Summit County's real estate market continued its upward swing throughout the end of summer with the total value of all August sales eclipsing the same month last year by almost 20 percent.
The market continues to be defined by record prices, quick closings, an overall lack of inventory and sellers getting near or above their asking prices.
Thirty-seven homes sold at or over $1 million, with Breckenridge leading the way and landing four of the top five slots, but there were 25 fewer sales on record at the Summit County Assessor's Office this August than there were in the same month last year.
However, the dollar amount from this year's sales came in more than $25 million ahead of last August's volume of $138.5 million.
Paula Stanton, a real estate broker with Liv Sotheby's in Breckenridge, attributed the drop in August's number of sales to the limited inventory on the market and new construction in 2016 inflating the numbers.
The most expensive residence purchased in August, a single-family home at the Cottages at Shock Hill in Breckenridge, went for just over $3 million, compared to the most expensive home traded in August 2016, which sold at $2.3 million.
"I think we are still at a very healthy pace," Stanton said of the overall market in Summit County. "The inventory remains on the lacking side, but we have continued buyer interest."
Altogether, Liv Sotheby's has about 300 real estate agents working for the company, she said, with about 50 based out of the Breckenridge office. At the office, they handle real estate transactions all over the area, Stanton said, but focus primarily on Summit County.
Stanton herself has been working in the industry for four decades now, and speaking over the phone Friday, she was fresh off a national real estate convention in Las Vegas.
Stanton said she sees strong "continued buyer interest" through what's generally the strongest time of the year for housing sales — the end of summer — and remains optimistic the blockbuster season will continue to show results with pending summer sales closing in the fall.
"We're seeing those summer transactions, and there's continued business on the books so that's very encouraging too," she said. "Overall, it's a very healthy, active market."
According to Liv Sotheby's autumn newsletter, real estate sales typically swell in the spring and summer months, but fall purchases can offer some advantages, both for buyers and sellers.
Trends in resort towns can differ, but generally speaking, buyers face less competition in the fall, which can give them better leverage in negotiating over the price. At the same time, sellers find that buyers are often motivated to move quickly on a fall purchase, which often comes as the result of a major life change, according to the local real estate company.
AUGUST BY THE NUMBERS
265: Total real estate sales
290: Total real estate sales (2016)
$163.8 million: Total value of sales
$138.5 million: Total value of sales (2016)
$2.3 million: Most expensive sale
$3 million: Most expensive sale (2016)
37: Sales of at least $1 million
TOP 5 SALES: AUGUST
1. $3,087,500 — Breckenridge, Lot 3 Cottages at Shock Hill (residential home)
An exchange at Tuesday's meeting of Breckenridge Town Council hinted the strained working relationship between the town's elected officials and Vail Resorts could soon improve, as the mayor and a resort representative both expressed interest in working together again on public issues.
Breckenridge's town government and the county's largest private employer have been locked in a tumultuous public relationship since butting heads over the construction of a large-scale parking garage at F-lot in 2016.
There have been letters to the editor, public statements and a general belief among council that officials with Vail Resorts, which owns Breckenridge Ski Resort, are unwilling to work with the town on issues unrelated to public parking.
The spat arose after Breckenridge voters passed a tax on lift tickets in November 2015. At the time, resort officials believed they had "a promise" money generated by the new tax would pay for a new parking structure at F-lot with 500 to 700 new parking spaces.
"Between last summer and up until now, I and my team have prioritized rebuilding our relationships," wrote John Buhler, vice president and chief operating officer of Breckenridge Ski Resort, in a guest column published in June 2016 after the town shifted course and decided not to build the F-lot parking garage.
"But following through on public commitments is critical to building trust," he continued. "Council has never been afraid to hold our company accountable for our commitments and we believe the town should be held to the exact same standard."
Early in his column, Buhler claimed Vail Resorts was rebuilding relationships, but the piece did little to mend fences.
