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Vacation home sales in the U.S. are at their highest ever, or at least since the national Association of Realtors began tracking vacation home buyer trends in 2003. Vacation home sales are up a whopping 57.4% from 2013, with an estimated 1.13 million vacation homes going under contract last year.

Most of those purchases are in the south and west.

Now may be the best time ever to buy a vacation home in Telluride, Colorado for BOTH winter and summer.

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Telluride snow

Maybe you’ve just returned from a holiday escape to the hills. Or maybe you are planning a ski outing in a month or two. We all know how much North Texans love to head to the mountains of Colorado to get their downhill fix. One of the top destinations for Dallasites is Telluride, Colorado. The town happens to be the county seat of San Miguel County in southwest Colorado, a former mining town in the San Juan Mountains. But ever since skiers discovered its steep mountains and fabulous snow in about 1972, Telluride has become known as the pinnacle of Colorado mountain living, both in summer and winter.

Telluride is a laid-back Aspen: no Prada store, no Louis Vuitton.  Rumor has it that even Starbucks must get permission to move to Telluride, and thus far that permission has not been granted.  There is a Starbucks in Mountain Village in Hotel Madeleine, about as close as a Skinny Vanilla Latte will ever get to this place. (more…)

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Tom Cruise has listed his 298-acre Telluride spread featuring a 10,000-square-foot main house for sale in Telluride for $59 million. If that sounds like a lot, no worries: the Telluride real estate market is heating up. While Telluride home sales were $18 million in November of 2013, they were double that in 2014: $36.8 million alone in San Miguel County, which includes Telluride and Mountain Village.

Tom Cruise Telluride (more…)

19-Kokanee_08-great-roomImagine a place where you can mingle with Olympians and extreme athletes, be surrounded by panoramic views, fish off your sailboat in the summer, throw on your skis in the winter, and warm yourself by the fire at night – all without ever leaving the mountain or the comforts of home. Of course we find this in Crested Butte, a hop jump and skip away from Big D. Designed by architect Daniel J. Murphy, this exceptional ski-in/ski-out offering, is a true legacy estate, located just 24 miles south of Aspen. A scenic car drive through the exquisite Maroon Bells will have you at Aspen in a few hours, or in the summer make the 12-mile hike right from your property, via the postal route.  (more…)

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The line at Breckenridge Cannabis Club goes out the door as vacationers and residents alike take advantage of Colorado’s new recreational marijuana laws. (Kathryn Olson/AP)

We’ve seen photos and stories from Colorado ski towns such as Aspen and Breckenridge showing vacationers filing lines out the door at marijuana shops, so of course, we had to wonder what kind of impact legal pot could have on Colorado real estate. Are more buyers putting it in their pipes and smoking it?

Turns out the Colorado Association of Realtors was wondering the exact same thing.  After all, with 136 pot retailers in the state as of Dec. 2013, buyers were throwing green after green, eventually causing a state-wide shortage of smokables. But is recreational marijuana a boon for Colorado real estate, or a burden?

“Some people don’t want to come [to Colorado] with their families,” says Joyce Burford, executive director of Colorado Association of Ski Towns. “Because they have this image that all these pot smokers will be everywhere.” That’s not happening, she says, and “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Analysis from the Colorado Association of Realtors shows that while state law no longer forbids recreational pot sales and retailers, local governments hold the keys to the lease.

The majority of counties in Colorado have either already passed bans on recreational marijuana retailers or have delayed making a decision and placed a moratorium on pot business; closely monitoring how enactment is working in other parts of the state.

It looks as though recreational marijuana businesses will be absent from large portions of the state for the foreseeable future. According to the Denver Post, of the ten largest cities in Colorado (by population), only Denver is expected to accept license applications for recreational marijuana stores this year.

It’s also important to note that in counties and cities that have decided to allow recreational sales, grow operations will only be in areas zoned industrial.

Right now, Denver and Denver County are the only areas where you can still apply for a marijuana sales license. So vacation property owners don’t really have to worry about an influx of new ganja businesses. And in Vail, there’s a complete moratorium on recreational marijuana sales. Still, folks in Aspen are buying pot, but at least one Realtor doesn’t think it will do much for real estate sales, if anything at all.

“I don’t think [legal marijuana] is making that much difference,” Joshua Landis, a real-estate agent in Aspen, said in this piece in The Daily Beast.

