Hills are alive with second homes | AspenTimes.com

Hills are alive with second homes

Although second-home owners already outnumber full-time residents in resort areas of the Western Slope, the imbalance will become even greater over the next decade, according to recent studies.

About 60 percent of the residences in Pitkin, Eagle, Summit and Grand counties are already owned by second-home owners, according to a study by the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. Those resort counties account for nearly three-fourths of the state’s skier visits, and their mountains are playgrounds for hordes of hikers, bikers and other recreationists during summers.

Second-home ownership is particularly dominant in Summit County, where 67 percent of residences are believed to be owned by people who make their primary home elsewhere, the study showed. Grand County, which includes the resort areas around Winter Park, was close behind with 63 percent second-home owners and 37 percent full-time residents.

In Pitkin County, the mixture was gauged to be 55 percent second-home owners and 45 percent full-time residents, the study showed.

Eagle County has a mixture of 49 percent second-home owners and 51 percent full-time residents.

The Northwest Colorado Council of Governments came up with its ownership estimates by examining the county assessors’ records of 64,000 households. Surveys were mailed randomly to residents of each county in proportions equal to the estimated ownership mix.

Nearly 33 percent of the 4,374 surveys were returned. Results of the study, called the 2003 Mountain Resort Homeowners Survey, were released during the last week of July.

The results could be used for everything from calculating the economic contributions of second-home ownership to assessing locals’ and second-home owners’ perceptions of services in their communities, said Linda Venturoni, director of special projects for the organization. The Northwest Colorado Council of Governments studies issues common to its five counties and 22 towns and cities that are members.

In a presentation of the study’s results, Venturoni included the findings of a national study on second-home ownership that she said could indicate drastic changes for western Colorado.

The national study showed that most second homes are purchased by people between ages 55 and 64. That indicates a surge in second-home purchases could be on the horizon because Baby Boomers are just entering that age bracket, Venturoni said. Baby Boomers are considered to be people ages 39 to 57, she said.

If the resort counties experience an even greater influx of second-home owners, it could have huge implications for the local economies. Numerous jobs could be created in the service industry and sales tax revenues could surge, Venturoni noted.

The NWCCOG survey showed second-home owners in Pitkin County were much more likely than full-time residents to shop locally for goods. For example, about 41 percent of second-home owners said they would shop within 10 miles of their homes for clothing and another 23 percent said they would shop regionally, within 11 to 29 miles.

Only 8 percent of full-time residents said they would shop locally and 10 percent regionally for clothing.

When shopping for sports and recreational equipment about 57 percent of second-home owners said they would shop locally compared to only 33 percent of full-time residents.

The study indicated that second-home owners already account for 21.5 percent of the income of the four resort counties.

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com]

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