The first thing to think about is location, and to determine what your needs and priorities are. Do you want ski-in/ski-out, and if so, does that mean slopeside access out your front door, or being a short walk to the lifts? If skiing isn’t a priority, you may want to explore other neighborhoods that offer more value per square foot. Talking about whether it’s important to have mountain views, walk to dinner or have privacy will help you to get clear on which areas you most want to focus on.
Do you plan to rent the property when you’re not enjoying it for your personal use? With our strong rental market, many owners choose to capture the rental income and offset some of the expenses of ownership. A real estate broker can provide you with a detailed rental analysis. It will give you a clear picture of what to expect in terms of income and expenses, nightly rates by season, management expenses and HOA costs.
It’s also very important to know HOA rules regarding vacation rentals. Using third parties like Airbnb and VRBO has become a hot topic in resort markets, and many HOAs no longer allow it. On the other hand, there are good professional property management companies that will handle everything and allow you to be very hands off. The rental analysis will help you to know the cost of those services up front.
Furnishings and art work
The inclusion of furniture and art is another big variable to consider when looking at purchasing a property. Unlike primary residences in an urban market, many mountain properties are sold furnished. You’ll want to determine whether those furnishings meet your needs and style. If you don’t like the furniture and plan to replace it or make major modifications, that’s an expense that might be spared with a different property.
Ongoing maintenance is more involved here in the mountains than with a warm weather property. Factors like snow removal, road maintenance, furnace systems and other issues brought on by cold weather require ongoing attention. Consider a reputable property manager to ensure you don’t incur problems that will ultimately cost a lot more if left neglected.
Full-time or part-time ownership?
For buyers who only plan to spend a couple of weeks visiting each year, fractional ownerships may be something to consider. They have come a long way from the old “time-share” model and may have more flexibility to customize when you want to use the property. Most of these properties have a lot to offer in terms of amenities, services, and location. It’s can be an alternative way to enter a high-dollar market like Aspen.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to experience a property (or a property in the same building or neighborhood) if possible before you buy. Experience what it’s like to be there as a guest, so that there are no surprises once you buy.
Sylvia Theisen with Slifer Smith & Frampton is a full-time broker with over 20 years of experience. A seven-time winner of the Five Star Realtor 5280 Award and RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement Award, she is most proud of the loyalty she has earned with clients, having served three generations of families with their real estate needs. She can be reached at 303-956-3892