In’s and Out’s of Buying a Resort Condo in Steamboat Springs
Depending on why you want a condo, buying a condominium often seems easier than it really is. We have many different discussions with individuals and families regarding buying a resort condo. These discussions lead to educated choices and successful achievement of goals.
The goal of this paper is to give you an educated overview of the condo purchasing process and an understanding of what to expect. Knowing differences in condos, HOA’s (Home Owner Associations), types of ski in/ski out units, seasonal markets, and more will help you save time and hopefully money.
Ski in/ski out Condominiums
Ski-in/ski-out condominiums have two basic variations. The first is what we call ‘true ski-in/ski-out’. These condo units are found directly adjacent to the ski resort. A person can put their skis on at the door of the complex or unit and ski directly to the lift. A person can also ski right up to the same door, or a different one in the same complex.
Condominiums that have indirect access to the ski lifts are considered ski-in/ski-out. If a person can get to the slopes without having to walk, these are considered ski-in/ski-out. These units and complexes may have long trails directing skiers to runs. They may also have narrow roads as well. The most common is trails, which may be downhill from the slopes, or uphill. These vary related to the location of buildings.
Non-ski in/ski out condos
In Steamboat Springs, there are several condominiums that are not located directly on the resort. They vary widely related to their distance from the resort. The further away a condo is, the more likely it is to be a home or long term rental. These condos vary in size, can be large and include a heated garage.
Those condos found within three blocks, or so, of the resort are designed differently. They are made to house out of town visitors as comfortably as possible while maintaining great access to Steamboat Ski Resort. These condominiums are most commonly found in short term rental markets. They often have what is called the ‘owner’s closet’, which stores personal items for when the owner visits.
HOA Dues and Amenities
Homeowners’ Associations are common in Steamboat Springs. They are very helpful in maintaining the condominium complex in regards of exterior maintenance, snow removal, lawn care, and other essential functions to keeping buildings and grounds healthy. HOA’s have dues that keep these functions ongoing and these dues vary. They can be as low as $200 a month or as high as $1300 a month. This variation is related to the amenities and services a complex will provide an owner. These amenities and services can include the following:
- Cable TV
- Trash Service
- Lawn Maintenance
- Building Maintenance
- Shuttle Service (often seasonal)
- Road Maintenance
- Snow Plowing/shoveling
- Capital Reserves
- Common Area Amenities (pools, hot tubs, tennis courts, front desks etc)
Management of Units
There are three types of management for condominiums: large Property Management Companies, Property Managers and Owner managed.
Property Management Companies offer a menu of services. They often have agreements with HOA’s to manage functions like snow removal, lawn care and upholding HOA rules and regulations. These companies also manage individual units, taking care of short and long term rental units, including repair and cleaning as needed. Fees for these services range from 40-45% of the gross rental income. In Steamboat Springs, the large property management companies who offer these services are:
- Steamboat Resorts
- Resort Group
Smaller, boutique style property management companies offer many of the same services that larger companies do just on a smaller scale. These companies offer a more personalized service, often customized to a property owner’s needs. They typically offer online-based reservations and charge 25-30% of gross rental income.
Owner managed condos are for individual units primarily. Owners often desire to care for their units directly. Using services like VRBO and AirBnB to book rentals, they are able to maximize their rental income. They have a house cleaning service and maintenance person for their unit and the HOA cares for exterior maintenance. When an owner opts to use this option, some services are not included, like front desk check in, concierge, shuttles, and more.
Lenders have many loan products that assist owners in purchasing their units. They vary widely and one size does not fit all. In Steamboat, there are several local mortgage brokers who supply loans for condos. Between all of them, a loan for your unit is likely to be found. Local banks are also helpful. What is often seen is a prospective owner’s hometown bank cannot lend on a Steamboat Springs condominium. Resort condos do not fit their guidelines and a person must look elsewhere for a loan.
Certain condominium units cannot be purchased using conventional financing. These units we refer to as “condotels”, which function more like hotels than condominium complexes. These complexes often have a front desk, maid service, and more. There are lending products that fit these types of complexes. The criteria vary and typically require at least 30% + down payment to obtain the loan.
Most new owners of condominiums want to rent their units when not visiting Steamboat Springs. This is a great way to offset expenses related to purchasing the condo. Many owners are able to pay for their units and see appreciation in value for their investment. Condominium complexes regulate how their units can be rented – whether long term, short term, or both.
Long-term rentals are often defined as a month or more. A common term of renting is from May to the end of November, which covers our two shoulder seasons and Summer too. At the beginning of December, the rentals are more short term – often about a week. And some owners just hold their unit as an investment and reap the benefits of year-to-year leases.
Winter vs. Summer Markets
In Colorado, western resort towns have two seasonal markets – Winter and Summer. In Steamboat Springs, we are fortunate to have a thriving summer season where we see visitor numbers equivalent to that of winter. Summer season rentals are not as lucrative as winter, and the short term market still thrives.
If you are looking to maximize your income with your unit, the highest value rents are found over holidays, like Fourth of July, Labor Day, Christmas and New Years, and President’s Day. We realize that this might be prime time for your own visit. We also want you to get the most from your condo purchase while achieving your goals.
Steamboat Springs is more than a world-class skiing destination. It is a place where mountain living and outdoor recreation come together to create an enjoyable and healthy lifestyle. If you are looking to visit or move to Steamboat Springs, give me a call or send me an email. I’d be glad to help you, as I have many others.