Greetings on The First Day of Fall 2014

Contributed by Tim Merrick

The weather has turned this morning and the leaves have noticed. The most beautiful time of year is finally here. The leaves are just starting to turn so make plans to visit soon. The Farmer’s Almanac says it is going to be a cold and snowy winter and seeing the squirrels working overtime and the amount of acorns, I believe it. Come enjoy these beautiful mountains while the weather is perfect and see all the new places to enjoy and explore in the Rockfish Valley. As you are probably aware, the three big questions I get from most owners are how are sales and what is the Jim Justice Organization doing with the resort and is the resort for sale or not? Let me try and answer them.

Here is the year to date data on real estate sales:

2013 Year-to-Date2014 Year-to-Date
Mountain
27 homes on the mountain, from $224,000 to $765,000
47 condos, sales prices from $62,500 to $450,000

5 townhomes
8 lots sold with prices from $35,000 to $73,000
26 homes on the mountain; sales prices from $260,000 to $1,300,000.
37 condos; sales prices from $43,000 to $389,900
Currently there are 7 condos under contract from $69,900 to $209,000 (mostly 2 bedrooms)
1 townhome
18 lots sold with prices from $35,000 to $80,000
Stoney Creek
20 houses sold from $250,000 to $539,500

2 townhouses (attached dwellings) $249,900 to $325,000
5 lots sold with prices from $25,000 to $67,000
11 houses have closed from $229,000 to $681,000
4 homes are under contract ranging from $219,567 to $419,900
1 townhome at $300,000

11 lots sold with prices from $35,000 to $175,000

Like the weather there is sunshine and clouds. Lots sales in the valley are up considerably over last year and it may be due to Stoney Creek’s spreading recognition as a great place to both live and retire. Although homes sales are a bit behind last year’s YTD they should hold pace because people are visiting the area and looking seriously for homes because of our growing reputation in Charlottesville and the many facilities and activities of the Rockfish Valley in addition to our proximity to Charlottesville and the Shenandoah Valley. There are only 23 homes currently for sale in Stoney Creek ranging in price from $239,900 to $945,000. It is not a bad ratio considering there are 548 existing homes in Stoney Creek. Lot sales on the mountain are also up as we are starting to see more spec homes being built and also custom homes. New construction is a sign of a strengthening market. There are currently 105 homes for sale on the mountain and that is about where the inventory has been holding for the past several years which represents about 10% of the 1097 homes on the mountain. There are 103 condos and 14 town homes for sale representing again about 10% of the 1193 existing condos and town homes. These are not bad ratios but we are approaching the danger zone of 12% resale inventory. It is going to take quite a while to get the market to absorb this amount of inventory. Correct pricing is crucial in a competitive market. If you need advice or guidance regarding these figures, please call us or drop us a note.

Both house and condo sales on the mountain are behind last year’s levels and it is not surprising given the ever changing rumors and indecision of the Justice organization on what they plan to do with the Wintergreen Resort.  Buyers are reluctant to buy into a community when they do not understand its future direction or the commitment of its owner. One week owners are told Wintergreen is for sale, the next week it is not.   Persistent rumors circulate that various groups have a strong interest in buying the resort but no offers have been accepted. I am told the resort is still for sale but not actively listed for sale as in the past. The moment we learn anything verifiable from your resort management, you will be the first to know. Regardless of what happens in the near future, we are a mature and respected community and there is a tremendous opportunity at Wintergreen for the right owner. We are still one of the most carefully developed, beautiful, and unique communities in America. Some person or group will recognize this and buy the resort and take it to the next level.

On a local front, Nelson County has been booming this summer. There were about 40,000 people at LOCKNFESTIVAL www.locknfestival.com   at the Oak Ridge Estate in nearby Arrington earlier this month to enjoy the music of some of the bands listed below:

FirstDayFall2014-1

Everyone I spoke to who was at this now annual festival said it was outstanding in every regard. Beautifully organized and executed and most of all, FUN. Many folks stayed at Wintergreen and buses ferried people on a regular basis to the festival from the resort. The 8 mile Spartan Race (akin to the Tough Mudder) a couple of weeks ago drew about 9000 people in one day to the mountain for an obstacle type endurance race. A new distillery has opened on Route 151 called SILVERBACK DISTILLERY and they currently produce Vodka, Gin, Whiskey and Bourbon http://sbdistillery.com  It is really quite good. There is also a great new Seafood restaurant in the little shopping center in Nellysford called Oceanside Seafood and Restaurant http://oceanwide-seafood.com . Everything is super fresh and the best fried seafood I can remember. It opened a few weeks ago by owner Dan Chatman and James Fountain. They have a great seafood market in addition to the restaurant, as you might imagine. There is also a recently opened Mexican restaurant called Margaritas in the same mini shopping center in Nellysford that has become a hit.…fresh ingredients and well prepared and the best Margaritas anywhere. The time for the Devils Backbone annual FESTY will soon be here and if you like Bluegrass music, don’t miss this stringed music festival. www.thefesty.com. Within the next week or two John Washburn and Brian Shanks opened yesterday the new restaurant and Cidery at BOLD ROCK farm on Route 151 and it is well worth a visit. Their hard apple ciders are world class and very popular among the locals and it is now being distributed nationally. www.boldrock.com . Finally, don’t forget the following great microbreweries and restaurants which have sprung up in Crozet and along Route 151 in the past few years. In addition to the great vineyards and other restaurants you know in the area along Route 151, they are all great.

