Breck Cannabis AP

The line at Breckenridge Cannabis Club goes out the door as vacationers and residents alike take advantage of Colorado’s new recreational marijuana laws. (Kathryn Olson/AP)

We’ve seen photos and stories from Colorado ski towns such as Aspen and Breckenridge showing vacationers filing lines out the door at marijuana shops, so of course, we had to wonder what kind of impact legal pot could have on Colorado real estate. Are more buyers putting it in their pipes and smoking it?

Turns out the Colorado Association of Realtors was wondering the exact same thing.  After all, with 136 pot retailers in the state as of Dec. 2013, buyers were throwing green after green, eventually causing a state-wide shortage of smokables. But is recreational marijuana a boon for Colorado real estate, or a burden?

“Some people don’t want to come [to Colorado] with their families,” says Joyce Burford, executive director of Colorado Association of Ski Towns. “Because they have this image that all these pot smokers will be everywhere.” That’s not happening, she says, and “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Analysis from the Colorado Association of Realtors shows that while state law no longer forbids recreational pot sales and retailers, local governments hold the keys to the lease.

The majority of counties in Colorado have either already passed bans on recreational marijuana retailers or have delayed making a decision and placed a moratorium on pot business; closely monitoring how enactment is working in other parts of the state.

It looks as though recreational marijuana businesses will be absent from large portions of the state for the foreseeable future. According to the Denver Post, of the ten largest cities in Colorado (by population), only Denver is expected to accept license applications for recreational marijuana stores this year.

It’s also important to note that in counties and cities that have decided to allow recreational sales, grow operations will only be in areas zoned industrial.

Right now, Denver and Denver County are the only areas where you can still apply for a marijuana sales license. So vacation property owners don’t really have to worry about an influx of new ganja businesses. And in Vail, there’s a complete moratorium on recreational marijuana sales. Still, folks in Aspen are buying pot, but at least one Realtor doesn’t think it will do much for real estate sales, if anything at all.

“I don’t think [legal marijuana] is making that much difference,” Joshua Landis, a real-estate agent in Aspen, said in this piece in The Daily Beast.

“People have always been able to access marijuana in Aspen. Nobody is out smoking marijuana on the corner” just because it’s suddenly legal to possess and use it in private (it’s still illegal to use publicly). In addition, he says, “I don’t think it has any effect” on property values. “No one who can afford to buy property in Aspen is going to make their decision based on marijuana policy.”

If the lines snaking outside of the Breckenridge Cannabis Club are any indication, pot tourism might make Colorado the new Amsterdam. And heck, it might be a draw so much in that it awakens latent demand for buyers who want to move to a 4:20-friendly state, but perhaps in more affordable areas such as Denver and its surrounding suburbs.

Others, like Lubbock’s Colt and Amanda Smith, are among those planning to move to the state to ride the new economy. The couple founded the Lubbock chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).

They had talked about retiring in Colorado but decided to act early once the new law took effect.

“We have our house on the market right now,” Colt Smith said. “It makes sense to find exile in a place that has more reasonable laws than to sit around and wait for Texas to get there.”

The Smiths hope to launch a marijuana edibles business once they establish residency.

“We feel like Colorado is just beautiful and has beautiful laws,” Smith said. “When people tell me they’re going there to ski now, they use air quotes.”

“Skiing,” indeed.

 

While some of us despise the chilly winter winds that have been a-blowing and prefer to bundle up indoors until bikini season arrives, skiers and snowboarders alike know that the storms that blew through Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming this week (and will continue on through the northeast next week) offer the perfect, powdery platform for a fantastic weekend out on the slopes.

Below, check out our top five vacation rental homes to enjoy the best of both worlds: top notch skiing paired with amenities worth traveling for.

Chateau of Breckenridge

97247109-32f1-4d49-bafb-16f71cfe23a7.1

For a true ski-in/ski-out luxury chateau, don’t miss this Colorado beauty, just a few steps from the popular Four O’clock Ski Run. Plus, there’s even a rooftop patio with an outdoor spa and fireplace. Rent this five bedroom, five and a half bath mountainside home for $13,125 a week.

The Stratton Mountain House

b864e13e-262a-4aa3-8fd4-a5bb2abc94e5.1.10

This winter retreat, nestled in Stratton, Vermont, is minutes away from the Stratton Ski Resort. Get a couples massage at the resort’s day spa after a long day of hitting the slopes or take a short 20-minute drive to the Manchester Designer Shopping Outlets nearby. Truly get away from it all by simply staying at the home, which boasts six bedrooms, five and a half baths, a jetted tub and a jacuzzi. Rental rates are $1,600 a night, with a three night minimum stay required.

