Losing the ceiling

Realtors: Sky's the limit for second-home resale prices

— Realtors in Steamboat Springs are following with great interest the progress of property at both Lake Catamount Ranch and Lake Catamount Homesteads as select parcels come on the market for resales.

"You know what I think is happening?" Mark McElhinney of Steamboat Real Estate Inc., asked rhetorically. "There just isn't anything out there for the big-time second-home owner anymore. I don't think there is a ceiling anymore. Who knows where it's going to go?"

McElhinney has listed Catamount Ranch Lot 2 for sale at $1.45 million. It originally sold for between $800,000 and $1 million, he said.

The 25 homesites at Catamount Ranch are on 700 acres and ring the Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course.

"These are incredible lots," McElhinney said. He said he is not aware if his client originally purchased the Lot 2 with speculation in mind. And he cautioned that it would be too early to presume that it has appreciated 50 percent in two years.

"It hasn't appreciated until it sells," McElhinney said. "I could list it for $2 million," but that alone would not mean it had appreciated by 100 percent, he said.

By comparison, McElhinney said, he is listing his own lot in neighboring Priest Creek Ranches for $799,000. He would like to think the lot is a bargain at that price. The big difference, he said, is that Priest Creek Ranch doesn't offer a golf course like Catamount offers.

John Worden, who sells real estate exclusively for Mason and Morse, and Catamount, said he thinks another neighboring property, Storm Mountain Ranch, has the potential to drive resales at Catamount to new heights.

Storm Mountain Ranch developers Jeff and Jamie Temple sold out 12 of 14 lots on their more than 1,000-acre property and kept two for themselves. The homesites, which are confined to specific parcels on the sprawling ranch, sold for between $2.5 million and $2.7 million. The Temple brothers deliberately did not develop a golf course with their property instead, they offer a secluded canyon getaway "cabin" next to a waterfall, trophy trout fishing in steams and ponds and horseback riding.

"Storm Mountain Ranch has set the bar," Worden said.

"The bar is way up there now. It will be interesting to see where (the Catamount resale properties) find a home."

Worden said his real estate firm is listing a resale lot at Lake Catamount for $1.7 million. It originally sold for $1 million and is among 10 of the 40 lots that actually front on the lake.

"It's a very unique, desirable lot," Worden said.

"It can have its own dock and it's kind of at the end of the road it's a private location."

Stephan Baden of RE/MAX Steamboat was the Realtor who put the Josfan spec home at Catamount Ranch.

The home was sold as the foundation was being poured last fall, Baden said. It was listed at $4.75 million, and the sale would appear to be a sure thing because monies have already been disbursed to the developer.

The lot was originally purchased by Catamount 15 LLC, and David Josfan emerged from that entity to develop the home. Its more than 7,000 square feet are notable for heavy use of logs in the construction.

Baden was involved in the original sales of several Catamount Ranch lots and has since closed resales of a couple at "tidy profits" in the 35 percent to 50 percent range.

Baden said that when you look at Catamount ranch, it's important to understand there are very few properties like it in the country.

"There are just 25 homesites on a championship golf course, and very close to a major ski area, and the property has a stream running through it," Baden said. "It's very, very, very exclusive."

Worden, who is president of the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors, said he's also watching with intense interest to see how the stock market's free fall will affect sales of high-end properties here. He isn't certain how sensitive people in the market for million-dollar building lots are to the ups and downs of the market.

"I think they're insulated to some degree," Worden said, "but I don't think they're immune."

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