Credentials and money to show
SNOWMASS ” The drive from Woodbury, Minn. is long ” 17 hours worth of roads in a Ford Explorer before the Klein family reaches their second home in Snowmass.
Woodbury is just outside St. Paul, Minn., a major metropolitan area. Keith Klein works as an executive officer for a private trucking company. Wife Colleen Doyle is a lawyer who recently started a nonprofit to improve the math and science skills of Minnesota children.
The couple is younger and have kids, atypical compared to the average second-home owner. But the Kleins are fairly well off, much like other second-home owners.
“Second-home owners tend to be 55 to 64 and they have much more income than our locals,” said Linda Venturoni of the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, a research group that in 2004 studied second-home owners across five counties.
The median income of locals is $82,000 per year while the average second-home owner brings in about $300,000, Venturoni said.
And like other second-home owners, the Kleins chose the location of their vacation home based on several factors.
In addition to being on the older side of middle age, second-home owners are empty nesters and well off. They also are likely to be from a metropolitan area.
“It tends to skew toward major urban centers where there also happens to be the largest number of wealthy people,” said Ford Frick, Director of BBC Research and Consulting in Denver.
Naomi Silva and her family hail from Denver and own a second home in Keystone. The family comes to Keystone to get away from a busy city life.
“When we’re down here in Denver we don’t just sit down and spend quality time together,” Silva said. “There’s nothing to do (in Keystone) but be together, and that’s very important to us.”
The part-time visitors tend to be well educated, even more so than the already well-educated locals, Venturoni said. Doyle has a law degree and her husband Keith Klein, holds a master’s in business.
Once second-home owners decide to purchase a home, they’re buying in different areas of Colorado’s High Country based on price, location and other factors.
Second homes are focused in Summit County and the Eagle and Roaring Fork valleys near the many mega-ski resorts. To a much lesser extent, people buy second homes in Glenwood Springs.
Overall, a second home is more likely to be a condominium than a house, according to the Council of Governments.
Of the three areas previously mentioned, Summit County tends to be the most affordable ” $100,000 and above ” and heavy on second homes, said Realtor Ken Deshaies of Snowhome Properties in Dillon. Two out of three homes are owned by non-residents, two thirds of whom hail from the Front Range, Deshaies said.
“First of all, we’re close, and regardless of the traffic on Interstate 70, they feel this is a place they can get to,” Deshaies said.
Nearly half of all homes in Eagle County are owned by non-residents, the council study shows. Homes in Eagle County are more expensive than those in Summit County, approaching $600,000 on average.
“A lot of people are coming here because they’ve had some real success in life and they’re looking to get out of Manhattan and the other major metropolitan areas,” said developer Ron Byrne of Ron Byrne and Associates in Vail. “It’s a return on enjoyment rather than a return on investment. If you’ve made a lot of money you can’t take your vacation on the steps of a bank.”
Pitkin County claims the highest average property values of all three areas at about $1.1 million per home. Fifty-five percent of those are second homes, the council study shows.
“Basically what we’re seeing is people in their 40s and 50s who are athletic and have been very successful in business,” said Ed Foran, president of the Aspen Board of Realtors.
The Kleins chose Snowmass because her parents own a home there, the area is kid friendly and prices are reasonable for a starter condominium, compared to Aspen.
“I think a lot of people aren’t aware that there are homes out there that are that affordable,” Doyle said.
Garfield County, a bit removed from the major ski resorts, draws fewer second-home owners than Eagle, Summit and Pitkin counties.
“We don’t have a huge market for second homes,” broker Judy Gillespie of Vicki Lee Green Real Estate in Glenwood Springs said.
Regardless where the second home is located, the entire experience can be expensive.
“I’m always sort of amazed at this motivation for owning a second home,” Frick said. “It’s expensive and hard to travel. That shows how highly valued the experience is.”
And the draw of picturesque mountains is hard to resist.
“Ultimately it comes down to the fact people would rather have that mountain experience than the beach experience,” he said.
Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14622, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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