Soft Market Strategy: March 2001

Mountain Life
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Studio condominium units, either whole or fractional ownership. Surprising to many developers who have championed the idea of downsizing, the market hasn't been kind to small units. The largest ones sell immediately, and the studios-around 500 square feet-sit untouched. Ironically, studios are the most popular rental units.

Older properties. You can buy a luxurious, high-end fractional and get two or three months of use. Or, often for the same or a slightly higher price, you can buy a used condo and fix it up. In the resale market, used condos tend to trump most time-share units, except those with luxury-hotel affiliations.

Properties in outlying areas. Obviously, the farther from the slopes, the less expensive the property. If you don't mind driving a bit, or hopping on public transportation, you can find more value for your money.

Distressed or failed timeshare projects. This is an area to watch in 2001. Some developers may pull the plug on unsuccessful fractional ownerships, and if so there might be some fire sales.

Unconsummated deals. Right now, if a sale falls through, there are backup offers waiting in the wings. A few months from now, if the economy falters, there may not be enough to pick up the slack. And developers may be highly motivated to fill the gaps. You, too, can learn to be a bottom-feeder!