September flurry closes Q3 for Pitkin County real estate

Total real estate sales will top $3 billion for the second straight year and the second time only in Pitkin County. September made sure of that by generating more than $400 million in total sales volume, according to public data.

Information at the Pitkin County Clerk & Recorder’s Office, which is where all property transactions within the county are documented, showed $420 million in sales volume last month. It also showed 12 sales topping $10 million, and another four over $9 million.

Only June has been more lucrative this year, with $485.2 million in total sales, according to data from Land Title Guarantee Co.

Around $2.6 billion had been generated in sales from January through August, and with September’s showing, this will mark the second straight year total sales volume — whether from sales of commercial, agricultural, undeveloped or residential property, fractional-ownership, deed-restricted or free-market properties — has exceeded $3 billion in Pitkin County. The first time that happened was in 2020 with nearly $4.1 billion in total property sales, coming after both a 2018 and 2019 that saw $1.8 billion in sales, and $1.9 billion in 2017, according to Land Title data, which bases those figures on so-called historical fee simple data.

Residential sales on the free-market fuel the real estate industry, but a declining inventory means home prices keep rising.

In its Aspen Real Estate Market Snapshot, Coldwell Banker reported 147 properties for sale as of Oct. 3, marking a 30.3% decrease in inventory from Sept. 3.

As Steven Shane of Compass in Aspen noted in his recent email newsletter, “The simple rules of supply and demand are in full force; therefore, sale prices continue to increase.”

The increased demand for home ownership in Pitkin County has been well-publicized since the real estate market mushroomed in the summer months of the pandemic’s first year in 2020. Prior to then, to about 2010, homes could sit on the markets in Snowmass Village and Aspen for 18 months or up to five or six years, noted Andrew Ernemann, of Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty, in a September report.

“Think about that for a minute, if you listed a property it would take a year to sell (on average) and in some cases it might take three or four (or more) years to sell a property,” Ernemann said. “Fast forward to today … days on market have dropped 20%-50% depending on location, price point and property type.”

Listed condos are now being sold in three to four months; last year at this time it was 12 to 18 months, he said. Snowmass’ condo inventory is about one or two months, according to Ernemann.

“I don’t see this dynamic changing in the near future, unless of course there’s a major macro shift on a domestic or international level,” he said. “It does seem likely that over the coming six to 12 months we will see buyers increasingly pause in the face of continued price increases, and perhaps that will in turn spur an uptick in listing inventory.”

For all of Pitkin County during the first half of this year, the average residential sale price was $3.9 million, up 21.2% over the $3.2 million average in first half of 2020, according to Land Title in its Mountain Communities Report. Sales baked into that average range from closings in the low to mid six-figures on the employee-housing market to mansion sales breaking $20 million on the free-market.

In Aspen only and through August, the average sales price of a single-family home was $12.6 million; it was $9.5 million from January through August of 2020, according to the Aspen Board of Realtors. The median home price also rose during that same time period, from $7.7 million to $9.9 million.

The second most expensive county in the 12-county region surveyed in the Mountain Communities Report had an average home sale of $2.1 million the first half of this year. That was San Miguel County, home of the Telluride ski town.

Of the 613 transactions in the first six months of 2021 in Pitkin County, 279 were made by out-of-state purchasers and seven comprised international buyers, according to the report. Another 41 hailed from the Front Range while 286 were “local,” the report said.

In Garfield County, 935 local purchasers were behind 1,134 sales in the first half of 2021; 71 came from the Front Range and 128 were out of state.

Eagle County’s buyer profile was more in line with Pitkin’s. The county where Vail is located saw 1,352 property transactions from January through June. Out-of-state buyers numbered 429;12 were international, 290 came from the Front Range, and 621 were considered local.