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5/23/2004

Hot Lots

By Pam Mellskog
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — Tools of the trade in Scott Franklund’s world include a cream-colored Mercedes, a private jet and what money cannot buy upstairs — an elephant-like long-term memory and a love doctor’s sense of matchmaking people and estates.

For the past 16 years, the Boulder-born man has pulled all of these tools out to close million dollar-plus property deals in Boulder County, greater Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and New Mexico.

And while choppy economic times shipwrecked some businesses in recent years, Franklund hit his personal best annual sales record of $52 million in 2003 — a figure he eclipsed in the first quarter of 2004, he said.

“This is largely due to the fact that we have some availability in Boulder County now, some inventory,” he said.

A mix of executive relocations, career changes and freshly minted entrepreneurial dynamos has shaken things up enough for him to finally match the wish lists of clients nationwide waiting to buy their Camelot here.

“I’ve always had the buyers,” said Franklund, 45, who in February relocated Legendary Properties from Boulder to Longmont. “I just haven’t had the inventory.”

In 2002, the Multiple Listing Service showed 177 million dollar or more properties for sale in Boulder County. Last week, that figure hit 211 properties, according to Kathy Braesch, executive vice president of the Longmont Association of Realtors.

Though only a fraction of 1 percent of the total 2,486 homes listed, the number of high-end properties represents a healthy $102 million inventory and has helped Franklund close deals in the works for years, he said.

One man waited six years as Franklund compared his mental notes of the man’s dream home to available properties.

“There’s so much tension here to find a perfect setting within the confines of the buyer’s dreams and the county’s standards and codes,” he said. “And Boulder County is different from other counties. We can’t develop every single meadow.”

But that does not mean selling in real estate’s top 15 percent of the market is a shoo-in enterprise, according to Larry Clifford, owner/broker of Coldwell Banker Preferred, and another player in the luxury estate market.

It takes an average of 29 months to sell a million dollar-plus property, he said. So-called core properties listed at between $200,000 and $300,000 sell in about seven months.

“Prices (on high-end properties) continue to move up despite the slower economy,” Clifford said. “But buyers are a little more conservative about taking on that trophy home if their job isn’t that secure.”

To tempt buyers on the fence, realtors such as Franklund have recognized the growing appeal of “something old, something new” style homes such as Maison Caribou.

The 14,000-square-foot mansion sits on about 5 acres in Caribou Springs Ranch, a gated community 10 miles north of Boulder, just east of U.S. Highway 36. It is one of 19 plots set in an oasis of 726 acres.

No one has moved in since its completion in 2001. But this $6.6 million estate could be a short-timer, according to Franklund.

Limestone cut from a Texas riverbed lines the walkways, patios and terraces. Meanwhile, heavy timber arches along with custom-made wrought iron banisters and window scrolling carries a New West theme from the outside in. But under the slate tile roof a distinctly French country manor feel unfolds.

To create an air of authenticity, the builder — Marcia Kirch-Kohler, president of Windward Builders and CEO of Grace and Graham in Boulder — added French antiques to the blueprints.

The limestone fireplaces, Franklund said, were salvaged from an old French castle and date back to the 17th century. The bowed mahogany and walnut dining room doors came from revolving doors at a former hotel in Monaco.

This home has a full exercise room and theater, too. But traces of the “inspired living” ideal abound even in spaces not normally shown off. For instance, antique French doors made of mulberry wood, circa 1850, open on the pin-drop perfect sound theater room. A countryside mural flanks the wrought iron gates of the 900-bottle wine cellar. And the two-story library includes floor-to-ceiling wood paneling, a spiral staircase and hand-carved Louis XV-style cherrywood fireplace with a deep green Italian marble hearth.

With five bedrooms, nine bathrooms, six fireplaces and five garage spaces, Maison Caribou is palatial. But in Boulder County, that is not always the top selling point, according to Franklund.

“Square footage is our least useful factor,” he said.

Rather, it is environment, from schools to the airport to the mountain views to professional sporting events just down the road in Denver. And this environment typically gets organized under the top priority, which is space — from the trail system to the back yard.

“(Maison Caribou) is very isolated, and people are really paying for isolation now,” Franklund said. “They’re paying for pure privacy.”

Pam Mellskog can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 224, or by e-mail at pmellskog@times-call.com.