Scott Bayens: What will we see when the smoke clears in Aspen-area real estate market?
Long before COVID, those of us in the real estate industry, as well as those who watch it, have been talking about this year’s election. Historically, market activity related to housing slows down every four years when the presidency is at stake. It’s essentially a predictable leading indicator and one with ramifications before, during and after the event.
After years of speculation and predictions on the part of the experts and pundits, this critically significant national referendum is finally upon us. Its outcome could be known this week or perhaps not for months. And that’s the thing. As uncomfortable as our collective anticipation has been, it’s fair to say the anxiety of what may be around the corner after election night is what’s really keeping us all up at night. It’s the ramp up to the ramp up. Can’t it just be over?
This year, like anything and everything related to this never-ending pandemic, it is anyone’s guess what might happen and how it will affect our local and national housing markets. We remain in uncharted territory. Not only has the proverbial crystal ball been shattered but if one dares to pick up the pieces, they risk cutting their hands. Looking back, so many of our predictions have proven inaccurate. Looking forward is nearly impossible, leaving us with the here and now.
We all know we are in historical times. There was the third quarter: $1.5 billion in sales in Q3 alone. Average sales prices in Aspen up nearly 70% from last year. The number of properties sold through September nearly doubled. Total sales volume up more than half a billion than this time a year ago. Not only are these are metrics extraordinary, they were unpredictable. No one would have ever guessed them, especially back in April, but there they are in black and white.
So what will the landscape look like after the smoke clears? Closing activity has remained robust through October, according to local title companies, but the MLS is beginning to show a shift in terms of fewer new listings and pending home sales. While that’s no reason for immediate alarm, the lack of available inventory now could be a hint of what could become the new normal in 2021, both here and in other markets considered “corona friendly.”
Regardless of what may or may not be for sale, one scenario is once we get past this period of uncertainly in Washington, and what appears to be another wave of disease, that we’ll see something similar to what we experienced after the lockdown of 2020. That is, pent-up demand, a continuation of the exodus from large cities, record activity and, yes, perhaps even higher prices. Per usual, the age-old marriage of supply and demand will be the key.
And what does the post-pandemic era look like as emerging trends come more into focus? According to Forbes online, look for more investors moving money away from the volatility of the stock market into tangible and more stable plays like real estate. Expect the phenomenon of “upsizing” to continue as buyers spend more time at home, and perhaps with extended family. Technology will continue to evolve and be integral to the buying and selling process, especially for a competitive real estate agent on top of their game. And those who own and rent property in desirable areas will thrive as more are choosing to rent than buy homes. With so many out of work, it remains to be seen if the rent gets paid.
As I’ve written previously, what we don’t know in this time is substantial — even overwhelming and unnerving. As we head into colder weather, shorter days, cold and flu season, the hairs on the back of our necks are back up. We all know we’re in for at least another year of this. So for now, we stick with what we know and what we can control.
We all remain locked into this carnival ride together, whether we like it or not. What we choose to do during this time, how we act and react and what opportunities and experiences we embrace or reject are sure to make all the difference this winter and into 2021. Wear a mask, wash your hands and stay safe.
Scott Bayens (GRI, ABR, CNE) is a realtor with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty. Learn more about him and view current listings at http://www.aspendreamhome.com.
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