Scott Bayens: Working to wind it all down after another wild year in Aspen real estate

Scott Bayens
Deeded Interest
Scott Bayens

Our 9 year-old son Bridger has had difficulty lately when it’s time to hit the pillow. He can be dead tired after a full day at school or out skiing. But he’ll fire up again after some downtime asking to wrestle, for time in the hot tub, a game, and sometimes more dinner.

We tell him he can chose one of those things, depending on a bath, homework or how late it is. But he says he has lots of energy at night, and he does, until he passes out. “Give up the ghost,” McLean and I tell him. Good advice. Maybe one day we’ll take it ourselves.

As parents, the holidays can be a challenge. We do our best to wrap up work, get the shopping and the cards done, plan and attend the parties, and make sure we don’t screw up the Santa or the elf thing. Those that seem to handle it all with ease must have the right mix of alcohol and/or prescription drugs on-board. In all seriousness, achieving balance can be tough and we all struggle with it. The ironic truth is, it takes work to let it go and decompress.

Think about that for a moment. The effort it takes in this modern world to disconnect, be still, and take it all in as it comes without trying to control it all. Last week my therapist asked and then laughed aloud before I could answer whether or not I meditate. I can’t. Who can?

As I look around, it seems everyone is torched and fighting to wind it down. I see it in my clients, colleagues and friends, all of whom are clearly gassed. I watch as those who work in stores, restaurants, and in healthcare, are routinely abused by those of us who find ourselves on tilt again; omni and all that. Shame on us as they are the ones keeping it all together.

Metaphorically, the pinball machine that is the local real estate market continues to bounce off the bumpers. As 2021 draws to a close, total sales in Pitkin County alone are expected to top $3 billion for the second year in a row. Add our valley’s corners of Eagle and Garfield counties and the final numbers are sure to be as staggering as they are record shattering.

MLS stats show 188 single-family homes were sold from Aspen to Glenwood Springs in just this fourth quarter alone. That number does not include condos, townhomes or land. The lowest priced sale was $400,000 for a double-wide in Aspen Village. Highest was a gated compound in the West End which traded for $38.5 million.

In all, 15 homes sold in that three month timeframe commanded $10 million or more, five topped $20 million, and four closed above $30 million. And with another week to go, 75 are showing pending with five of those priced over $30 million.

But this may be this beast’s last gasp, as indications are clear the market is changing and will be markedly different from the past two years. Inventory is down 30%. Prices are up 40%. Even the ultra-wealthy are wary of finding themselves without a chair if the music should stop.

Even so, demand remains high. Listings are selling 50% faster that before the pandemic. Sales of properties before they hit the market is up significantly. There will certainly be activity in 2022, deals will get done, but to those who watch the numbers, there’s no doubt it’s slowing.

As it does, some running on empty are sure to invite the change, accepting the slower pace. Others of us might need a bit more time to recalibrate or even fight the urge to pull back for fear they’ll lose their edge or focus. Running full throttle is an addiction. Mental health pros say coming off highs like this is crucial lest we replace it with other unhealthy vices.

Speaking for myself here, I’m down. I’m open to allowing more to come to me, learning to let some of it go, and cultivate a healthier and more mindful work-life balance. Last Sunday, Rev. Robert in Snowmass spoke of the importance of being gentle. Gentle to our fellow man and ultimately to ourselves. As hard as that last part is, it sounded like a good place to start. I’ll have to work on that.

Scott Bayens (GRI, ABR, CNE) is a Realtor with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty. Learn more about him at


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