Aspen brokers complacent about wildfire | AspenTimes.com

Aspen brokers complacent about wildfire

Realtors and firefighting officials need to team up in order to give property buyers and sellers information about wildfire and ways to defend homes from it.

That was the message Friday from a panel of real estate agents to firefighters at the Colorado Wildland Fire Conference in Snowmass Village.

"Owners are buying a dream — buying a lifestyle," said Tory Thomas, a broker and president of the Aspen Board of Realtors. "It's difficult to get them to think about wildfire. It's not a sexy thing."

For example, she said she sold a piece of property up Independence Pass to the owner of the largest insurance agency in Arkansas and asked him if he'd thought about the dangers of wildfire.

"He said, 'No,'" Thomas said.

And the wildfire-mitigation problem is worse in Aspen compared with other parts of the state because brokers in this area are behind the curve when it comes to understanding the dangers of wildfire and passing that along to both buyers and sellers, Thomas said.

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"Here, there's a complacency with brokers, and they need to learn that wildfire is a threat," she said. "I hear from Realtors that wildfire could never happen here … with the high altitude and moisture."

However, rain creates undergrowth, which can turn into tinder after just a few weeks of dry weather, Thomas said. Add wind to that equation, and the potential for disaster increases greatly, she said.

"Brokers need to take the lead," Thomas said. "Right now, the burden is on local fire departments."

Real estate agents need to take it on themselves to learn about wildfire and pass that education on to their clients, she said.

In other areas more prone to wildfire, such as Durango and Colorado Springs, brokers know exactly what degree of risk is associated with properties and often put that information into listings, Thomas said.

Toni Parker of the Vail Board of Realtors detailed a project started in 2014 by the Colorado Board of Realtors designed to bring wildfire education and awareness to communities in the state. Called Colorado Project Wildfire, it allows local organizations access to grant money in order to disseminate wildfire information unique to each area, she said.

In Vail, the project allowed the Board of Realtors to put together a wildfire reference guide that was mailed to all area households, Parker said.

"We want to partner with fire-information organizations to provide information," she said.

jauslander@aspentimes.com