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A Guide to Northstar Homes

With the ski resort opening tomorrow, now is the ideal time to look at Northstar area real estate.  The last decade off expansion throughout the resort has given any potential buyer many options to look at.  Northstar has everything from tradition mountain-style homes, to Village condos, to incredibly unique and rare ski-in/ski-out townhomes as well as homesites.  The overall goal of development here has been to create enough diversity in the market to suite everybody’s needs. 

In terms of price in the single family home market, there are 3 main groups.  The first group is an entry price point which is any home under $1,000,000.  The second group is $1,000,000 up to about $2,500,000.  The third group is any home above $2,500,000 and/or any home in our new Mountainside community.

My thoughts on the market right now are that many homes are being valued well above where they should be in their respective group, if not reaching out of their group altogether.  While this does leave homes sitting on the market for longer than they should, it also opens the door for homes coming on the market that are appropriately valued.  A benefit to both buyers and sellers right now is that it is easy to spot the good values or deals.

The first group is made up of the “original” or “vintage” Northstar homes.  These are located in one of two areas: around the golf course in lower Northstar or below the Big Springs area off of Martis Landing.  The shuttle bus service run by the Home Owners Association makes going to and from the hill incredibly easy in these places.  One thing that can really separate homes here is lot location.  Some homesites have long views of the Martis Valley and Pacific Crest while others have much less of a view and a more wooded feel.  The overall price range for this group is between $500k to $1m.  An older style home on one of the wooded area lots will ideally be between $500k and $750k.  A newer home on a superior lot will be in the higher end of the spectrum, going up to $1,000,000.

There were 17 total sales in this group last year.  Of those, 12 were sold under $750k and 5 were between $750k and $950k.  Given that a minority of lots are on superior lots, I think this is a good ratio for the group.  There should be more sales below the top price of this group than the other way around.  Now looking at current listings there are 11 total homes on the market right now and of these all but 2 are listed over $750K.  The majority of sellers right now are really pushing to the very top of the group.

With some exceptions in lower Northstar the second bundle of homes are found in Big Springs.  These are newer, bigger and more modern homes than group 1.  Long views of the pacific crest will become even grander and though rare, some lots actually find themselves on ski-in/ski-out terrain.  Starting around 1998 some of these homes are in or nearing the “out-dated” class vs. today’s modern homes.  These homes will set our base line for tier 2 between $1m – $1.5m.  Long-view homesites will command more and the newest builds on premier lots will be the high mark going up to $2.5m.

There were 6 total sales last year in this group.  Of those only 1 home was in lower Northstar with the remaining 5 being in Big Springs.  Again, I think this is a good ratio of sales between the two locations.  Looking at current listings we now have 12 homes on the market with 5 being in lower Northstar.  To me this means that homes in lower Northstar are reaching outside of their group and now competing with homes in Big Springs.

The third group is the top of the class real estate in Northstar.  This is made up of the newest, biggest, and best located homes around Big Springs as well as the brand new communities in Mountainside.  While in Big Springs you will most likely be looking at any of the homes listed above $2.5m.  These are located on the highest streets in the community which can have unbelievable views of the pacific crest and almost private access to the ski resort accessed by the Timberline lift on Overlook Drive.  After looking here you are going to head up and be looking at the new Mountainside properties below the Ritz-Carlton.  These communities are some of the most exciting and rare property in all of California.  There’s nowhere else where you can live directly on a ski trail with immediate access to the Ritz-Carlton and its amenities. 

Given the recent activity here I think pricing in this group is actually spot on for where it should be.  In Mountainside we have sold 7 of 8 completed Home Run townhomes and 6 of 25 total Martis 25 homesites.  These numbers show both great interest and motivation for this new style of resort living.  There was 1 sale in the Big Springs area that could really qualify as either in group 2 or 3 selling at $2.4m.   At that price it could either be looked at as a good deal at the high end of group 2 or a good deal at the low end of group 3 … either way you look at it a good message for our market in Big Springs. 

Again, it is important for both buyers and sellers to recognize the different groups and to identify where exactly a certain home should be.  For buyers this is important because it will mainly identify what locations you will be looking at when you start your search and what homes you should be comparing to one another.  With your ideal price range in mind you can quickly see exactly where your potential homes are located.  It is almost more important for sellers because these groups will dictate what a home’s direct competition will be.  If a home is priced too high they run the risk of jumping into the next group which will have superior competition.  This will lead any potential buyer to be turned away when they inevitably go inside something nicer for the same price.  However, when a home is valued correctly within a group they should really stand out and see ample showing activity and good overall sales success.

What will happen to the homes listed in Northstar right now?  With demand from our feeder markets as strong as ever there needs to be great urgency in any home valued correctly.  Overvalued homes will ultimately have to wait until the market comes up to them.