Aspen sees flurry of fractional sales
If you bought a condo and put it inside a luxury hotel, bringing maids, room service and an ever-accommodating concierge to your beck and call at your own home, you’d have one of the hot components of a hot local real estate market.Call them fractional interests, timeshares or interval ownership – they are the proverbial home away from home with all the amenities of a fine hotel. In the case of Aspen’s latest player in the fractional market, they’re actually within a hotel. The $30 million renovation of one wing of the St. Regis Aspen into the St. Regis Residence Club is helping fuel fractional sales that topped $65 million in Pitkin County last year. That sum didn’t even include the St. Regis, which didn’t launch sales until December.Still, the impact of the new luxury units being sold in one-eleventh shares at the St. Regis is evident in this year’s early numbers. Last year, 82 fractional sales were recorded in January and February for a total of $23.4 million. The first two months of this year produced 40 recorded sales – about half of last year’s tally – but for $17.7 million, according to sales figures compiled by Land Title Guarantee Co. in Aspen. The month of February alone produced nearly $13 million in sales this year, compared to $10.6 million in 2004, despite a dozen fewer transactions.”I would definitely put that on the St. Regis,” said Jim Pomeroy, director of marketing at Land Title.
Last year, 18 percent of the total number of transactions in Pitkin County were in what Pomeroy calls interval sales. So far this year, those sales are again tracking at 18 percent.According to transaction records kept by the county clerk and recorder’s office, the St. Regis closed on 11 sales in February and 18 more in March.Sales of more than $1 million for a share of a St. Regis unit have yet to hit the books, but a $987,500 sale has been recorded. That buyer can spend close to four weeks a year at the St. Regis Residence Club.”To buy four weeks for $900,000 is pretty amazing, frankly,” Pomeroy said.On the opposite end of the spectrum, The Innsbruck Aspen, a Main Street ski lodge that will begin renovations this spring to turn it into a fractional project, is currently offering fractional shares for a four-week stay at a starting price of $57,900 (that’s up from the initial introductory price of $47,900).”I came up with a design that real people could afford, not just millionaires and billionaires, and surprisingly, we’re getting millionaires buying it,” said broker Gwen Dickinson, a partner in the project and owner of Remax Premiere, a local real estate office.
The Innsbruck is currently taking reservations; about 15 percent of its 205 available shares are spoken for, Dickinson said. The project only began advertising on the Front Range in February.”Denver is excited about us,” she said.More than half of the St. Regis shares have been reserved; those reservations are being converted into finalized sales. The Hyatt Grand Aspen, a 50-unit timeshare hotel under construction on Dean Street, reported one-third of its nearly 1,000 shares had been reserved at the close of 2004. It’s expected to open next Christmas.Actual sales at the Hyatt have not yet been recorded, Pomeroy noted.At the Ritz-Carton Club, a high-end fractional residence club at the base of Aspen Highlands, sales this ski season are up 75 percent over last winter, according to Dan Bruder, project director. Close to 70 percent of the 876 shares available in the club’s 73 residences have been sold, he said.
“We’ve almost doubled our sales from last season,” he said. “We’ve just finished our best March ever.”Between December and late March, 34 sales at the Ritz-Carlton were recorded with the county clerk and recorder, ranging from $180,000 to $490,000 per one-twelfth share in a residence. Recorded sales often see a lag time of months after the deal is made, though, Bruder noted.The Ritz was an early entrant in the local fractional market, along with several properties in Snowmass Village. Several more Aspen projects are on the way.”The competition, in some respects, has helped us,” Bruder said. “In pure marketing terms, the competition expands the universe of potential buyers. The competition has brought more buyers to the market.”Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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