Basalt real estate market surging | AspenTimes.com

Basalt real estate market surging

Downtown Basalt is turning into a destination resort in its own right, with real estate prices surging. (Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times)
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BASALT ” The average single-family home sale in Basalt will top $1 million for the first time this year, if the trend from the first six months holds.

There were 101 single-family home sales in Basalt and the immediate surrounding area last year with an average of $981,473, according to Wendy Lucas, owner of Wendy Lucas and Co., a real estate firm in Basalt. The median price was $760,000, based on data from the Multiple Listing Service, she said.

Through the first half of 2007, there were 41 single-family home sales in the Basalt area with an average of $1.12 million. The median price was $860,000 over the first half, Lucas said.

Lis Conners, supervising broker at Chaffin Light Real Estate in Basalt, said the lack of inventory triggered a “huge jump” in real estate prices across the board in the midvalley during the first half of the year. Townhouses that had sold for $400,000 suddenly leapt to $700,000, she said. Multiple offers are common for houses on the market.

There was a bidding war last spring for a home on Swinging Bridge Lane that sent the sales price to $1,125,000 ” even though the asking price was $899,000.

Conners said she listed a house in Blue Lake that sold in May for about $748,000, establishing a new record among comparable properties there. The record was short-lived, as comparable properties vaulted to the $800,000 level within weeks.

The first half of 2007 also saw the first single-family home sales topping $1 million in the Willits subdivision.

Throughout 2006, there were 26 single-family home sales at or above $1 million in the Basalt area, according to statistics Chaffin Light Real Estate tracked. There were 11 sales topping $1 million during the first half of 2007, but there are seven more under contract above that price.

“There is a lot more money in Basalt now,” Conners said.

While the statistics clearly show midvalley prices surging, it’s less clear whether Basalt has matured into a destination market or if it is attracting Aspen wannabes who can’t afford upper-valley prices. Real estate agents’ opinions are split.

Brian Hazen of Coates, Reid and Waldron has listings on two properties along the Fryingpan River at Peachblow, about six miles from Basalt. One lot includes a home right on the Fryingpan. The other lot is nine acres with a home and guest cottage a short distance from the river. Both are listed at $4.95 million. The larger lot is under contract for an undisclosed price.

“This is the luxury end of the midvalley,” Hazen said.

He believes the Basalt area has evolved into a destination market that attracts people on its own merits. The Fryingpan Valley in particular is popular for its access to fishing, cycling and hiking. People like retreating from the more hectic pace of Aspen, yet they are still close enough to Aspen to enjoy the music festival and the other cultural indulgences, he said.

Lucas said Basalt became more of a destination market once the Roaring Fork Club was substantially built out about four years ago. The luxury cabins at the golf and fishing club are sold as fractional interests and some are wholly owned. It drew more upper-end buyers to Basalt and some of them branched out from the club once they learned what the Basalt area offers.

“You get people who are coming here just for Basalt and they’re not skiers,” Lucas said. “They’re here just to play in the midvalley.”

Conners said Basalt isn’t so well-known yet that buyers are coming to the valley specifically to check it out. More often they investigate Aspen and Snowmass Village, then discover Basalt and get “enchanted” with the more laid-back lifestyle, she said.

Phil Miller, a longtime real estate agent with Mason Morse in Basalt, said he believes Basalt will become more of a destination market over time. While some buyers are interested specifically in Basalt, a larger number end up in the town because they cannot afford Aspen’s prices, Miller said.

As evidence, he noted that the high-end in the midvalley has yet to “show itself” above the $1.5 million mark.

But as the statistics show, the single-family home market is steadily marching toward that mark.

Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com.


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