The Country Estate2688554d-56a5-43fe-8648-423bdf81e847.1.10

I am in love with the decor of this secluded rental in Stowe, Vermont. Romp in seven bedrooms and five bathrooms in three separate dwellings set on an 8 acre hilltop, surrounded by rambling farmland. Cross-country skiers will enjoy trails located just off the property, and black diamond skiers can hit the slopes at Stowe Mountain Resort, which is just 15 minutes away. Cost to rent is $10,000 per week.

Four O’clock Breckenridge Condo

a88eae7a-ea7d-4121-82c0-a7bcfbd29cd1.1.10

At just $79 a night, this two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath Breckenridge condo offers amenities that rival its luxurious competitors: a full kitchen, 46′ flat screen TV in the living room, and a balcony with a mountain view. Walk on a trail to reach the ski resort or simply take the bus just 20 feet from the condo to Peak 7 and 8 of the Four O’clock Ski Run.

Glacier Lodge

d81c0cb0-fb66-4940-987f-4fc40b6927c9.1.10

Newly built in 2012, this 2,800-square-foot, six-bedroom rental property is located in beautiful Lake Harmony, Penn., just minutes from the lake, championship golf courses, the Poconos ski slopes, state parks, and restaurants. Soak in the six-person outdoor hot tub or play a game of pool inside this Poconos chalet for $3,200 a week.

Whitney ThompsonWhitney Thompson loves to daydream about the perfect beach house, but she’ll settle for a hot tub in Colorado if that’s on the menu. She is a freelance writer and contributor to SecondShelters.com and CandysDirt.com.

AspenA week or so ago, our contributor Dallas Addison, an attorney and vacation home property developer/consultant, gave us the Aspen report and said that vacation home communities are getting greener, more sustainable, because they have to to stay in business.

I called BS; how, I asked Dallas, can you even tell me that a ski company is green except when the snow is all melted on the slopes? EasyL the resorts know they HAVE to become more sustainable IF they are to stay in business…

SS: OK Dallas, a ski company uses water and sometimes makes snow — how do they even start to be sustainable?

D.A: Great question and I’m fairly certain that Aspen would be the first to acknowledge that they are in a resource intensive business. But, they are not going to shut that business down, so the question is how do they become more sustainable? Aspen is doing that through a number of initiatives in addition to using their brand to help spread the word about sustainability. Their website does a good job of highlighting their environmental efforts.

SS: Can these resorts use alternative energy sources?

D.A: Absolutely, and that is happening. Sticking with Aspen, they’ve invested in a solar array at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School, developed a micro-hydroelectric plant at Snowmass and partnered with a coal mine to capture and utilize methane gas that is normally vented into the atmosphere during the mining process. On the coal mine project, the methane is much more worse than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas and through this process, the methane is cleaned and used. It provides enough energy to power all 4 Aspen resort mountains on an annual basis.

SS: What are the three biggest changes you are seeing in terms of conservation efforts at these swanky resorts?

1. Communications to guests. Resorts are increasingly communicating the importance of sustainability to their guests.

2. Energy efficiency. This is generally considered the low hanging fruit. Projects that conserve energy (think changing light bulbs as one of the most basic and effective) are generally the easiest to pencil out and explain to others in the corporate hierarchy.

3. Building efficiency. Related to #2, but more directed at new construction, resorts are increasingly changing their building practices to construct more efficient buildings. They often try to attain certain objective standards, such as LEED certification by the US Green Building Council.

Dallas Addison is a Dallas-based lawyer who has helped many clients throughout the country buy, sell, develop and manage all types of  real estate over the years, with a  particular focus on recreational and hospitality-based real estate,  such as golf courses, resorts, ranches, second homes, etc. He is also a founding principal of Preservation Land Company. He is a regulator contributor to SecondShelters.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aspenby Dallas Addison

It’s that time of year, temperatures are falling in Dallas, snow is falling in the mountains of Colorado. Halloween is behind us and our thoughts turn to a ski getaway. Whether you prefer two boards, one (or for that matter, hot chocolate and hot toddies in the lodge), Aspen is one of those special spots that simply delivers the goods for North Texans. Known as a bellwether in the second home industry, it’s a well-known playground for the rich and famous. Aspen even has it’s own private jet company, Sentient Jet, now the official Private Jet Provider of Aspen/Snowmass, with cardholder benefits. If holiday bustle is your gig, book during Christmas and New Year’s, hope for great early season snow and enjoy the spectacle. At other times, the crowds are more manageable and the skiing and boarding are almost always outstanding.

Aspen is actually four mountains—Aspen Mountain (also called Ajax), Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk and collectively, they provide something for everyone.

While Aspen is known for its steeps,  caviar and champagne lifestyle — seriously, there is even an on-mountain Veuve Clicquot pop-up bar!—- it also has some serious environmental chops as well. Think Austin in the mountains and you won’t be too far off.

