Archive for category Vail Valley Business

Housing starts jump in December – MarketWatch

By Ruth Mantell, MarketWatch

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Construction on new U.S. homes jumped in December to the highest rate in more than four years, with gains across the country, as well as in single-family homes and buildings, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported Thursday.

In the freshest data signaling a strengthening housing market, starts rose 12.1% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 954,000 — the highest level since June 2008.

“Overall, this report reinforces the current narrative of a positive growth momentum in the housing sector,” said Millan Mulraine, a macro strategist at TD Securities.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected U.S. housing starts to increase to a rate of 883,000 from an original estimate of 861,000 for November, on factors such as rising building permits and confidence among home builders, as well as relatively mild weather for the season. See economic calendar.

On Thursday, the government revised November’s rate to 851,000.

Starts rose 24.7% in the Midwest, 21.4% in the Northeast, 18.7% in the West and 3.8% in the South. By structure size, starts for single-family homes rose 8.1%, and increased 20.3% in buildings with at least two units.

While starts in December were up 37% from a year earlier, rates remain far below a bubble peak of almost 2.3 million in 2006.

Meanwhile, building permits, a sign of future demand, rose 0.3% in December to a rate of 903,000 — the highest rate since July 2008. Permits for single-family homes rose 1.8% to a rate of 578,000, while permits for structures with at least two units declined 2.1% to a rate of 325,000. The lower growth in permits means that starts could slow down in coming months.

For all of 2012, the government estimated that there were 780,000 housing starts, the highest level since 2008 and up 28% from 2011.

Meanwhile, permits rose 30% to 813,000 in 2012, also the highest level since 2008. Housing completions rose 11% to 651,000 in 2012, the highest level since 2010.

An improving trend for housing starts echoes other recent housing data. Confidence among home builders is holding at a more-than-six-year peak, with more markets showing signs of recovery, a trade group said Wednesday. Read more about builder confidence.

Given gains in the housing market, analysts expect this component of the economy to increase its contribution to overall gross-domestic-product growth. “Housing is poised to provide a meaningful (and critical) lift to overall economic activity at a time when other growth drivers, like exports, are slowing,” Deutsche Bank analysts wrote in a Wednesday note.

An exchange-traded fund of home builders ITB +0.22%  has increased 68% over the past 12 months. Indeed, home prices have been rising year-over-year, and the rate of price reductions in the U.S. is falling. Read more about home markdowns.

Mortgage rates hovering near record lows is supporting demand. However, analysts remain concerned about overly stringent lending standards, as well as fallout from ongoing fiscal uncertainty. Looking to spur lending, federal regulators have issued new rules on mortgages and servicing that they hope will provide some certainty to industry and borrowers.

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“There is magic in that little word, home.” Robert Sotheby. And last week, there were more signs that the housing sector continues to improve. Read on for details.

  Housing Starts surged by 12.1% in December to 954,000 units on an annualized basis. This was above expectations and the highest level since June 2008. Building Permits, a sign of future construction, also increased, coming in slightly higher than the November reading.

In addition, research firm CoreLogic reported that home prices rose by 7.4% in the year ended in November. This figure, which includes the sales of distressed properties, was the largest year-over-year increase since 2006 and it has been positive for nine straight months. Also, the Obama Administration’s December Housing Report showed that home prices had solid annual gains for the year ended in October, with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and Case-Shiller housing price indices up 5.6% percent and 4.3%, respectively, from one year ago.

It’s also important to note that RealtyTrac’s year-end 2012 foreclosure report showed that foreclosure activity increased in 25 states. However, median home prices also increased in 25 states, which pulled 1.6 million homeowners out of negative equity in 2012.

So what’s the takeaway? Goldman Sachs has reported that the fundamentals are pointing towards larger gains for housing prices in the next couple of years. And with home loan rates remaining near record lows, great opportunities are available.

As always, one thing that’s important to monitor is inflation. Since inflation reduces the value of fixed investments, inflation is considered the arch enemy of Bonds–and, therefore, of home loan rates, which are tied to Mortgage Bonds. However, last week’s wholesale-measuring Producer Price Index and the Consumer Price Index showed that inflation remains tame, meaning inflation is not a factor at this time.

The bottom line is that now remains a great time to consider a home purchase or refinance, as home loan rates remain near historic lows. Let me know if I can answer any questions at all for you or your clients.

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International firm will manage Club at Cordillera

Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado

EDWARDS, Colorado — An international golf management company will run the Club at Cordillera, the club’s CEO announced Thursday afternoon.

Troon Golf manages golf properties in 29 states and 29 countries in North and South America, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Add the Club at Cordillera to that list, said CEO Dan Fitchett in making the announcement.

Troon’s hiring follows David Wilhelm and Wind Rose Properties, which he partially owns, winning the bankruptcy auction with a $14.2 million bid.

