Real estate sales sizzle | AspenTimes.com

Real estate sales sizzle

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Real estate sales in Aspen and Snowmass Village over the first six months of 2002 were almost as strong as the first half of 2000, which was a record year for the local market.

And sales are on track this year to exceed those made in 2001, which was down substantially from 2000.

“It’s clear there is a lot of demand for Aspen and Snowmass area real estate,” said Randy Gold, a partner with the Aspen Appraisal Group, Ltd., which has been analyzing the local real estate market since 1973. “There is a lot of money that is fleeing to real estate because it is a classic hedge, and our market has not really shown a propensity to have major declines in value.”

Michael Adams of BJ Adams and Associates in Snowmass Village said that the first half of 2002 has been very strong for the brokers at his firm.

“We’re seeing a tremendous amount of activity,” said Adams. “There are more buyers and more sellers. I am encouraged by the first and second quarter tremendously. It is probably the best first and second quarter ever in this company.”

And the Aspen Multiple Listing Service, which tracks all types of real estate sales in the Roaring Fork Valley including condos, single-family homes and lots, tends to confirm the trends that Adams and Gold are seeing.

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“The numbers from the MLS are not totally accurate, but they are useful as trend indicators,” Gold said.

Gold recently reviewed the MLS data and found that when including all the property sold in the Aspen MLS area in the year 2000, it added up to $1.26 billion worth of sales.

And in another indicator of market activity, he noted that there were 1,237 real estate transactions completed in 2000.

In 2001, those figures dropped to $849 million in sales and 1,075 transactions.

But, as Adams wrote in a report analyzing the local market, “a flurry of sales activity in March and April suggests the tide may have begun to turn in 2002.”

Indeed, up through the first week of this month, there was $542 million worth of property sold and 483 total transactions, according to Gold’s review of the MLS statistics.

“The first six months of this year have been more active than 2001 but it is off the pace of 2000,” Gold said. “But 2000 was a huge year.”

To put the numbers from the first six months of this year into another context, it may be useful to compare the Aspen MLS statistics from the first six months of 2002 to both 2000 and 2001.

In the first half of 2000, there was $604 million worth of real estate sold and 592 transactions.

In the first half of 2001, there was $387 million sold and 433 transactions.

So, with $542 million worth of real estate sold and 483 transactions completed during the first half of 2002, the Aspen/Snowmass market appears to be doing almost as well as 2000 and is certainly better than it was last year.

“There is no question that it has been a pretty active year,” said Gold.

It was, by most accounts, an amazing year in Aspen real estate in 2000. The number of properties on the market was relatively low, and sellers were getting multiple bids on properties.

For example, during the first six months of 2000, there were 132 single-family homes listed for sale in the immediate Aspen area.

“Sellers were very, very cocky,” said Gold.

But sellers had more competition a year later.

In the first six months of 2001, there were 203 Aspen homes listed, almost double that of a year earlier.

This year, there is still a fair amount on the market, with 186 Aspen homes being listed in the first six months. And sellers may be less cocky.

Or, as Phil Miller, a longtime broker with Mason and Morse real estate in Aspen put it, “the price adjustments we’re seeing are overpriced properties coming back to the market.”

That is, asking prices this year seem more reasonable, at least in the context of the unique (some would say surreal) Aspen/Snowmass market.

In any event, local brokers seem pleased with the current market activity.

“It appears to me the market has turned,” said Adams. “There are some basic things that keep the market strong here. Real estate is limited, and a lack of supply creates demand. And there is still a lot of money out there, and it is going to come back into the market.”

[Brent Gardner-Smith’s e-mail address is bgs@aspentimes.com]

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