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Aspen Housing Prices Up As Buyers Purchase Larger Homes

Calling all billionaires: the Aspen real estate market is robust as housing prices increased year-over-year for the fifth consecutive quarter. For the first time ever, data whiz and real estate expert Jonathan Miller has released a ski town edition of the definitive Elliman Report series, providing insight into the real estate trends of Aspen and Snowmass. According to the just-released report, the median sales price in Aspen jumped 46% to $3,200,000 from the prior year quarter, making it the highest first quarter result in five years. In addition, the average sales price surged 55.3% to $4,152,116, making it the highest first quarter in the last ten years. And while buyers are shelling out big money on houses, they are also looking to buy more space; the average size of sold homes increased 18.5% to 3,015 square feet compared to the same period last year. Throw in a slew of other "best-in-five-year" metrics and there's no doubt that the Aspen real estate market is improving.

Beyond a rise in sales prices, the health of the Aspen market is best indicated by an increase in sales and low inventory. The number of sales expanded 16.7% to 56 sales and inventory fell 22.1% from the prior year quarter. Says Miller, "this combination means that the market is moving about 33.3% faster." The absorption period (the number of months it would take to sell all existing inventory based on the current pace of sales), is only 15.6 months, down from 23.4 months a year ago. In a market that is driven by second-home sales, that's a significant drop. Aspen's average price per square foot has also increased to $1,377, the highest it's been in a decade. That number now exceeds the average price per square foot in Manhattan.

It also looks like the wealthiest skiers were listening last year when reports stated that high-end ski real estate was a sound financial investment. With billionaires more willing to spend top-dollar on houses, the Aspen luxury market (the top 10% of all sales) has consistently outpaced the overall market this quarter. In this submarket, the average price per square feet is a whopping $1,946 with an average sales price of $14,758,333. Now just imagine what might happen if Bill Koch sells his relisted Aspen compound for $100 million.

In nearby Snowmass, similar trends emerge even as the numbers are slightly lower. Housing prices are on the rise as sales fell to the long term average and inventory slipped. Median sales price jumped 35.6% to $1,335,400 and average sales price followed a similar pattern, rising 52.2% to $2,044,840 over the same period. It's notable, however, that housing in Snowmass remains much more affordable than in Aspen. The Elliman Report notes an average square price of only $909.

So what's the takeaway from all of this? Aspen sales prices continue their steady upward march as buyers look to purchase bigger homes. People who can't afford Aspen should look to Snowmass for a more reasonable price per square foot, as its likely that the low inventory and improved market confidence will continue.

· Aspen Market Reports [Elliman]
· Billionaire Bill Koch Relists Aspen's Priciest House at $100M [Curbed Ski]
· Aspen Finds New Tenant for Old Aspen Art Museum Digs [Curbed Ski]
· Aspen Skiing Co. Is Open to Acquiring Out-of-State Ski Areas [Curbed Ski]