Real-estate market unreal so far |

Real-estate market unreal so far

The Aspen real estate industry rarely took a breather during the first half of 2006.

Heading into the heart of summer and busiest time for showings, the dollar volume from all sales in Pitkin County is already 17 percent ahead of 2005’s record pace, according to research by a title company.

Land Title Guarantee Co.’s latest monthly report showed that sales reached $1.25 billion in Pitkin County from January through June. The mark at the same point last year was $1.07 billion.

“Not only do people want to live/vacation in the Roaring Fork Valley, but buyers from around the world continue to view the valley as a great place to invest,” said Mark Pisani, director of marketing for the title company.

Despite “challenges” with low inventory in some parts of the market, Pisani envisions a strong second half of the year, regardless of national trends.

“As the national economy remains strong and interest rates rise, the purchasing power of the middle-income buyers may be reduced. However, the market for the affluent buyers will remain strong,” Pisani wrote.

Brian Hazen, a partner in Coates, Reid and Waldron, said real estate agents at the firm were “bullish” on the market at a recent sales meeting. “We’re essentially very optimistic,” he said. “Sales are very strong.”

This year will be remembered for having so many high-end sales, according to Hazen. Roughly six sales have closed or are under contract for above $15 million, he said. “There’s more out there in that price range than ever before.”

Bar/X Ranch sold for $48.5 million in June. It includes 13 single-family lots between the Maroon Creek Club and the Burlingame housing project. (The 949-acre Crystal Island Ranch near Redstone sold for $47 million in July, so it wasn’t reflected in first-half sales statistics.)

Another big factor influencing the market is sales of interval ownership units. Buyers acquire a fractional interest in the property and use of it at certain times of the year. Intervals accounted for 450 transactions and $116.16 million in dollar volume during the first half of the year, according to Land Title Guarantee Co. The number of transactions was up 114 compared to the same period last year. Dollar volume soared 57 percent, according to the title company.

The influence of the interval ownership units extends beyond those sales. Intervals are also providing a sort of farm system of buyers for wholly owned properties.

Hazen said that some buyers of intervals decide they want to spend more time in Aspen, so they shop for condominiums or single-family homes. “Even if only 10 percent (buy other real estate) that’s still a big number,” he said.

Overall, there have been 995 real estate transactions in Pitkin County through June, according to Land Title Guarantee Co. That is an increase of 14 percent from the same period last year. The firm bases its research on all transactions recorded at the Pitkin County clerk’s office. Those range from sales of employee housing units to McMansions.

Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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