Aspen realtor tops list of top U.S. producers

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Craig Morris’ golf game suffered last year but his extra effort to sell real estate in a recession paid off.

Morris, a partner in Morris and Fyrwald Real Estate in Aspen, was recognized by REAL Trends and the Wall Street Journal Online for having the highest sales volume in real estate deals closed in the United States last year. REAL Trends is a Denver-based communications company that analyzes trends in national residential real estate sales.

The Wall Street Journal earlier this month released the list of the top 100 agents by sales volume. Morris was credited with $177 million in sales. The figure represents the cumulative total of the transactions he handled. He edged out a broker from New York City by a little more than $1 million for the top spot.

Most of the real estate agents on the list were from markets significantly larger than Aspen, including cities in California, New York and Florida.

“But this market has always been recognized as very high end and maybe the highest,” Morris said.

He completed 25 real estate sales transactions last year. In nine of those, he was the listing broker for the property and he found a buyer, so that equaled 34 “sides,” in real estate parlance. To put that in perspective, a real estate agent in Dearborn, Mich., had the most sides with 1,743.

Morris’ achievement was magnified by the fact that Pitkin County’s real estate industry overall was down 21 percent in sales volume in 2009 compared to the prior year, and 2008 was down about 46 percent from 2007.

Morris boosted the dollar volume of his closed real estate transactions by about $70 million last year despite the recession.

“It was absolutely the most amount of work, the most energy, the most brain damage,” he said.

The REAL Trends-Wall Street Journal list doesn’t cover the activity of all real estate agents in the country. Real estate agents must apply for consideration. There is a rigorous review process of their reported sales. Morris said he was invited by REAL Trends to apply in 2007, and the first year he competed was 2008, when he came in 23rd on the list. He said his best years as far as dollar volume came between 2005-07, before he applied.

No other Aspen real estate agents cracked the top 100 in 2009. At least one other Aspenite, Carrie Wells, would have qualified if she had applied, according to 2009 sales data from the Aspen Board of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service.

The achievement comes with recognition in various publications and congratulations from friends and colleagues, Morris said. Primarily, it sets a personal standard to try to beat the following year. So far, he said, he is on track to top 2009.