Pitkin County real estate sales volume down in 2013
The Pitkin County real estate market’s roller-coaster ride during the first half of 2013 ended with a 12 percent decrease in sales-dollar volume compared with the same period in 2012.
Real estate agents said sales-dollar volume doesn’t tell the complete picture of market trends.
Sales totaled $520.94 million through June in Pitkin County, according to deeds filed with the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. That was a $72.67 million slide from the first half of 2012.
The year started slow, with January through March weaker in sales volume compared with the same months last year. The trend reversed in April and May, but it was short-lived. June was a particularly poor month. Dollar volume of all sales in June was down by $45.16 million, or 31 percent, compared with June 2012.
However, dollar-volume deficits can disappear overnight in Aspen, where a substantial number of houses are priced over $10 million. Real estate agent Andrew Ernemann, of B.J. Adams and Co., said there are three indicators that show that the Pitkin County market is stronger than the dollar volume suggests.
“The number of listings is down pretty significantly,” Ernemann said. Inventory for all types of residential property has dropped by or close to double digits when compared with the first half of 2012, he said.
Meanwhile, demand remains high. The number of sales in the Aspen area is running slightly behind last year because of fewer land sales in 2013. However, the number of sales involving single-family homes and condominiums in Aspen is up, Ernemann said. The number of sales of condos in Snowmass Village has soared this year, while single-family homes sales are up slightly, he said.
“Prices are definitely going to be having some upward pressure,” Ernemann said.
The price per square foot for single-family homes in Aspen is about $1,000 through the first half of the year, according to Ernemann’s research, though that varies by neighborhood.
During the first half of 2012, Aspen saw a $945 price per square foot, he said. That climbed to $1,020 by the end of the year.
One of the biggest changes Ernemann has witnessed in the real estate market cannot be measured in statistics. Nearly every conversation with prospective buyers one to three years ago focused on whether the market had bottomed out. Now, buyers have a greater comfort level, and they are focusing more on finding properties that match their lifestyles.
“We’re seeing that swing back to ‘I love living in Aspen,’” Ernemann said.
The real estate market bounced back fairly strong in 2012. Sales-dollar volume in Pitkin County was $1.49 billion — the highest since the pre-recession amount of $2.52 billion in 2007.
By all accounts, Basalt has been one of the hottest segments of the market during the recovery.
“The trend is more sales, less inventory,” said Darryl Grosjean, managing broker at Basalt Realty. The absorption rate — the amount of time it would take to sell the existing inventory at current sales rates — is down to six months, he said.
Basalt is divided between Pitkin and Eagle counties, so the performance of the midvalley isn’t fully reflected in Pitkin County statistics. Grosjean said sales of homes for less than $400,000 between Basalt and Carbondale have been the hottest segment of the midvalley market. Prices have increased greatest in that price range because the demand remains great and the inventory has been “picked over,” he said.
A big factor in the midvalley market’s recovery is the easing of distressed sales. The number of foreclosures this year is down by more than 50 percent in the midvalley, Grosjean said. Sales in the low end of the market aren’t carrying as much influence anymore.
Investors snatched up many of the deals when the market was at the bottom, Grosjean said. The rents they are able to charge exceed what they owe in monthly mortgage payments and related expenses, he said.
Even with evaporating inventory, the number of residential property sales for May was 148 between Aspen and Glenwood Springs, according to Grosjean. That was the highest since May 2008. The lack of inventory threatens to cool that pace, but Grosjean noted that his firm’s showings of real estate to prospective buyers is on a steady increase.
“Our buyer traffic has increased fourfold from this point last year,” he said.
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