Update from Rob LeVine 11/9/17
As we get ready for the impending ski season, you’ll be pleased to know that the Antlers has never been more poised for success. I’m so proud of Magda and the rest of your staff. Between the numerous condo upgrades, the many improvements to the common areas, the amazing amount of advance reservations (record numbers), and of course the proactive planning efforts for a new south elevator and associated improvements, it’s hard to imagine a better scenario moving forward.
Speaking of the elevator project, we are still waiting to hear just how much more it would cost to re-use the current location. I’m sorry it’s taken longer to get that number than we anticipated. Hopefully we’ll have it in the next few weeks. In the meantime, we have continued our due diligence on some of the other alternatives. One idea the board has directed us to explore is repurposing the offices and meeting space in the north tower. If we expand the current lobby/reception area with a second story, we should have enough room to bring Randi’s, Cherie’s and Matthew’s offices, as well as the board room, over to the new space. Operationally, that would be far more functional, and it would also give us roughly 1,000 square feet to remodel next to the north elevator. We could either sell that as a new condo (offsetting some of the project costs), or maybe use it for employee housing and instead liquidate unit 102, which may in fact be more salable … generating even more proceeds. As I’ve said before, everything’s on the table and we’re committed to making sure this project works great and costs as little as possible.
On another note, there’s been some trepidation about the impact of this project (and the associated special assessments) on our real estate values. I’m happy to tell you that unit #202 just sold a few months ago, and unit #403 is under contract to close in a few weeks. Both of those condos are in the southeast corner … closest to the possible location of the new elevator tower. In each case the buyers were fully aware of the potential upcoming assessment, as well as the physical impact of the new construction on their specific condominium. For what it’s worth, unit #403 is under contract for $821,000 … the highest value per square foot for a one-bedroom condo since before the recession in 2008.
On a personal note, my knee’s feeling a little better so I bought a ski pass for the first time in a few years. Woo-hoo! I’ve slowed considerably, but if you don’t mind waiting for me, I’d love to make a few turns with you this winter. Call me … I look forward to it!
Warm Regards, Rob
Update from Rob LeVine 9/1/17
Needless to say, when it comes to real estate, the amount of data that can be parsed and analyzed is enormous. There is no shortage of comparative analysis when to comes to the overall market. For the purposes of this scrutiny, I have limited the data set to seven of the Antlers’ direct competitors. Specifically, those are: Lionsquare Lodge, Montaneros, Westwind, Landmark and Vail Spa, all located in Lionshead. Additionally, Manor Vail and Mountain Haus in Vail Village are included.
Each of those are condominiums properties, and with active rental programs they all operate much like hotels. Certainly some potential Antlers buyers also consider more exclusive properties like the Arrabelle, or those with a lower price-point, or without a robust rental operation, etc. But in my experience, these are the properties that the majority of prospective Antlers owners also consider when they’re making a buying decision.
With that caveat, in the last twelve months (since September 2016) there have been 14 condominium sales with an average selling price of $1,329 per square foot. By comparison, in the previous twelve months there were 28 sales and in the year before that there were 36! It would appear that the market has softened a bit recently, although the price point (per sf) has actually jumped up recently. Not unlike our rental pricing, there is likely a correlation between selling price (or Average Daily Rate) and sales volume (or occupancy). The following chart reflects the cumulative sales data for those eight properties over the past five years. For any data junkies in the crowd, I have similar records going back to 2005 (including every single individual sale) as well as broader market data which includes properties outside our normal competitive set, such as the Arrabelle, Ritz Carlton and others. I’m happy to share those with anyone who would like them.
|12 months ending 8/31||# sales||avg price/sf|
There are currently three Antlers condominiums on the market, and although we haven’t seen any sales activity since late 2016, overall I think we are still very well positioned from a price/value standpoint. Much like our rental operations, we’re poised for continued success.
Update from Rob LeVine 5/10/17
The biennial Eagle County assessed valuations just went out and you should have received notice of your new valuation. By statute, the County Assessor had to use comparable sales during the 18 month period from 1/1/15 to 6/30/16. Clearly that was a timeframe when real estate values were moving up and valuations across the County increased pretty significantly. While an increase in your assessed valuation doesn’t necessarily translate directly into a property tax increase, there is of course some correlation. There were a couple bond issues passed recently for Eagle County which will also make our taxes go up, regardless of the individual valuations.
Antlers units saw valuation increases ranging from 3% all the way up to 25%. Although that seems like a lot, I’m afraid the amount of increase isn’t really relevant. The only criteria the County uses are those comparable sales during the 18 month “test period”.
During that time, there were six sales of Antlers condominiums … a healthy database of comps.
The average price per square foot was $1,133. That’s a higher price per square foot than the valuation for most of our units. The $1,263 per square foot for the three sales of larger units is also higher than the valuation for any Antlers unit. Worse, the trend over time has an impact on the valuation, and you can see that the pricing trend (price per square foot) was definitely increasing during the course of that year and a half.
In the past, I have protested on behalf of some or all of our owners when I thought we had a chance of prevailing. Sometimes we’ve been successful and other times not. I’m sorry to say it, but based on the data above, this year I don’t think we would have a prayer of winning a protest. Naturally, if you think differently, I’m happy to discuss it … just give me a call at 970-331-9594.