Blue Mountain Brewery www.bluemountainbrewery.com

Starr Hill www.starrhill.com

Wild Wolf www.wildwolfbeer.com

 Devils Backbone www.dbbrewingcompany.com

Finally, a little personal news, Last week Judy and I moved to beautiful Stoney Creek. Here is the view off the back deck taken this morning of the 8th fairway of the Shamokin Course. The old 17th for you old timers.

FirstdayFall2014-2

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New Year 2015 Newsletter

Contributed by Tim Merrick

WinterMessage1View from Mountain Inn Courtyard this week

The good news this winter is we opened for skiing in November with almost a foot of natural snow over Thanksgiving and got a good jump on snow making in December due to cold weather. We also had a good January even with the normal but short January thaw. As we go into February and the next two months of ski season, all trails are open and well covered and the skiers are here. Conditions are excellent so come up and bring your family and friends.

Included is a very sad and disturbing picture to prove an important point. I spoke to our Fire Chief, Curtis Sheets this past week, about a fire which occurred in a rental house last Sunday week and below are his comments. I had asked him about the cause of the fire which is still under investigation and also if the place had a fire alarm system and what would be a good source for an alarm system. This house did not. Curtis strongly suggests that all houses at Wintergreen on the mountain and the valley have a fire alarm system of some type installed in all homes. Fires are rare at Wintergreen but they are always terrifying.

WinterMessage2A total loss on Hemlock Drive

His comments:

“The alarm company which does the most work up here is Vector Security.  (1-888-Vector1)

The attached photo was taken just prior to our arrival at Hemlock Drive.  Our response time was 3 minutes.  This occurred at 3PM on a busy ski Sunday.  Even though there were so many people up here, the fire still went unnoticed until it was far too late for us to save the structure. 

Had there been an alarm system, the owners would be repairing rather than replacing.  As we discussed, alarm systems can also have a low-temperature sensor.  If an owner or guest closes the door but it doesn’t latch, a gust of wind can open the door and allow cold temps to freeze the pipes.  A low-temp sensor would send out a trouble call and damage could be avoided.” 

THE HISTORY OF WINTERGREEN

As we prepare for the publication of a spectacular new book on the History of Wintergreen, probably available in late fall just in time for this Christmas. Many of us who have been at Wintergreen from the beginning have been working with the author, Mary Buford Hitz, who is doing a wonderful job capturing the magic and luck and dedication involved in creating this special place we all love. I will let everyone know just before it goes to press so you can have one of the first copies. I am sure there will be a book signing function just after publication.  Speaking of new books, Mark Glickman, the ex – PR and Marketing director for the resort and did a remarkable job for Wintergreen in his years here and put us on the map. He has just come out with a new book. You will be getting an invitation to his book signing party which we are sponsoring on Feb. 21st at Bold Rock Cidery at 7:00 PM. Please come if you can. BOLD ROCK is a wonderful and attractive new Cidery on Route 151 between Stoney Creek and the Mountain and their hard cider is world class.

REAL ESTATE UPDATE

As mentioned in previous newsletters, we are concerned with the impact of the continuing growth of resale inventory. Too many places listed for sale becomes a problem for property owners in private residential club communities like Wintergreen who need and want liquidity. Demographics today are shifting. Homes and condos and lots are being sold to younger families on the mountain just as they were many years ago. A lack of sales also affects club memberships, a substantial revenue generator for the resort. To keep both property and club membership values strong in a competitive environment, a community needs effective marketing and promotion. WREC has always marketed the Wintergreen Community first and then houses and lots and condos. A purchase here has always been a lifestyle change first; then a housing decision. Continuity and focus and collaboration in marketing are as important as maintaining the facilities/grounds, enforcing covenants, and promoting facility and amenity development. Since we were the developer and original real estate company, we have kept aggressive and sophisticated marketing programs in place over the past four decades because not just because we have the institutional knowledge and project marketing history, but because we have to be aggressive in order to keep listing and selling properties for our owners.  The subsequent real estate sale we create drives revenues to all areas of the resort and the nearby businesses of the Rockfish.

Like gas prices, interest rates are rates down and are very impressive. I just spoke to a friend who is a mortgage broker and he committed to a current rate of 3.625% and perhaps a 3.5% fixed rate for 30 years on a 90% loan on conventional financing ($417,000 or lower) and zero points. Very cheap rates! Plenty of financing is available currently for new buyers or for refinancing existing mortgages. Mortgage backed bonds and treasury bonds rallied again driving rates. The Euro fell to 9 year lows, U.S. bonds rallied, sending the benchmark 10-year note up a bit and mortgage rates fell once again. Good time to be looking for new purchase financing or re-financing. Please call me if I can help you with funding sources for either your primary or secondary home.

