Recreational snow skiing first came to Summit County, Colorado in December, 1961, when the Peak 8 Ski Area opened for business at Breckenridge. In neighboring Eagle County, the Vail Ski Resort opened its doors in 1962. Both resorts were owned by Vail Associates, a company established by Pete Seibert, a former ski trooper for the U.S. army in World War II, and Earl Eaton — two ski patrol guides at Aspen who were looking to find the “next great ski mountain.” Today, the company is known as Vail Resorts, and it’s the premier mountain resort company in the world.
Rod Slifer was a ski instructor and realtor who started selling properties for Vail Associates out of the lobby of the Lodge at Vail, the same year that it opened. In 1968, he founded his own brokerage, Slifer & Company and, over the years, as the ski areas in the two counties continued to grow, so did Slifer & Company and Vail Associates Real Estate. In 1986, Harry Frampton and Mark Smith formed East West Partners, developers of the Beaver Creek Resort in the nearby town of Avon. In 1988, Frampton and Smith opened Frampton & Smith Real Estate, concentrating on the newly-formed Beaver Creek market. In 1994, the two top dueling powers of Vail Valley real estate, Slifer & Company, and Frampton & Smith Real Estate, merged to form Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate.
Today, Slifer Smith & Frampton is part of the East West Partners family of companies. East West Partners is devoted to building, selling, managing, and supporting high-quality real estate and life experiences. It features a real estate development division, a resort management division, and Slifer Smith & Frampton, which represents the real estate sales division. “We are also directly affiliated with Vail Resorts, which owns the main ski areas here – Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone,” adds John Pfeiffer, the company’s President and Managing Broker.
Slifer Smith & Frampton is also a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, the largest global network of premier, locally branded companies. Whenever a property is posted to Slifer Smith & Frampton’s local website, it is immediately promoted on the LeadingRE.com website, which then connects the listing to the websites of over 565 affiliated real estate firms, encompassing 4,100 offices and 130,000 sales associates in 65 countries. Locally, Slifer Smith & Frampton has 25 office locations in Eagle and Summit Counties, 162 brokers, 75 staff members, and 15 executive team members, including the three original partners, who Pfeiffer says are “still very much active in the company.”
Pfeiffer believes that the main reason that Slifer Smith & Frampton controls 40-50 percent of the market share in its communities is because of its decades-long presence in the Vail Valley. “Because our partners were the founders of much of these valley areas, their names, and the company name, have been in existence for so long, people want to be a part of that history,” he states. “Our clients don’t want to work with franchises; they want to work with a luxury boutique, local firm that has local roots. That’s the key differential – we are the history of these communities.”
Another reason for the company’s success, according to Pfeiffer, is its existence in a core village resort market with heavy foot traffic. “We have such an incredibly diverse clientele,” he states. “People from all over the world travel here to experience and be a part of this, so we get a lot of business that walks in. That’s unique in real estate, nowadays.” A third advantage is the price range of the properties that the company deals with. “Our average price point is $1.5 million per closing, and the industry standard is around $400,000. So that makes our situation incredibly unique, as well. So, we are blessed with location, clientele, and history – all three.”
And the company is still growing. “We’ve opened three new offices in the last six months,” Pfeiffer reports. “We’ve added 20 new brokers, and we’ve just listed the Lion in Vail – approximately $150 million in sales volume. It’s the first brand new vertical development in Vail in several years. We also just listed the Four Seasons private luxury residences within the Four Seasons Resort & Residences Vail. We are the sole listing brokerage however outside brokers are encouraged to bring buyers to the project. That’s about approximately $80 million in sales volume. East West Partners is breaking ground on a new riverfront village resort development, which is located next to the Westin in Beaver Creek. SSF will bring this project to market this fall. We are also working on several additional new developments in Summit and Eagle Counties that we hope to be listing over the next six months.”
With its blue skies, its amazing terrain, and the pristine quality of its snow, it’s no wonder that Rod Slifer decided to call Vail home back in 1962, with the intention to expand and grow within the Colorado ski resort market. Today, Slifer Smith & Frampton is the number one real estate company in the Vail Valley and Summit County, and as John Pfeiffer puts it, “the go-to firm to help our clients live their dreams.”
Originally published on Business View Magazine