Don’t roll your eyes, I know what you are thinking. Aspen IS glam and glitz, but manages to maintain a strong commitment to the environment without compromising the experience. To put it another way, the analogy is more hybrid autos: Aspen is like Porsche’s new 918, rip-snorting, hybrid supercar, NOT a Prius.

So, how and why does Aspen stay so green?

Aspen 2While Aspen’s conservation efforts certainly have a benevolent side, they are also acutely self-interested. Let’s face it, if temperatures keep rising, mountain resorts as we know them will likely be radically changed for the worse, with many being forced to close. That will have a huge impact on the industry and also on second or vacation homes. Aspen realizes that its own sustainability starts with “how do we sustain our business”? On top of that, according to Auden Schendler, the Vice President of Sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company, many of their projects, especially those related to efficiency, generate substantial financial returns. Finally, Auden points out that if businesses aren’t taking action to address sustainability issues, they’re behind, because their competitors are. So, this is not touchy-feely environmentalism, but an approach that is firmly grounded in good business principals.

Maybe we could call this “selfish sustainability,” a twenty-tens version of the 80’s creed “greed is good.” Selfish sustainability is my own term and certainly is not tied to Aspen in any way. But, if it makes economic sense today, helps protect and enhance a business long-term and helps protect all of us from unwanted harm, that sure seems like a win-win-win that makes sense wherever a business is located.

If you want to know the specifics about Aspen’s efforts, check out www.aspensnowmass.com/en/we-are-different. However, I’d strongly recommend a personal “inspection.” The lifts at Snowmass and Ajax start spinning November 28th!

Hope to see you at the Veuve Clicquot pop-up bar!

Next up . . . Conservation Ranches.

Dallas Addison is a Dallas-based lawyer who has helped many clients throughout the country buy, sell, develop and manage all types of  real estate over the years, with a  particular focus on recreational and hospitality-based real estate,  such as golf courses, resorts, ranches, second homes, etc. He is also a founding principal of Preservation Land Company. He is a regulator contributor to SecondShelters.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screen shot 2013-08-22 at 9.00.57 AMI was in Denver last year when the Waldo Canyon fires were burning, and at least 650 homes — maybe more — burned. That’s why I was closely watching, this week, the Beaver Creek, Idaho fires that were threatening Sun Valley. The Ketchum ski community has been trying to make a real estate come-back, fire is just what it did not need – this from Curbed Ski:

In Ketchum, the annual Wagon Days festival, which celebrates every kind of Old West horse-drawn buggy, wagon, and cart, will start as planned on the 29th, and officials except to lift all closures of wilderness area that weren’t burned in the fire by the middle of next week. Sun Valley will be offering free general admission to their weekly ice show this Saturday, with donations being accepted for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Sun Valley was not the only vacation home area battling flames. While the 32,000 acre Beaver Creek fire near Ketchum & Sun Valley was the #3 priority for US firefighters, reports Curbed, there was danger the fire could have burned towards the Wood River Valley. Then lighting sparked a fire that destroyed 13 homes in a subdivision about ten miles from Park City, Utah, where one resident who stayed home to defend his property with a garden hose described the experience as “like being in Vietnam,” – houses going up in flames and propane tanks exploding near his home. The air gets so thick and smoky, as it did last year in Colorado, you can barely see or breathe. I need to check on our friends in Oakley, and see how they are doing.utah-wildfires

I had no idea that Asheville, N.C., was a popular vacation spot until I spent a little over a week in the area last summer. I fell in love with the place and all of its quirks pretty much instantly. Located in the Smoky Mountains, this thriving mountain metropolis has some great attractions — galleries, restaurants, shopping, and the famous vision of George Vanderbilt, the Biltmore house. There’s also tons of outdoors activities, such as hiking, fishing, kayaking, and pretty much anything else you can do on a mountain or in a river.

Instead of surfing MLS for opulent settings and lavish interiors, I wanted to find unique cabins that would make for the perfect Smoky Mountain retreat. Here’s what we found for Top-5 Friday in the Smoky Mountains:

1) 1384 Old Fort Road

I love the interesting architecture of this very angular lodge. It’s located on more than 60 acres in Fairview, N.C., and has four bedrooms and five bathrooms. There’s a separate three-car garage, and the raised porch overlooks a small pond. It’s priced at just $975,000 — a bargain considering the lot size and the home’s mammoth 4,774 square feet. (Re/Max All Stars Realty)

2) 270 Starling Gentry Road

When I think of a cabin in the woods, this is pretty much the vision that comes to mind. This home is set on 50 acres in Marshall, N.C., and totals only 1,800 square feet. This is a place for solitude, with only two bedrooms and one bath. The porch overlooks the large wooded surroundings, and it’s priced at just $799,000. (French Broad Real Estate Company)