In regard to the year- end real estate sales, below are the figures compared to last year. Generally most categories of sales were off from the previous year. Detached homes on the mountain stayed about the same counting the pending deals. Condo sales were a bit lower and townhouse considerably lower.  The exceptions were land sales in both the valley and the mountain. Perhaps it indicates the appealing land values and the long term optimism of some buyers.

The current inventory for home and condos is still high due to many properties being over-priced in this market. There are excellent values in real estate both on the mountain and in the valley nor can I remember when I have seen interest rates this low. Several owners have reported that they are also pleased with their rental revenue, so whether you are interested or have friends or family who are looking for a place to use or perhaps use and rent part-time, now would be a good time to contact us.

2014 Sales2013 Sales
Mountain
Houses
42 sales ( $185,000 to $1,300,000)
4 contingent sales pending

Condos
54 sales ($43,000 to $389,000)
5 contingent sales pending

Townhouses
1 sale ($290,000)
1 contingent sale pending

Land
21 sales ($29,000 to $94,000)
1 contingent sale pending

47 sales ($161,600 to $1,200,000)



65 sales ($62,500 to $450,000)



6 Sales (195,000 to $362,500)



14 sales ($25,000 to $150,000)
Stoney Creek
Houses
19 sales ($219,567 to $681,000)
1 contingent sale pending

Townhouses
2 sales ($310,000 to $329,000)

Land
13 Sales ($18,000 to $175,000)

26 sales ($250,000 to $800,000)



4 sales ($249,900 to $325,000)


9 Sales ($25,000 to $137,000)

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Wintergreen Sold to EPR Properties

Wintergreen Sold to EPR Properties

Last year about this time we told you that the Wintergreen Resort was for sale. The sale, to EPR Properties, was reported this morning.

While there is no way to predict long-term impact of the sale, it is certain that the resort is in good financial shape and remains one of the most attractive facilities in the Middle Atlantic States. The last change of ownership brought positive results; we are optimistic that this change will do so as well. Consider this: no other resort in the Mid-Atlantic States has the same combination of closeness to metro areas, world-class amenities, a spectacular setting, and a stable financial condition. We were high on Wintergreen when we helped found it, 36 years ago, and remain so.

Here are some excerpts from the press release:

EPR PROPERTIES ACQUIRES ASSETS OF WINTERGREEN RESORT
Pacific Group Resorts to lease and operate Wintergreen

EPR Properties (EPR: NYSE,) a real estate investment trust (REIT) purchased the assets of Wintergreen Resort in conjunction with its operator for the property, Pacific Group Resorts, Inc. Wintergreen is about 45 minutes southwest of Charlottesville, Virginia. Pacific Group Resorts will lease the property from EPR and manage the resort.

Hank Thiess, General Manager of Wintergreen Resort and a longtime industry veteran, expressed his enthusiasm for the transaction, “I’ve been in this industry for over 30 years and I’ve known the leadership of Pacific Group Resorts for over 20 years. They have tons of experience in this industry at some of the most iconic resorts in the West. My management team and I are excited for the possibilities this partnership could bring to our members and guests.”

“Wintergreen has great facilities,” noted Mark K. Fischer, speaking on behalf of Pacific Group Resorts. “Between ski, golf, tennis, land meeting space, Wintergreen is an active year round playground, and it is right next to the Shenandoah National Forest, so it is one of the most beautiful resorts in the eastern U.S. We are very much looking forward to helping the staff deliver the best possible guest experiences.”
Pacific Group Resorts also owns Ragged Mountain in New Hampshire, and worked in concert with EPR to acquire Wisp Resort in Western Maryland in 2012. EPR Properties’ total investment portfolio exceeds $3.9 billion and the company adheres to rigorous underwriting and investing criteria centered on key industry and property level cash flow standards.

In commenting about potential changes and opportunities at Wintergreen, Fischer remarked, “The executive team at PGRI has! a broad base of experience in mountain resort operations and in the master planning and development of ski resorts. We hope to work with the management team at Wintergreen to maximize the customer experience through a combination of meticulous planning and operating enhancements and efficiencies. The people at Wintergreen are top notch, and we are delighted to be working with them on the possibilities for growth here.”

The new buyers purchased Wintergreen from James C. Justice of West Virginia. Justice had acquired the resort in the summer of 2012 and had injected capital into the property to make improvements and to stabilize the operations. Pacific Group Resorts intends to work with the staff and with property owners in the area to see how they can make it an even more enjoyable place to visit.

You can find out more about EPR Properties on their website: www.eprkc.com. Pacific Group Resorts, the new operators of Wintergreen also have a website: www.pgri.us. We will of course keep you up to date on any significant new announcements.

