Real Estate

#012 Crested Butte Real Estate with Corey Dwan

Corey Dwan Talks Crested Butte Real Estate on Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast

Corey Dwan Crested ButteFor this episode I was able to sit down with Crested Butte real estate expert and local realtor Corey Dwan.

While most of my podcasts to date have dealt more with the Colorado lifestyle, as real estate values continue to soar this aspect of life in Colorado isn’t far from most people’s minds.

Whether it is the on-going conversation of affordable housing in resort communities, rising rents across the state, how to nail down your first home or whether now’s the time to buy that dream ski house, the current economic environment and growing popularity of Colorado affects everyone.

Of course, as is usually the case, the story behind the story is super interesting as Corey explains how his seven-year climbing odyssey eventually landed him in Colorado.  And I think everyone trying to achieve that lifestyle will appreciate his explanation of how real estate investments helped make it happen – and he did it with his money from being a checkout guy at Safeway!

So, just a really interesting tale of adventure mixed with business, which adds to the perspective he brings to his real estate practice.

And as far as real estate goes, Corey offers his insights into what’s going on in Crested Butte as someone who has seen both the ups and downs of the last few cycles.

Online, you can find Corey at and on twitter @coreydwan.

And, of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to find Corey or anything else we talk about in the show notes.

Alright, so here we go, my conversation with Corey Dwan of Crested Butte Sotheby’s International Realty.


Show Notes

[03:30] A 7-year climbing odyssey brings Corey to Colorado

[06:50] From Denver to Crested Butte

[09:15] Historical perspective – How the economic downturn played out in Crested Butte real estate

[11:30] How remote workers and families are changing the local economy

[15:30] Growing pains, the challenges for Crested Butte going forward

[19:00] Current market conditions in Crested Butte

[21:30] Summer visitors exceed skier visits


Relevant Links

Crested Butte Collection

Crested Butte Community School – Affordable/Work Force Housing

Tommy Caldwell


Related Episodes

Erica Mueller of Crested Butte Mountain Resort




All right. Hey Corey thanks for having me over man. It’s been a great tour of Crested Butte. I was really glad to catch up with you and thanks for being on the show because as much as the other kind of entrepreneurial stories that I’ve been getting into are you it was super fun. You know what’s going on in the real estate market is really on top of mind for everybody I think who’s either in Colorado or is potentially thinking about moving here.

We’ve got the dogs.

They say hey maybe it’s my soothing radio voice.

But you know so it’s super relevant. And you know I appreciate your insights. You know Crested Butte just it’s kind of a crowd favorite. So your perspectives. Thanks for having me appreciate. Awesome. But before we kind of get into that I love learning more about what brought people to Colorado because whether it was 30 years ago or 10 years ago where you know I moved here about three years ago where if you’re thinking about it you know there’s some common things that go on with it you know that pursuit of lifestyle and you know things that make Colorado really special. So what brought you here.

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Well that would have been that would have started in 91 but I was working for Safeway out in California. I started rock climbing back then and man over the course of a few years and some long trips I got frustrated with my job that I had there and quit. And that evolved into seven year climbing trip basically traveling all over the world and living off some investments that I was smart enough to do as a 21 year old kid. So that brought me to bend Oregon to run a climbing company afterward. You know and I kind of felt like I needed to settle down somewhere and from there I moved out to Denver. The front range.

Who came. Was there anything in particular that brought you to Denver. Was it work or just Colorado or climbing the mountains and being outdoors and actually real estate prices were pretty low in 99. Gotcha. And you know I bought my first fourplex out there for a hundred and seventy eight thousand dollars you know for four apartments. And that was the thing I talked to my real estate agent I said you know I’ve been traveling for seven years.

I don’t want to have a mortgage or be stuck just like why don’t you look into duplexes. I worked in some duplexes and it was still cost me a thousand bucks a month. I can’t afford a thousand bucks a month if I’m on the road for a year. So I said What’s the biggest thing I could buy and she said fourplex So we started looking for those. My first one I bought moved into and I was making 200 bucks a month living there. Catcha and I gave me the freedom to keep traveling.

Right. All right. So. So before you even really got into real estate from the brokerage side you were an investor. I was then. So you lived in one of the units were not the other three in that kind of bankroll your your lifestyle. Correct. How long did that kind of go on and did it just stay with that or did you end up growing into something that beyond what you even thought it would be.

