Jill Beathard

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August 10, 2012
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Aspen real estate market displays reasons for optimism, broker says

SNOWMASS VILLAGE - The real estate market in the mid- and upper Roaring Fork Valley is on its way back, with Aspen showing more progress than Basalt and Snowmass Village, according to a presentation by broker associate Andrew Ernemann, of BJ Adams and Co., on Thursday.

The presentation was part of the 2012 Aspen/Snowmass State of the Real Estate and Tourism Economy symposium, hosted by BJ Adams. Jim Taylor, a marketing and branding consultant, also spoke there about the behavior of the wealthiest Americans and their interest in second homes in Aspen.

Ernemann used a graph to demonstrate the cycle of attitudes in a real estate market and at what point in the cycle Aspen, Basalt and Snowmass Village each are in 2012.

Ernemann described Aspen's market as optimistic, the beginning of the upward trend on his graph. Ernemann said the number of sales in Aspen was up so far in 2012 from last year, although sales of single-family homes and sales dollar volume are down. Sales price per square foot in Aspen is about flat.

Ernemann and other Realtors have been relying more on price per square foot as a metric of the health of the market, he said. Change in price per square foot tends to follow the same trends across markets.

Ernemann said Snowmass Village and Basalt are in the "hope" stage, with Basalt moving toward optimism. The number of sales - as well as the sales dollar volume, average sales price and price per square foot - has been down in Snowmass Village over the past year. Those decreases each amounted to about 10 percent.

"You have to hit the bottom before you can head back up," Ernemann said.

Ernemann cited the soon-to-close sale of Base Village, the Westin coming into the mall and investments by Aspen Skiing Co. as reasons for hope in Snowmass real estate.

In Basalt, number of sales, dollar amount, average price and price per square foot were all flat. The midvalley market struggled in 2011, he said.

Taylor, whose company Harrison Group surveys affluent and wealthy people on an annual basis, said he was trying to give a forecast of what will happen in Aspen and explain the point of view of the wealthiest Americans.

Since the start of the recession, which Taylor considers to be June 2006, the way many people view the wealthiest Americans has shifted to one of "deep suspicion."

"We got people who are increasingly unwilling to be exposed to the outside world," Taylor said of many affluent consumers currently considering buying a second home. "A secondary home is a place of refuge, not aggrandizement."

Many affluent people are interested in adding quality to their lives, and many responded to the survey by saying "adventure" was important to them in looking for a second home.

"Aspen intenders are coming for a fuller and richer life. How many of your people understand that it's not the home?" Taylor said to the real estate agents present.

Taylor also spoke extensively about "worth" buyers, who focus on quality, craftsmanship and service in making a purchase, versus "value" buyers, who choose the best price.


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The Aspen Times Updated Aug 10, 2012 01:46AM Published Aug 10, 2012 01:45AM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.