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Come See A Master of Promotion — and an Old Friend (Date Changed to March 14)

Come See a Master of the Art of Promotion

And an Old Friend of Wintergreen

Wintergreen Real Estate and Bold Rock are pleased to sponsor this event for the community.

Mark Glickman will present at Bold Rock Hard Cider, on the 14th March at 7 pm. Mark, the author of Marketing Paradise, will discuss his book at the meeting.

Marketing Paradise is a compilation of some his favorite stories and guidance, offering some eye-opening insights and just plain fun. He’ll take you behind the scenes, including some anecdotes about Wintergreen. For example:

  • The World’s Longest Golf Drive from the Top of a Ski Slope
  • When the White House Moves Into Your Resort
  • Rebuilding the Coast with Best-selling Author John Grisham
  • John Boy’s Jockstrap-Becoming an Honorary Walton
  • How Dolly Parton Saved My Butt
  • The World’s Largest Pumpkin
  • Skiing Down 19th Street in the Nation’s Capital

And much more!

Mark started in New York as a public relations, advertising and marketing specialist, promoting a variety of hospitality and entertainment clients, including two of the world’s top grossing restaurants: Tavern on the Green and Maxwell’s Plum.

Mark left New York to join the management team at Wintergreen, an 11,000-acre resort and real estate community in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains and at the time, a well-kept secret. Mark developed new national and international markets for the resort. In addition, he solicited national environmental, family, golf and tennis awards for the resort and positioned Wintergreen as one of the country’s top year-round destinations.

Mark is widely credited with changing the face of tourism in Virginia by founding both the Golf Virginia Resorts Association and the Ski Virginia Association. He served as President of both associations and testified to Virginia’s General Assembly on behalf of the tourism industry on the benefits of public-private partnerships.

Glickman1Mark receiving the “Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales & Marketing”
award by the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

For More Information and Directions
Click here for directions to Bold RockHard Cider in Nellysford, VA

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Wintergreen Performing Arts society

Wintergreen Performing Arts Society

Summer Music Festival
One of the things that makes Wintergreen such a unique, wonderful place to vacation is its spectacular diversity. In addition to the better-known amenities, Wintergreen offers world-class fine arts. Wintergreen Performing Arts has held its Wintergreen Summer Music Festival for 19 years. This summer, the final season for Artistic and Executive Director Larry Alan Smith is likely to be the best festival yet. Click here to see a video from 2013.

WPA-1Wintergreen Performing Arts Society Orchestra In Concert

The theme this year, Amazonas—The Rhythms and Colors of South America, showcases the rich and diverse music of the region drained by the Amazon River, performed by more than 100 professional musicians from around the world between July 7 and August 3. Join us and attend a wide range of events, including concerts, lectures, rehearsals, master classes, and even cooking classes. Click here for a festival brochure.

WPA-2Clockwise from upper left: Berta Rojas, Paraguay; Alcides Rodrigues, Venezula; Mirian Conti, Argentina; Carrie Koffman, American (playing Villa-Lobos)

A Special Opportunity
We at Wintergreen Real Estate are proud to be a long-term sponsor of the Summer Music Festival. We would like to invite you to attend the festival. In addition, however, we ask those who have homes in the area to consider hosting one or more musicians during the festival.

Do you have an extra bedroom and bathroom to share, or an empty house or condo available for the month of July? Please help. Consider providing housing for a musician for the month, one or two weeks, or even just a weekend. And, in addition to the unique opportunity to interact with these talented professionals, each host or host family will receive 2 free tickets to a Festival concert and an invitation to a picnic celebration for hosts and musicians during the Festival, and possibly, a tax benefit. Wintergreen Performing Arts will provide house cleaning prior to the arrival or following the departure of the musicians.

For More Information
Learn more about the festival and housing by visiting the offices of Wintergreen Performing Arts or their website (www.wintergreenperformingarts.org). If you think you can provide housing, call (434-325-8292) or email (kelly@wintergreenperformingarts.org) Kelly Berrang, housing coordinator.

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Spring 2014 Newsletter

Spring 2014 Newsletter

After one of the best winters in the history of Wintergreen Resort, our focus is quietly turning from the cold winter skiing successes to the happy warmth of spring. Hiking, golf, mountain biking, tennis, golf, fishing, spa activities, natural beauty, and our local wineries and brew pubs usher in the new season.

Spring2014-1Carpet of Trillium blooms near the Wintergreen Nature Center

Market Trends

As real estate professionals, we also encourage you to consider taking advantage of the improving market. The first quarter of 2014 is indicating what we believed is a sustainable real estate recovery even although sales were a bit behind this past quarter compared to the first quarter of 2013, when they were unusually high.

spring2014-2Number of closed sales per quarter 1Q2013-1Q2014

Thankfully, the average days on the market for properties to sell continues to decrease. There is a trend toward more rapid absorption, but if properties are not correctly priced, they will still take between 175 to 200 days to sell. The current number of properties on the market represents about 22 months of inventory.