Well it definitely grew into something I didn’t ever expect. But over the course of six seven years and I had a job at Safeway again it was a simple phone call from my old manager to out here and that just gave me health benefits and a paycheck. But that first fourplex turned into I don’t know 22 places eventually. Gotcha. So just through the course of learning what was a good investment. I kept buying and buying right.

And that in that perspective has got to be useful when you’re talking to people whether here or anywhere else of course.

Second Homes are a big part of the market and investments and not to mention you know that kind of advice to say somebody looking to achieve that lifestyle here. I mean I don’t know what kind of multifamily is available and how much different it is totally a free market. It’s a different world.

But you know you bring it sounds like you bring a lot of different perspective to the table than somebody who maybe has just been working as a broker their whole life you know. Yeah. That’s super interesting So how long do you stay in Denver. And what brought you the move to Crested Butte.

Well I was I was in Denver for almost seven years. And what brought me here was actually a phone call from some friends. We were on a 10 month climbing trip. Australia New Zealand and Thailand and they came back early and I kind of got them into the Denver market to invest in properties when they moved out here.

So they called me up and they say Crested Butte was going off you got to see this place. Check it out. I never heard of it. So when is this. This was. Oh for Oka when they bought their first places up here right after the million but the resort in March of 0 4. So when I got back from my climbing trip I came up here and absolutely fell in love of the place. I mean what is there to fall in love with.


It’s pretty amazing.

So I got really emotional did a bunch of investment’s speculation of the Muellers buy the resort definitely help spur my interest. Because I already was an investor and yeah that’s how I settled down here we started installing tile when I first moved here. He even installed a tile in the back room have to call it tamale.

Oh there you go. Do you still get tamales out of that or will it do for at least a year. I think he hooked me up big time. You got it. Dobbins gone now and new owners own it. So no more discounts. Gotcha.

I think doesn’t transfer. So I think you know it’s really interesting to hear that wall you always had this other stuff going on you are still kind of a side hustlin and doing other things and you know taking the chance to invest in you know it just really.

Sometimes people forget when you look back and like all these properties or this business didn’t just arrive here you know like really hard for it and you know make some smart and sometimes lucky decisions you’re in the right place or bad ones or bad ones. And that’s where I want to get to next so you’ll get in here in 2005. I mean you know we were just talking about this before. You know you saw the peak of the cycle and then you know the financial crisis and everything that happened in basically every part of the economy after that. And on top of that you’re like in a really small market of you know second homes and vacation homes. I mean what was that.

And you know what was Crested Butte real estate going through in 2008 well into in 2005 when I moved up here it was it was just starting in rock and roll obviously because smaller but the resort No 4. And our market lags behind the rest of the real estate market a couple of years. I remember phone calls with my dad warning me what are you doing buy in real estate there you know you may be at the top of the market. I said no we’re own own little bubble and so forth and talked myself out of his advice which I should listen to that point. So in 0 5 0 6 0 7 0 8 I mean the market was going absolutely insane. Right. Whereas in the rest of the country it was going down and it takes a while for people to realize they can hold on to their second third fourth fifth homes.

So by the time it got up here a couple of years after the crash elsewhere we started to play in the market with properties that people couldn’t hold on to anymore. Right. Yeah. And unfortunately I just bought at the top so I made some poor investments.

Right. And what what happened as far as the ski. Vacation economy at that time as well. Like we’re skier days way down way down. I mean this is not a cheap hobby.

No. I’m back in the day before the Mueller’s. You know they they obtained 500000 skier visits a year. Right. And shortly after. They purchased the resort we were down into the 200. Oh ok. Yeah. Well we’re still recovering from that and they don’t really they haven’t broadcasted really what they’re skier visits were last year even. But I know they are getting close to 400000 if not more.

Yeah I thought it was like around there. From research I did yeah. So what you’re saying is like that’s just getting back to where it was previously. Pre-Muellers Yeah. Gotcha. And so that’s hard you know these are hard businesses and these smaller economies are dependent on you know tourism and things like that. There’s not that there’s other not other companies here and other things going on but they’re dominant. And you know it’s a big number of jobs and a big driver.

And one and one thing we have now is a multitude of families that have moved up here with people being able to work from home. That’s changed our economy. Sure. Because even if we go into another decline we have families here that are working remotely and they’ll sustain our restaurants a lot better than they have in the past. Sure. Because we were we depended on skeer visit Solway back then or summer visitors right. Sure. But like you said like year round residents people who come work from anywhere like they’re starting to become a reality of the last 10 years I guess. Yeah. In Crested Butte in other towns.

