|Boon or bane, second
Owners bring tax dollars and start
foundations, but they drive up real estate prices, too
Gary Lebo of Alpenglow
Property Management leaves a home in Eagle-Vail after
checking it over for a second home-owner client.
Businesses like Lebo's stand to thrive as the number of
second-home owners is projected to continue growing.
Bret Hartman/Vail Daily
Scott N. Miller
April 30, 2006
SKI COUNTRY — Gary Lebo of Gypsum has seen
just about all sides of the Vail area’s second home economy.
In the 1970s, he sold second homes. Then, seeing an opportunity,
he started Alpenglow Property Management, a company that caters to
people who own those homes.
“I was asked to take care of some clients’ homes, and it went from
there,” Lebo said.
Over the years, Lebo — who asks clients to consider his company as
a kind of do-everything local concierge — has seen and heard just
about every request imaginable, including chartering planes and
pet-sitting. Neither of those jobs was as simple as it sounds.
For the pets — in this case, three Persian cats — the owners asked
for someone to be in their home around the clock to make sure
their felines were cared for and happy.
Chartering planes is pretty straightforward, most of the time.
Then there was the day a client was dropped off by his own plane
at the Eagle County airport. The client stayed, his jet left.
The next day, an emergency on the West Coast left the client
needing a ride. Lebo made a couple of calls to people he knows at
the airport, and soon after, the client was winging his way back
home in the jet of another wealthy visitor.
No one is ‘typical’
Second homes can include everything from
condos to homes in middle-class neighborhoods to mansions on vast
spreads backing up to a national forest. The mansions may get much
of the attention, but the majority of second homes are more
According to a 2004 study about second homes
conducted by the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, 68
percent of all second homes in Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Grand
counties are smaller than 2,000 square feet, and 73 percent of
those units are valued at less than $400,000.
| Vacation home vocabulary
|• Fractional ownership: A new way
to say “time share.” People who sell them point out any
number of differences, but the bottom line is people
buying a part interest in a piece of property.
• Part-time resident: Another way to say “second-home
• Splitters: People who spend half their time in one
place, half in another
• Double nesters: The same as splitters, people who own,
live and work in two fully-equipped homes
• McMansion: A large house, especially a new one, that has
a size and style that doesn't fit in with the surrounding
houses. Also, “starter castle”
• Log Mansion: Same as above, made of giant timbers.
Boulder attorney Karl Anuta lives in one of those smaller units.
He’s owned his two-bedroom condo at Copper Mountain since the
lifts there opened in 1972.
Originally from the Midwest, Anuta moved to Colorado to attend law
school. He fell in love with the mountains, and with skiing. “I
found I liked the place, the slopes here, and I like the way the
mountain is laid out,” he said of Copper Mountain.
Over the years, Anuta brought his family to the resort and watched
his kids learn to ski there. Now his grandchildren come along.
Gradually, the condo became a real home away from home.
“I used to rent it out occasionally,” he said. “Over the last
three or four years, I’ll rent it to friends, or people who have
rented before, but I’m getting a lot more use out of it. It’s
literally a second home now.”
Second home evolution
Linda Venturoni with the
Northwest Colorado Council of Governments led a comprehensive
survey about the effects of second homes on the regional
economy in 2004. She's working at collecting even more data to
compare to the initial set.
Bret Hartman/Vail Daily
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Anuta is among a growing number of second-home
owners using their places more. Nearly half the people who took
the 2004 survey said they want to spend more time at their second
“A lot of people over the years have retired here,” Anuta said of
his 28-unit condo building.
Other owners are still working, either full-
or part-time, and more people are doing their jobs from their
“Technology allowed me over the years to spend an increasing
amount of time in Vail,” said Alan Kosloff, who has become a
full-time resident of the town.
“It started with the fax machine,” he said. “I could ski, then
come down and there’d be a bunch of faxes. I’d take care of them,
fax back the next day and go skiing again.”
Fax machines gave way to computers and high-speed Internet access.
