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Pros and Cons of Buying Downvalley Versus Upvalley

Posted: 16 Sep 2015

Potential buyers looking for real estate in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley always face the same question: Upvalley or downvalley? That decision means everything. And any smart buyer will tell you that you have to weigh the pros and cons of each before signing on the dotted line. But what's important to know?

Aspen real estate

UPVALLEY AND DOWNVALLEY The first thing you need to know is what is considered aEUoeupvalleyaEU and what's known as aEUoedownvalley.aEU Aspen is upvalley. It's also widely acknowledged that Snowmass Village and the Starwood subdivision are upvalley. Many consider upvalley to include everything east of the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. The airport sits along Highway 82, which extends east through town but is closed just east of Aspen in the winter. In the summer, Highway 82 goes over Independence Pass and continues to Leadville. Everything east of Aspen toward Independence Pass is also considered upvalley. Snowmass and Woody Creek are also considered to be upvalley.

Where aEUoedownvalleyaEU starts exactly is up for some debate. Many say downvalley begins at Basalt and extends west along Highway 82 to Glenwood Springs. Downvalley ends on the west at Glenwood Springs, that is widely accepted. Many will say that downvalley also includes an area known as Old Snowmass, which is a few miles east of Basalt on Highway 82. As a general rule of thumb, consider Aspen to Basalt as upvalley and Basalt to Glenwood Springs as downvalley. Now, let's weigh the pros and cons.

PRICE AND LOCATION Let's face it: Price is often the determining factor in buying real estate. Upvalley - Aspen, in particular - command premium prices. With Aspen Mountain and the Silver Queen Gondola located in downtown Aspen, the highest prices are often for property located downtown. There are several condominiums and townhomes within 1-2 blocks of the gondola and downtown. These properties typically range from 1-4 bedrooms, and starting price is usually around the $1M mark. Larger condos and townhomes with more bedrooms are multi-million-dollar listings. Private homes on Red Mountain, the town's historic West End or the Starwood subdivision usually come with an 8-figure price tag.

Looking at affordable downtown properties, Frias broker Dennis Jung currently offers a beautiful 1-bedroom end unit at the popular Fasching Haus complex for $999,000. The Fasching Haus is only two blocks from the gondola and downtown. Jung said he expects it to sell fast considering the low price, location and mountain-style allure of the unit. The condo features a wrap-around deck, wood-burning stone fireplace, granite counter tops and stainless appliances. Owners can also have pets, Jung said. Downvalley prices are more affordable. Frias broker Andrew Myatt is currently listing a 1-bedroom in the popular Lakeside Condos complex near the growing Willits subdivision - located near Basalt and El Jebel - for $315,000. The condo is also an end unit, and has a fenced in patio/backyard with space for a garden or barbecue grill. Pets are welcome to owners here as well. Myatt said the property just listed and probably won't be on the market long due to the growing community around Willits. It's a popular area for young families, he said.

SIZE AND SPACE Simple fact: If you want space, you pay for it. That's fairly universal, no matter where you buy properties. If you increase the square footage, the price usually goes up. The good thing is, the price per square foot usually goes down as you buy more square feet. Properties upvalley are often smaller condominiums because many purchase them as a second home. Downvalley properties offer more size and space, and are more attractive to full-time residents, especially young families.

Frias broker Anne Burrows is currently listing a beautiful half duplex in the West End that actually lives like a single-family home, she said. It's a quick walk or bike ride to the Benedict Music Tent and the Aspen Institute, and also near the town's cross-town shuttle for downtown and ski mountain access. Fully furnished, the property is currently listed for $3,995,000. Burrows said this unit will make a lovely home for those looking for comfort and elegance. It features an inviting living room, chef's kitchen, spacious dining area, and a master suite with a private patio. Downvalley, there's a newly-listed 4-bedroom private home at Blue Lake, near Willits, for $620,000 that is listed by Frias broker Jennifer Fulton Bennett. Bennett said the well-maintained home has vast views, mature landscaping and is close to the bus service, trails, parks and Willits Town Center. The home features vaulted ceilings on the top floor, and a spacious master bedroom with a walk-in closet. The bright living area and kitchen have antique wood floors. She said an added attraction to this property is that there is a $5,000 seller allowance at closing for the new owner to personalize with new carpet. In the end, it's about knowing what's right for you. Are you looking for a ski getaway or second home to buy? Plan on spending only a few weeks or a month in Aspen? Then it's probably best to look into a smaller condominium close to town. If you're looking to move your family to the valley to take advantage of everything it offers, then look for more space downvalley.