“People have always been able to access marijuana in Aspen. Nobody is out smoking marijuana on the corner” just because it’s suddenly legal to possess and use it in private (it’s still illegal to use publicly). In addition, he says, “I don’t think it has any effect” on property values. “No one who can afford to buy property in Aspen is going to make their decision based on marijuana policy.”

If the lines snaking outside of the Breckenridge Cannabis Club are any indication, pot tourism might make Colorado the new Amsterdam. And heck, it might be a draw so much in that it awakens latent demand for buyers who want to move to a 4:20-friendly state, but perhaps in more affordable areas such as Denver and its surrounding suburbs.

Others, like Lubbock’s Colt and Amanda Smith, are among those planning to move to the state to ride the new economy. The couple founded the Lubbock chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).

They had talked about retiring in Colorado but decided to act early once the new law took effect.

“We have our house on the market right now,” Colt Smith said. “It makes sense to find exile in a place that has more reasonable laws than to sit around and wait for Texas to get there.”

The Smiths hope to launch a marijuana edibles business once they establish residency.

“We feel like Colorado is just beautiful and has beautiful laws,” Smith said. “When people tell me they’re going there to ski now, they use air quotes.”

“Skiing,” indeed.

 

While some of us despise the chilly winter winds that have been a-blowing and prefer to bundle up indoors until bikini season arrives, skiers and snowboarders alike know that the storms that blew through Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming this week (and will continue on through the northeast next week) offer the perfect, powdery platform for a fantastic weekend out on the slopes.

Below, check out our top five vacation rental homes to enjoy the best of both worlds: top notch skiing paired with amenities worth traveling for.

Chateau of Breckenridge

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For a true ski-in/ski-out luxury chateau, don’t miss this Colorado beauty, just a few steps from the popular Four O’clock Ski Run. Plus, there’s even a rooftop patio with an outdoor spa and fireplace. Rent this five bedroom, five and a half bath mountainside home for $13,125 a week.

The Stratton Mountain House

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This winter retreat, nestled in Stratton, Vermont, is minutes away from the Stratton Ski Resort. Get a couples massage at the resort’s day spa after a long day of hitting the slopes or take a short 20-minute drive to the Manchester Designer Shopping Outlets nearby. Truly get away from it all by simply staying at the home, which boasts six bedrooms, five and a half baths, a jetted tub and a jacuzzi. Rental rates are $1,600 a night, with a three night minimum stay required.

The Country Estate2688554d-56a5-43fe-8648-423bdf81e847.1.10

I am in love with the decor of this secluded rental in Stowe, Vermont. Romp in seven bedrooms and five bathrooms in three separate dwellings set on an 8 acre hilltop, surrounded by rambling farmland. Cross-country skiers will enjoy trails located just off the property, and black diamond skiers can hit the slopes at Stowe Mountain Resort, which is just 15 minutes away. Cost to rent is $10,000 per week.

Four O’clock Breckenridge Condo

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At just $79 a night, this two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath Breckenridge condo offers amenities that rival its luxurious competitors: a full kitchen, 46′ flat screen TV in the living room, and a balcony with a mountain view. Walk on a trail to reach the ski resort or simply take the bus just 20 feet from the condo to Peak 7 and 8 of the Four O’clock Ski Run.

Glacier Lodge

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Newly built in 2012, this 2,800-square-foot, six-bedroom rental property is located in beautiful Lake Harmony, Penn., just minutes from the lake, championship golf courses, the Poconos ski slopes, state parks, and restaurants. Soak in the six-person outdoor hot tub or play a game of pool inside this Poconos chalet for $3,200 a week.

Whitney ThompsonWhitney Thompson loves to daydream about the perfect beach house, but she’ll settle for a hot tub in Colorado if that’s on the menu. She is a freelance writer and contributor to SecondShelters.com and CandysDirt.com.

AspenA week or so ago, our contributor Dallas Addison, an attorney and vacation home property developer/consultant, gave us the Aspen report and said that vacation home communities are getting greener, more sustainable, because they have to to stay in business.

I called BS; how, I asked Dallas, can you even tell me that a ski company is green except when the snow is all melted on the slopes? EasyL the resorts know they HAVE to become more sustainable IF they are to stay in business…

SS: OK Dallas, a ski company uses water and sometimes makes snow — how do they even start to be sustainable?

D.A: Great question and I’m fairly certain that Aspen would be the first to acknowledge that they are in a resource intensive business. But, they are not going to shut that business down, so the question is how do they become more sustainable? Aspen is doing that through a number of initiatives in addition to using their brand to help spread the word about sustainability. Their website does a good job of highlighting their environmental efforts.

