Aspen’s July and August home sales are huge windfall for Wheeler, housing program funds |

Aspen’s July and August home sales are huge windfall for Wheeler, housing program funds

The Wheeler Opera House and the city’s affordable housing program were the beneficiaries of one whopper of an August for residential sales in Aspen.

Housing coffers grew by $2.5 million in August through the collection of real estate transfer taxes from property sales in Aspen, according to a report the Finance Department issued Tuesday. That was 297.8% more than the $639,178 in RETT collections in July 2019 and nearly three times the $657,900 budgeted by the city for August.

The Wheeler collected $1.3 million through the RETT in August, which was 278.1% greater than the $343,499 it made in August 2019. It also nearly tripled city projections, which forecast $334,300 for August.

Aspen’s voter-approved RETT requires purchasers of real property within city limits to pay a 1.5% tax upon closing. Two-thirds of the RETT collection goes to the affordable housing fund and the rest goes to the city-owned Wheeler.

Home sales are driving the RETT windfall for the Wheeler and housing funds, which are respectively up 43.3% and 29% through the first eight months of 2020 over the same time frame last year.

“Market activity continues to exceed expectations and has driven collections close to annual forecasts through just eight months,” wrote the city’s senior tax auditor, Anthony Lewin, in the report.

This summer’s blistering pace is reflected through figures from July and August, which rang up $748 million in residential sales in Aspen and Snowmass, according to data from Randy Gold of Aspen Appraisal Group.

Another $1 billion in properties are under contract, noted Steven Shane, managing director of the Aspen office of Compass, in an email update Thursday.

“What does this mean? People know they can work remotely. Families want a safe, uncrowded environment where they can enjoy outdoor activities,” Shane wrote.

Through Thursday this week alone, the Pitkin County Recorder’s Office captured home sales for $12.8 million, $15.75 million, $16.75 million, and $32 million for a 11,421-square-foot single-family home at 41 Popcorn Lane. That sale marked the highest price paid for a single-family home in Pitkin County this year.

The seller was Nomisma Management Trust of Dallas, and the buyer was Difficult Popcorn Holdings LLC, according to property records.

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