Spring2014-3Average number of days on the market per quarter 1Q2013-1Q2014

More good news: median sales prices continue to rise. Sales prices for the first quarter of this year is about 16% higher than the median sales price for 2013. It is a part of the sustainability formula mentioned previously.

Spring2014-4Median sales price per quarter 1Q2013-1Q2014

Prices are continuing to stabilize, with the average sales prices coming in at around 90% of the listing price.

Spring2014-5Ratio of averages sales price to average list price per quarter 1Q2013-1Q2014

Pay Us A Visit

If you are not already here, you should come. Escape the everyday grind, congestion, and traffic and come up where the air is clear and there is a lot to do. Waterfalls, stunning scenery, and world class views abound. People are welcoming and friendly.

Spring is one of the most spectacular times of the year. The weather is perfect. People come from all over the world to see spectacular mountain flowers from mid-April to mid-July. Dogwoods, redbuds, mountain laurel, serviceberries, flame azaleas, rhododendrons, and many other blooming shrubs and flowers are at their scenic best. Many of these species bloom only in a few other places in the world.

The Nellysford Farmer’s Market is also in full swing.

Spring2014-6Nelson County Farmer’s Market Now Open Behind Wintergreen Real Estate Company Stoney Creek Office

It takes a special person to appreciate the year ’round appeal of a magical place like Wintergreen. If you would like to discover what we and Mother Nature have to offer in the mountain of Central Virginia we personally welcome you and your family and friends and look forward to serving your real estate needs. In the event you have friends who want to be a part of some place very special, please drop us a quick email or call. Our company is the only company with two offices conveniently located at the entrance to Stoney Creek and on Devils Knob next to the Wintergarden Spa. If you have friends or family coming to Wintergreen that may have a real estate interest, please give them our number, and we will not only assist them in any way possible but also promise to make them feel very special.

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Winter 2013-2014 Newsletter

Winter 2013-2014 Newsletter

It is snowing on the mountain as we write this. The cold weather everyone is complaining about has made this one of the best ski seasons yet at Wintergreen. Cold temperatures combined with new snow making equipment gave us a five-foot snow base this week. Recent investments, good weather, and good management have brought the Wintergreen Resort back to health.

Tubing at Wintergreen

Tubing at Wintergreen

Tubing at Wintergreen

Real Estate Climate Improvement Continues

The real estate climate continues to improve as we move out of 2013. Compared with 2012, the number of days on the market has declined slightly, the sales price to list price ratios have improved slightly, and the number of closings per month is roughly even with 2012. Let us know if you would like to see the details.

Real Estate Market Share

With your help, we remain the most effective real estate firm in the Wintergreen-Stoney Creek area. We are not affiliated with the Resort in any way. Our independent, small group of experienced, dedicated professionals is dedicated to serving you, our clients. And you have shown your appreciation by continuing to favor us over other local firms.

1Q14-2Wintergreen Resort For Sale

One way we can provide a service is by keeping you informed.  We learned this week that the Wintergreen Resort is up for sale. From the Charlottesville Daily Progress: “… Wintergreen Resort, coming off one of its best years ever, is for up for sale just two years after it was purchased by coal baron James C. Justice. Justice, who also owns The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., bought Wintergreen in June 2012 for an estimated $16.5 million.”

“There’s no rush or hurry to sell it,” Justice told The Associated Press. “If the right person comes along that I think is the right fit, yeah, I will sell it.”

Mr. Justice says that other pressures have kept him from spending time at Wintergreen, and that he feels that selling Wintergreen may be a better approach. “It’s like, what in the world, you own a business and you’re not ever there?” Justice said. “You’re not really actively participating in the management and you’re really not enjoying your assets. I keep telling myself, I’m going to go, I’m going to go. And I just don’t make it there.”

While there is no way to predict the impact of Mr. Justice’s decision, it is certain that the resort is in good financial shape and remains one of the most attractive facilities in the Middle Atlantic states. The last change of ownership brought positive results; we are optimistic that the next change, when it occurs, will do so as well. Consider this: no other resort in the Mid-Atlantic states has the same combination of closeness to metro areas, world-class amenities, a spectacular setting, and a stable financial condition. We were high on Wintergreen when we helped found it, 35 years ago, and remain so.

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WREC Sponsors Improvised Shakespeare Company

WREC Sponsors Improvised Shakespeare Company
You suggest a topic, they do the rest

Ever wanted to produce a play? Here’s your chance! The cast of the Improvised Shakespeare Company creates fully-improvised plays during their performance. They base the plays on suggestions from the audience. One play might be yours.

Shakespeare1The hour is bound to be filled with Elizabethan power struggles, kings, queens, star-crossed lovers, swordplay, rhyming couplets, and other devices using the language and themes Shakespeare made famous. Nothing is planned or written in advance. Nothing is rehearsed. We can’t guarantee what’s covered, but we can guarantee an immensely enjoyable evening, with no prior Shakespeare exposure required.

We, together with Wintergreen Performing Arts, invite you to attend the performance on Wednsaday, July 24th at 7:30 pm. Click here for more information and tickets.

