Snowshoe Mountain Homes Real Estate News

Welcome to the official blog of Snowshoe Mountain Homes Realtor Kirsten Boehmer, with news, happenings, special properties, local interest and more from the top of beautiful Snowshoe Mountain Resort, West Virginia!
kirsten.boehmer@gmail.com
304-572-6731
888-489-1943

Sunday, March 9, 2008

How ownership works at Snowshoe

Possibly the most often asked question that I get as a Realtor at Snowshoe, is "How does ownership work?" The other question I get asked a lot is, "Are these Timeshares?" I thought this would be a good forum to answer these questions.

There are over 2,000 homes here at Snowshoe. When I say home, I mean single-family houses, condominiums and townhomes of all kinds. Every one of them are privately owned by people like you, and are not time-shares. The difference is that when you purchase a time-share, you don't really "own" anything except for some "points" and the ability to use a place for a certain amount of time. With actual ownership, you not only build equity and see certain tax advantages, you can do with your property what you wish, including remodeling, reselling, willing it or deeding it to anyone of your choosing.

Most people who purchase at Snowshoe are people who like to visit Snowshoe twice a year or more, and who would rather put money into their own pockets instead of spending money to rent every time. They know they'll most likely get their money back when they sell. The majority of Snowshoe homeowners choose to rent out their home to other visitors when they are not using it themselves. As an owner, you have many options as to how to approach this. The most common method is to use Snowshoe Mountain's rental program. Most homeowners choose this method because their properties will most likely receive the highest number of traffic leads and potential renters because of the direct and exclusive link from the Snowshoe Mountain website and central reservations phone line.

If for some reason an owner prefers a different management company, they are absolutely allowed to use whoever they wish. There are several local property management companies in the area who each have their own private selections of properties that are unaffiliated with Snowshoe Mountain and operate independently. I would be happy to provide a list of these companies to anyone considering buying a rental property so that you can make the best decision as to which company will work best for you. Another more increasingly common option is the use of online rental websites, such as vrbo.com, Craigslist, and other self-managed sites. As renters search for the best deals, they are increasingly finding that these direct to owner sites can provide a wealth of information to potential renters and offer great properties at competitive, or even great, prices. The drawback to a self-managed property is that it can be a lot of work to figure out all of the logistics, and to have the time to do what could end up as a full-time job.

"So what will it cost me to put my home or condo in a rental program?" Regardless of whether you choose Snowshoe or one of the other local agencies to manage your rental property, you can estimate the following costs. For the Rental Management part, which includes advertising your home, handling the bookings and scheduling, accepting payment, handing out keys, etc., you can estimate paying about 25% of your gross rental receipts to the management company. The other cost will be for housekeeping, and that will run you about 12-15% of your gross receipts. So as a rule of thumb, you can expect to net about 60% of the gross rental income. The benefit to self-management is that you can do without paying someone else to manage your property for you, possibly increasing your net income, but you have to consider the value of your time to handle all of those tasks.

"I understand how the rental programs work, but are there any other expenses that I might expect as a property owner that are unrelated to renting?"
Above, I elaborated on the costs associated with renting your home out. There are two main fees associated with the ownership of a home or condo or townhome on Snowshoe Mountain. The first is your Condo Fees or Home Owner's Association Fees. You can think of this as your utility bundle. As an owner here at Snowshoe, or anywhere, there are ongoing expenses such as water & sewer, heating, telephone, internet, television, etc. Each individual condo association will bundle together these types of expenses for convenience, along with your share of the common area expenses - like the costs for building maintenance, common area lighting, on-premises snow removal etc., and bill you a monthly fee that encompasses it all. It saves you from having to pay every item separately. These fees vary widely by complex, but you can assume in most cases that the newer a complex is, and the more amenities that the complex provides, the higher the condo fees will be to cover it all.

The second fee associated with ownership is called the Mountaintop Assessment, or the Snowshoe Service Assessment. You can think of this like a city tax. The Snowshoe area is unincorporated, and so the resort owner provides many of the services that a city normally would, such as the shuttle bus system in winter, public safety, on-mountain snow removal, etc., as well as a contribution to Shaver's Fork Fire & Rescue department. This fee is based on the assessed value of the home, and you can estimate it based on a $200,000 home costing somewhere around $1,200 per year. In most cases, this fee is billed annually, but some condo complexes will bundle it in with your condo fees, allowing you to spread it out and pay it across a monthly basis.

These are some of the most frequently asked questions I receive. I hope you found this informative! Some traditional agents may think I'm crazy to write all this out. You know, the general rule of thumb among agents is to hang out the bait and then reel in the client so that you can feed the info bit by bit and control the process. I don't work like that. I prefer to be straight forward and give my clients as much information as possible so that they can feel comfortable with their decision. I hope you agree that this is the best way.