From the council's perspective, most of the people currently serving, including Mayor Eric Mamula, were ushered in after the lift-ticket tax was put on the ballot and the promise to build at F-lot would have been made. Additionally, there was never anything binding in the ballot initiative nor any official actions taken by council that would mandate the new council follow through on the previous council's plans. For the members of council, they were simply doing their due diligence to select the best location for a new parking garage.
Mamula himself addressed the issue through a citizen's question posed at the State of the Town Address last May. In answering the question about the town's relationship with Vail Resorts, Mamula was complimentary of the company in many ways, but he didn't back down either.
"I am happy to go to battle every single day on those things," he told the audience. "Don't ever feel that we are not up to the challenge of arguing with Vail Resorts. We are not going to be pushed around by them. We do not kowtow to them. We are here as your representatives to make sure that you get the best deal out of anything we do with them, so that's the answer."
Ultimately, council decided to pursue a new parking structure at the nearby Tiger Dredge parking lot, which will have some overlap into F-lot but won't add the number of additional parking spaces Vail Resorts was hoping to get in the downtown core.
Filling in for Buhler at Tuesday's council meeting, Kevin Burns, Vail Resorts' senior manager of mountain community affairs, gave council the regular ski resort update. He started off by plugging Breckenridge Ski Resort's season opening, just over a month away, and said the Falcon SuperChair lift should be up and running this December. Burns also highlighted a recent series of environmental projects completed by 288 volunteers from within the company, doing things like building new trails.
Burns' update came shortly after members of a local campaign who've been seeking a commitment from the town to have all buildings, public and private, completely powered by renewable electricity had their turn. With a similar move afoot at Vail Resorts, Burns applauded the local group and said the company will be releasing its own renewable energy roadmap later this fall.
"I don't know if there's any questions," Burns wrapped up. "We're just gearing up for the winter season."
Councilman Jeffrey Bergeron, a proponent of green initiatives, didn't have any questions, but he celebrated Vail Resorts' commitment to combating climate change. Burns thanked Bergeron for the kind words and replied: "Hopefully, we'll be able to work together on a lot of this stuff; so it will be really exciting."
That was all Mamula needed to reiterate something he and other council members have been repeating for months — that they'd like to work with Vail Resorts on issues in the public sphere.
"I'd love to work together with you guys on some stuff," Mamula told Burns. "You can send that one back to your boss."
"Let's talk environment for a little while," Burns responded.
Breckenridge intends to start building a new parking structure this spring, and while town council had few problems Tuesday picking out the make and model, deciding on its paint job proved more difficult.
Walking Parking Consultants, the Denver-based firm that's designing the structure, came to Tuesday's work session with half a dozen specialists and five options for council to consider for the new parking structure at the Tiger Dredge parking lot.
Council previously identified Tiger Dredge — with some overlap into F-lot — as the most desirable location for a new parking structure. With that, Walker Parking Consultants looked at about 20 different possible designs for how the new parking garage might function before narrowing it down to two options, both of which come with flat floors and no parking on the ramps.
All council members were in attendance Tuesday, and they supported the second option for how the parking garage should work with little disagreement. It features an L-shaped parking garage with 406 structured spaces, 688 total spaces and access from Park and Adams avenues. Option 2 also came with increased landscaping opportunities and flexibility for the existing transit system along Adams Avenue. The biggest drawbacks were reduced transit flexibility and limited landscaping along Park Avenue.
On the upside, the second option included more options for amenities on Adams Avenue and could be cheaper to build, with less excavation work required.
"The layout piece is the biggest piece for today," Mayor Eric Mamula responded as council members sought cost estimates for the two options and town staff said they didn't think the two price tags would be too far apart.
Also on the table was a decision regarding the parking structure's design, and Walker Parking Consultants produced three options — labeled A, B and C — for council to consider.
Complicating the decision, the two options presented for functionality could be mixed and matched with any one or a hybrid of the proposed architectural schemes.
