In markets like Colorado sales slow down in the winter even in the high country/ski resort areas sales might peak in December and then quickly cool until spring/summer. If you are buying real estate in Colorado, winter is actually the best time to buy. Not only are prices lower but you can ensure you aren’t making a terrible decision that you and your family will regret. During the winter you can see things that aren’t apparent during warmer months that could make our break your buying decision. For example can you actually get to the property with your car or do you need a snowmobile.
Throughout the winter sales slow substantially both in Denver metro (entire front range) and throughout the high country. I’ve heard different theories as to why. The first theory is that most people want to move around the school year. The second theory is that people just don’t like looking at houses when it is cold. The final theory is that people think about the two theories above and therefore hold off on listing until the spring and therefore perpetuating (i.e herd mentality) the notion that winter is not a good time to buy (less inventory, etc…)
Regardless of why the market cools, winter is actually in my mind the best time to buy especially in the high country. Even if you don’t want to buy during the winter, it is imperative to “experience” the area in the winter and even scope out houses/areas during the winter months. I’ve put together a list of five critical items to look for to make sure you aren’t making a terrible investment/ decision that you will regret.
5 Questions only winter can answer
- Access: Can you easily get to the property? I’ve looked at several properties that looked great on paper, only to find out that the road is not well maintained and there typically is a 10-foot drift over certain parts of the road making access impossible. I was once asked to finance a property outside of Crested Butte, CO (maybe 5 minutes from town). Fortunately, I’ve spent considerable time in the area in the winter looking at properties, unbeknownst to the buyer the 5 minutes from town included a snowmobile ride! Make sure you know how the winter access is, who maintains the road, how it is maintained, and if you can actually make it into the property in the winter
- How long does it really take to get there? During the summer, you don’t have to contend with weather typically. In the winter, you can have both substantial traffic and winter weather which can make a recipe for disaster. The cabin that is only two hours away in the summer could be 4 hours depending on traffic, passes, etc… Make sure you understand the time it will take to get to the property. Also understand how long it will take to get from the property to skiing, hiking, etc… as well. For example you could buy a great house in Glenwood Springs, CO with the intent to ski in Aspen or Snowmass, but during the winter with traffic it could take 1.5 hours to get to the slopes from the house. Is this a sacrifice you are willing to make?
- Neighbors during the winter? It is great to see in both summer and winter how your neighbors/neighborhood is. For example is the house next to a snowmobile trail that will keep you up all hours of the night? Is that cute quite condo in the summer actually the “party condo complex” in the winter. I was once staying in a condo in Telluride, CO with our newborn in what we thought would be a nice quite condo at mountain village, turns out we could hear noise from a bar all night that kept our infant awake, definitely not a condo I would want to own if you have any intention of sleeping at night!
- Ice dams/other winter hazards? Winter is critical to see what kind of issues the property might have during the winter. One of the biggest issues has to do with snow and ice. For example do you see large icicles? Although pretty to look at, icicles are an indicator of bigger problems and could ultimately lead to leaks and a complete failure of the roof. An ice dam is an indicator of heat escaping, the melting snow can then be sucked back into the eave, under the roof and into the house. When you are looking at a property, walk around the exterior of the property to see if there are ice dams, if so, walk inside and look at the corner of the ceilings to see if there is any discoloration on the interior and also on the exterior beneath the roof. This is a clear indication of a problem. Along with ice dams it is important to see the property in the winter to see how the parking, sidewalks, decks, etc.. hold snow and figure out how you are going to clear it. Is the driveway steep with no sun creating ice, if you have to plow, is there an easy way to remove the snow and move it out of the way?
- Views/sun during the winter? Sun and views are two huge considerations in Colorado and most winter locals. Having both of these items can drastically increase your sales price. Winter is a great time to see what kind of sun a property gets and also what the views are with all the leaves gone. Are you staring at a parking lot that you didn’t notice in the summer with all the leaves on the trees/bushes? Do you have a killer view of the mountains or a coal plant? The answers will drastically change the property value.
Although I focused heavily on the residential side of real estate above, winter is also critical for commercial real estate. In the winter you are able to see where roof problems are from snow and also how snow/ice will sit on sidewalks, parking lots, etc.. which is all critical information for making the best decision.
In summary, winter is a critical time to look at real estate, especially in the resort markets. The 5 items above could make our break not only your happiness with your purchase, but also could drastically alter the value equation of the real estate.
I have closed thousands of loans throughout Colorado in all seasons. One of our specialties is mountain properties in ski/resort communities and can fund condos, land, residential properties (no owner occupied, must be investment), and commercial properties . If you have questions about any of the above or need financing quickly please give me a call (303…459…6061)
Written by Glen Weinberg, COO/ VP Fairview Commercial Lending. Glen has been published as an expert in hard money lending, real estate valuation, financing, and various other real estate topics in the Colorado Real Estate Journal, the CO Biz Magazine, The Denver Post, The Scotsman mortgage broker guide, Mortgage Professional America and various other national publications.
Fairview is the recognized leader in Colorado Hard Money and Colorado private lending focusing on residential investment properties and commercial properties both in Denver and throughout the state. We are the Colorado experts having closed thousands of loans throughout the state.
When you call you will speak directly to the decision makers and get an honest answer quickly. They are recognized in the industry as the leader in hard money lending with no upfront fees or any other games. Learn more about Hard Money Lending through our free Hard Money Guide. To get started on a loan all they need is their simple one page application (no upfront fees or other games).
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