Market News

Aspen, CO

Aspen, Snowmass area sees solid real estate activity in 2013

The Aspen Times – Feb. 12, 2014

Overall, the real estate market in the upper Roaring Fork Valley was fairly solid in 2013, according to speakers during a Wednesday luncheon at the Hotel Jerome’s ballroom.

Randy Gold, of Aspen Appraisal Group, and Andrew Ernemann, of Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty, took turns talking about recent market trends during the annual Aspen-Snowmass Real Estate Market Overview. The event was hosted by the Aspen Board of Realtors.

Gold kicked off his remarks with a quick review of the market going back to 1997.

“The market was really pretty strong (from 1997 to 2000),” he said. “In 2001 and 2002, the market slowed significantly following a stock-market correction, national recession and of course the events of (Sept. 11, 2001). Then the graphs start to show the recovery that began in 2003-2004; the unprecedented market strength that we saw in 2005, 2006 and 2007; and a market that started slowing in 2008.”

The real estate market in 2009 was “probably the worst in at least the prior decade,” Gold said. Since 2010, there has been gradual improvement overall, he pointed out.

In 2013, the total number of commercial, residential and property sales, based on Multiple Listing Service and Land Title Guarantee Co. data, was 1,077. That represented a 47 percent increase from 2011’s 734 sales and a 95 percent increase from 2009’s 552 transactions, Gold said.

In 2012, there were 945 sales. Comparing 2012 with 2013, Gold said that while transactions rose 14 percent, dollar volume decreased 13 percent, from $1.49 billion to $1.29 billion.

“Basically the increased number of sales that we saw and the lower dollar volume points to an overriding theme that is going to play throughout today’s presentation,” Gold said. “We saw more action at the lower end of our market and less high-end sales take place.”

For example, there was a decline in commercial sales volume, from $90 million in 2012 to $47 million in 2013. In late 2012, there was a buying frenzy in the commercial market due to upcoming changes in federal tax law. Two prominent downtown Aspen buildings were sold in December 2012: Mountain Plaza, often referred to as the Bidwell building, and Volk Plaza. They sit across the street from each other at the intersection of South Galena Street and East Cooper Avenue.

Ernemann then spoke of residential sales, specifically the single-family-home market. The Snowmass area was basically flat, from 25 sales in 2011 to 29 in 2013. The general action last year was with homes not located along or near Snowmass ski trails, he said.

Aspen also experienced a slight uptick, from 2011’s 80 sales to 2013’s 84. Most of the single-family-home sales occurred in east Aspen and west Aspen, Ernemann said.

As for condominium and townhouse sales, Snowmass had 127 last year, significantly greater than the Great Recession low of 19 in 2009. Base Village condo sales are back on track, comparable to pre-recession figures in 2008, Ernemann said.

In Aspen, 58 percent of condo and townhouse sales involved downtown-area properties, while 27 percent occurred in west Aspen and the West End neighborhood. The average sale price per square foot, relating to condos and townhouses in the commercial core, rose slightly from 2012 to 2013, from $1,024 to $1,167. In 2008, before the recession, the price per square foot in the core reached a high of $1,606, Ernemann said.

Gold said the primary story of the area’s real estate recovery involves commercial property in downtown Aspen. Since 2010, the prime inventories have seen great appreciation. This is reflected in rental prices per square foot: from $150 in 2011 to between $200 and $225 in 2013.

Speaking of the future, Gold noted that there is virtually no available commercial inventory in Aspen amid high demand. A lot of new retail space is about to come on line: The Aspen One building at the corner of South Galena Street and East Hopkins Avenue, the former site of The Gap, is under construction, and all of it has been pre-leased.

Ernemann talked of how residential sales volume in Aspen and Snowmass has been steady over the past three years, hovering above $800 million each year. But it still does not compare to the pre-recession high of $1.4 billion in 2006.

Generally, both speakers said they expect most areas of the market to remain strong in 2014.