Option A featured a design with a more "rustic feel," including a split roof, board-form concrete and timber trusses with black iron plates. Cars would be screened with steel mesh "in a nice architectural way that almost makes it look like windows."
At the same time, Option B came with a curved, barrel-vaulted roof and glue-laminated support beams. Option B took some cues from other designs seen around town, members of the design firm said while framing it as "a little bit new, a little fresh."
Lastly, Option C was described as a variation of Option B with the same curved barrel roof but cool colors and more modern additions that could give it a more contemporary look.
"Usually, when we do something like this, we find little gems along the way in each one (of the design options) so if there's something you like and you want to pull it into the other options as well, we can do that," a representative of Walker Parking Consultants told the council.
Councilman Mark Burke wasn't a fan of the modern designs and favored going with Option A.
Councilwoman Erin Gigliello also favored the style of Option A, keeping in line with existing designs around town, but she also liked the cool colors in Option C because she felt it looks more like the nearby Riverwalk Center.
"I feel like a Buddhist at a gun show," Councilman Jeffrey Bergeron said when his turn came, explaining he'd rather hold off for a couple years but has resigned himself to helping build the best parking structure he can. "That said, I kind of like Option C with some of the more subtle colors of Option A."
It was the direct opposite of Gigliello's preference, and Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe added another wrinkle when she said she could be happy with any of the three options but B and C were her favorites.
"Between those two, I keep going back and forth," she said, explaining that she liked the idea of the parking garage being something different for the area while, at the same time, complimenting the Riverwalk Center.
"I think the landscaping and the softer barrel roof is going to make the eye just roll right past it," she said. "I think that's what we really want to achieve."
Elisabeth Lawrence compared picking a design to "choosing her favorite child," but she too was leaning toward Option C with some elements of B.
Ultimately, the council backed Option C but asked the design team to incorporate elements of Option B into the design.
Also, town staff said Tuesday that meetings with the Colorado Department of Transportation officials have been agreeable to the town's plan to build the parking structure first and later construct a new roundabout at Village Road and South Park Avenue.
Town manager Rick Holman explained the reasoning behind it like this: "If we can build the structure first, we're not losing as much parking. We'll have a place to park people while we shut F-lot down during construction of the roundabout so we think, for its impact to the town, that makes a lot more sense."
The big chill these last few days reminds us much cooler days — and more of them — are ahead. Still, there will be many great days to enjoy outdoor living even when there’s a chill in the air.
The key to extending outdoor enjoyment beyond the balmy days of summer is as simple as using the elements of fire and light.
START A FIRE
Staying warm on a chilling fall afternoon is as easy as striking a match in a wood-burning fire pit — easier still, turning on a gas-powered unit. A cozy fire brings people together, prolongs a good conversation and adds ambiance to a glass of wine or a bottle of beer. For kids and teens, it’s one more campfire and round of s’mores to enjoy.
The old-fashioned fire pit is also a good way to try out the best places for a fire feature and whether you want a more permanent fixture with less maintenance and no smoke. Out-of-the-box propane models can be embellished to look like custom work that matches other outdoor features in your yard.
Or you can create a permanent feature encircled in stone or concrete. Going all out to build a standing fireplace complete with a hearth and chimney is another option. However you make it happen, taking the chill off the air makes the outdoors livable long into the fall and on warm winter days.
TURN ON THE LIGHTS
The sun is setting earlier and it will soon be time to turn the clocks back.
Since no one likes moving around or sitting in the dark, the darkness alone chases us indoors.
On the other hand, lighting up pathways and outdoor living areas keeps the outdoors inviting. Making your space both warm and adequately lit keeps it inviting.
When you consider lighting up the night, look seriously at LED lighting:
It is relatively easy to install any time of year.
It uses minimal power.
It is low maintenance because bulb replacements are few and far between.
Outdoor lighting also ups the safety factor around your home.