SS: Can these resorts use alternative energy sources?

D.A: Absolutely, and that is happening. Sticking with Aspen, they’ve invested in a solar array at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School, developed a micro-hydroelectric plant at Snowmass and partnered with a coal mine to capture and utilize methane gas that is normally vented into the atmosphere during the mining process. On the coal mine project, the methane is much more worse than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas and through this process, the methane is cleaned and used. It provides enough energy to power all 4 Aspen resort mountains on an annual basis.

SS: What are the three biggest changes you are seeing in terms of conservation efforts at these swanky resorts?

1. Communications to guests. Resorts are increasingly communicating the importance of sustainability to their guests.

2. Energy efficiency. This is generally considered the low hanging fruit. Projects that conserve energy (think changing light bulbs as one of the most basic and effective) are generally the easiest to pencil out and explain to others in the corporate hierarchy.

3. Building efficiency. Related to #2, but more directed at new construction, resorts are increasingly changing their building practices to construct more efficient buildings. They often try to attain certain objective standards, such as LEED certification by the US Green Building Council.

Dallas Addison is a Dallas-based lawyer who has helped many clients throughout the country buy, sell, develop and manage all types of  real estate over the years, with a  particular focus on recreational and hospitality-based real estate,  such as golf courses, resorts, ranches, second homes, etc. He is also a founding principal of Preservation Land Company. He is a regulator contributor to SecondShelters.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aspenby Dallas Addison

It’s that time of year, temperatures are falling in Dallas, snow is falling in the mountains of Colorado. Halloween is behind us and our thoughts turn to a ski getaway. Whether you prefer two boards, one (or for that matter, hot chocolate and hot toddies in the lodge), Aspen is one of those special spots that simply delivers the goods for North Texans. Known as a bellwether in the second home industry, it’s a well-known playground for the rich and famous. Aspen even has it’s own private jet company, Sentient Jet, now the official Private Jet Provider of Aspen/Snowmass, with cardholder benefits. If holiday bustle is your gig, book during Christmas and New Year’s, hope for great early season snow and enjoy the spectacle. At other times, the crowds are more manageable and the skiing and boarding are almost always outstanding.

Aspen is actually four mountains—Aspen Mountain (also called Ajax), Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk and collectively, they provide something for everyone.

While Aspen is known for its steeps,  caviar and champagne lifestyle — seriously, there is even an on-mountain Veuve Clicquot pop-up bar!—- it also has some serious environmental chops as well. Think Austin in the mountains and you won’t be too far off.

Don’t roll your eyes, I know what you are thinking. Aspen IS glam and glitz, but manages to maintain a strong commitment to the environment without compromising the experience. To put it another way, the analogy is more hybrid autos: Aspen is like Porsche’s new 918, rip-snorting, hybrid supercar, NOT a Prius.

So, how and why does Aspen stay so green?

Aspen 2While Aspen’s conservation efforts certainly have a benevolent side, they are also acutely self-interested. Let’s face it, if temperatures keep rising, mountain resorts as we know them will likely be radically changed for the worse, with many being forced to close. That will have a huge impact on the industry and also on second or vacation homes. Aspen realizes that its own sustainability starts with “how do we sustain our business”? On top of that, according to Auden Schendler, the Vice President of Sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company, many of their projects, especially those related to efficiency, generate substantial financial returns. Finally, Auden points out that if businesses aren’t taking action to address sustainability issues, they’re behind, because their competitors are. So, this is not touchy-feely environmentalism, but an approach that is firmly grounded in good business principals.

Maybe we could call this “selfish sustainability,” a twenty-tens version of the 80’s creed “greed is good.” Selfish sustainability is my own term and certainly is not tied to Aspen in any way. But, if it makes economic sense today, helps protect and enhance a business long-term and helps protect all of us from unwanted harm, that sure seems like a win-win-win that makes sense wherever a business is located.

If you want to know the specifics about Aspen’s efforts, check out www.aspensnowmass.com/en/we-are-different. However, I’d strongly recommend a personal “inspection.” The lifts at Snowmass and Ajax start spinning November 28th!

Hope to see you at the Veuve Clicquot pop-up bar!

Next up . . . Conservation Ranches.

Dallas Addison is a Dallas-based lawyer who has helped many clients throughout the country buy, sell, develop and manage all types of  real estate over the years, with a  particular focus on recreational and hospitality-based real estate,  such as golf courses, resorts, ranches, second homes, etc. He is also a founding principal of Preservation Land Company. He is a regulator contributor to SecondShelters.com.