Business Monday: Aspen’s RETT collections reached record levels in 2021 |

Business Monday: Aspen’s RETT collections reached record levels in 2021

Aspen’s hot housing market lifted the city’s real estate transfer tax collections to new heights in 2022, with a record amount of $22.1 million injected into the affordable-housing coffers and $10.8 million to the Wheeler Opera House fund.

In its monthly tax consumption report issued Friday, the city reported that affordable housing collections through the RETT topped last year’s previous record of $17.6 million by 20%. The Wheeler’s year-end totals also were 14% better than the $9.5 million haul in 2020.

The soaring collection totals mirrored sales of free-market homes and condos in Aspen in 2021, which accounted for a combined $2.7 billion in sales in through November 2021, according to Land Title Guarantee Co.

The median sales prices for a single-family residence in Aspen last year was $9.5 million, and the average sales price was $12.2 million, representing respective increases of 8.3% and 17.1%, according to data from the Aspen Board of Realtors.

With demand high and inventory low — new listings were down 27.2% in 2021 from 2020, according to the ABOR — and a City Council moratorium on residential development through June 8, city Finance Director Pete Strecker noted the unpredictability that comes with the new year.

“How these back‐to‐back record sales periods and low inventory, plus the December 8th moratorium, impact future real estate sales now becomes the new consideration as we venture into 2022,” Strecker wrote in the tax report.

Another area the city is examining is the short-term rentals sector; the city’s moratorium also applies to new applications for STR licenses through Sept. 30.

City officials have said they believe the popularity of STRs have depleted the inventory of available rental housing for local workers. Opponents to the moratorium have countered that local workers don’t earn enough to afford rent payments for residences being used as STRs, and the argument that STRs are siphoning away worker housing lacks merit.

Short-term rentals made up more than one-third of taxable sales in Aspen’s accommodations industry during November, according to a report issued last week.
City of Aspen Finance Department/Courtesy graphic

Aspen Board of Realtors also have mounted a legal challenge city’s moratorium, officially known as Ordinance 27. The case is pending in Pitkin County District Court.

Last week’s report, which covered sales and lodging tax collections year-to-date through November, noted STRs accounted for $3.1 million in taxable sales. That was more than one-third of all taxable sales in Aspen’s accommodations sector in November, the report said.

“This is a larger portion of the monthly lodging total but is somewhat expected given November’s lower price point for traditional lodge rooms in a shoulder season period,” Strecker said. “As demand elevates in the coming months, prices are anticipated to follow and will adjust the percentage of room sales originating by these different lodge offerings and should shift the mix.”

Meanwhile, taxable sales in the retail industry blossomed in November compared with the same month in 2020 and 2019, the report showed.

November tallied $49 million in taxable retail sales, reflective of an identical increase of 50.8% over 2020 and 2019.

Year-to-date totals through November 2021 also surpassed the same time period for the previous two years by 24.4%, according to the report.