Good August sales boost Aspen real estate |

Good August sales boost Aspen real estate

ASPEN – Strong sales in August salvaged the summer for the real estate industry in the upper Roaring Fork Valley, but numbers for the year to date still aren’t keeping pace with last year’s.

The total dollar volume of all real estate transactions in Pitkin County in August was $105.21 million, according to deeds filed with the Clerk and Recorder’s Office. That was a 16 percent increase from the $90.40 million in August 2011.

The strong showing in August followed a mixed bag in July and a disappointing month for the industry in June. The dollar volume of all sales in July was $78.74 million – an increase of about 100 percent from the same month the prior year. The sales were particularly poor in July 2011, at just $39.38 million.

While the 100 percent increase for July looks good on paper, real estate agents had said they were expecting a busier month. Sales of just $78.74 million for what has traditionally been one of the busiest months of the year indicates the market still has much room for improvement.

June sales hit $142.10 million, but that was a 15.24 percent decrease from the prior year. June 2011 sales were $173.55 million.

For June, July and August combined, sales are up $22.72 million, or 7.5 percent, from last year.

Some real estate agents remain optimistic that 2012 will shape up nicely.

“By quarter’s end (on Sept. 30), we expect the promise of the good year we anticipated in January to be evident in Aspen and Basalt, with Snowmass Village following a little bit behind but stabilizing,” BJ Adams and Co. wrote in its Sept. 11 market update. “The recovery in Snowmass has suffered under the cloud of Base Village’s uncertainty, but that’s about to change when Related Colorado takes the helm again this fall and with the opening of the Westin in December.”

Real estate agent Tim Estin, of Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate, expects gradual improvement to continue this year, with an emphasis on gradual. He reported in his online newsletter in mid-July that national economic uncertainty was creating a “wait and see” attitude among prospective buyers in Aspen. There is consensus that the Aspen-area real estate market has settled at or near the bottom, Estin wrote, but many buyers remain unsettled.

“Whereas cautious optimism prevailed at the beginning of this year, there seems to be greater uncertainty at the half year mark,” Estin wrote in July.

The uncertainty is reflected in the real estate sales in Pitkin County from January through August. Last year, sales over that period totaled $839.35 million.

This year, sales from January through August totaled $777.56 million. That’s a decrease of $61.79 million, or 7.4 percent. Last year, total sales for the year topped 2009 and 2010 and represented recovery from the recession. This year will require a strong closing four months to keep the momentum going.

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