The Aspen, CO Real Estate Market

Posted on February 21, 2012 by Mary Kate

I hope you had a fun President's Day Holiday and are celebrating Mardi Gras today! We received seven inches of snow on Aspen Mountain Sunday night, and another inch last night. The skiing and riding conditions are awesome, which is making everyone happy here. <!--more-->Missy, Bali and I headed over to Snowmass Sunday night for the Bud-Light Hi-Fi Concert Series featuring "Motet." It was a fun show!

[caption id="attachment_340" align="alignnone" width="600"]<a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-340" src="" alt="Aspen Snowmass Budlight Concert Series" width="600" height="448" /></a> Aspen Snowmass Budlight Concert Series[/caption]

I attended the Aspen Board of Realtors luncheon this afternoon at the Hotel Jerome where Randy Gold from The Aspen Appraisal Group and my friend Andrew Ernemann shared their thoughts on the Aspen, CO real estate market today. The following is a synopsis of today's conversation: As we all know 2009 was the weakest market in over a decade. 2011 dollar volume was up .05% over 2010. There were more buyers returning to the market in 2011 with transaction volume up 10%. Homes less than two and a half million dollars saw a one hundred percent increase in sales volume. Single family home sales grew across all price ranges. The biggest dip from the <a title="Search Aspen, CO Real Estate" href=";pt=1&amp;idxID=a044&amp;city%5B%5D=1850&amp;srtd=asc&amp;srtf=listingPrice&amp;per=10">Aspen, CO Real Estate</a>  peak was in the seven to ten million range, about a 42% decrease. Ten million plus sales were as strong as in 2007 with twelve sales in Aspen, two in the Pines and Two Creeks, one each in Owl Creek, Wildcat Ridge, Starwood and Star Mesa. On the supply side the ten million plus market continues to decline with fifty-five total listings, eleven over twenty million.

Snowmass experienced a huge price drop from the peak of 2007. 2011 saw a bit of a drop in Snowmass as well. Snowmass seems to be the weaker segment of our market. Inventory rose in 2011. Listings versus sales continue to be the challenge in Snowmass. Personally, I saw quite a few encouraging price reductions in Snowmass hit the MLS today. I feel like many of the current listings in Snowmass are priced based on what else is currently listed rather than what has sold, which is understandable in light of the challenge of not having enough comparative sales data available the past two years in Snowmass Village to base pricing. Opportunity for buyers in Snowmass exist as the market is under priced in comparison. Non ski accessible Snowmass properties are still trending down. Buyers are paying a premium for ski access properties in Snowmass. Aspen condominium sales were the strongest segment of the market, up 50%. Good fundamentals are perceived. Average sold price per square foot at the peak of over $1,400 has leveled and is tracking ahead of last year.

"Land is the foundation of value," Randy shared. He added, "We're not going to see a lot of appreciation until land recovers. The three rules of real estate should be, land value, land value, land value." Land sales have been soft for a long time and still are. Currently there is "lots of inventory," about seven years. 3.3 million was the highest sale of a vacant lot last year. There were five sales of vacant land in Snowmass last year, four at Sinclair Meadows around $400,000, median sales price $635,000 in Snowmass. In comparison to 2007, the average lot was selling for 2.2 million and median price 1.8 million. A four to five year supply currently exists for vacant land; currently the demand is not there. Not much change is expected in 2012 with more price declines for lots.

In 2010 the commercial market saw huge rent declines of 25-30%. Rent declines were pronounced, expenses were up, and commercial vacancy was in the 2-3% range. Peripheral office space was off 40% in 2010. In 2011 rents have escalated, vacancy has dropped, and cap rates are down from 7% in 2009/10 to 6% in 2011, a 17% increase in value. Cap rates are currently 5.5 - 7% in Aspen today. Volk Plaza building currently listed at 22 million could embolden commercial core market if it sells in 20 million range, would be cap rate under 4%. There's tons of activity in downtown commercial core market. Local commercial market was last to respond to down turn and first to recover. It is the leading indicator of the health of our local market. "Take note," says Randy! Hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in Aspen through the Aspen Club redevelopment, Residences at Little Nell project, The Little Nell and St. Regis remodels, 1A development, and Dancing Bear. "What other mountain community can replicate that," added Andrew. Eventually Base Village will be completed infusing hundreds of millions more into our community. Further down valley the new Whole Foods is anchoring a Willitz revival.

Randy and Andrew talked about what has happened. Now the question is where are we going? In Aspen, other than vacant land, we've bottomed. We are going to see prices increase in the near future. Snowmass is in question until the future of Base Village is known, going to continue to be the case. Financially stressed sellers are mostly out of the upper valley market. It is still very much buyers market today! Sellers may not want to recognize it, which may have always been the case. With vacant land values still depressed we may start to see some speculative builders reentering the marketplace. While buyers can still purchase improved homes below reproduction costs, spec builders will remain on hold. There is demand for new, quality investment in ten million plus single-family inventory. A modest improvement in the number of sales is anticipated. SCI is going to remain a challenge on the commercial front until City Council addresses it. It is believed that the Aspen City Council is going to roll back residential FAR, bulk and size. Perfect timing for downtown core penthouses currently listed for sale and Nikos Hecht's Benton Building project. The way City Council is talking now they are going to choke off core luxury growth. Appreciation at some level will be broad based across the market. Snowmass Village is probably another three to five years away due to questions surrounding Base Village.

Thank you to Randy and Andrew for sharing your analysis. You did a great job! I appreciated the opportunity to hear another perspective on our local market. My opinion is that in Aspen the bottom is our our rear view mirror and barring any major macro economic meltdown we will continue to see improvement as we have the past two years. Once the picture is clearer in Snowmass with Base Village, I believe it will improve as well. It appears that's one of the potential opportunities today. We're having a solid winter season, about four percent ahead of last year in terms of occupancy. I am certainly busy showing properties and fielding questions these days. I hope you find this information helpful. Have a fun Mardi Gras celebration! Thanks for checking in. Talk to you soon. Call or email anytime with questions.



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