Basalt quickly becoming millionaires’ club |

Basalt quickly becoming millionaires’ club

It takes a million dollars to buy into Basalt these days.The red-hot real estate market has sent the median price of single family homes for sale in and around Basalt above the $1 million barrier, according to an analysis real estate agent Wendy Lucas performed for The Aspen Times. “The prices are getting higher and higher,” Lucas said.Lucas is a longtime real estate agent in the Roaring Fork Valley who started her own Basalt-based firm this month. She examined sales and listing prices of homes through the Aspen Board of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service. The area she studied was from Holland Hills to the Dakota subdivision by Blue Lake.She said appreciation is so rapid right now that the seller of a new home cannot set a price based on recent sales of comparable properties. Her research demonstrated that point.The median price of the 27 single-family homes that sold in and around Basalt through mid-May was $695,000. The median price of 19 homes currently under contract in that same area is $899,000. The median asking price for the 19 homes currently listed for sale is $1,195,000.It’s not a case of sellers reaching for the stars. They are getting what they seek.”This is an absolute sellers’ market,” said Matt Harrington, co-owner of midvalley-based Harrington Real Estate, along with his wife, Terry. “It’s the very definition of a sellers’ market.”There’s been a frenzy created from lack of supply and high demand,” he added.Terry said conditions have changed drastically in the midvalley in the past six months.”There were three years of a very slow, flat market, and in the last six months we made up for the last three years,” she said.Median prices aside, there still are opportunities in the Basalt area for less than $1 million, Terry said. But any single family home under $400,000 to $450,000 “is unheard-of anymore,” she said.Any home listed for less than $500,000 receives at least one offer, and often several, the same day it goes on the market, according to the Harringtons. Open houses can draw three times as many brokers as a few months ago because homes to sell are in such short supply.While the appreciation is welcome news for sellers and most people who already own property, it also pushes the Basalt area out of the realm of affordability for workers.At a recent public meeting, Garfield County Commissioner Trési Houpt had this observation: “Aspen has the billionaires, Basalt has the millionaires, and we’ve got the working stiffs” in Garfield County.Lucas said it is undeniable that working people are getting shut out of Basalt now based on the median prices of homes under contract and listed. Townhouse and condominium prices are also skyrocketing.Lucas said she has a one-bedroom condo at Willits under contract for $315,000. Four months ago, it would have listed for $250,000, she said. The sales prices of comparable Columbine townhouses in Basalt jumped $100,000 in one month, the Harringtons noted.”I have seen very active markets before but this is the most active I’ve seen by far,” Lucas said. “It shows that people have discovered Basalt.”Lucas and Terry Harrington said the market will slow down again. Harrington said the key will be interest rates. If they rise, the market will cool.”I don’t see how it can possibly sustain itself,” she said.Sales breaking recordReal estate sales throughout Pitkin County continued to smash last year’s record pace through April.The dollar volume climbed by about 25 percent in April compared to the same month last year, even though the number of transactions fell for the first time this year, according to a report by Land Title Guarantee Co.The firm bases a monthly real estate sales report on deeds filed with the Pitkin and Garfield county clerks.Through the first third of 2006, the dollar volume of all real estate sales in Pitkin County was $675.78 million compared to last year’s record pace of $598.39 million. That’s an increase of 13 percent.The year-to-date transactions through April were up 23 percent. There were 646 closings through April this year compared to 526 last year, according to the report by Mark Pisani, Land Title Guarantee Co.’s marketing director.In Garfield County, year-to-date sales volume is up 25 percent over last year. Pisani noted that dollar volume has increased 215 percent in Garfield County from 2003 to this year, through April.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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