The Club at Cordillera fits right in with the rest of Troon, said Dana Garmany, Troon’s chairman and chief executive officer.

“We are honored to have been selected to manage and market what is arguably one of the premier mountain golf club communities in America, and we fully expect that The Club at Cordillera will become one of the flagship properties in our private club collection,” Garmany said.

Former Cordillera Club members resigned by the dozen and sued Wilhelm after he refused to open three of Cordillera’s four golf courses after he promised in writing that he would.

Fitchett said Cordillera property owners and past members who rejoin will gain access at more than 30 private clubs through the Troon Privé Privilege program, as well as the Troon Advantage program, which provides preferred rates at more than 85 of Troon Golf’s properties around the world.

The class action settlement requires former members to pay $3,500. Cordillera cannot raise the $12,500 annual dues for two years.

Jim McLaughlin, senior vice president of Troon Privé Operations, is leading the Club at Cordillera relaunch efforts.

“In our work, we draw from our collective, intellectual and physical resources to provide creative solutions to each club we manage,” McLaughlin said.

Fitchett said it’s time for Cordillera to move forward.

“This is my commitment to our members, and we’ve put the right people and structure in place to make that happen,” Fitchett said.

Troon is headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz. It’s one of the world’s largest golf management companies and also specializes in property association management, private residence clubs, estate management and hospitality venues.

Forty-eight Troon facilities are ranked in the Top 100 by national or international publications.

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Cordillera Property Owner’s Association to Acquire Community Assets

The assets of the Club at Cordillera were acquired today by Wind Rose Holdings, LLC, the successful bidder at the auction on 10 December 2012.  As contemplated by the global settlement agreement reached by the former Club owner and the community in September, the CPOA will acquire ownership of the Community Assets (Short Course, Summit Athletic Club, and Trailhead) as of Monday, 31 December 2012. Once closing of the assets occurs on Monday, the assets will be owned and operated by CPOA, and will be available for use by all CPOA property owners and residents. Specific use guidelines for the Short Course and Trailhead will be developed over the coming months, in advance of the summer operating season.

Wind Rose has indicated that the Summit Athletic Club will be open, consistent with the past operating schedule for the facility, until closing of CPOA’s acquisition of the assets.  Following CPOA’s acquisition on Monday, 31 December 2012, the Summit Athletic Club will be open to all CPOA members as of Tuesday, 1 January 2013. In general, anticipated seasonal operating hours for the Summit Athletic Club will be 10 hours per day/7 days per week from Labor Day through Memorial Day and 16 hours per day/7 days per week from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Extended operating hours may also be added during other peak times (such as Winter Holidays), as warranted by demand. There will be no additional user fees for CPOA members to access the Summit Athletic Club, as the costs of operation will be covered by CPOA’s base annual assessment.

We look forward to seeing you all at the Summit Athletic Club and thank you for your continued support of Cordillera.


CPOA Board of Directors

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2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 10 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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KSL Partners Buys 24% of Whistler Blackcomb

Whistler (BC), Canada – Denver-based KSL Partners, the private equity firm that has been quietly snatching up ski resorts across the U.S. and leasing them back to their operators, has entered into an agreement to buy a substantial interest in Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. from Intrawest ULC.

Whistler Blackcomb Holdings owns and operates North America’s largest ski resort, Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada. The sale agreement accounts for Intrawest’s 9,092,500 common shares of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings, approximately 24% of the corporation’s issued and outstanding common shares, for $12.75 per common share in a transaction totaling nearly $116 million.

The Intrawest disposition is being made in conjunction with an Intrawest refinancing. The transaction is expected to be completed tomorrow.

As a result of the sale by Intrawest, Bill Jensen has tendered his resignation as a director and Chief Executive Officer of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings, and Wes Edens and Jonathan Ashley have each tendered their resignation as a director of the corporation, effective as of the time of closing. Also effective as of the time of closing, Whistler Blackcomb Holdings’ board of directors has appointed Dave Brownlie, the corporation’s current President and Chief Operating Officer, as the corporation’s President and Chief Executive Officer and a director, and appointed Eric Resnick and Peter McDermott, both of KSL, as directors to fill the vacancies created by these resignations.

Resnick is co-founder and Managing Director of KSL and has deep, long-standing ties to the ski industry. McDermott is a partner at KSL.

Concurrently with these appointments, Whistler Blackcomb Holdings’ board of directors has appointed Flora Ferraro, the corporation’s current Vice President of Finance, as Interim Chief Financial Officer. The corporation intends to announce the appointment of a permanent chief financial officer shortly.

