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Summary Highlights from

Aspen Snowmass Properties'
current market report

 

With myriad factors at play, it’s challenging to neatly summarize the trajectory of our distinctive real estate market for any short period of time. That’s why we prefer using 12-month numbers for most of our analyses, and why, after a near-record year in 2015 with over $2 billion in real estate sales in Pitkin County, we are cautious about how we discuss the comparative slowdown of overall activity in the first half of 2016, a narrative which periodically grabs the local headlines and one that is endlessly interesting to Aspenites. Randy Gold, Aspen’s most well-known and respected MAI appraiser, reminded his real estate colleagues earlier this year that, for four decades, our market has run in 6-7 year cycles and that 2015 was the sixth year of an upward market and likely the peak. Gold thought in February that 2016, while solid, would be more on par with 2014 in terms of overall dollar volume — around $1.5 billion (Pitkin County). It’s worth noting that 2014 was the strongest year we’d had since the recession began, and 2015 just kept going. The local pundits, and the press which quotes them, like to point out the doom and gloom they see in this year's statistics. And while 2016 is going to fall short of 2015's record volume, it now appears we'll come close to matching the business we did in 2014. Our market picked up the pace in August and September, and it appears the second half of 2016 is going to be considerably better than the first half. Here are some bright spots not altogether evident in the summary chart above: As we've cited before, one of the reasons 2016's sales volume is down from last year's is due to the extraordinary number of $10M sales the year before - 25 residential transactions equaling $369M (average price, $14.7M) - a level of luxury activity we'd never before seen in Aspen/Snowmass. We're not going to catch up with last year's high end in the next 2½ months, but we already have nearly 60% more of these kinds of sales in the second half of the year ($143M/11 sales, including 6 pending) than we did the first half ($90M/8 transactions). Some of these recent sales include land at the base of Red Mountain - 4 acres closed in early October for $13M, and another 6 acres in the same area, listed for $21.5M, just went under contract. Two adjacent lots, not totaling even 2 acres in size, on the Adams Avenue ski trail in Snowmass, listed for $12.5M, are under contract and expected to close in January. Beyond the possible predictability of real estate cycles, we can ascribe our languishing activity to simple uncertainty and a profound sense of national angst. The market never does well in an ambiguous environment or when aspects of the future seem in doubt. While it may seem a lame reason, we truly do have the crazy election year to account for this. People are concerned about our country and, anxious about troubling times, justified or not, many otherwise capable, serious buyers hesitate to commit to significantly large discretionary purchases – especially in the face of plenty of product on the market.
Another factor: Following several years of increasing activity, many of the so-called “deals” are gone. After the recession eased and buyers realized the bottom had passed, many found some of the best-valued listings in years. With so many “entry-level” properties gobbled up, what’s left are those more valuable ones whose sellers may not want nor need to negotiate. In Aspen, particularly, this is reflected in discounts off of list – now 6.3% for the last 12 months (6.7% the year before). Finally, it’s worth noting that while real estate sales activity has slowed this year, other economic indicators are on fire. The value of Aspen’s residential building activity so far in 2016 is double what it was last year, and lodging occupancy in Aspen and Snowmass this summer is very strong, having set a record in June and with no signs of weakness through October. Sales and lodging tax collections, through June, are up 4% over 2015. Liquor and marijuana sales are up 12%! Sales tax collection on luxury goods (art, jewelry, etc), though, is down 17%, and Aspen’s real estate transfer tax volume is behind last year’s collection by nearly 50%. (Perhaps people have been too busy remodeling or enjoying what Aspen/Snowmass has to offer to shop for homes?) You can find all the numbers we slice and dice and analyze every month in our latest market report, the most comprehensive analysis of Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt, and valley-wide luxury properties.

 

Download our full current report from this link.

 

 

 

Market Index

ASPEN resort property MARKET INDEX

BJ*Adams and Company unveiled the Real Estate Market Index in 2010 after more than a year of testing and development, and we are continuing it under the Berkshire Hathaway label. The Index tracks the relative “strength” of the market. It also provides some insight about future market direction.

 

The Index showed significant upwards strength in 2013 through 2015. This was a result of overall improvement in the sales activity, average sales discounts and upward pressure on prices in nearly every market segment. The four year trend has been a rising Index, and prices tend to lag the Index direction by one to two years, though the downturn between 2011 and 2012 lengthened that lag. Overall market price per square foot gains reached 7.4% in 2013, and continued to track the Index as well as general market fundamentals on an upward path into early 2016. Whether a correction or an election-year softening, the recent drop in the index has turned upward again, and is not significant in terms of the overall trend, being unlikely to translate into any real effect on prices any time soon, if at all.


Key Economic Changes

As of Most Recent Month’s End

1-Yr. Change

S&P 500

4.8%

Gold

19.6%

Crude Oil

6.0%

CPI

+1.0%

USD (vs. the Euro)

-0.1%

10-Yr T-Note

-31.0%

Unemployment Rate

-0.4%

* Index percent change not applicable