Lots of Lots

riverwalk entrance 1219
Two-thirds of the Riverwalk edifice. The building to the left is our mailhouse; behind it is a portion of our HOA president’s house, then the lot that recently sold, then our house behind the flagpole. Oh, and it’s snowing today.

It’s becoming clear, Lynn and I are living in a hotbed of real estate wheeling and dealing. We had no idea until recently, despite being surrounded by lots that are for sale.

Since 2017, Riverwalk has become somewhat of a hot spot, after languishing for a full decade. At the very last minute of 2016, a family trust out of Oklahoma bought up at least half the total lots, re-selling them as early as a few months later. Several other lots, which had sold in the initial sale launched around 2006, also sold, always for substantially less than the original buyers paid for them. Only one, possibly two, of these 2017 sales resulted in houses being built.

Not that it’s required, or perhaps even admirable, but tracking which lots the family trust has sold is more difficult than it seems. I don’t know why I want to know this, other than it’s my neighborhood, and I’m interested in who my neighbors will be.

I also have to admit that I struggle a bit with this notion of living someplace upscale. We bought our lot because we just couldn’t find much in town. When we came out to Riverwalk to look at a lot other than the one we own, we found multiple lots for sale, including ours, where Lynn was immediately taken with the proximity to the river and the other water bodies, the giant trees and the lot size, which — since there are very few houses — looks much larger than it probably will someday.

And then it turned out this lot cost less, for all these amenities, including river access and trails, than many lots a fraction of this size in town. So we bought and discovered that the people who live here work in town or have kids who do, which doesn’t feel quite as elitist as our grand rock wall entry makes us seem.

But yesterday as Oz and I were walking, we were passed by a man in a pick-up who was headed for the house at the end of Riverwalk Drive, the one where the working couple recently divorced and put the house up for sale at one-third over what they paid for it slightly less than two years ago. The man got out of his pick-up and started to remove the “for sale” sign. “Does this mean it sold?” I asked him. “I guess,” he replied. “I just take care of the signs.”

So while I thought it was going to sit around for awhile, it must have been snapped up very shortly after going on the market. As I have just illustrated, my guesses are frequently wrong, but my speculation here, given the timing and speed of the sale, is that it now belongs to someone we will only see once or twice a year. Possibly each summer.

[I once had someone in a real estate office tell me their busiest season was December, when the People of Money become desperate for what those of us who aren’t as polite as we might be would call a “tax dodge.” Her real estate firm, with offices all over the western U.S., would receive calls from people wanting to drop millions on large ranches, sight unseen.]

On our way back, Oz and I passed the lot next door to us, where the “for sale” sign that went up perhaps three months ago is also gone. So we have immediate new neighbors, too — at least in name. This lot, which is one we gave some serious consideration to on the advice of a real estate agent and our contractor before opting for our kidney-bean lot, was sold by the family trust just about a year before it went back on the market. It sold then, I am reading, to Coconut Property Holdings, LLC.

Since the assessor’s office is months behind (I believe I am still listed as the owner of 15 Irwin despite a sale in August), I won’t know anytime soon who our new neighbors are. I’m holding out hope it’s the younger couple we saw roaming around perhaps a month ago. Even if that makes it more likely that a house will go up right next to us as early as next year.

Oz and I also passed, exactly opposite our next-door lot, a new for-sale sign. Lynn and I think, although we wouldn’t swear to it in court, that this is the second time this year this particular lot has been for sale. Or maybe the owner listed on the assessor’s website, who bought from the family trust in October 2017, tried to sell earlier, pulled her sale for some reason, and now is back on the market. Either way, it’s a lot that’s more for sale than it’s owned.

We think some of this is because this gets billed as an upscale “sportsmen’s paradise” when it just really isn’t that, and once lot owners find that out, they aren’t interested in hanging on to their property.

I’m pretty sure many of the people who made original purchases back at the onset of the development, people who spent as much as $300,000 on their acre in the woods, were making an “investment” — just one that hasn’t really worked out that way. And they’re going to be waiting a long time, even if properties can sell for 33 percent more than in 2018, to recoup their investment, particularly if you factor in all the months and years they’ve paid property taxes (higher on vacant property than residential, thanks to the same law that makes Colorado’s commercial property taxes so high), HOA fees and the sewer fee you pay even when you’re not hooked up. Just for the privilege of being nearby, I guess.

I have no idea what percentage of new buyers, those from 2017 forward, are looking at their purchase as a money-making investment. And so far, people who are selling lots, despite the rising prices of houses, do not seem to be making money. The lot next to us was listed for $1,000 less than the Coconut people paid, plus of course the taxes, the HOA and the sewer.

But something out here seems to be bringing out the wheeler-dealer in people, and these days our “neighborhood” seems a bit more transitory than I had envisioned.


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