When I moved here I believe there is less than 300 kids in school in 0 5 and now we’re up to over 700. Wow. So it just goes to show that winners a long haired drapery and I get a lot of people who moved here with their kids because it’s the most amazing place to raise a child that can ride the bus when they’re five years old.

And I was I was just talking to somebody else last night and he was he was talking about how adding the high school changes that whole dynamic because before that you may move here for this little sweet spot when your kids are certain ages. Right. But you had to go somewhere else. Or you had to commute to Gunnison. Right. Which would be horrible. Right.

Not because as I’m just talking about it’s only half an hour away. But when you live somewhere where you drive three to five minutes a day a half hour is a long way. Exactly

. And so so things like that so having these full time residents has precipitated adding things like a high school which means you don’t have to leave when your kids exactly which gives you that whole perspective. Hey we can live here like basically indefinitely. Yeah.

And the kids get a great education because it’s one of the best schools in the country. Yeah. Literally because it is.

Yeah. With 700 kids or whatever it is ratios are probably pretty epic. And I know I can’t even imagine what the life of these classes the day.

I mean powder days. I mean they get out and they enjoy themselves and they’re good kids. I mean the kids that grow up here I think they don’t get into drugs like they do in other metropolitan areas because they have the outdoors to enjoy. Sure. And parents do the same right in the end so. So

these are all interesting things and from a real estate perspective you know what I really enjoy about talking to a real estate agent is that know it’s their job to know all these things regardless of whether you have kids or not. That’s the questions that everyone’s asking. So I don’t know the answers exactly. It’s fantastic because you know these are questions that are asked by whether you live here or you’re thinking about moving here and not just crested butte but just kind of in general. You know they’re hard choices and so you know we’re starting to get into this world of less attached to kind of big city centers little towns like this start being a potential And so what have you been seeing as far as you know what’s new. Chris Matthews a small town. We’re talking how many actual full time residents.

Fifteen. Fifteen hundred eighteen hundred. Right. And about over 400 dogs and 400 nice.

Exactly. And there’s like three families that have 80. No no. I mean I did see like five some people walk in like a bunch of dogs. You know my dog walker. Oh do those. You don’t just set them loose.

Well you can see we don’t have a leash law. But they have to be envoy’s command. OK. Are you in command as I use on my dog.

Whatever works. But when you have a town the size your little incremental growth is a lot you know 100 people is 10 percent growth right. You know 10 families move to town. It’s a significant clamshell right. And so. Towns like this always deal with growth issues right because you’ve got people who want to keep it the old way. You’re worried about losing what made it great in the first place. You know what. What are some of the challenges you see kind of going forward for Crested Butte. Just as a town and I know this is just kind of your opinion. You know it seems like they’re you know they’re building some good infrastructure. But you know do you think they’re moving in the right direction.

I think they are. And I think Crested Butte does a good job of limiting growth as best they can and we’re surrounded by millions of acres of national forest so it’s you know the biggest the biggest issue here I think is affordable housing. And you know a lot of people have had to move to get us because they can’t afford to live up here anymore. When we get to a point when there’s so much construction going on there’s so many more bodies in the sea that come here because it’s busy. People are forced out because rental prices go up.

How to solve that. I really don’t know the best answer obviously.

I mean this is a discussion going on and basically every ski town and of course Colorado right up and and it becomes into an argument of who has and who doesn’t and it’s not really about that. It’s about making the right choices and moving forward. And I know town has the best interests to do that. But are they doing the right thing. I’m not sure right. Are putting houses on the east side of town next to the river and some of the most valuable land. Available giving it to locals for 50 grand so they can build deed restricted houses. Is that smart. Personally I would have sold all that land and gained millions of dollars and built affordable housing because most people that come here to work are longtime residents. They’re here for two or three years. They want to experience a ski town before they you know settle into their job after getting out of college.

They don’t want to buy a place they want to rent a place rent. So I think we could have used a lot more money from that particular example. Building affordable housing in it had inexpensive rent for people that needed it right.