The ISC will also hold a Morning Seminar on the morning following the performance, giving you a chance to ask questions and attend a hands-on workshop.

About the Improvised Shakespeare Company

Shakespeare2The Improvised Shakespeare Company was founded in 2005. They have been performing at the world-famous iO Theater in Chicago for more than six years in addition to entertaining audiences around the globe with the touring company. In addition to many other awards, they were just named Chicago’s best improv group by the Chicago Reader and the Chicago Examiner and received a New York Nightlife Award for “Best Comedic Performance by a Group.”

A Long History of Giving Back

Our commitment to the community is evident from our actions. We make sure a part of our earnings goes to local charity. Recent beneficiaries include Wintergreen Performing Arts, The Wintergreen Nature Foundation, Nelson County Habitat for Humanity, Nelson County Great Aspirations Scholarship Program, Inc. (GRASP), USMC Toys for Tots, and the Wintergreen Adaptive Ski organization, among others. Over the years we have contributed millions of dollars in the form of cash and property to worthy causes and organizations in and around Wintergreen. Our clients can feel comfortable in knowing that, in dealing with the Wintergreen Real Estate Co., they are benefiting the local community as well as themselves.

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Tim Merrick’s Spring 2014 Newsletter

March Madness is upon us and as I write Virginia is going to Madison Square Garden to the SWEET 16. Congratulations to a great coach and a great team. Keep your fingers crossed. UVA could win it all.

We are again skiing into the first week of April. Even though there was an outstanding ski season this year, sales in the first quarter of 2014 were fair but far short of outstanding. There were only 12 houses sold on the mountain with prices ranging from $215,000 for a 1500 sq.ft. house to a large 5000 plus sq.ft. house on Devils Knob Loop for $1,300,000. A large spread. Condo sales on the mountain totaled 16 for the first quarter with prices ranging from $65,000 for an efficiency condo in Timbers to $399,000 for a large 4 bedroom condo in High Ridge Place. Currently, there are over 100 condos listed and prices are still adjusting. For the first three months, there were 11 lot sales on the mountain ranging from $94,000 for a golf front lot on the Devils Knob course to $29,500 for an interior lot in Laurel Springs. Stoney Creek has 3 home sales pending from $229,000 to almost $700,000. 5 lots have sold this year in Stoney Creek ranging from a bargain $35,000 to $90,000 and a couple more are pending. There are almost 100 houses on the market on the mountain and many of the older homes are overpriced. Until these prices adjust to the realities of the market, these listing will continue to stagnate and clog the market with overpriced inventory, and thus negatively affect liquidity. Buyers are looking for real value and have plenty of selection. Homes and condos which are effectively priced and in great shape are getting shown and are getting offers. It is our job as Realtors to teach our clients how to sell their homes, not just throw a listing into MLS or on web search engines in hopes someone buys it.

Any Realtor  can put a house ON the market; but the most effective Realtors put a listing IN the market. My job is to make a listing one of the top five a buyer wants to see. There are OPPORTUNITY HOMES AND CONDOS, where they are priced at market or below and move in ready and the home inspection has been done by the seller and inspection deficiencies corrected; DEAL HOMES AND CONDOS, maybe these need some fixing up or have been on the market a long time and are now priced below market; and then there is EVERYTHING ELSE, which statistically is about 50% of the market. They are ON the market but not IN the market. The difference is effective pricing. There are three ways to develop price: 1. Compare a subject property to a home which has sold and use that selling cost per square foot as measure of where the property should be valued. 2. A CMA (comparative market analysis) where a subject property is compared to what else is for sale in a neighborhood. 3. The absorption rate which gives the seller the odds of selling the house. The absorption rate is based on demographics and economic factors.  We have a duty to inform our buyers on how to purchase a home or condo and to that end I am doing some new things. Among new ideas, I am finishing a new manual on HOW TO BUY and SELL AT WINTERGREEN AND SURROUNDING AREAS to send to prospects and owners. I hope it will stimulate buyers as we go into the spring market. The other big question in a recovering market is: “Where are the buyers?”  I have started advertising a list of buyers who are looking for specific properties in hopes the Internet and other brokers will take  notice. Most real estate companies advertise their listings in an effort to stimulate the market. Why not advertise their buyers?  Our real estate team at Wintergreen Real Estate has the buyers and we are going to start advertising that fact. Historically, we have sold more real estate than all the other companies working in the area combined. ($1,400,000,000 over the years) and our agents have over 250 years of combined experience and all our folks work full time. We get results for our sellers.

