Two weeks ago, I attended the Luxury Real Estate conference in Aspen, Colorado. I was excited to attend the conference, in part, because I had never been to Aspen.
As I was warned, the airport landing was pretty dramatic. As I looked out the window, the golden hillside seemed close enough to touch. My clients have told me that the Aspen airport was a strong reason why they chose to invest in Park City vs. Aspen. Winter landings at the airport can be unpredictable and delays are typical.
While I was prepared to dislike Aspen, in all honesty, there were things about the town I loved. The aspen leaves were peaking and the town was visually stunning. I like how the town is flat and easy to navigate. I couldn’t believe how close it is to the slopes. The couture shops reminded me of the time I spent growing up near Rodeo Drive. Why does someone in a ski town need to shop for Louis Vuitton? If you look at the photo above, you’ll see a few other things Aspen has that Park City does not.
Aspen Compared to the Park City Real Estate Market
But let’s talk about Aspen real estate. I spoke with the owners of Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s as well as brokers from Coldwell Banker Mason Morse. The word on the street is that Aspen just suffered its worst first half real estate market since 2010.
The Aspen real estate market is broken into two parts, similar to Park City’s market, “Aspen” and “Snowmass Village”. Each area has its own ski resort and character. Aspen is the more expensive and exclusive between the two.
In Park City, we have 84060, which is Park City proper or within the city limits. We also have 84098, which is referred to as the “Snyderville Basin”. It is Park City mailbox and school district, but is located outside of the city limits.
The following compares Aspen, Snowmass, Park City 84060 & Park City 84098 numbers from January through August 31, 2016.
Year to date Sales – 107
Dollar Volume – $354,427,175
Listing inventory – 500 (38-month inventory: a buyer’s market)
Year to date Sales – 78
Dollar Volume – $166,305,975
Listing inventory – 286 (29-month inventory: a buyer’s market)
Park City Limits – 84060
Year to date Sales – 288
Dollar Volume – $392,215,585
Listing inventory – 410 (17 month inventory-a buyer’s market)
Park City Mailbox – 84098
Year to date Sales – 517
Dollar Volume – $653,028,702
Listing inventory – 557 (13-month inventory: a buyer’s market)
In Aspen, unit sales were down 43% from the previous year, yet Snowmass sales were down only 6%.
For Park City, I could only obtain comparisons through June of 2016. Our unit sales of single family homes and condominiums in 84060 were down 26% from the previous year; however single family homes in 84098 were down only 2% from the previous year and condo sales in 84098 were up 5%.
Sotheby’s Aspen Snowmass agent Tim Estin reported that Aspen prices are coming down and buyers are paying less. He notes the list-to-sale price of Aspen single family homes is 88%. In comparison, Park City has held at a steady 95% for many years.
What Does it All Mean?
In spite of the overall market slowdown in Aspen, one particular property, a penthouse downtown, set a record price/square foot when it closed at $15M, or $4,275/sf. In contrast, the most expensive condominiums in Park City real estate, (located at the St. Regis), are asking about $1800/sf and the most expensive homes are just over $3,000/sf.
In summary, it appears that Aspen buyers are looking at its more affordable Snowmass neighborhood, similar to Park City buyers who are choosing to buy properties outside of the city limits. Yes, there are always the people with plenty of money who will buy that one rare penthouse, but those buyers are a needle in a haystack. Aspen agent Estin advises his sellers to “get ahead of the downward trend and price accordingly, which means realistically.”
Will Park City follow Aspen’s trend? Our market is a little bit different. Aspen is almost a 100% resort/second home market (although I was told that is changing), but Park City is home to 20,000 full time residents. The median single family home price in Aspen is about double that of Park City’s. It will be interesting to see what the second half of the year brings. I was told that Aspen’s third quarter, especially in more affordable Snowmass, was excellent.
Have you been to Aspen? Have you shopped for real estate there? What are your thoughts?