Keystone, Colorado - for Fun and Profit

By: Kelli Bennett

We all know that Keystone is an amazing place to live; supplying an outdoor mecca featuring four different mountains offering world-class skiing, golfing and numerous other activities. What you may not realize are the lucrative real estate opportunities that arise from investing in this dynamic environment.

The Keystone Resort offers more than 2,000 acres of skiing on three mountains reaching elevations of 3,000 ft (914 m). North of Keystone you'll find the Arapahoe Basin where you'll find the highest ski able terrain in North America. The resort companies have spent millions of dollars in upgrades to compete with the world-wide demand for first class facilities. New developments are popping up in the area, including the Intrawest buy out of Copper Mountain resulting in additional accommodations including condos as well as an entire alpine village. Thanks to Vail resorts Inc., Breckenridge now boasts additional condos and the highest ski lift in the world.

While you may not have gotten in on the ground floor with these developments, Keystone is right around the corner from these resorts, and its future growth is inevitable. In Summit County, Breckenridge real estate lead the way with 26% of total 2006 sales and Keystone is second with 13%. Vail Resorts alone, drew over 1.4 million skiiers for the 2004-05 ski season while Keystone Resort attracted just under 1 million skier visits in 2005-06. These visitors need places to stay.

Investing in vacation properties offer some unique benefits over stocks and bonds or other conventional means. For one thing, you can enjoy the properties, as often as you choose, not to mention the tax savings, rental income and appreciation. You will also find a variety of different types of vacation properties available, and here are a few of the most popular:

Condominiums: Condos provide a fairly low maintenance investment where you pay an additional monthly fee that looks after overall building repairs and your costs would include general expenses, mortgage and utilities. Often times they are fully furnished upon purchase and the condos have a management group that looks after rentals, cleaning etc. Often part of a larger resort, they provide all the comforts of home along with many additional shared facilities such as a pool or hot tub. Usually they provide a convenient location to the ski hill or golf course. They are considered a solid investment, maintaining their value even in a volatile economy.

Shared Ownership: With the rising prices of real estate, this has become an increasingly popular form of investment. In this type of ownership, you actually have a deed to a portion of the property including all the tax benefits that go along with it. The expenses and rental income are tracked by a third party who then issues a monthly report to the owners. This could provide an opportunity to enjoy year round access to a premium piece of real estate that you may not otherwise have been able to afford.

Vacation Homes or Chalets: While this type of property may be more expensive and generate higher maintenance than a condo, the profit margins from rental income and appreciation would be much higher. If located close to a ski hill or golf course you would have the advantage of a year round income. This could also provide an effective transition to a permanent retirement home in later years.

Bed & Breakfast: These are extremely lucrative vacation residences that could create either a full time business for the owner or be managed from afar. Many visitors enjoy staying in a down home atmosphere after a long day on the slopes.

Land: Another timeless investment is simply to purchase a strategically located piece of property, pay the taxes and just wait for the developers to come beating down your door to purchase it.

Handyman Special: For those of you with a more short-term investment in mind, keep an eye out for a bargain property in need of some loving care. Ensure that you complete a thorough inspection of the home, and weigh the finally selling price against building costs, commission and legal expenses.

It's never too late to take the first step in investment real estate, you'll find it may be easier than you think.

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