Local real estate sales top the $1b mark; second straight year | AspenTimes.com
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Local real estate sales top the $1b mark; second straight year

Brent Gardner-Smith

For the second straight year, the members of the Aspen Board of Realtors have sold over $1 billion in real estate.As of Nov. 28, the board is reporting that there were 1,139 real estate transactions tracked through the local Multiple Listing Service worth $1,174,832,000.Last year, there were 1,980 transactions and $1,133,850,314 in sales. The figures include sales of land, condos, townhomes, single-family homes, lodges and commercial real estate.Before Aspen sales hit the billion-dollar level in 1999, they climbed to $869 million in 1998 from “only” $282 million in 1990.There are 499 Realtors registered with the local board, and the majority of the real estate deals they work on are between Aspen and Glenwood Springs, with the most properties closest to Aspen and Snowmass Village fetching the highest prices.”The million and under category in Aspen and Snowmass has slowed in the past year,” said Maureen Stapleton, president of the Aspen Board of Realtors and a broker with BJ Adams and Company.The six geographic zones covered by the Aspen MLS also include Rifle, and, in fact, a member of the Aspen Board of Realtors could list a property located anywhere in the state, such as a ranch near Telluride. If it was sold through the listing agent, it would be counted in the MLS figures. On other hand, if a piece of property was sold without being listed in the MLS, it is not included in the annual tally.And despite the recent economic slow down, Realtors are bullish on staying above a billion next year.”We have not seen any decrease in demand for Aspen or Snowmass in the last six months,” said Brent Waldron, a partner with Coates, Reid and Waldron, which has sold $285 million in real estate this year as of Dec. 1. “People view Aspen and Snowmass real estate as a safe haven.”In other words, when the stock market goes up, people buy Aspen real estate. When the market goes down, people buy Aspen real estate.”That’s the beauty of being in the real estate business here,” Waldron said.Stapleton concurred.”When the market starts to turn, a lot of people pull their money out and put it into real estate,” Stapleton said. “Next year is still going to be a good year for real estate in the Roaring Fork Valley.”And this valley is not alone in the billion-dollar real estate club.The real estate firm of Slifer, Smith & Frampton, which handles 65 percent of the real estate transactions in and around Vail, alone sold $1.1 billion worth of real estate from Oct. 1999 to Sept. 30 of this year, according to The Denver Post.With 500 members of the Aspen Board of Realtors selling $1.1 billion in real estate, there is perhaps a natural inclination to consider how much commission those sales are throwing off to local brokers.There is no industry standard for real estate commissions. The experience of many buyers of residential real estate is that, in the buying and the selling, real estate agents on both ends of the deal get 3 percent commission. And indeed, the general range for most transactions is between 4 percent and 6 percent, although it can be higher or lower depending on the brokerage firm and the deal.If, for illustrative purposes, it’s considered that 5 percent of $1.1 billion would generate $55 million in real estate commissions and there are 500 local Realtors, then it’s theoretically possible that each Realtor will make $110,000 this year.But of course, that’s not the way the world works. As is often the case in sales, it’s likely that the 80/20 rule also applies to Aspen real estate: 80 percent of the sales are made by 20 percent of the people.The theoretical $55 million in commissions, however, could be viewed as the level of wages and salaries for the real estate industry in the valley. But not all of that money goes right into new Range Rovers. Most Realtors split half of their commissions with the brokerage firm they work for, and some must cover their costs, such as advertising and assistants.Still, there are clearly some Realtors in the valley who are doing very well.As a case in point, there are two brokers at Coates, Reid and Waldron who each sold over $50 million in real estate this year. At 3 percent, $50 million would generate $1.5 million in commissions.Brent Waldron concedes he is not one of the two $50 million Realtors this year. But as a partner at the biggest firm in Aspen, he can do so with a smile.”This was our best year ever and last year was our best year ever,” he said. “It’s just been incredible. It is a joy to sell real estate in this town.”


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