 The other big question in the market is what the Justice Group plans to do with the resort. Everyone is aware that his company quietly listed it with the national and international commercial real group, Jones Lang LaSalle www.jll.com. It came as a complete surprise to the area real estate companies and the resort management. At this point no one knows who is going to buy Wintergreen or what is going to happen or when. Whoever will buy it, will buy all of it and then, make continued substantial investments to improve the facilities and amenities and that will boost resort income and property sales. It is easy to understand the appeal not only to the Jim Justice Company but also to a future owner. It would be almost impossible today to put together a 13,000 acre planned community surrounded on three sides by the George Washington National Forest and within three hours’ drive from three high demographic, almost recession proof major metropolitan markets. The land acquisition, the governmental approvals, the capital investment, environmental challenges, etc. would make it almost prohibitive to create another Wintergreen but yet; this has been accomplished by all of us who have been here since the beginning. The facilities and amenities at Wintergreen are complete. It is a highly respected, environmentally sensitive developed 40 year old community. It has thousands of supportive owners who have both primary and secondary homes here. It has a great ski facility and a multi-faceted resort operation.  It is now producing profits from operations both last year and this year. The Justice investments in snow making have created some of the best ski conditions in history. The Justice Companies have said they will continue to support Wintergreen both financially and corporately while they look for a suitable buyer who will be a good steward for our philosophies and goals as a community. The major capital investments already begun will continue whether by Justice or the new owners.  I am optimistic about the future. Wintergreen will only get better. Finally, in regard to real estate sales, I do not think the current uncertainty of the resort has adversely affect sales, because our buyers continue to see value and opportunity at Wintergreen, regardless of who owns it. In addition, there is much happening in Northern Nelson County and along Route 151 and Charlottesville and Wintergreen is a big part of it. It will only get better.

 Finally, a little recipe someone sent me and it is excellent for those quick dinners or subs during the March Madness Basketball play-offs. Enjoy. It is really quite good and easy to create.

Mama’s Authentic Italian Meatballs

Gather up your family for a hearty meal with authentic Italian meatballs. You can serve them immediately with a traditional Italian Salad featuring iceberg wedges and a creamy sauce, or save them for pasta, sandwiches and snacks. Delicious and great for a feast with the whole famiglia!  
 
Makes about 35 meatballs.
*    3/4 pound ground pork
*    3/4 pound ground veal
*    3/4 pound ground beef
*    1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
*    3/4 cup dry Italian-style breadcrumbs
*    4 large eggs
*    1/4 cup chopped garlic
*    2 teaspoons salt
In a large bowl combine ground meat, Romano cheese, breadcrumbs, eggs, garlic, and salt. Mix well. Scoop out meat with a teaspoon and shape meatballs so they are about golf ball size. Set aside to rest for 1 hour, then simmer in your favorite sauce for about 45 minutes until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit, or until one meatball chopped apart looks evenly brown-colored on the inside. Serve with your favorite garlic bread or garlic knots, and the Italian Salad below!  
 
Italian Salad (serves four)
*    Pancetta, 1 pack
*    1 head iceberg lettuce
Dressing:
*    2/3 cup buttermilk
*    1/2 cup sour cream
*    1 garlic clove, minced
*    Gorgonzola cheese (4 or 5 slices for dressing, and some small chunks for topping)
Chop Pancetta into small cubes and cook as you would bacon, sautéing in a pan for approximately 5 to 7 minutes, until crispy. In the meantime, prepare the dressing. Assemble the buttermilk, sour cream, and garlic and Gorgonzola cheese in a small bowl and whisk together. When the Pancetta is ready, remove the chunks and place them on paper towels to soak up the fat. Slice the iceberg lettuce into quarter wedges, and pour the creamy, tangy dressing over. Top with the Pancetta chunks and more Gorgonzola chunks, as desired.

Have a great spring and we are getting a late spring snow once again; perhaps this weekend, Spring will finally arrive.
 
 All the best,

 Tim

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Winter 2013-14 Comes to Wintergreen

HAPPY NEW YEAR
Contributed by Tim Merrick

http://www.wintergreenrealestate.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Picture1.jpg

  6th Hole of Shamokin Nine on the Stoney Creek Course New Year’s Day Afternoon

 

As we begin another year and I try to predict where the housing market at Wintergreen is headed in 2014, a look back reveals both stability and a few trends. The market has remained about the same in the past couple of years in regard to the scope and number of sales, particularly in regard to activity on the mountain. While not dramatic, the past couple of months have seen steady sales activity on the mountain and it is encouraging as we go into ski season. Currently here are close to 100 houses and 100 condos listed for sale on the mountain and 46 lots, about the same as the last fall newsletter. In Stoney Creek, there are 21 houses for sale (some pulled from the market until spring), 4 townhouses, and 71 lots. I am anticipating a better year than last years but in order for properties to sell today, properties must be priced accurately.  Unfortunately, perhaps due to competition, many area Realtors take listings at whatever prices they are told by the owners or set high expectations to obtain the listing without explaining the realities of the market. Therefore, there is overpriced inventory. Buyers today are looking for value and houses that are priced within the crosshairs of the price/value target in the market get offers and contracts. Many of the 25 to 30 year older houses on the mountain need work, are overpriced, and have languished. However, there is good news. This past year saw increased sales activity in Stoney Creek. More than twice as many houses sold in the valley in 2013 than in 2012. I think this is partially attributable to the quest for retirement. Many friends tell me that at social gatherings, retirement and where to retire has become a major topic of conversation. Perhaps this has led people to beautiful Rockfish Valley of Virginia and Stoney Creek and the communities in and around Charlottesville. Being close to a college town like Charlottesville with all it has to offer and with the great neighbors and tremendous amenities of Wintergreen combined with some of the best real estate values in the country makes this area hard to resist.

