Fast-growing Echo Summit extends its reach to the Springs

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One of the state’s fastest-growing real estate companies just opened an office in Colorado Springs.

Echo Summit Property Management founder Scott Lukes says he decided to establish a Colorado Springs office for his single-family and multifamily property management company because he liked the city’s energy and business climate.

Lukes launched his 2-year-old enterprise after moving to Denver from Silicon Valley where he owned and sold technology companies.

He and his wife had also been single-family real estate investors over the years. The move allowed them to shift into property management full-time.

“I realized there was no ReMax, no Keller Williams or other large national brand out there with property management systems and business acumen,” he said.

The company’s headquarters is in Greenwood Village with a second location in Fort Collins. Its portfolio so far includes a 50-50 split of single family and multifamily units.

“Today, we’ve got about 1,000 doors, including a couple dozen homes in Colorado Springs,” he said.

The company was named to the Denver Business Journal’s fastest-growing companies list, after it posted 2,997-percent growth among companies with revenues of $2 million or less during fiscal year 2008. That’s not surprising considering that real estate property management is a $25 billion a year business nationwide.

Echo Summit’s local office will be headed by Sunny Smaldino, a property management industry veteran. Lukes hasn’t formally announced the local office opening, but is already reaching out, mostly to brokerages, title companies and to single-family home owners who want to rent out their residences for a year or more.

Most of the homes and multifamily units managed by the company fall into the “moderate to upscale” category — and, so far, most are located from central Colorado Springs into North El Paso County.

Lukes points out that the industry has relied until recently on smaller property management companies that handle 200 or 300 homes at a maximum. And many of those include Section 8 or less expensive homes.

Echo Summit has about 1,000 properties under management, roughly 70 percent of which are owned by individuals. Very few of its customers are hard-core investors with a portfolio.

“We’re there for people who need to rent their homes and want to know they’ll be well-taken care of for a year or two,” Lukes said.

Right-to-Rent bill gets mixed reviews

Proposed legislation that would allow homeowners who have lost their homes to foreclosure to rent them back for up to five years from banks and lenders is under congressional scrutiny.

Proponents of bill include Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy and Research.

“With roughly one-in-four mortgages underwater, the loan modification plans put forth so far have done little to help homeowners facing foreclosure,” he said in report last month.

Under Right-to-Rent legislation, Congress would temporarily alter foreclosure laws to let foreclosed homeowners remain in their homes as renters for a substantial period of time. This would save families from being kicked out of their homes and would go far to stop the blight foreclosures can cause. The plan requires no taxpayer dollars and no new bureaucracy to implement.

Wells Fargo corporate spokesman Tom Goyda said the company had no comment on the pending legislation, which would force lenders to lease properties up to five years to former owners.

But Echo Summit Property Management President Scott Lukes said he believes many lenders would be angered by the move to regulate market forces.

“We have relationships with a number of lenders, so we’d probably benefit if it passes, but I don’t like it,” he said.

“The (lenders) can’t chase properties for five years,” he continued. “I think it (the bill) will be modified at a more reasonable level.”

Homeowners already have the option to rent back from their bank, though most people aren’t aware of it.

Contact Becky Hurley at 719-329-5235 or email her at becky.hurley@csbj.com. Visit her on Facebook