3) 436 Bull Creek Road

This is where you want to be in the fall. That wrap-around porch gives you an incredible mountain view, surely unrivaled in the area. This home is much more updated and modernized. It’s really a great place to store all of your books and comfy chairs, giving you a quiet escape from the last throes of a Southern summer. Built in 2004, this home has four bedrooms, four baths, and almost 7 acres inside the Asheville city limits for just $774,000. (Beverly Hanks & Associates)

4) 0 Pearson Falls

This home was built at the spot where two creeks meet. Can you get any more picturesque than that? This home, located in Saluda, N.C., has excellent views and is close to fishing, mountain climbing, kayaking, and plenty of other outdoor activities. There’s plenty of room for your family and friends to stick around for a while, too. There are three bedrooms, three baths, and 1,800 square feet listed for just $615,000. (Cathy Jackson Realty)

5) 479 Red Bird Road 

Doesn’t this one just look like Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother’s house? This cute red cabin in the woods isn’t quaint, though, with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and 2,600 square feet. I love how cozy everything is, though, and the kitchen is just adorable. This Spruce Pine, N.C., mountain home is listed for just $295,000. (Foxfire Real Estate)

Tourism is up in Hawaii, which is a very good sign for Hawaiian real estate. The number one reason buyers purchase a vacation home in any location is because they love it. It goes like this: visit the location, love it, feel like you never want to leave. This is the point where buyers start perusing the real estate and actually, finally, pulling out the checkbook.

According to the Wall Street Journal, tourists’ spending on Hawaiian vacations over the first nine months of the 2012 rose 20% from a year earlier to $9.59 billion, or so says the Hawaii Tourism Authority. If this rate keeps up, spending could reach $13.89 billion for the year, topping the record of $12.63 billion in 2006.

Yes, I said 2006 — the good old days. Count this as more proof that luxury ain’t dead and the rich are spending, well, more than ever.

Now comes a beautiful resort and spa on Maui that offers home ownership in paradise for the first time in 25 years, Honua Kai. All condominium residences in this resort on the famed Ka’anapali Beach are full ownership. They are located on nearly forty acres of the world’s seriously most beautiful beachfront on Maui beach.

And you can see why buyers are getting out their checkbooks: the properties, in HAWAII mind you, are priced from the low $500,000′s to $3,813,900. They range from 580 to over 2,715 square feet. Some of the lanais alone (open, breezy patios) are 3,200 square feet.

My fingers are feeling itchy already: the resort features 628 full-ownership condominium homes situated in two buildings – Hokulani and Konea. A beachfront condo like this in Hawaii for $500,000? 

And get this: almost 72% have closed to date. Bought. Gone. From July 2011 to June 2012 Honua Kai saw a 68% increase in home sales, with 85 purchased homes. In July alone seven juicy sales worth over $6 million closed. That could be because Honua is offering a “Stay & Play” opportunity for resort guests who fall in love with the resort and decide to buy a vacation home. They get a vacation stay for free, which I am definitely going to check out for us, as in, all of us who crave vaca homes.

The homes are studios, one, two or three bedroom homes with open floor plans; some have dramatic ocean views, others take in the mountains. Sizes range from 580 to over 2,715 square feet.

I can live in 580 square feet in paradise, can’t you? Plus I would guess these homes have tenants beating the surf down to lease.

Here’s the deal: According to the Wall Street Journal, more visitors are going to Hawaii. Visitor arrivals in August were up 10% from a year earlier, which should make the final tally for 2012 about  7.89 million. That’s 6.3% higher than in 2011. Where are they coming from?  Japan, folks there looking to escape all the natural disasters they’ve suffered. Guess who is making up the fastest-growing group of visitors: Chinese.

But more Americans are coming, too. The WSJ quoted a flight attendant who said he decided to splurge and come to Hawaii again FINALLY after three recession-era vacas in Mexico. Is this guy just feeling flush or is he scared to death of Mexico. I vote for number two: you couldn’t get me back to Acapulco for a million bucks… well…  maybe for a million. But seriously, it’s Cabo or “Nogo” to anywhere in Mexico right now. Everyone wanting sun and beach goes to Costa Rica and now, once again, the real paradise, Hawaii.

Hang on folks, because I will be kicking the tires out there very soon.  I’ve been to Maui, Molokai and Lanai. I am returning. These homes appear to be stunningly finished out (look at that ogee-edged granite!), but do not worry for a minute, I will check. Here’s the million dollar plus view: West Maui mountains, Kaanapali North Beach, and Molokai and Lanai.

A million dollar plus view for $500,000? In Maui? Honua Kai, I am heading your way…

 

 

Read this story on CandysDirt about how the rich seem to be accelerating the size and scope of their new homes. Then know this: whatever is happening to the primary home market is being mimic’ed in second and third homes. Prices may be soft, but the rich are getting out their checkbooks for beach homes and mountain ski palaces. Told you about Jon Huntsman’s dad, right?