Refusing the right of first refusal
VAIL ” When Deanne Barker’s offer to purchase a two-bedroom condominium in Vail was accepted, she was ecstatic.
The professional mother of two looked forward to spending long weekends during the ski season with her family and friends. So she was heartbroken when ” almost three weeks after she’d made the offer ” her broker told her another owner had exercised the Right of First Refusal clause in the condominium association bylaws, at Barker’s price and terms. Barker had no recourse; she was simply out of luck.
The Right of First Refusal process is fairly common in many condominium owners’ associations in Vail and other Colorado communities. Basically, it works like this: When someone contracts to buy a condominium they must wait a specified period of time before they can close the sale. During that time any current owner has the right to match the terms of the contract. If they do, the buyer who had originally contracted for the unit is simply out of luck. It’s a trying experience for someone who has gone through the financial, psychological and sometimes emotional gymnastics of making a million dollar buying decision, said Antlers General manager Rob LeVine.
The Antlers board of directors is suggesting its condominium owners strike down their right of first refusal clause, saying it’s”s a deterrent to sales and could depress property values.
The condominium owners began investigating dumping it a year ago and the response was varied, LeVine said.
“A couple other properties in Vail have it and they hate it,” LeVine said. “It spurs lawsuits and creates problems.”
In the 30 years LeVine has been with the Antlers, he has seen right-of-first-refusal used about a half dozen times.
“The buyers were disappointed but it hasn’t manifested itself in any legal action ” yet,” LeVine said.
While the right-of-first-refusal clause can be advantageous to existing condominium owners, the ownership of the Antlers at Vail will soon decide whether to drop its 20-day right-of-first-refusal clause from its governing documents. After considering the matter for many months, including a lengthy discussion at the last annual owners meeting, the Antlers board of directors unanimously recommended to the Antlers condo owners that the clause be eliminated.
It’ll take a vote of 67 percent of the entire Antlers ownership, 63 out of 94 total units. The formal vote to amend the Declaration will be held at a special meeting on July 16.
“I know of no other homeowners association in the state that has specifically eliminated the right of first refusal clause from its governing documents,” says noted condominium law expert Jerry Orten, legal counsel for the Antlers. “The Antlers has been on the cutting edge of Colorado condominium activity before, and the owners should be admired for their progressiveness.”
In a summary of their opinion, the Antlers board said the right-of-first-refusal could block sales and drive down property values. They also say using the right-of-first-refusal could spur lawsuits, as it has been elsewhere.
The Antlers has been in Vail since 1972. The hotel recently completed its $2 million swimming pool redevelopment project that includes two outdoor hot tubs and sparkling changing rooms in addition to the spacious heated pool that faces Vail Mountain. It’s located at 650 Lionshead Place in Vail, about 150 yards from the Lionshead gondola.
LeVine started working at the front desk at the Antlers Lodge in the 1970s. Other staff members have been there longer than LeVine.
“We have about a dozen staff members that have been here more than 12 years,” LeVine said. “I’ve stayed so long because I thrive on the family atmosphere,” says LeVine. He goes on to say that with the stable staff members and return guests, the environment is very comfortable. “We’ve had the same family reunions coming here for up to 27 years in a row.”
The lodge received their Green Star Certification. The Antlers was the first property in Vail to change their wood burning fireplaces to gas fireplaces in 1991 ” all 70 of them. They’ve also been a part of the adopt-a-highway program for the last 14 years.