The top local agent at Coldwell Banker Mountain Properties: Crested Butte becomes one of a small percentage of real estate associates across the globe to join the Society of Excellence
Chris Kopf first landed in Crested Butte in 1999. He went in on a second home purchase with his brother and spent a decade going back and forth from Dallas, relishing his time in the wildflower-strewn high country for much-needed getaways. An avid fly fisherman, Kopf managed to convince his wife, Francene, and three teenage daughters to move to their mountain paradise full-time. Segueing from a career in technology sales and management, Kopf landed his real estate license in 2009 and, in spite of the recession, began making massive strides in the industry. In three years, he ranked among the top 10 local brokers. In four years, he had become the top agent in Crested Butte. He ensconced himself in the community, supporting local businesses and organizations, volunteering at Tour de Forks for the Center for the Arts, and at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory as well as becoming president of the Crested Butte Rotary Club.
Now, in 2021, his awards and accolades are almost too numerous to count. The latest among them is the prestigious International Society of Excellence award, given selectively to only 376 sales associates out of 96,000 across the globe—placing Chris in the top .4% (less than one half of one percent!) of all Coldwell Banker brokers in the world.
Coldwell Banker Mountain Properties caught up with its industry star to ask him a few pertinent questions about his ingredients for success and the state of the local market.
If you find a home that checks all of your boxes – or even 75% – I suggest clients consider making a move because it might not be there tomorrow.
If you can’t find the home you want in your criteria, buy a piece of land where you want to build your dream home. You may not be putting your head on a pillow for a couple of years, but you’re still getting in and creating the foundation for that lifetime of memories.
Chris Kopf: We have seen supply and demand in play as buyers have become excited to secure their own piece of Crested Butte. There are definitely challenges with this type of appreciation in our market, and I spend a fair amount of time helping clients understand the dynamics. It’s not necessarily across the board in every geographic area or property type. Some homes that are a bit older and need some remodeling may be the undiscovered gems. Crested Butte is still a good value compared to other ski resort markets. Buyers can still find some great opportunities out there, but many have had to adjust their price point in this current market.
The good news is, if you are a buyer and you want to finance your Crested Butte home, interest rates are still phenomenal. If you find a home that checks all of your boxes – or even 75% – I suggest clients consider making a move because it might not be there tomorrow. Looking at the days on market, if the property is priced to the current market or a little above, it’s probably going to go and go quickly, so you can’t have a family conference about it for a week! I’ve had clients frustrated because the home they wanted is under contract before they decided to make a move.
How, specifically, have you witnessed COVID-19 impacting the CB market?
It’s definitely made a change. Looking at our market before COVID, we had a major event – the Vail acquisition of the ski resort – in which a lot of people thought the real estate price points would skyrocket. There was a little bit of a lift, but it wasn’t what a lot of people expected, with some price points for listings going up 20%. A lot of buyers were sitting on the sideline to see if that would be the new normal, so we saw lower overall transactions in 2019.
Then, with COVID in 2020, we were closed for a couple of months, but in June the real estate lights turned on… and they were floodlights. Because of COVID there was a lot of pent up demand and people realized they had the opportunity to work remotely. They suddenly had flexibility. Now, many buyers realize that pendulum has swung and it’s never going to swing back all the way. If you can only take three weeks of vacation a second home in a resort market may not make sense, but now you’re saying, “I can be up there two weeks at a time or more working remotely and I don’t have to be in the office.” It’s been a tipping point for many people.
When buyers new to Crested Butte consider a property here, what are the not-so-obvious local nuances they should keep in mind?
Some buyers want to use the property to generate income when they’re not using their second home, but not all of the areas allow short-term rentals. There are some restrictions in downtown Crested Butte, and also some homeowners associations have restrictions in place that might influence their decision.
There are also buyers out there adverse to a remodel project. We have really great architects, builders, interior designers, engineers, contractors – all of those people who do projects – but because of demand they are very busy. If people have to do a lot of remodeling, they might be waiting a while to get a contractor’s attention, but the end result will be a great home just how they want it.
What’s been an especially rewarding or memorable recent sale?
I would point to The Reserve on the East River, a 1,500-plus-acre ranch a few miles from downtown Crested Butte with two miles of the East River running through it. I represent a number of owners at The Reserve, including the developer. Fly-fishing is my passion and one thing I enjoy more than anything is getting out there with interested buyer clients. It’s like your own private Yellowstone National Park – you see a lot of wildlife including eagles, hawks, bear, deer, and elk. To be able to create that legacy and lifestyle for people and their families has been really rewarding. It’s a really special place.
Looking ahead to spring and summer, are there any hot areas on your radar?
I have a co-listing of a new development in the Skyland area called Aspen Ridge, which launched in the fall. It’s sometimes hard to show land like that in the winter with all the snow, but it’s going to be exciting to get people out there in the summer. I’m very excited about it because it’s another piece of paradise tucked into the aspen trees with awesome views and overlooking Lake Grant and very close to the Club at Crested Butte and the championship golf course.
How do you predict the Crested Butte real estate market will evolve in the next year?
I think we’ll continue to see a lot of buyer demand. This summer we’re going to see a very active market again. We generally have a seasonal trend where new homes come on the market in the springtime in anticipation of summer buying season, and I have had a number of homeowners preparing for putting their homes on the market. One trend that is definitely emerging is the number of people re-setting their expectations and purchasing land. If you can’t find the home you want in your criteria, buy a piece of land where you want to build your dream home. You may not be putting your head on a pillow for a couple of years, but you’re still getting in and creating the foundation for that lifetime of memories.
How would you describe your personal recipe for success?
I had 30 years of sales and marketing business experience before I got my real estate license. I love Crested Butte, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have great clients to work with – and my wife Francene and I have made many friendships. Because I was previously a second homeowner here for 10 years, I understand a lot of questions a buyer is thinking about. We also sold a few properties – so I was a seller as well. I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of clients and understand details and emotions on the client level. Also, I think people like to do business with people they know and like and trust. I’ve been involved in the community and gotten to know a lot of people, supported local businesses and a lot of nonprofits. That’s been rewarding to give back in many ways.