TURN UP THE MUSIC
New technology has give us the ability to play music so it can be heard at the same volume throughout the yard and not offend the neighbors. And it can be controlled from your phone. If you want to enhance the outdoor mood, consider this new option.
Add some warmth, light and music and you’re sure to linger longer in your outdoor living space. These are all easy outdoor projects to tackle in the offseason. They are fast-track fall upgrades that won’t interfere with your landscape during the growing season.
This autumn after you kick through the leaves, light a fire and keep enjoying the outdoor season as long as you can.
Becky Garber is member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.
The seller has accepted your offer, the inspector didn't find any underground streams or shaky foundations, and the closing date is set. You're in the homestretch! While you can breathe a little easier, remember, the deal's not done until everyone signs all the (zillion) documents at the closing table. And, your lender can still change their mind. Here are 5 closing mistakes to avoid when buying a home.
1. Don't mess with your income-to-debt ratio
The ratio of your monthly income to your monthly debts is one of the main factors the lender considered when qualifying you. And your lender will probably run your financials two or three more times before closing. While it's tempting, don't take out a big loan for the new deck you want to install when you move into your new place. Don't sign the lease on the new Audi that will look perfect in your new driveway. The bank looks at lease payments like any other debt payment.
2. Don't disappear
Be sure to keep in touch with your lender and be readily available to immediately address any last-minute concerns.
3. Don't change jobs
Lenders love stability. Switching jobs right before closing can make them anxious, and you want to give them every reason to feel confident. Most lenders prefer to have a two-year job history in hand, so making a big career move could slow things down, or squash the deal entirely.
4. Don't open new credit cards
Yes, you'll be buying furniture to fill those lovely rooms. Yes, you might need a new fridge. And yes, new dishes to match the new kitchen would be splendid. But resist the lure of opening new credit cards until after closing. Doing so can affect your credit score. For now, just open catalogs.
5. Don't be late
Even though you may have been riding the real estate roller coaster and life's been chaotic, be sure to stay current with all bill payments. Late payments, too, can affect that all-important credit score.
Wondering what else is involved in the final stretches of a home purchase? Your agent will be happy to answer any of your questions. Find an experienced agent here.
Coming into the summer months, Dillon had been the only town in Summit County not tracking ahead of last year's sales-tax receipts, but that changed this July as Dillon caught up to last year's total and all four Summit County towns are now ahead in year-to-date comparisons.
DILLON BACK IN BLACK
With 2 percent growth in July, Dillon's 2017 sales-tax receipts have caught up to last year's total through July. The town started the year down after lagging — generally about 2- 5 percent — each of the first three months of the year.
Dillon started off with January's tax receipts almost 3 percent behind last year's figures. February and March also saw slight declines, but the town made up ground in April and May.
May is typically the most sluggish month of the year in Summit County for businesses, but Dillon saw more than 11 percent growth in its sales-tax receipts this year compared to May 2016, making it the best May Dillon has ever had.
June's numbers weren't quite so rosy and were off about 1 percent from the prior year. Still, with July's growth, the town sits .05 percent ahead in a year-to-date comparison, making it the first time this year that Dillon has been ahead in a YTD comparison.
JULY A ROSE FOR SILVERTHORNE
For Silverthorne, July's sales-tax receipts came in 9 percent ahead of July 2016, with the month eclipsing $1 million for the first time ever and helping the town get more than 7 percent ahead in a YTD comparison.
The trend of rising sales-tax receipts is nothing new for Silverthorne, and there's been 3 percent to 11 percent growth every year since at least 2013.
At the same time, YTD tax receipts through July have raised from $5 million in 2013 to $6.2 million this year for the town.
For just July, every sector grew in Silverthorne with the service industry leading all others up 57 percent, and the Outlets, which are in the middle of their fall sales campaign and dealing with a bridge-replacement project, posting the most modest gain at 2.8 percent.
