ASPEN - The sale of a new house in Aspen's West End on April 4 is raising eyebrows in the real estate community because it was for one of the highest prices ever per square foot in the neighborhood.
The house at 200 W. Hallam St. was sold by Witz LLC to Dee E. Dillon for $12.3 million, according to a deed recorded at the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder's office. That works out to $1,852 per square foot for the 6,641-square-foot home.
Whether it set the record for sales price per square foot in the West End is open to interpretation. Carrie Wells, the listing broker for the house, said she was also the listing broker in a $14.3 million sale in December 2010. However, that sale at 214 E. Bleeker St. included a vacant lot as well as an existing home. If the price of the lot was included in that sale, the sales price was about $2,300 per square foot. However, subtracting out the price of the vacant lot would have reduced the price to around $1,816 per square foot, she said.
Therefore, she considers the latest sale the record.
However it's interpreted, the April 4 sale shows segments of the Aspen market are strong and that overall the market is bouncing back from the recession, Wells said.
"The Aspen market slowly, ever so slowly, is seeing signs of improvement," Wells said. "I don't think we'll see any radical changes."
B.J. Adams, owner of B.J. Adams and Co., said first quarter 2011 statistics show a "stabilizing and strengthening real estate market, particularly in Aspen."
There were 167 closed transactions and properties placed under contract in the first three months of the year in Aspen, Snowmass Village and Basalt, according to research by Adams' firm. That is a 70 percent increase over last year's first quarter.
There is 15 percent less available inventory in Aspen than one year ago and 8 percent less in Snowmass Village, Adams said. The median sales price for a single family home in Aspen climbed 3.5 percent in the first quarter compared to the 2010 levels. While luxury sales are influencing that median, most of Aspen's sales activity has been between $1 million and $5 million, according to Adams.
She said her firm conducted more showings this winter than last year and significantly more than 2009, when the sting of the recession was the worst. Potential buyers have more confidence in the state of the economy, she said, but they are still more "restrained" than they were in pre-recession days.
The confidence among wealthy buyers is apparent in Aspen's higher-end market - there have been a flurry of sales above $12 million already this year. But there are areas of weakness as well, Wells said. She cautioned sellers from setting prices too high despite the temptations of some recent sales.
"Some sellers say, 'Hmm, the markets back to where it was in 2006, 2007,'" Wells said. That's not the case. Sellers must look carefully at similar properties when setting their prices rather than make sweeping assumptions about the market, she said.
What makes the sale of the 200 W. Hallam house particularly more impressive is the fact it wasn't listed yet with the Aspen-Glenwood Springs Multiple Listing Service. Wells said she was waiting until the house was completed before listing it. She mentioned the house to real estate agent Julie Mandt of Aspen Real Estate Company, who had a client who was interested.
The house was listed at $13,450,000 unfurnished, said Wells, an agent with Coldwell Banker The Aspen Brokers Ltd. It has seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms and two half-baths. It also has a deck that provides 360-degree views, something unique in the West End.
The sale shows that buyers certainly exist for quality property prices at the appropriate level, Wells said.
"People see value in new construction. People see value in location," she said.