Texas A&M boss Sharp seeks an Austin swap for his Telluride home

Dec 04, 2017
John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, is looking to swap his Telluride, Colo. home for a property in the Austin area. The 5,449-square-foot Colorado property is listed for $3.495 million.

Austin-area homeowners: Want to swap your house for a mountain retreat in the scenic Colorado town of Telluride?

John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, says he is looking for someone who owns a home in the Austin area — preferably on Lake Austin or Lake LBJ — to trade him their house for his four-bedroom getaway in the world-class ski resort of Telluride.

The home, which is on the market for $3.495 million, sits on seven acres with views of Mt. Wilson, Sunshine Peak, Palmyra Peak and the Telluride Ski Area. Telluride is in Southwest Colorado, about 350 miles from Denver.

“The view of the San Juan Mountains from there is spectacular,” Sharp said.

He told the American Statesman the list price is slightly more than what he paid for it in 2011, and the property includes three lots.

Sharp said his 5,449-square foot-residence at 101 Josefa Lane in Telluride is a timber-frame home built with fitted wooden dowels, not nails. It has a large master suite on the main level, two guest bedrooms on second level and a spacious bunk room/game room above the garage. The outdoor living space flows onto a terraced landscape surrounded by more than 20 acres of open space where elk roam.

Sharp said he doesn’t have time to go to his Telluride home — he said he hasn’t been there in two years — and spends much of his time in Austin, where his two grown children live and where he expects to welcome a new granddaughter this month.

The trade would be done through a 1031 exchange, said Scott Bennett, a broker associate with Telluride Real Estate Brokers Inc. who has the listing. A 1031 exchange allows an owner to sell a property and reinvest the proceeds in another like-kind property and defer capital gain taxes.

Such tax-deferred exchanges are not uncommon, Bennett said.

“Depending on how the accountants or attorneys want it written up, it can save a lot of time and brain damage,” Bennett said.

Cord Shiflet, a real estate with Moreland Properties in Austin, said he receives a handful of calls each year from people looking for house swaps.

“They’re hard to make work and tricky to match up,” said Shiflet, who specializes in sales of luxury homes. “I think Mr. Sharp actually has a shot at this since he has a property in Telluride. Telluride is a big second home market for Austinites. Over the dozens of calls I’ve had to do a swap, none have worked. This may be the first one I’ve seen that I’d give a chance.”

The Telluride home would come with potential star-gazing opportunities. Sharp said his neighbor down the road is actor Tom Cruise. Other celebrity Telluride homeowners include media mogul Oprah Winfrey and actor/comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

“It’s full of interesting people,” Sharp said.

In 2014, Cruise put his 298-acre gated estate, featuring a 10,000-square-foot native stone and cedar home and a 1,600-square-foot guesthouse, on the market for $59 million. Bennett said Cruise’s property has been off the market for about two years.

This story has been updated to include comments from Cord Shiflet, a real estate agent with Moreland Properties.