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Real estate sales set record

Sarah S. Chung

A tougher market in 1998 couldn’t halt the trend in record-settingyears for real estate sales in Aspen and Pitkin County.The year’s final totals show $1.2 billion in real estate salesin the county last year – a 54 percent jump from 1997’s total.And 1997 was a record-setting year, as was 1996.The average price tag for an Aspen home last year was just over$2.3 million. The median price among last year’s 101 sales ofsingle-family homes in Aspen was $1.6 million. In Snowmass Village, the average home sale registered at $1.6million, while the median price was $1.3 million.”One of the most amazing things that happened last year was thevolume of sales despite a dramatic drop in inventory,” said PhilipMiller, a broker associate at Mason & Morse. “The choices forthe buyer were the lowest in my recollection and I’ve been inthe Aspen market 27 years. So even after the prime choices weresnapped up, buyers continued to step up and pay very strong prices.”Real estate broker Rich Wager contends that last year Aspen, likeresorts across the country, simply enjoyed the fruits of a continuedBaby Boomer flight from urban centers.”It’s not just Aspen, but resorts everywhere,” said Wager, ownerof Rich Wager Associates. “Baby Boomers, with more money to spend,want to get out of the city, want to live somewhere with a higherquality of life.”Every year, naysayers tell Wager the escalation in sale pricescan’t continue, but Wager doesn’t see the trend ending anytimesoon.”People told me in 1970 that prices would drop and they’ve saidthe same thing every year since,” Wager said. “People told meI wouldn’t be able to sell a house for $69,000 then. If I saidI could turn over the same house for $1.2 million in 1998 theywould have thought I was crazy. It’s basically caused by a realscarcity of product in the face of increasing demand and I don’tsee that changing anytime soon.””I think [the escalating prices] tell a real story of how desirableit is to own property here,” Miller added. “Buyers are willingto pay strong prices to buy almost any piece of Aspen. Years agothere was a real concern when the inventory dropped significantly,but recent sales just continue to amaze me.”


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