Real estate rolling to a new record
The Aspen area’s real estate market is rolling past last year’s performance and appears likely to shatter the single-year record for dollar volume, according to research by a title company.The dollar volume of real estate sales in Pitkin County through July is up almost 50 percent over the same period last year, according to Jim Pomeroy, director of marketing for Land Title Guarantee Co. in Aspen.A strong showing in July pushed the year-to-date sales to $803.90 million. At the end of July 2003, sales were at $538.72 million, according to Land Title’s research.The company collects its data from the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s office. Any real estate transaction that includes a document fee, which signifies that money was exchanged, is tracked, said Pomeroy. So the data includes sales of employee housing and fractional ownership units as well as purchases of mansions, ranches, raw land and upper-end townhouses and condos.So far, every month this year except one has resulted in a higher dollar volume in sales than the same month last year. March was flat. The surge has been particularly strong since the chairlifts closed.May unusually strongMay, usually an offseason dog for the real estate industry, was unusually strong this year. The first half of the year is typically quiet, but sales topped $140 million in May 2004 – a strong performance for any month and a hefty 119 percent increase over the same month last year.Pomeroy said May might have been the payoff month for real estate agents who were busy showing properties in the later part of the ski season. It usually takes about 90 days to close property in Aspen, he said. So the surge in May closings reflects deals that were pieced together as far back as January.The dollar volume of sales hit almost $123 million in June, up 66 percent from the month the year before.Sales in July were up 30 percent this year to $124.68 million.Other signs of strengthPomeroy said there are numerous signs of strength in this year’s market. Although the number of real estate transactions was flat in July, it is up 13 percent so far in 2004, his research showed.Through July there have been 688 transactions this year compared to 610 last year.”The real story, though, is in the average sales price compared with last year,” Pomeroy wrote in a report of the market analysis. “At this time last year, the average sales price was $883,147. Currently in 2004 we are seeing an average sales price of $1,168,452. That is a 32 percent increase.”Those figures were the averages of all real estate transactions – the McMansions as well as the subsidized units sold through the Aspen Housing Office. Pomeroy noted that affordable housing units and fractional ownership units sell for well below the averages, making that figure even more impressive.Year-end outlookBased on the strong performance so far this year, Land Title is projecting a record in dollar volume in Pitkin County. Continuing at the same pace would result in estimated sales of $1.38 billion at year’s end, Pomeroy said.The current real estate record was set in 2000 with sales of $1.27 billion. The level dropped to $968.64 million in 2001, when the national economy tanked after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.Sales climbed above a billion dollars again the following year at $1.04 billion. Last year sales hit $1.13 billion in Pitkin County.At this point, most people in the Aspen real estate industry would be surprised if a record isn’t set because the second half of the year is usually stronger for sales.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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