There’s no end in sight to the Aspen real estate boom—two pros reveal how to navigate the red-hot marketplace.
A gorgeous Aspen home design from Ro | Rockett Design, whose principal, Zac Rockett, says they love working with natural materials and voluminous spaces.
Steven Shane doesn’t mince words about the pandemic and its impact on Aspen real estate. “It’s been glaringly apparent that people are moving from densely populated areas to Aspen. People from Houston, Dallas, Miami, Boca Raton used to rent in Aspen for the month of July. Now, throw in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago—everyone from all of these cities is looking for a full-time residence,” says Shane, who had more than $178 million in total sales volume with Compass in 2019. The way 2020 is going, he stands to do even better.
“The pandemic has caused people to look at the fragility of life. They’re thinking they’ve been on the sidelines enough, and now it’s time to buy a second or third home,” Shane continues. “People are buying who don’t need to work from Manhattan.” Translation: Aspen has become a boom town. As of September, the average sales price was up 65% from 2019, with total home contracts valued at more than $1 billion.
Carrie Wells, a successful real estate pro with Coldwell Banker, says while many second-home owners are spending more time in Aspen, the market from Basalt to Glenwood Springs also has an appeal to full-time residents, often families relocating from other parts of the country. “It’s all about the outdoor space. Buyers are trending toward areas that provide a sense of wilderness and escape from the city,” she says.
Properties with amazing views—not hard to come by in the Roaring Fork Valley—also are in demand, says Wells, who says river frontage and private land are also highly sought after. “This means Red Mountain, East Aspen and Castle Creek are all desirable spots. Having a place in the Aspen core with an outdoor terrace or rooftop deck also provides that connection with nature, alongside access to all of the amenities downtown. All of Aspen is hot right now,” says Wells.
While the baseline price per square foot is increasing weekly, Shane says there are values on the market. “If you want to live in the Aspen core, where you can walk home from dinner downtown, you’ll pay a premium. But if you’re willing to live outside the core or even a mile or more from town, you can buy at a 33% to 40% discount from the core. Snowmass is also a great value right now.”
So, amid the feeding frenzy, what’s a newcomer to do? Shane says the first thing to remember is Aspen’s uniqueness. “The reality is that we have a finite amount of inventory, but it’s also why buyers can feel comfortable,” he says. “For example, in Florida, golf communities are everywhere—they keep building them. We don’t have the ability to do that here. Home values will only increase. We are an international resort destination. That will never change.”
Photography by: From top, photos: by Draper White Photography; courtesy of subjects