ASPEN - The Pitkin County real estate market is well on its way to having its best year since the crazed days before the Great Recession.
The dollar volume of all real estate sales reached roughly $1.46 billion Friday, based on Aspen Times research of deeds filed with the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder's Office. That includes sales of all types of property, from deed-restricted affordable housing to Red Mountain mansions and commercial real estate.
This year's surge was fueled by a frenetic pace of sales in December. Sellers were eager to move property because of the prospects of changes in capital-gains taxes, real estate brokers said. Estate taxes also are changing drastically in 2013.
The $1.46 billion sales level - with additional sales likely to be recorded before year's end - tops the annual levels from 2008 through 2011.
Pitkin County's real estate market topped $2.52 billion in sales in 2007 after setting a record the year before at $2.64 billion.
The start of the recession cooled sales to $1.37 billion in 2008. Dollar volume barely topped $1 billion in 2009, during the brunt of the recession.
Sales settled at $1.26 billion and $1.27 billion, respectively, the past two years.
The market was headed for a strong but not spectacular year until December rolled around. The Aspen Times reported last week that four single-family-home sales transactions of at least $11 million were recorded in Pitkin County between Dec. 20 and Wednesday.
Commercial building sales also fueled December's frenzy. The Aspen Times reported Saturday that the Mountain Plaza Building at East Cooper Avenue and South Galena Street sold Friday for $22 million. The Volk Building, just east of the Mountain Plaza Building, also sold Friday, for $17.25 million.
As of Friday, sales in December totaled $233.47 million, making it the best month of the year. Sales in September totaled $232.41 million, buoyed by the $90 million sale of Snowmass Base Village.
December's tally will likely climb. Sales that already have closed might not have been recorded. Plus there is another day of business Monday.
December 2012 was the best showing for the month since 2006.
In the bigger picture, preliminary data show that total dollar volume of sales in 2012 will be about 14.5 percent more than in 2011 in Pitkin County.