Q4 19 Aspen Snowmass Market Report

Q4 19 ASPEN SNOWMASS MARKET UPDATE

This update on the Aspen housing market for the second quarter of 2019 has been prepared by economist Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. and is based on data from the Aspen Glenwood MLS.

View the full report here.

Q4 19 ASPEN HIGHLIGHTS

• Aspen had 57 single-family sales in excess of $5 million during calendar year 2019, a 39% increase over 2019. Sales volume in this category increased by nearly 60% to $575 million.

• The average sales price of a single-family home rose from $8.8 million to just over $10 million, a bump of 14%.

• During 2019, there were 102 sales of condos in Aspen under $5 million, a 4% increase over 2018.

• Overall condo sales volume rose by 15% to $157 million, with an average sales price of $1.4 million, an 11% increase over 2018.

• As of the end of 2019, there are only 19 active listings of single-family homes under $5 million, well down from 28 homes a year prior.

• The number of single-family homes over $5 million is also down from 138 in December of 2018 to just 123 in December of 2019.

•Inventories of condos under $5 million are down 19% from last year, to just 59.

• The most expensive home sold in Aspen in Q419 was at Double Bar X Ranch for $23,000,000.

• The highest price per square foot paid for all types of properties in Aspen was $3,960 for a historic Victorian on a 12,000 sqft lot in the West End.

Q4 19 SNOWMASS HIGHLIGHTS

• For all of 2019, there were 33 sales of single-family homes in Snowmass Village priced under $5 million, totaling $70.8 million in volume. The average price of $2.1 million for this category was down slightly from $2.4 million last year.

• There were 16 single-family homes that sold for more than $5 million in 2019, with an average price of $7.1 million, virtually unchanged from last year. The overall sales volume was $111.8 million, more than double the prior year.

• There were 22 sales of townhomes and duplexes in 2019, with total dollar volume of just over $39 million and an average price of $1.8 million which was 3% more than last year.

• There were 108 sales of condos under $5 million, with a total volume of $95.9 million at an average sales price of $888,000, which was a 21.0% gain over 2018.

• For Q419 in Snowmass Village, the median sales price of single-family homes under $5 million rose to $2.4 million vs. $1.6 million in Q418.

• Single-family home prices in the $5 million plus category declined from $5.8 million to $5.4 million.

• For townhomes and duplexes, the median sales price of $1.8 million was up significantly from $1.3 million last year, and for condos, the median sales price of $820,000 was up from $670,000 last year.

• Inventory of all single-family homes in Snowmass Village is just 64, down from 87 last December. Townhome inventories declined from 26 last year to just 19 this December, and condo inventories declined from 144 to 115.

• The most expensive home sold in Snowmass Village in Q419 was in the Two Creeks neighborhood for $6,800,000.

• The highest price per square foot paid for all types of properties in Snowmass Village was $1,976 for a new 3-bedroom penthouse in Base Village

Q4 19 ECONOMIC OVERVIEW BY ELLIOT EISENBERG, Ph.D.

After a weak start, growth in 19Q4 steadily improved and came in at 2.1%, roughly the same as Q2 and Q3. Add a strong 19Q1 when growth was 3.1% and growth in all of 2019 was 2.3%. While that is down from 2.9% in 2018, it is still above trend growth and does not even hint at a recession in 2020. A combination of factors contributed to the slowdown, including a surprisingly strong dollar, slowing global growth, fading effects from the 2017 tax cuts, and the continuing trade war with China. On the flipside, despite being late in the business cycle, inflation remains weak. The Fed cut rates three times in 2019 and has expressed a clear willingness to cut further should the economy falter, but coronavirus aside, that does not seem likely. Low rates have already boosted home construction and sales activity, and the willingness to cut rates further if necessary has lifted equity prices.    

Elsewhere, the labor market remains tight, wage growth is good, and the all-important US consumer continues to power the economy forward despite weakness in exports, manufacturing, trade and energy. These trends suggest growth of about 2% should prevail in 2020 and that, again, recession is not in the cards despite this now being the longest recovery ever. As expected, the impeachment proceedings against President Trump had no impact on the markets, however the upcoming election and the attendant uncertainty over who will win will hurt already weak corporate investment in plant and equipment. Among the Democratic challengers, Senators Sanders and Warren are the least business friendly, while Vice President Biden is the clear business favorite.

In 2019, Colorado was in the top third of states in in-bound migration as a percentage of total moves, one of many measures of its continuing desirability.  Leadership, from the capital to the local level, are shifting focus from the oil and gas industry to green energy and renewables, opening new potential for light industry, remote working and entrepreneurship.  Colorado just hit a new all-time low in unemployment at 2.5%.  In Pitkin County, the November unemployment rate (one of the two months where it peaks) is 5.3%, which is the second lowest November level since 2007.  The number of employed persons was at its highest November level, with 10,761.

The real estate market remains very tight across most of the state.  In Denver, months’ supply of inventory of single-family homes dropped to just 1.13, driven mostly by the lack of new listings.  Inventory levels plummeted in the Denver metro, and they also dropped in most of the rest of the state.  Prices continue to rise in the second-tier cities of Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Grand Junction as retirees and telecommuters look for more affordable areas to move to.  In the resort areas of Aspen, Vail and Telluride, employers struggle to find affordable housing for workers.

With an overall low tax burden, Colorado has benefited from the 2017 tax reform and reduction of the deductibility of state and local taxes, and it remains a highly desirable area for high-wealth individuals.  While sales activity at the under $5 million level was largely unchanged, at the upper end ($5 million and greater), both activity and prices were up just slightly for the year.  Given the strong performance of the stock market and the relative unlikelihood of a recession, the Aspen/Snowmass Village real estate market should remain solid.

Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. is the Chief Economist of GraphsandLaughs, LLC, a firm specializing in national and international macroeconomic consulting and speaking. Dr. Eisenberg earned his Ph.D from Syracuse University and was formerly an econonomist with the National Association of Home Builders. He is a regularly featured guest on cable news programs, talk and publec radio, aand authors a daily 70-word commentary on the economy that is available at www.econ70.com.

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