Here are the sales comparisons:

Year 2013

Year 2012

Mountain

Number of sales

Mountain

Number of Sales

Houses SOLD

($224K – $1,046K)

Pending sales

($239K –  $600K)

Condos SOLD

($62.5K – $450K)

Lots SOLD

($10.5K – $390K)

Townhouses SOLD

($195K- $362.5K)

47

 

2

 

65

 

14

 

6

Houses SOLD

($196K – $1.450K)

 

 

Condos SOLD

($62.5K -$ 490K)

Lots SOLD

($10K – $150K)

Townhouses SOLD

($194K -$270K)

51

 

 

 

65

 

16

 

3

 

 

 


 

Year 2013

Year 2012

Valley

 

Number of sales

Valley

Number of sales

Houses SOLD

($250K – $800K)

Lots SOLD

($25K – $137K)

Townhouses SOLD

($249.5K – $325K)

26

 

9

 

4

Houses SOLD

($295K – $673K)

Lots SOLD

($15K – $95K)

Townhouses SOLD

($264.5K)

 

 

 

 

11

 

13

 

1

The New Wintergreen Club Rules

We are off to a strong ski season (where most of the resort’s annual revenue is generated) and have just completed a great Christmas week. Skiing conditions are excellent and we have more slopes covered and open than in the past. The Justice Family’s investment in ski operations this past year allows the resorts to make far more snow when conditions allow. The other anticipated change is the implementation in this December of the new club structure at Wintergreen. You are probably aware, that unless an owner is a member of the new Wintergreen Club; they will not be allowed to use the Spa (unless they are signed up for specific Spa treatments), the mountain golf course, Devils Knob Grill, or the tennis facilities. Use of the mountain top resort facilities will be limited to members only and their families, their guests, and any paying resort guests staying through the front desk at the Mountain Inn. Guests of club members will also be allowed to use a member’s guess passes and will be granted access on a pay-as-you-go basis to the mountain top facilities. For those owners who cannot justify enough use of the club facilities enough to buy membership, but still have properties which they rent to the general public, their guests will not be allowed to use the member facilities on the upper mountain. However, should owners decide to join at any time,  there is a simple payment plan spread over three years for the $10,000 initiation fee, based on a fixed 5% interest rate. It could make sense if one has a robust private rental program through WREC, our company, or www.VRBO.com or one of the local property rental companies. Call me or drop me an email if I can explain more about the club membership program or send you information.

Updated Financial News.

The Fed’s in mid-December announced that it would begin tapering its economic stimulus efforts. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s decision to scale back on Bond and Treasury purchases by $10 billion signaled that he believes the economy has shown sufficient ability to play on its own, but they are watching the recovery closely.  The Fed’s ambivalence towards tapering dominated central banking discussions and created market volatility for most of 2013. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke noted that the tapering process will continue to be dependent on economic data, but most economists would agree that it is time to wean the economy off of this artificial stimulus. Rates could rise even further with Fed tapering but home loan rates still remain attractive compared to historical levels.  Janet Yellen, the Fed’s current vice chairman who will probably succeed Bernanke, voted in favor of the policy action, which was bolstered by promising figures in the labor and housing markets. This process will have an impact on home loan rates as we go into next year, but it has not dampened sales in Central Virginia markets.  If you have any questions about your personal situation or would like to inquire about housing and home loans, please don’t hesitate to contact me. We have excellent funding sources familiar with Wintergreen and rates are very attractive.

The Year in Housing
National housing gained traction in 2013 amid tepid job gains and rising stock values. Residential construction starts soared in November to a five-year high, explaining why builder optimism last month matched its highest level since 2005. Despite robust new construction, sales of previously-owned homes declined nationally for the third consecutive month in November to the lowest level this year. Purchases overall dropped 4.3 % to a 4.9 million annual rate, in a mid-December report from the National Association of Realtors. The report also showed that the median price of an existing home rose 9.4 % to $196,300 from $179,400 one year ago. We follow the trends of the national and regional markets, only several months behind. I think ski season will bring more buyers to the mountain this winter serious in finding a second home. This spring will see more activity in the valley. I believe we are going to have a strong 2014, surpassing what we have done in the past two years, regardless of little higher interest rates and larger inventory. As the economy improves this year, folks in the primary communities of Northern Virginia, D.C., Richmond, Tidewater, the Carolina Triangle, etc. will be looking for a 2nd home and also for a place for retirement.

Thanks for all of your support and friendship and please think of me if you have questions about real estate or have friends or family who might have an interest in real estate in Central Virginia. In addition to Wintergreen, I do a lot of research and sales for clients in Nelson Co., Charlottesville, and the surrounding counties.

Contributed by Tim Merrick

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