ASPEN - Big surprise: A new report shows that Aspen is the most expensive place in North America - among winter resort destinations - in which to build a luxury home.
New York-based Pollack+Partners Inc., a designer and builder of high-end residences, conducted the study. Based on an analysis of seven resort communities, Aspen was rated the most expensive in terms of construction costs per square foot and overall project costs per square foot, at $950 and $1,235, respectively.
Whistler, British Columbia, came in on the low end at $550 per square foot for construction and $715 in overall costs.
Ranking second through sixth in the survey were Big Sky, Mont.; Telluride; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; Vail; and Park City, Utah.
"Our study offers insight into ... spending trends in some of the most desirable ski resorts in North America," Chris Pollack, president of Pollack+Partners Inc., said in a statement. "In addition to construction costs, our analysis accounts for overall project cost, which many clients discount or do not acknowledge when establishing or discussing their budget."
On average, architectural, engineering and specialty consultant fees are 30 percent of the budget, according to Pollack.
The remoteness of winter-destination locations dramatically increases normal construction costs, his company said. Unique items such as climate-specific building materials, challenging site logistics, accessibility and geotechnical conditions all add to the project budget.
But the top segment of the real estate market tends to be less susceptible to market fluctuations and the overall economy.
"Our clients desire first-class design and amenities and are willing to pay a premium," Pollack said.
The study found that since the 2008 housing-market downturn, luxury homes are being built with slightly less square footage.
Trulia.com, a San Francisco-based online marketplace for home buyers, sellers, renters and real estate professionals, said that between Aug. 12 and Oct. 12, the average price per square foot for Aspen home sales was $1,327, an increase of 69 percent compared with the same period last year.
The median sales price for homes in Aspen during the two-month period was $2.47 million based on 24 home sales. Compared with the same period one year ago, the median price increased 168.8 percent, or $1.55 million, but the number of home sales decreased by 63.1 percent.