Real estate sales top $1 billion | AspenTimes.com

Real estate sales top $1 billion

Real estate sales in Pitkin County topped $1 billion in only six months this year, according to a report by Land Title Guarantee Co.The $1 billion mark has been topped only two times for an entire year in Pitkin County. That shows just how strong the market has been in 2005.Activity in June pushed total sales to $1.07 billion this year, according to Jim Pomeroy, director of marketing for Land Title Guarantee Co. Sales during the first half of last year were $679 million.Last year established a record for sales for an entire year at $1.6 billion in Pitkin County. The summer months are traditionally the busiest in the real estate industry, so there appears to be little doubt a new record will be established this year. Total sales could top $2 billion.Rich Wagar, a real estate agent in Aspen since 1970 and owner of a firm, said he probably does 70 percent of his business in July, August and September.”Definitely it’s going to be the biggest year ever in volume in real estate sales,” he said.Wagar said the roots of this sales frenzy can be traced back five years, when the Pitkin County market started slowing.”People think it was 9/11. It actually started [slowing] in August 2000,” Wagar said.Slower sales created a larger inventory. The amount of available property increased through about August 2003. Then the number of properties on the market remained flat for nearly a year. By August 2004, the buying frenzy was in full force and the inventory was evaporating, Wagar said.At the 2003 sales rates, it would have taken about five years to sell the existing inventory of property. Today the absorption rate is down to about two years, Wagar said.He and other real estate agents have said a lack of inventory is probably the only factor that will cool the hot Aspen-area market.For now, the wave continues to roll. The dollar volume of sales in June 2005 topped all individual months during the record-breaking 2004, Pomeroy noted in his report. Total sales in June hit $227.4 million.There have been 870 sales so far this year compared with 591 deals closed through the first half of last year.”Growing international economies, a weak dollar and an increasing scarcity of product in Aspen may all be contributing factors in these gains,” Pomeroy said.Land Title Guarantee Co. bases its monthly reports on deeds recorded at the Pitkin County Clerk’s Office. It includes all real estate sales, not just those handled through the Aspen Board of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service.In addition to last year, total sales topped $1 billion in 2000.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com

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