FRISCO'S FIXES DON'T HURT OUTLOOK
Frisco's sales-tax receipts for July had some wild fluctuations, but town revenue specialist Chad Most attributed much of those spikes to corrections rather than actual market conditions.
Take restaurants, for example. The sector was down 6.5 percent compared to July 2016, but Most explained the decline was largely a result of sales taxes for a restaurant with multiple locations being incorrectly reported for just Frisco.
With monies originally collected for Frisco being redistributed, that's why Most said Frisco saw a decline in that category.
Additionally, Frisco's recreation category posted a nearly 50 percent gain, but much of that growth was distributed to Frisco in error, Most said, and the spike shouldn't be nearly so dramatic.
"If we had not received those sales taxes in error … it would have dropped our growth of 3.4 percent in July over last July," Most said of Frisco's overall sales tax collections. "But the real numbers — we would have been 1.4 percent up, and that's a better reflection of the actual growth we saw in July."
Most added that he anticipates the high growth percentages — high single- to double-digit percentages that Frisco's seen as of late — will start to drop to a more measured 2-to-3 percent range.
"All in all, despite the fact growth percentages have come down a little bit, we're still pretty bullish," he said.
PEAK 2 FIRE STUNTS SHORT-TERM LODGING IN JULY
Breckenridge is tracking ahead of budget and prior year results through the first eight months of this year, according to the town's most recent financial report.
Altogether, the town is approximately $2.8 million ahead of 2017 budgeted revenues in the excise fund, which is largely being attributed to the real estate transfer tax being $1.7 million over budget and up $873,000 ahead of the prior year.
Additionally, the retail, marijuana, restaurants and bars, grocery and liquor, construction and utility sectors have all grown in YTD comparisons.
Of those, construction has seen the most dramatic increase at just over 12 percent, but July was not the best month for the sector, which dipped 11 percent compared to July 2016.
At the same time, the town saw a slight 2.8 percent decline in taxes from short-term housing in July compared to July 2016. The decline, however, is being attributed to the Peak 2 fire.
While inventory disappeared faster than a popsicle in July, slightly fewer (0.8 percent) homes sold, according to the August RE/MAX National Housing Report. The report analyzes real estate data in 54 metro areas across the U.S.
It's not unusual to see a dip in sales in July.
"This summertime slowdown is a national trend that we sometimes see this time of year, even though this month's decrease was razor thin," said Adam Contos, RE/MAX Co-CEO.
Here's what you need to know about July's transactions.
1. Sales prices rose with temperatures.
Up 7.4 percent from July 2016, the Median Sales Price for all 54 metro areas was $239,950. That's the highest price for July in the nine-year history of the report. Prices in seven metro areas shot up by double digit percentages, with the most impressive rates in Seattle, WA (+13.7%); Tampa, FL, (+13.5 %); Milwaukee, WI, (+11.6%) and Charlotte, NC (+11 %).
2. Homes sold at high-speed.
Homes continued to sell more quickly, with the average Days on Market for July just 45, down two days from June and eight days from July 2017. Where did homes move fastest? Omaha, NE; Seattle, WA; Denver, CO and San Francisco, CA had the lowest average Days on Market.
3. Inventory continues to be tight
Inventory dropped 14.1 percent from last year, with 46 metro areas seeing fewer, or the same number, of homes for sale. Inventory has shrunk every month since November 2008. The Months Supply of Inventory set a new July low in the report's history, hovering around 3.1 months. A supply of six months is considered balanced. "Low inventory continues to constrain the market," said Contos. "Successful buyers will have to be prepped and ready to act fast to purchase listings that, on average, are selling in record time."
For a deeper dive into what happened in July, view the infographic below:
As the days begin to shorten and crisp mornings bring the anticipation of winter, Summit County takes one last breath of brilliance before succumbing to the snow. The explosion of reds, yellows and oranges from the fall foliage along the trails and across the peaks give the High Country breathtaking views almost anywhere traveled.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE COLOR
Although fall in the mountains is relatively short, the turning of the leaves can be counted on each year.