“KSL is delighted to be acquiring a 24% interest in a world-class ski area. Whistler Blackcomb is the largest and most visited ski resort in North America and we feel that it complements our portfolio of premier travel and leisure properties,” said Resnick. “Peter and I are looking forward to working with the board to grow the business. Whistler Blackcomb has a very experienced and successful management team and we are enthusiastic to work with them as they continue to deliver a fantastic mountain experience for Whistler Blackcomb’s guests.”

“On behalf of the board of directors, I am very pleased to welcome Eric Resnick and Peter McDermott to the board. We would also like to express our appreciation to Wes Edens and Jonathan Ashley for their contributions to Whistler Blackcomb during their tenure on the board, and especially to Bill Jensen, for his valued service as Chief Executive Officer and as a director,” commented Graham Savage, Chairman of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings’ board of directors. “We are also pleased to appoint Dave Brownlie as Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the board of directors. With over 24 years in ski resort management, Dave brings insight and experience to the position and I am looking forward to continuing to work with him to grow the business.”

In a statement to shareholders, KSL indicated that the firm expects to hold the purchased shares for investment purposes. However, they added that KSL and its affiliates expect to evaluate on an ongoing basis the financial condition and prospects of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings and its interest in the corporation, and may from time to time acquire additional common shares of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings or may dispose of all or a part of their shares.

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52% Say Buying A Home Family’s Best Investment – Rasmussen Reports

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Most Americans think buying a home is still a family’s best investment, but they don’t think now’s a good time to sell.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 52% of American Adults say buying a home is the best investment a family can make. Twenty-six percent (26%) disagree, while 22% are not sure.  (To see survey question wording, click here.)

The survey of 1,000 American Adults nationwide was conducted on November 17-18, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Fieldwork for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.


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Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors Chief Economist, Predicts Inflation on the Rise

I just returned from the NAR Convention in Orlando.  I was representing the VBR in my role as Chair-Elect.  I felt the overall tone was much more optimistic than last year.  There are many areas in the country where sales are significantly up year-over-year and these markets are also seeing significant price increases.  As you all know, we tend to trail the pack but hopefully we will see some similar activity in the Valley.

Here are some bullet points from the presentation by Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR.  He was relatively optimistic regarding the national housing market but doesn’t seem to have much confidence in the government in making the right moves to address inflation, which he considers inevitable.

  1. He sees no inflation 2013 but 4 to 6% annually by 2015.  The key factors that are driving inflation higher are:
    1. Rents are going up across the country making home purchases much more attractive but also negatively impacting inflation.
    2. The Fed is more concerned with unemployment than inflation.
    3. The Fed’s Qualitative easing program will cause inflation (historically, whenever a country prints money, inflation rises).
    4. Budget deficits will cause inflation because more parties are competing in the lending marketplace.
    5. Inflation will cause higher borrowing costs for the government increasing the deficit, which in turn will increase inflation, which will increase the deficit…………………..
    6. Inflation will increase mortgage rates.  They will probably stay low for 3-6 more months but they should start to increase by the middle of next year.
    7. Home prices will appreciate 15% over next 3 years nationally.
    8. The Unemployment rate may have dropped slightly over the past few years but the Employment rate (the actual number of employed persons) has remained flat since 2009.
    9. The US will need to create 250,000/mo for 8 years to get back to where we were before the great recession.
    10. There will be more unequal wealth distribution because home prices are now appreciating and renters will be left behind.


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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Group Purchases Brookfield’s Prudential and Real Living Franchises

Last Monday we learned that Brookfield’s Prudential and Real Living franchises were purchased by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices group.  This represents a great opportunity for Prudential Colorado Properties and also speaks to the confidence Buffet has not only in the real estate industry but also the Prudential real estate agents and brokers that will represent his company’s name.  Not many companies under the Berkshire Hathaway umbrella actually use the name – that trust to represent one of the most-admired companies in the world is a sign that they are deeply committed to the brand and the success.

While there is much work to do before the formal launch, we know that this is a great day to be a part of the Prudential network.  The new Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand is poised to be a game-changer and a mega-franchise that should thrive on a national and global level.  The brand will bring innovation, technology and the best practices of today and in the future.  The strength, integrity and trust of Berkshire Hathaway, combined with the market prowess of the Prudential network will create a partnership unmatched in the real estate industry today.

It’s a great time to be in real estate.

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Colorado Mountain Region Quarterly Real Estate Statistics – 3rd Quarter, 2012

Click on the link to see the 3rd quarter housing stats for Colorado’s Mountain Region.  This region includes Vail, Telluride, Steamboat Springs, Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Grand County, Summit County, and Gunnison.  I will have stats for Vail in the next few weeks.

The statistics point to a continuing recovery, although slower than we would all like.  Under contract properties and sales are up, prices and inventory are down.  The Vail Valley is seeing similar trends.

Mountain Region 3rd Quarter Statistics



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