When the 2016 annual reports were released earlier this month, the Aspen market showed varying yet positive results. Pitkin County real estate sales volume was down in the last year yet still on par with strong years. In fact, the total sales volume in 2016 was similar to notable years between 2010 and 2014, when total sales volume ranged from $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion.
"The raw numbers do not tell the entire story," said Chuck Frias, managing partner of Frias Properties of Aspen. "Considering the significant negative economic and political factors, 2016 was a solid year for Aspen real estate. It withstood the slow equity market, the contentious presidential election and volatile foreign markets. Most brokers report they have many active buyers interested in Aspen property."
"A key takeaway from the 2016 annual market reports is that Aspen is a complex market that requires an expert with an independent perspective to help you navigate a purchase or a sale," added Frias.
While some doom-and-gloom headlines are grabbing attention, the Frias Properties real estate team has agreed that, when examining the 2016 market reports, there are many encouraging indicators that buyers and sellers should note. Here are three positive trends from the 2016 Pitkin County real estate reports.
1. Aspen condominiums and townhomes are a great investment.
The 2016 median sale price for Aspen condos and townhomes was up 3.2 percent from $1.25 million to $1.29 million, while sales volume dropped nearly 30% showing a stark drop in available inventory.
Frias Properties Broker Andrew Myatt sees great opportunity in condo/townhome purchases between $750,000 and $1.5 million. With limited inventory and market forces preventing future development in this price range, these properties have great upward potential. Plus, they're in high demand as vacation rentals, allowing for income generation.
"We've seen record revenues for vacation rentals in 2016," said Myatt. "It's a great time to purchase an investment property and use short-term or seasonal vacation rentals to carry the operating costs."
2. It's a great time to buy in Snowmass.
Key performance indicators in Snowmass show steady growth, with positive increases in single family home sales volume and median price as well as and condo and townhome median price. Total sales volume was slightly down at -3%, but 2017 presents great purchase opportunities--especially for properties in the $1 million to $2 million range.
Benefits of ownership in Snowmass are starting to evolve with the next phase of Snowmass Base Village on the horizon. A joint venture, which includes Aspen Skiing Company, has purchased Base Village and plans to break ground on the Limelight Hotel plus an events plaza/ice-skating rink in spring 2017. This addition promises to add to the destination's cache, boosting home values and driving vacation-rental revenue during winter and summer.
"It's a great time to buy in Snowmass, especially in light of the nearing completion of Base Village," said Will Burggraf, broker at Frias Properties. "While some markets have not yet recovered from the 2007 peak, the Snowmass market has increased at a steady and healthy pace, year over year."
3. Fractional ownership opportunities are ripe (for the right buyers).
Aspen Snowmass fractional sales were significantly up in 2016 with 135 units sold compared to 104 in 2015. Sales volume numbers show a shocking 238% increase year-over-year from $17.4 million in 2015 to $59.1 million in 2016.
What these numbers actually reflect is the new Dancing Bear Aspen inventory and sales, which are higher-priced and larger-share fractional ownership opportunities, starting at $825,000 for a 1/8 interest.
While the statistics might not be quite as good as their face value, they still show a positive trend for fractional buyers and sellers. The Ritz-Carlton Club at Aspen Highlands and St. Regis Residence Club Aspen have both sold out of developer inventory, so buyers can be confident that a fractional purchase at these resorts will hold its market value.
"We're seeing the lowest available inventory we've experienced since the beginning of fractional real estate in Aspen," said Dennis Jung, broker at Frias Properties. "Plus, the price is still right for these luxury residences, after finally adjusting to market value in the last couple years. Many of my past buyers are picking up another share while they have the chance."
If you have questions or comments about our thoughts on the 2016 real estate market reports, contact a Frias Properties broker at 970.920.2000. We're available seven days a week to offer market insight and help you buy or sell your Aspen property.