"There's three factors that influence the leaf color," said Adam D. Bianchi, deputy district ranger of the United States Forest Service — Dillon Ranger District.
Those factors are leaf pigments, the length of night and the weather, he said. "Typically we think that weather really affects the change, but realistically it's more the length of the night. … Every calendar year we can predict when the colors are going to start to change. When the days get shorter and the nights get longer, a biochemical process starts to occur inside the leaves."
The process affects three pigments produced in the leaves: chlorophyll, carotenoids and anthocyanins. Chlorophyll gives leaves their basic green color and is produced in photosynthesis through sunlight. With shorter days and longer nights, the chemical reaction of photosynthesis slows.
"The sunlight that it was using to manufacture some of the sugars that cause photosynthesis begin to slow down, and then it pushes all of those sugars into the root system," Bianchi said. "So when that happens, we tend to see more of this carotenoid pigment that's in the leaf all year round, we just don't see it because how much chlorophyll is there."
Carotenoids are the yellow, orange and brown colors seen in the fall, which is often the pigment seen in carrots, rutabagas and corn, Bianchi said.
While sugars are being pulled down into the root system and chlorophyll is no longer being produced, anthocyanins comes into play because the tree is trying to produce as much sugar as possible to pull into the root system for dormant season. Anthocyanins gives the leaves that red, purple color — the same pigment seen in cranberries, red apples and blueberries, Bianchi said.
"Basically, during the summer growing season, chlorophyll is continually produced, broken down, and so the leaves are green," he said. "As the night length increases in fall, the chlorophyll production slows down, stops and eventually the chlorophyll is then destroyed, and that's why we see the carotenoids and anthocyanins already present."
LENGTH OF THE SEASON
In Summit County, the vibrant colors are only seen a few weeks out of the year — here one minute and gone the next. How long the leaves stick around in those colors varies by tree species and when they start to turn is based off of latitude in the United States.
"It's kind of genetically inherited when the colors come on and how long they stay," Bianchi said. "In late September in New England states, they will start to change color and move southward across the United States. But at that same time — it's basically based off of latitude in the United States — so at that same latitude here in Colorado and in the high mountain elevation, you'll see stuff changing the same time you might see something change in New England."
How long the leaves will stay in their autumn colors is affected by weather conditions. Warm, sunny days and cool, crisp nights brings more spectacular color displays, because that weather pattern produces more sugars inside the leaves, and cool nights and gradual closing of the veins within the leaves prevent the sugars from moving out quicker. With this type of weather, the colors come on later and last longer into the fall.
"A lot of times you'll see that more with the reds and purples," Bianchi said. "So on the flip side, more of the yellows, the aspens that we see, are more dependent on soil moisture. If we have a late spring, or severe summer drought, it can delay those colors."
A warm period during the fall will also lower the intensity of the colors. So the most favorable conditions for vibrant yellow colors are a warm, wet spring, and warm, sunny fall days with cool nights. In the mountains, the leaves begin to change first at higher elevations, and move down to the valley bottoms.
"If you get a cold snap in, or a nice frost, it could really shut things down quickly," he said.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR VIEWING NEAR SUMMIT
North of Silverthorne
Acorn Creek trailhead can be accessed by driving north on Highway 9 from Silverthorne for approximately 10.6 miles. After you cross the Blue River you will immediately turn right onto CR 2400 (Ute Park Road). At the first junction, continue left following the trailhead sign. Then turn right onto FDR 2402 (Rodeo Drive) and travel approximately 0.6 miles to the trailhead/parking lot. (Directions from US Forest Service website.)
"I really like Acorn Creek. … That to me is a great place to view (leaves)," Bianchi said.
Beaver Creek Trail
Fairplay, Park County
In the summer, Beaver Creek Road is open to traffic, but there are also numerous hiking, biking and 4WD trails in the vicinity to get off the main path. It takes roughly an hour to get to the area from Frisco, but the views even from just the road are exploding with color right now.