Updates from Rob LeVine 3/10/17
We are now six months into our fiscal year. It has also been five months since Magdalena officially took over for me as General Manager. In addition to thoroughly loving retirement, I also relish my continued (minor) role at the Antlers. Continuing as the “in-house Realtor”, and acting as consultant to the board and Magda, provide me with the perfect amount of connection and personal stimulation.
I generally spend two or three hours a week meeting with Magda in person. Much of that is face to face “catch-up” in her office (love what she’s done with the place), and to a lesser degree, time spent at staff meetings, our weekly wine & cheese receptions, or occasionally other social functions representing the Antlers. She also calls me several times a week. The vast majority of those phone calls consist of her explaining some challenging situation for five or ten minutes, and then me saying, “You’re doing [or did] the exact right thing … precisely what I would have done.” Click. In a nutshell, I can’t tell you how proud I am of her, and how lucky the Antlers is to have her take my place.
Given my history with so many of our guests and owners, some of them refuse to believe that I’ve actually left (shocking, I know). It’s my pleasure to continue to help them in a variety of ways, and hopefully without ever misleading anyone with regard to my authority (or lack thereof). That probably adds up to another few hours a week, and I’m sure it saves that same amount of time for Magda or someone else on our staff.
Specifically, Magdalena has leaned on me a bit more heavily for counsel on two significant projects. The first is our continued effort to find a long-term solution to our Achilles heel which is the south elevator. Although the upgrades and repairs that we have made over the years have helped us to limp along (at least nobody’s getting trapped in the damn thing these days), a full replacement is the only real answer. Unfortunately, the constraints of the elevator shaft itself preclude any viable solutions that we’ve found. Because of the structural issues involved, replacing that shaft with a larger one would likely be enormously expensive. However, it’s time we figured out what that number is. At the same time, it makes sense to explore other locations for a possible solution.
This sort of architectural and structural investigation is no small undertaking, but Magda has now successfully coordinated that study to happen this year. Our board will closely monitor the results and share those with the ownership in due time.
The second big issue is regarding our continued relationship with Ski Butlers, the folks who provide our free ski valet. Our arrangement with them has been rather informal in the past … a handshake deal, really. Now, they are interested in helping pay for a significant remodel to the ski locker area. Naturally, this raises a variety of questions that demand a more formal agreement. Everything is up for discussion, from the length of our commitment to them, to the level and evaluation of the services they provide. It’s an exciting opportunity, to say the least.
With each of these two projects Magda appreciated, but didn’t really need my help. Her actions and decisions were consistently correct. Frankly, in the Ski Butlers issue, she had the good sense to go a slightly different direction than I suggested. Specifically, she was tougher on them in the negotiations than I advised. As it turned out, she was correct. Although the whole project is far from certain, she has struck a better deal for the Antlers than I would have. I am so pleased that she values my opinion highly, but also has the intellect and self-confidence to not always blindly follow my advice. Happily, 99 times out of 100 we wind up on the exact same page. It’s a great working relationship. We’ve also spent some quality time with Dave Collins and Tom Schlader reviewing our entire list of potential capital projects, in depth.
From a financial perspective, there’s not much to say. The Antlers is having an incredible record year, and while it may have happened the same way were I still the GM, it’s clear that my absence hasn’t been any sort of detriment to our daily operations (Whew). I will remind you that last summer was an anomaly, with three of our major competitors basically closed for the whole time. With the Cascade still closed and the Lion not finished with their construction, the Antlers is still enjoying some of that same advantageous supply/demand impact this winter. The next twelve months (and beyond) will unquestionably be more challenging. Nevertheless, I believe the Antlers is perfectly positioned in almost every way, and while our revenues may take a slight hit in the future, I’m not the least bit concerned about our continued overall success.
Antlers at Vail Real Estate Update From Rob LeVine: 11/1/2016
People often ask me, “So how’s the real estate market in Vail?” My answer usually starts with an explanation that there are many, many different real estate markets in the Vail area. What we call the “low end of the market” in Eagle County (anything under $400K) has been appreciating rapidly over the past five years. On the other hand, the second home, condominium market (like the Antlers) has been virtually stagnant. That is, until recently … at least for us. Between 2011 and mid-2015, seven condominiums at the Antlers changed hands. That’s a pace of about one sale every eight months. The average price was right around $1,000 per square foot, with not too much divergence from that number.
In the sixteen months since that time, we’ve seen more than twice as much activity with five sales, or about one every three months. More importantly, during that time the average price has been 26% higher, at over $1,260 per square foot. Again, that’s with relatively little deviation, even among very different size units.
Those numbers are encouraging, to say the least. If you asked me, “Why the big jump?”, I confess that I’d be hard pressed to give you a single, definitive answer. I do know that the other condominium properties in Vail which comprise our competitive set (Manor Vail, Lionsquare, Montaneros, Mountain Haus, etc.) have not seen anywhere near as much market adjustment. The recent and ongoing investment that Antlers owners have made in their condominiums as well as the building overall, has certainly helped our reputation and our brand. I have to assume that the property value increases are partly a result of that, as are the improved rental revenues.
Antlers condominium sales 2011 – 2016