Should you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at 304-572-6731 or via e-mail: kboehmer@playground.com to ask. It will be my pleasure to assist you.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Kirsten,

I found your great post after spending the week skiing at Snowshoe Mountain with my family. We stayed with my son in one of the Seneca units during week of 12/20/08.

I am not sure if you're still active with the topic. If so, could you expand on the economics of owning a 2-3 bedroom condo:

1) Typical income generated annually for a 1,2, 3 bedroom condo?
2) What is the actual % tax you reference by Snowshoe?
3) You referenced $1,200 in condo fees and utility for a $200K unit? Is this average?
4)What size condos rent the most?
5) Is Snowshoe a 4 season resort?
6) What is the relationship between Club Intrawest and owning a Snowshoe property?
7) How have property values been effected by current real estate market?
8) Pros and cons of owning a property on a lot down the mountain?

I guess, I am exploring a 4 season getaway for a household of 3.

THANKS.

Kam

Kirsten Boehmer said...

Hi Kam

I'll be happy to help you out! You have a ton of questions here. The best way for us to cover all of these topics will be via phone, but I'll touch on a few things here:

1) We have many different types of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom condos around the resort in various buildings. Each one will be different. Newer complexes will have properties that are quite similar due to age, older complexes will have greater variation due to remodeling, etc. There are too many variations to send out a list of the incomes for all of the different types of 1, 2, and 3 bedroom condos. When posed with this question, I typically respond by asking for some sort of criteria from the client - such as a price range, and location at the resort (village, slopeside or walking distance, condo/townhome or single family home, etc.). This way I can filter through the properties and come up with a more manageable list of properties that suit you, and then we can start talking about more details from there.

2) The "tax" isn't really a tax, it's an assessment from the resort owner, to the homeowners. Because we are not in an incorporated area, there is no official "city", and yet there are expendatures such as the public transportation system, public safety services, fire & EMS, snow removal, common area electrical expenses like streetlights, etc - that must be paid for. The resort owner provides these services and then assesses the citizens, just like a municipality would. This varies from property to property, and from unit to unit. The $100/mo for a $200k property is simply a general guideline and is not set in stone. I can provide the actual fee for any individual unit that you are considering. I do not have the calculation figure for this, but could research it for you if necessary.

3) Mentioned above, the $1,200 annually for a $200k unit is an estimation of the Snowshoe Service Assessment. However, you have confused the SSA with Condo Fees, and they are two separate things. Every complex on the mountain has a Homeowner's Association, made up of homeowners who have been elected by their peers to serve as board members representing their individual associations. They review the budgets necessary to ensure the proper operation and maintenance funds needed for their complex. They also bundle in a significant portion of your utilities (since they work with bulk rates) and general expenses to keep things convenient for you. The amount of your Condo Fees will vary again, by complex and the size of the unit within that complex. Some associations, like Allegheny Springs for example, bundles together the Condo Fees and the Snowshoe Service Assessment together. Other buildings keep them separate. Condo Fees range widely, from a couple hundred a month, to over $1000/month, depending on the complex. Some assess monthly, some quarterly, and some annually. Because of all the variety, like in any home, it is best to narrow things down to a few properties in mind that interest you, prior to digging into expenses.

4)This depends on whether you are looking for the highest Gross Revenue, Net Revenue, or nightly rental rate. It also depends on the rental management company that you choose and the quality of the unit. For 2008, for a property on Snowshoe Mountain's rental program, the highest Grossing property on average, was a 3 bedroom Allegheny Springs condominium, which grossed an average of over $50,000.

5) Our strongest season is winter of course, but summer is our second strongest, with a host of activities and events and fantastic weather. We have a lull in the time between slopes closing and summer, and another lull after the leaves have changed but prior to the slopes opening.

6) There are no properties at Snowshoe Mountain that are part of Club Intrawest.

7) Property values are stronger than in primary markets. There is a lot of inventory on the market, and prices have softened, but not plummeted in most cases. Most are 2nd, 3rd and 4th homes for their owners and most owners are not in dire straits. There is some variability in list pricing based on each owner's level of motivation to sell, as well as the condition of the unit. A Realtor who knows the area well will be able to help you navigate the market to scout out the best deals. I'd encourage you to start a relationship with one, even if it isn't me! As a buyer, you do not pay commission, and an agent's services are free to you.

8) Off mountain properties are great values in my opinion. You get more for your money. More space, acreage, and a "Home". Costs of ownership are lower since you are not paying into the Snowshoe Service Assessment, and in most cases if there is a Homeowner's Association (there are plenty without one), the fees are minimal- maybe a few hundred dollars annually. Cons are, if you want to rent your place out, you might not generate as much simply because it's not the top of the mountain. But then again, there are exceptions to every rule, and with the right advertising, and considering the lower cost of ownership, its definitely worth investigating for a home that you will want to hang onto for years to come.

I hope this has been helpful! I encourage you to call me at 304-572-6731 so that we can talk further. Best wishes, Kirsten.