Elevation: 11,488 feet
On the south end of Breckenridge is Boreas Pass. The road is open to vehicles during the summer, or park in the lot and hike or bike up. The road has a gradual ascent to the summit, making it a relatively easy hike. Boreas offers an expansive view of the Blue River Valley and the Ten Mile Range, and also boasts views of Breckenridge Ski Resort.
Cataract Lake area
North of Silverthorne
This trail is roughly 25 miles north of Silverthorne near Heeney. Getting to Upper Cataract Lake is a hike — it requires about six hours of hiking over 10.5 miles of trail, with an elevation gain of 2,000 vertical feet. Lower Cataract is easier, the trail is about 2 miles long with minimal incline.
Elevation: 11,319 feet
Fremont Pass forms the Continental Divide on the border between Lake County and Summit County. Take the Copper Mountain exit (195) and follow CO-91 south — it takes about 20 minutes from Frisco.
Elevation: 11,670 feet
Guanella Pass Scenic and Historic Byway is a 23-mile route through Pike and Arapaho national forest land that links Georgetown and Grant. The road is rugged, which means less traffic. Guanella Pass takes about an hour to get to from Frisco.
Elevation: 11,542 feet
Hoosier Pass separates Summit and Park counties. There is a large parking lot at the top of the pass for picture taking, as well as hiking trails. Coming down Hoosier Pass into Park County also lends itself to spectacular views of the valley.
Elevation: 9,997 feet
Getting to this pass takes a little over an hour from Frisco, but it is one of the most popular areas for leaf peeping. This also means beware the crowds — weekends especially — so watch for slowing traffic and pedestrians when getting close to the top.
Officials said Wednesday that an exploded power line insulator cap caused the Tenderfoot 2 Fire near Dillon Monday evening, creating sparks that ignited nearby grasses and setting off a roughly 25-acre wildfire.
An early air attack with two fixed-wing tankers and two helicopters quickly slowed the fire's spread, and hand crews contained 50 percent of it by Tuesday evening.
A spokesman for Xcel Energy, which operates power lines in the area, said the company needed to review official reports and complete its own inquiry before providing comment.
The U.S. Forest Service, which took over command of the blaze from Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue Monday evening, does not yet have a cost estimate for the air attack.
On Wednesday, about 120 firefighters continued to extinguish hot spots and monitor the fire should it start to spread. High winds have buffeted Summit County with gusts up to 50 miles per hour since Tuesday, but so far they haven't whipped up the fire.
The Oro Grande and Tenderfoot Mountain trails remained closed until further notice. The Forest Service also asked the public to avoid the Tenderfoot Mountain area between Straight Creek Road and Frey Gulch Road for safety reasons.
The winds came with fury on Tuesday, but they were too late to rouse the Tenderfoot 2 Fire near Dillon. By the afternoon, its once-fearsome plume of smoke had reduced to pale wisps, and in the evening fire officials declared it 50 percent contained.
"We had a solid box around the fire before the winds picked up," U.S. Forest Service incident commander Eric White said Tuesday evening. "We had an incredibly successful day on the fire line today."
As a rule, fire officials avoid calling fires "out" prematurely; embers can continue smoldering for weeks after the firefighting stops, and smoke from Tenderfoot 2 will likely stick around for several days.
"We're looking at another day of very high winds and dry weather (Wednesday), so we're really on our toes," White cautioned.
But by Tuesday evening the fire looked cowed, if not quite whipped. A red flag wind advisory remained in place until 8 p.m., but hours of gusts throughout the day had failed to fan the flames back to life.
"I've been fighting fires for 40 years, and this is how a wildfire needs to be run," said Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue chief Jeff Berino. "We need to be very proud of ourselves."
"When we looked at he values at risk and the risks to firefighter safety, we pretty quickly realized we needed a heavy air attack," White said.
