Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mountain Town News


Jackson Hole records fewer sales but much higher prices

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo.—Jackson Hole had 25 percent fewer real estate sales in the first quarter of this year as compared to last. Still, the median price of those sales that occurred was up 86 percent.

David Viehman of Jackson Hole Real Estate and Appraisal, says the prices of some high-end properties have been reduced to more accurately reflect market conditions.

But despite the sluggish sales, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide, plenty of people want to peddle land and homes. Jackson Hole now has 805 real estate agents -- nearly double the number of properties listed for sale.

Ray Elser, responsible broker for Real Estate of Jackson Hole, estimates that 30 to 40 percent of agents are "hobbyists." "Retirees, divorcees and bored housewives are a big chunk of it. I don't think there is enough business that goes on to support 800 Realtors."

Sales tumble in March, but optimism prevails

TELLUIDE, Colo.—The real estate market in Telluride tumbled through the winter, but agents express confidence that summer will bring a recovered market. April, they report, has been very promising.

Total sales volume dropped 66 percent in March, reports The Telluride Watch. That's $23 million in sales, as compared to $68.5 million for the same month last year.

"Buying a second home is the furthest thing from people's minds right now," said T.D. Smith, of Telluride Real Estate Corporation. It's not that people weren't around. Occupancy levels for winter were up 6 percent. But even in the high end, people were holding out for bargains.

Realty figures insist the market is not a disaster. "Visitors who come to town expecting to find the local real estate market in a shambles may need to readjust their expectations," said Matthew Hintermeister, president of the Telluride Association of Realtors.

Wolverine documented using highway underpass

BANFF, Alberta—Remote cameras along a wildlife underpass has revealed a wolverine, a rarely seen carnivore that has largely disappeared from the West. There have been several sightings in the Banff and Canmore area in the last dozen years, but the sightings have been rare enough that this photograph of the animal making its way under the Trans-Canada Highway rated a prominent story in the Rocky Mountain Outlook. The wildlife underpass is similar to what is being proposed for Colorado's Interstate 70.

Crested Butte divided about ski expansion

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo.—Most ski areas in the Western United States are located on Forest Service land, which rarely approves of ski area expansions if the local communities are dead-set against them. That's why it matters what the two towns located near the ski area at Crested Butte have to say about the proposal now before the Forest Service.

That proposal would be to extend skiing across the highway onto a new mountain, Snodgrass, installing three chair lifts to provide a generous dollop of intermediate-level ski terrain, something in short supply on the existing ski mountains

Mt. Crested Butte, the closest town, has now registered its support for the terrain expansion. Two-thirds of both local residents and non-resident property owners had supported the expansion.

But two miles away, at the one-time mining town of Crested Butte, the wind is blowing in the opposite direction. There, a thin majority of the business community seems to support the expansion, but the community on balance appears opposed.

"Residents of this town have clearly said they don't want lifts on Snodgrass," said Alan Bernholtz, the mayor.

The Crested Butte News reports that the town council is trying to shape a letter that reflects this overall sentiment. Only one town council member seems to support the expansion.

Routt County officials tinker with home limits

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.—In the land of the cowboy hat, Routt County officials are considering adopting a system of transferable development rights and even perhaps limiting the size of homes.

The cap on home sizes is far more tentative, reports the Steamboat Pilot & Today. Officials noted that a policy could be adopted that doesn't necessarily cap home sizes, but does discourage larger homes.

More likely, says the newspaper, is transfer of development rights away from viewsheds, critical wildlife habitat or active agriculture operations and to pre-determined "receiving" areas, particularly areas that have already been heavily urbanized. Among ski-based counties, Pitkin, Summit and Gunnison already have such TDR programs.

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