Aspen/Snowmass Market Report Shows Continuing Recovery

The Aspen Business Luncheon last week was the perfect venue to present the Aspen Snowmass Market Report to people interested in the latest stats in both residential and commercial real estate.   Some of the highlights: the number of sales and dollar volume is up in Aspen compared to the first half of 2013. For the Aspen/Snowmass market:
  • Average sale price is 92% of list price.
  • In 2009-10 it was 87%
  • In 2007 it was 96%

In Aspen, overall YTD sales up 5%

  • Home sales up 14%
  • Condo sales up 2%
  • Land sales down 10%, but mostly due to lack of inventory

The average Condo/Townhome prices are up 20% this year but differ depending on location.  Single Family is up 5-6% with price increases even more subject to neighborhoods and location.  Listing inventory is down compared to last year and down 36% compared to 2009.   In Snowmass overall sales down 15% YTD, but home sales are up 22% and land sales up, but condos are down.

  • Condo/Townhome average price down 2%
  • Single Family prices up 6%, same as Aspen
  • Listing inventory is down 1% compared to 2009.

The Viceroy provided most of the boost for Snowmass in 2013 but as expected, those sales have now dropped off.   Ernemann summed up the Aspen/Snowmass recent market history as follows:

  • 2011 felt like a Depression for Sellers
  • More hope
  • 2014 – More excitement, but not for all the outlying neighborhoods

The Aspen/Snowmass Condo/Townhome market picked up in Aspen and in ski-accessible properties in Snowmass.  Before this year the Aspen Core Condo/Townhome market saw about one each year above $2,000/sq. ft. Then in 2013, there were four sales and five so far this year.  There are 15-20 listings in the Core above $2,000/sq. ft.  In the old buildings that number is hard to achieve.  Buyers prefer newer and more contemporary properties and are willing to pay for them.

Lex Tarumianz spoke about the 1% vacancy rate in the downtown core and how lease rates are bouncing back for Class A properties at $175-225/sq. ft.  For a 1500 sq. ft. retail space at $175/sq. ft. plus triple net expenses (taxes, maintenance, and common area) of $25/sq. ft., sales need to be at $2 million to be profitable which is why we are seeing the influx of luxury retailers such as Alex and Ani and Anna Trzenbinski coming to town rather than small local retailers.
The office market is also improving with approximately fifteen office spaces for lease downtown, representing 19,000 sq. ft., mostly B or C grade.  Class A space is leasing quickly with smaller office space in demand.  However, it’s tough to find 500 sq. ft. in the Core or on Main St.   As far as investment deals go, legitimate cap rate deals at 6-7% are impossible to find.  Cap rates have gone from 4.5-5.5% in 2012 to 3-4% in 2014.  Now the model is to buy at a 3% return and wait, improve the leasing, or redevelop.  Tarumianz predicted more stabilized lease rates for 2015 and more luxury tenant entering the market.  He expects fewer sales transactions as a lot of deals have already been done.

The Aspen square foot price of Single Family homes is currently at $1,082/sq. ft. in all of Aspen YTD sales.  The last time it was close to this number was 2009-10 and in 2005-06 at $1,000 /sq. ft.  Today’s list price is $1,366/ ft. on average, with Sellers (on average) asking 21% more than sales price.

Snowmass at $659/sq. ft. is a better value and has more upside, but still a couple of years away from 2005-06 prices.  Average list price for Snowmass Homes is $1,094/sq. ft., forty percent higher than sales.  The best Snowmass activity in terms of number of sales was 2005.  It’s been stable the last 4-5 years with the majority of sales in the $2.5-5 million range.  However in 2013 most sales were below $2 million and almost nothing above $5 million.  YTD Snowmass has only had one sale above $5 million.  The market is improving but it’s still a year or two away.   Ernemann predicts continued improvement for the overall luxury Aspen/Snowmass market with:

  • Aspen Homes – strong and getting stronger

$10 million + should do as well as last few years.

  • Aspen Core Condos – going off the charts, particularly, new and contemporary units
  • Aspen Land’s below average activity should improve next year
  • Snowmass home sales will continue to improve with $2.5 million plus sales getting better next year
  • Snowmass Village condos getting stronger next year

     Originally published in the Aspen Business Journal. Liza Hogan is a regular contributor to The Aspen Business Journal.  She is a Broker Associate with Joshua & Co./Christie’s Real Estate, and President of Resort Rating Specialists.  She specializes in luxury homes in Aspen and Denver and brings over 30 years experience in real estate and 18 years consulting with the vacation home resort industry.  Liza can be reached at liza@joshuaco.com or her website lizahogan.com.

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