to walk away if the seller is just unrealistic.  That’s created a little correction.”

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Inventory Tight & Prices Remain High

Ski home inventory was and is chronically low.  Prices of ski homes, always comparatively high, have been pushed higher and higher over these now 19 pandemic months.  Raiflie Bass, an agent with Douglas Elliman in Aspen, said, “There’s not enough new inventory coming on, and I don’t see it loosening up.”

Buyers never want to buy at the top of the market to see prices correct or fall but there are some strategies to help buyers navigate uncertainties such as:

  • Buy location, location, location. In ski towns, that means buying property with easy access to the slopes and lifts.
  • In Europe, location also means analyzing the resort into which the client is buying.
    • Alex Koch de Gooreynd, a partner with Knight Frank who focuses on Swiss, Austrian and Portuguese markets, said, “Get answers for questions such as ‘What has the resort done to improve infrastructure locally? Is this truly a year-round resort, and if so, what is the resort doing (to encourage that)?  What are visitor numbers if the client intends to rent?’”
  • In both US and Europe, views are always important to buyers.

Look to Older Homes for Future Upside

Many luxury buyers gravitate toward newer homes having the most recent renovations and amenities.  However, Kate Everett-Allen, partner and residential researcher with Knight Frank and co-author of the firm’s 2021 ski report, said, “What our sales team is seeing is a sort of flight to quality…”

For buyers willing to renovate, older properties present an opportunity.  Brendan Trieb with Summit Sotheby’s International Realty in Park City UT said, “People who aren’t afraid of putting in sweat equity can go into an older space with great views and locations and put a modern twist on it.  That’s where you can find value right now.”

Consider Year-Round Seasonal Features

With more and more buyers spending longer and longer in ski towns, Trieb suggests looking at properties that can be used year-round.  That means properties in ski towns such as Telluride CO that have “full” spring, summer and fall seasons of music, film, art, ballooning, skydiving, biking and hiking, golf, tennis and full-functioning town amenities (restaurants, shopping, bakeries, etc.) in addition to skiing.

Treib and all the other real estate professionals mentioned in this piece encouraged prospective ski-home buyers to buy now.  Skinner said, “If you’re waiting to see if prices are going to go down, I don’t see that happening.”

Thanks to MansionGlobal.

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