Before the sun was down, two air tankers had strafed the fire at least half-a-dozen times with flame retardant slurry, and helicopters dropped bucket after bucket of water from Lake Dillon.
"That initial attack went very smoothly, but when we left (Monday) night there was still a lot of heat in that fire, so we knew we needed to continue with air support," White said.
In the morning, the tankers dropped a few final loads before packing it in, and the helicopters followed later in the afternoon.
Investigators are still looking into the cause of the fire, but it coincided with a power outage in Dillon that lasted as long as two hours in some homes. Incident spokeswoman Tracy LeClair said she was not aware of any additional outages on Tuesday.
Since the blaze also sprang up in the midst of power transmission lines, officials say that what caused the outage could have started the fire as well.
"The fire may have been related to the cause of the outage," LeClair said. "It's very possible given the proximity of the fire to the power lines, but investigators still need to go in and figure out the exact origin and work from there,"
The fire was hair-raisingly close not just to power lines but also microwave communications repeaters, a water plant and the Corinthian Hill and Oro Grande neighborhoods. They could be in danger should the fire stir again.
The topography, however, looked favorable from the start, and no neighborhoods were ever placed on pre-evacuation notice. If the fire was going to grow, officials predicted, it would grow uphill and into the wilderness.
The landscape was also fairly accessible for firefighters, although the power lines and patches of standing dead beetle-kill posed safety risks.
The entire Tenderfoot Trail system was closed on Tuesday and likely to remain so until the fire is mostly out and crews have felled some of the burned-up standing snags.
In the late afternoon, crews could be seen in the distance starting the mop-up effort, mostly by extinguishing smoldering patches within the fire zone.
"We are cautiously optimistic," LeClair said. "Crews have done a really great job and once they come down tonight we'll have a much better idea of what the percent containment is and what conditions are looking like up there."
Once upon a time, the idea of renting out your home to a stranger while you left for vacation was considered quite odd.
Enter changing consumer attitudes, the "sharing economy" and online services such as Airbnb, FlipKey (owned by TripAdvisor) and VRBO (owned by HomeAway, which is now owned by Expedia).
Today, renting a room in your house (or the entire house) to unknown travelers isn't an outlandish concept. Short-term rentals provide an income opportunity for owners and a unique way for visitors to experience a city. What better way to get the local experience than staying with – or renting from – locals?
If you think you're up to being a host of a short-term rental, here are three things to keep in mind.
The rise in popularity of Airbnb and other sites hasn't been without its controversy. There are concerns that short-term rentals threaten the jobs of hotel workers, and that a short-term rental doesn't have to pass the same certifications and inspections of regular hotels. Finally, many investors are buying properties with the intent of renting them out, which takes housing off the market in areas with already limited inventory (check out this article from The Los Angeles Times to learn more).
Some cities have enacted restrictions against short-term rentals. You may need to register and get a permit or a license – or you may not be able to host at all. Check with your local government to make sure you understand the laws.
You don't need to report the money earned from the short-term rental of your home if you meet both of these requirements:
1. You rent it out for fewer than 15 days a year AND
2. You live in it for more than 14 days or more than 10 percent of the total days you rent it out during the year (this determines if the property is seen as a residence or a rental property by the IRS).
Still unclear about the taxes on your short-term rental? Forbes and TurboTax provide some more information, or you may want to consult with a tax professional.
3. Additional Costs
Renting out your home could mean an extra insurance bill. Check with your insurance agent to learn what your current policy covers regarding short-term renters. They may recommend increasing coverage. Airbnb does provide free primary liability coverage for up to $1,000,000 per occurrence, and many of the other sites have partnerships that make it easy to take out additional coverage, if needed.
In addition to insurance, you'll have to pay a percentage of the rental income to the website: Airbnb and FlipKey both charge a 3% host service fee, VRBO has an option to pay-per-booking or an annual subscription fee.
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