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Does Style Really Matter?

Posted: 23 Mar 2012

It's a commonly held belief in the Aspen real estate market that certain styles of homes sell quicker and for more money. But how much does the architectural style of a home add to its sale value in the Aspen real estate market? Newer homes generally fall into two style categories, traditional and contemporary or mountain modern. The traditional style home is typically characterized by sloped roofs, paneled doors, heavy stone exteriors, textured plastered walls, ornate interior trim, rough cut woods and granite countertops. The newer more contemporary aEUoemountain modernaEU style is characterized with flat roofs, clean exterior lines, smoother stone and wood panels and doors, simple block cut trim and minimalist decor.

Aspen real estate

Currently, most Aspen real estate brokers, architects and builders feel that the newer contemporary, mountain modern homes sell quicker and for more money per square foot than the traditional mountain style homes. This feeling is evident from the greater number of new homes being built in Aspen with this style of architecture and interior design. If this assumption is true, what type of sales premium do you get by designing and building a more contemporary home versus the more traditional style home?

By examining recent Aspen home sales of newer homes built since 2005 we can observe some clues. Since January 2010 through now there have been forty-one sales of single family homes in Aspen that were built after 2005 and sold for $5.0 million or more. Of these 41 sales, twenty-one could be described as homes with more a traditional, European mountain style architecture and interior design, and twenty could be described as a contemporary, mountain modern style. The average size the of contemporary style homes that sold was 8,268 square feet and the average size of the traditional style homes sold was 7,640 square feet. The contemporary homes sold for an average price of about $11.2 million and an average price of about $1,300 per square foot; while the traditional style homes sold for an average price of about $9.1 million and an average price of about $1,200 per square foot. Based on a price per square foot comparison, the contemporary style homes sold for an 8.3% average price greater than the more traditional style homes. Another interesting fact is that the traditional style homes were on the market on average 306 days while the contemporary style homes were on the market for on average of 521 days. The style home a buyer buys is a very personal decision. A number of factors, such as location, views, lot quality, home layout and neighborhood can impact the value of a home. The statistics seem to show that buyers are willing to pay a modest premium for the more contemporary style home over the more traditional style home. There are two possible reasons for this. One is that buyer values have shifted more in favor of contemporary, modern design. The other possible reason is one of supply and demand. Traditional style homes have been built in Aspen for years, while the contemporary mountain modern design is relatively new to Aspen in the past six to seven years. Arguably, the supply of contemporary style of homes has not keep up with the demand creating an environment where sellers can charge a premium for the contemporary design. As more and more contemporary homes are built in Aspen over the coming years, it's possible that this value premium will disappear, but for now there is clear evidence that more contemporary style homes are selling at a higher premium than their traditional cousins.