Lee Roufa, Licensed Partner of Engel & Völkers Telluride, Shares Why Buying in Telluride is like Buying a Ferrari

Lee Roufa

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Photo Credit: @evtelluride

Lee Roufa’s Telluride real estate mastery spans over 30-years and he is the owner and license partner of Engel & Völkers Telluride. Further, Lee's decades of experience managing properties for second homeowners brings a multifaceted level of understanding to every single transition he is a part of. Clients will tell you Lee is highly responsive and leverages his deep community connectedness, providing a massive asset to his client base whether it be to uncover an off-market opportunity or find a plumber over Christmas week.

His signature trademarks are his exceptional personalized service, a high level of integrity, and extraordinary market knowledge. Whether it be the buying, selling, or the negotiations of the deal; knowing and understanding how mountain homes function and how they have historically performed has given him and his team of professionals knowledge above and beyond other brokers.

Recently, Lee shared his knowledge and expertise of the Telluride area with Haute Residence, discussing the effects of Covid, recent trends, and what makes the mountain town so unique.

Haute Residence: What is unique about your market?

Lee Roufa: It's a little ski town; twenty-five hundred to three thousand people live here year-round. Literally. People think of us along the lines of Aspen and Vail and because of the pandemic, Telluride has become very, very exclusive because we are so quaint. People want that right now and want to pass it down for generations. As we say, the price of tea has gone up exponentially and every year it gets more exclusive.

HR: What kind of trends have you seen recently, besides Telluride becoming more exclusive?

LR: That’s the biggest one. The biggest one is exclusivity. In the market, while we are going to hit another banner real estate year in terms of dollar volume sold, our inventory is dropping off precipitously. It’s getting very low so what you thought you could buy years ago, you just can't buy now. I always make the joke, you know, before the pandemic, if you had a buyer that was good for something in the five million dollar range, you thought you had the wealthiest buyer there was. Now it’s along the lines of, 'be ready to roll your sleeves up!' We just don’t have the inventory. That's where it pays to have an edge, someone like me who has the inside track on off-market opportunities

HR: Where do you see the market going without the inventory?

LR: Well, it’s going to have to start leveling out, and it will. Things will start slowing down and then we’ll start to see a readjustment in pricing. And then, hopefully, things will free up more and we’ll get more properties back up on the market.

But right now, the reality is that there’s very little product being developed. There are very few new things coming out of the ground because the construction trades are also overwhelmed. If you were to buy a vacant lot in the town of Telluride and you want to build on it and design your own dream house, you’ll be lucky if you can step across the threshold in four or five years. Some new owners are buying something for now till what they really desire comes available. Many need to explore outside of Town limits; like the Mountain Village, Aldasoro and other outlying areas.

HR: Do you think that the long wait time is mostly due to COVID?

LR: I don’t know. COVID has changed this world up here in so many different ways. I guess the number one question is: where did all the workers go? It’s not just unique to Telluride, it's everywhere. Because we don’t have a workforce we don’t have the ability to get projects done. Because we don’t have the ability to get stuff done, the pipeline slows down so people are buying all these homes that were done and completed, and now they’re looking at designing and building their own house and they’re realizing it’s going to take them five years.

So is it related to COVID? I think a lot of it is, I think two-thirds of our supplies are probably off the coast of LA right now in container ships. Workers have gotten priced out of the Telluride market. They don’t have the rentals anymore so your average worker drives up to around 120 miles a day to get to and from work. It’s an hour commute every day and because of that, prices are going up.

HR: Why should someone buy in your market?

LR: First of all, buying in Telluride is buying into a ski town culture, you’re buying a dream. The majority of the people that you deal with in other markets, let's say Miami, people buy there because of the lifestyle; they buy there because they got a better job; to get into a better school; to be closer to work, the ocean lifestyle, etc. In Telluride, it's because of the surrounding natural beauty, the small-town charm, top-rated schools, and high quality of life.

Remember we are a second home market here, these luxury homes have not been, historically speaking, primary residences, these are second, third, fourth homes, etc. So you know the person that buys here only uses their house (pre-COVID) around 4 weeks a year. They sit empty for the other 11 months- However, with the pandemic, the ski town allure is heightened - all year round is suddenly an option and we are seeing an influx of new primary owners to some extent.

Buying in Telluride is like buying that Ferrari. Nobody needs a Ferrari, they want a Ferrari. It’d be cheaper for you to come and rent a house for $10,000 a night than it is to buy that 8 million dollar house because of your costs and the amount of time that you use it. So people that come and buy in these towns, Aspen, Vail, Telluride, Jackson Hole, are buying there because it’s something that they want and they’re at a point in their life where they can afford it. And while the money is significant or potentially insignificant to them, at the end of the day, it’s a hobby. It’s a toy and it gives them a better lifestyle. Having grown up here I recognize the allure of the ski culture and that living it is a simple but priceless luxury and I take action to deliver what my clients ask for. Now more than ever it's crucial to team up with a broker with connections and market mastery. Someone who knows how to drive that Ferrari on these mountain roads! *

Lee Roufa is the exclusive agent representing the Telluride, Colorado real estate market as a member of the Haute Residence Real Estate Network. View all of his listings here.

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