Contributed by Tim Merrick
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.
“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.
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