Now, one of Anuta’s neighbors spends about half his time at Copper
Mountain and the rest traveling on business. His home office is
all he needs, Anuta said.
Like Anuta, Kosloff bought his first mountain home in the 1970s,
starting with a condo his family bought in partnership with three
other families. Over the years, the Kosloffs traded up, and now
own a home in Vail’s exclusive Forest Road neighborhood, right
next to the ski slopes.
With a home in the mountains, the Kosloffs made what for them was
an easy decision to move when Alan stopped working full-time.
A big piece of pie
People like Anuta and Kosloff represent a huge
part of the mountain economy. The council of governments survey
found that 34 percent of all the outside money coming into the
region came from second homes. That figure includes construction,
maintenance, taxes paid and other spending by the owners.
The second-biggest piece of the economic pie
is winter tourism at 28 percent of the total.
Gary Lebo inspects a home in
Beaver Creek. With many area homes costing millions,
second-home owners like having someone local to keep an eye on
Bret Hartman/Vail Daily
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But the size of the second-home economy worries some
decision-makers. A temporary moratorium on new subdivisions in
Eagle County between October of last year and April of this year
was spurred, at least in part, by worries that second homes create
jobs increasingly filled by people who must commute from farther
and farther away.
One estimate predicts that as many 30,000 workers a day will
commute into Eagle County by 2025, up from about 5,000 per day in
Second-home buyers are increasingly purchasing property in
communities that have traditionally been home to the local middle
class, pricing locals out of neighborhoods close to resorts. Other
locals retire and sell their homes to people from out of town.
The end result is the loss of housing for full-time residents who
volunteer for everything from scout troops to town councils.
Linda Venturoni, the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments
researcher who wrote the second-home survey, has first-hand
experience with that phenomenon in her own Summit County
neighborhood in Dillon near the Keystone ski resort.
“About half the homes in my neighborhood are second homes,”
Venturoni said. “Across the street is a second home that the
owners rent out, so we have different people in and out. Another
family is from the Front Range. They’re here regularly, so they’ve
really become neighbors.”
The good news
As some in government worry about second homes
and their effects on communities, others sing the praises of
“Some people don’t know how lucky we are,” said Harry Frampton.
Frampton is a founding partner of Slifer, Smith and Frampton — a
regional real estate company — as well as East West Partners, a
development company that has done work in Eagle and Summit
counties and Denver.
“These people enrich our community, they give
a lot of money personally, and they pay a huge amount of taxes,”
And, in the case of places like Beaver Creek, second homes have
little, if any, effect on locals.
“These people consume almost no public services,” Beaver Creek
Resort Company Director Tony O’Rourke said. Second-home owners
usually don’t have kids in school, and almost never call the
police, ambulance or fire departments, he added. “It’s like
renting a room in your house to someone who’s almost never there.”
But those who own second homes know some locals view their more
affluent neighbors with anything from mistrust to disdain. “I
think some people are fearful,” said Mel Blumenthal, a condo owner
in Snowmass Village.
That fear, he said, is especially acute when talking about
“The permanent population receives tremendous benefits for this
size of town,” Blumenthal said. “I think some of them fear that if
we got the vote, second-home owners would be concerned about
reducing our taxes. But it’s not my sense that we’re being
Many second-home owners write checks — big ones — to local
nonprofits such as music and arts festivals, as well as education
programs for locals.
The Vail Valley Foundation started a program called “Success at
Six” for the 2005-06 school year. That program provided the Eagle
County School District with about $250,000 in scholarships to put
children into local all-day kindergarten programs. Only half-day
kindergarten is free in most Colorado school districts.
“At least half the support for that program has come from
second-home owners,” said Ceil Folz, director of the Vail Valley
Foundation. Second-home owners volunteer for local events, and, of
course, write checks, and lots of them, Folz said.
“It’s a great resource, if you know how to use it,” she said.
Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext.
Vail Daily, Vail Colorado