Yeah it’s a challenge. And again like I mentioned this is a conversation going on whether it’s Vail. Well it’s it’s a steamboat it’s I mean anything everyone’s trying to figure out that balance and not only just a balance from an investment an ownership standpoint but a I mean we need housing for the people that are relied on to run all of these businesses right. And so yeah it’s there’s no easy answer but a step and more into kind of your realm of things you know. Appreciate your insight on that other stuff. But you know so what do you see in like in the market right now. I mean is Christopher you just there’s some gossip building going on in town there’s some new lot of construction and construction going on down.

Prices are going up. Inventory is at an all time low. And just to give you an example I think right now we have 74 condos on the market on Mount CB. When I moved up here in 0 5, 0 6 at one point we had 380 on the market and that was when we were getting all time high prices. Sure. So what I’m seeing right now is of low inventory and a lot of demand. So supply and demand is as simple as that. It’s going to pop and it’s going to happen soon. And you know in some cases single family homes have recovered two prices they were selling for and 0 6, 0 7  already condos haven’t land hasn’t but because of how much inventory of that particular product there is it usually takes them longer. So there’s some good perspective because there are.

You know if you read a lot of financial news and if you’re into real estate you know that it has been in what they’ve called an uneven recovery rate. There’s places that have yet to recover from prices that were made in 2006 or so some places you know New York’s way above where where it was at that time. And so it’s interesting to hear that you know with all this growth and all this demand like this town is just getting back to where it was protected which gives you some perspective on hey is this you know as far as it can go it’s like well I mean it’s actually been here before and it was 10 years ago it was 10 years ago and you know when you talk to brokers that have been here for 35 years it’s cyclical.

And historically when we reach highs that we did in 0 6 0 7 after the following dip our highs of the next heighth of the market surpassed the previous rhyme and that’s. So it’s always an upward trend. Right.

As places like this become more and more desirable to live in a lot of a lot of things have changed about the workforce and things like that that make it that much healthier actually economy in the long run like we are which is actually not that it’s it’s not so dependent on the tourist time.

So it’s the big piece of the pie.

It might be our summer and just an example you know it used to be ski year based. Right. Well now our summer visitors have far outreached our visit. So our attraction is summer. Right. And then obviously the ski resorts doing well and they’re getting more and more ski resorts every year. But it doesn’t even come close to how many summer visitors we have.

Right. Which is which is another just kind of great thing to keep in mind because you can’t help but think that it’s dominated by the city resorts.

And we have a saying here this the winters brought me here. Summer is keep it here. That’s true. Summers are absolutely amazing spectacular.

That’s good.

I mean it’s been fun to come here kind of in the shoulders. Because it’s super empty and the last time I was here it was just earlier in the summer. And you know it is beautiful. But the town’s kind of crowd in there’s a lot of stuff going on and you know I’ve just been able to wheel around and feel like I have the place to myself. So it’s been pretty Feydeau.

I always enjoy those times. And this is my favorite time of the year because April-May or mud generally. Sometimes it dries out sooner but the fall is absolutely incredible. I mean we’ve been biking right up till Thanksgiving turkey is fantastic. I’m not going to complain. Well hey man I don’t know if there’s anything else you know you feel like might be some good inside about this town that you wanted to mention.

But man I just really appreciate you just taking a few moments just kind of talk about what’s going on out here. I mean again real estate on a lot of people’s minds. You know I’m in the front range and it’s just crazy.

Yes and it is here too. I mean we’re up 30 percent over last year at the end of the second quarter. Right. And I’m sure the third quarter is going to be up just as much compared to last year. So the demand and a lot of it is coming from the front range because they’re tired of that I-70 corridor.

So they’re buying over here although I I’ve heard that argument and being a front range person like I have to drive on a two lane road the whole way here so that’s true you know it’s you know maybe because no one little hick up in that chain and no way you’re going to wait.

So you know I do love getting out here but it’s it’s hard to put in Beauty and the crowds are less. Yeah.

So aside from those two things is fair to ask a bit less faithful which is exactly what we’re all what everyone is looking for exactly.

Well man again thanks so much. You know it’s really interesting and I hope we can just kind of have a conversation like this again in future sometime for sure. Oh boy. Any time. All right.

Thanks a lot.

All right thanks for listening and I hope you enjoyed this conversation. I know it was a bit different but I thought it was super relevant and I really enjoyed having that chance to sit down with Corey. As we mentioned in the intro you can find the links to any related content in the show notes to this podcast episode.

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Thanks again. I hope you enjoy this episode and we will see you soon.