Depending on your point of view, Telluride's isolation is either a blessing or a curse. Shoehorned into a box canyon, this picturesque mining town in southern Colorado isn't the easiest place to reach. But who can quibble with the thrilling slopes, gourmet restaurants and grandeur of the San Juan Mountains? Clearly not the second-home buyers who have been pouring into San Miguel County, fueling double-digit increases in real estate prices and pushing Telluride land values to-shall we say it?-near Aspen-esque proportions.
Since the start of 2004, real estate sales, which had been lackluster, have been booming ($60 million worth of sales were recorded last March alone). Recent lift and terrain expansions, which include the opening of Prospect Bowl, have added 733 acres of skiing. In February, the ski area changed hands, and the new owners pledged to upgrade the overall guest experience. In March, initial approvals were granted for what is expected to be a 100-room Ritz-Carlton hotel in the heart of Mountain Village-Telluride's "base area," actually at midmountain, a gondola ride up from town. That project could attract other luxury hoteliers and pump more life into the Village's restaurant and retail scene.
Finally, funding for a makeover of the notoriously dodgy Telluride Airport, which sits on a windy mesa, has raised hopes of attracting 100-seat regional jets to supplant the bouncy little commuter planes that now serve the town.
Prices for real estate are trending upward, and fast. Blink your eyes and you could be seeing double.
Telluride Mountain Village Nearly two-thirds of the region's transactions occurred here last winter, mostly in single-family homes. Under construction is a condo complex of five buildings at Belvedere Park, with 29 units priced from $1.2 million to $2.1 million. Also, The Ridge, with 24 lots for single-family homes, is opening above the Village at 10,500 feet. Right now, prepare to shell out $1 million-plus for a condo, $4 million-plus for a home and $150,000-plus for a fractional interest.
Town of Telluride Inventory is shrinking, and most of the low- to moderately priced condos are gone, leaving the town largely built out. Look for small cottages and Victorian houses at $500,000 to $3.5 million, with condos ranging from $100,000 (studios) to nearly $3 million. Some additional condos, duplexes and home sites are planned.
The Mesas North of town, check out the Wilson, Hastings and Horsefly mesas, where lots of 35 acres start at $300,000, or, with a home, at $600,000. The south mesas, a bit closer to town, include smaller subdivisions with homes going from $750,000 to more than $8 million.
West of Telluride Norwood, a scenic berg 45 minutes from Telluride, offers prospects. Look for small, older cottages in town for less than $250,000; larger homes can run more than $1 million; ranch estates start at about $3 million.
Telluride Colo.: Snapshot
Population (San Miguel County) 6,594
Median home price (2003) Town of Telluride, $902,062 (single-family home), $320,000 (condo); Telluride Mountain Village, $2.8 million (single-family home), $554,875 (condo).
Annual taxes on median-priced home In town, about $1,747 for a $500,000 residence. In the Village, about $4,894 for every $1 million of actual value
Number of properties sold in 2003 430
Listings at press time 389
Access Telluride and Montrose airports
Information Telluride Association of Realtors, 970-728-5172, telluriderealtors.net, or Telluride Properties, 970-728-4226, tellurideproperties.com. Individual listings are online at telluriderealestateguide.com.