If you’re a millionaire looking to pay cash for a luxury home in the Rocky Mountain foothills, Colorado Springs is the market for you.
While the bottom part of the housing market continues to heat up — driving availability down and prices to record highs — local real estate agents have had a much harder time moving homes priced above $1 million.
“It has been this way here for the past two years or so,” said Arlyene Reynolds, a local RE/MAX Realtor specializing in luxury real estate. “There are probably 60 or so houses on the market for over $1 million.”
There are currently 66 active listings in Colorado Springs for homes priced at or above $1 million, according to data aggregated by the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors. Those homes range from $1.1 million downtown condos to sprawling multimillion-dollar estates, such as a $7.7 million home near Black Forest that comes with an indoor ice rink. And out of the 1,695 homes that sold in August, only seven (up from four in July and five last August) were priced at more than $1 million.
Because it’s not uncommon for homes in the higher price ranges to remain on the market for years, many that do sell often go for far below their original list price while others are sent to auction.
Two luxury properties are set to go to auction Sept. 29 via a relatively new player on the local real estate scene: New York-based Concierge Auctions, which specializes in selling lavish and unique products in destination markets worldwide.
Concierge made its first foray into the Colorado Springs market with the sale of two properties last year. This year, the company sold the historic Maytag mansion at 19 Elm Ave. in The Broadmoor hotel’s neighborhood for a pre-auction offer of $4.4 million, which real estate experts say was the largest residential sale in Colorado Springs in more than a decade.
“Occasionally -— maybe 10 percent of the time —we’ll receive a pre-auction offer from someone who has the means to make an offer close to list price and who doesn’t want to risk losing it at auction,” said Lisa Libertore, a project sales manager with Concierge Auctions.
3 PINE ROAD
A Russian couple who moved to Colorado Springs to have better access to good schools for their children commissioned the 11,593-square-foot neoclassical home at 3 Pine Road.
“At that time, Colorado Springs was a move-in city,” said Newport Co. owner Rick Delesk, who built the home at 3 Pine Road and many others in The Broadmoor resort community in the 1990s. “People were coming here from other states or countries. There wasn’t too much internal upward movement. People in our community have a tendency to buy a home and stay in it … while people in those places are always looking to move up in the market.”
Among the decadent features of the five-bedroom, seven-bath home are a 25-foot front portico, an indoor swimming pool and a private study that features a spiral staircase leading to an observatory with uninterrupted views of both the city and the mountains. The 2-acre property also abuts Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
Reynolds, the property’s listing agent, said it’s not uncommon for homes priced above $1 million to sit on the market for years.
“I had this house listed in the Denver MLS [multiple listing service], where there are thousands of agents, along with all of the agents in Colorado Springs,” she said. “I sent out flyers to every agent in the state and to agents in Dubai, London and Russia. … I’ve seen homes here that have been on the market for longer. … I just don’t think Colorado Springs can support the multi-million-dollar houses like some of the bigger cities can. It’s a whole different story here.”
Reynolds said most people these days who are in the market for such expensive homes aren’t often looking for something quite so large. The home originally was listed for $2.5 million — but the owners have been forced to adapt to current market conditions.
“Over time, we eventually dropped it to $1.7 million, and then Concierge entered the picture,” Reynolds said.
The auction reserve for the home is $1.4 million — more than $200,000 under what the couple paid for the home in 1995 — and less than the El Paso County Assessor’s current market valuation for the home, which is nearly $2.4 million.
Libertore said Concierge usually only contracts with homes worth more than $2 million but makes exceptions depending on the market.
“It depends on whether it’s a market that we really want to be in,” she said, “and how motivated the seller is.”
44 POLO DRIVE
Originally built in 1925 for the family of New York businessman R. Clifford Black, the 13,211-square-foot, Tudor-style home (designed by Hart & Shape of New York) is currently listed by Berkshire Hathaway for $5.75 million and is also scheduled to go to auction Sept. 29. (Pictured on front)
The nine-bedroom, 10-bath home sits on a 3.13-acre estate that was named MesaCrest by the original owners and, in 1937, served as a summer home for Evalyn Walsh McLean, an American mining heiress and socialite who became famous as the last private owner of the Hope Diamond. Even the property’s landscaping has historic significance: The original design was conceived and supervised by Dutch landscape architect S.R. DeBoer and the plan was archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
But the home had fallen into disrepair by the time local investor and land developer Thomas Stoen bought it for $921,500 in 1994. According to Libertore, the Concierge project sales manager handling the sale of both Colorado Springs homes, Stoen invested significant resources to restore and update the home in the more than 20 years he lived there.
The El Paso County Assessor’s 2016 market valuation of the property was about $1.8 million. The auction has no reserve, which Libertore said is conducive to higher bids.
“The ideal situation would be a bidding war in which two potential buyers would drive up the price of the home,” she said.
Both Libertore and Reynolds said that, in most cases, a desire for smaller, simpler living often motivates owners to sell these lavish properties.
“In Colorado Springs, there are an awful lot of Baby Boomers — empty nesters who are just looking to size down,” Reynolds said.
Libertore said most of the interest in the properties has come from feeder markets such as California and Texas.
“We have leads from all the way around the world,” she said.
That is partially due to Concierge’s online marketing campaigns and ad placement in national newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal. The company usually devotes four weeks to marketing the property prior to auction. Upon completion of the sale, the Realtor and the project sales manager split a 4- to 5-percent commission from the seller, and the buyer pays the company a brokerage fee that is usually 10 to 12 percent of the bid.