2016 Real Estate Market Analysis

Aspen’s beautiful and busy Summer was followed by a fantastic start to the ski season with early total snowfall reaching 200% of normal. Aspen’s Total Real Estate Sales Dollar Volume recovered from down about 50% in the Spring of 2016 to end the year down just 32%.  The town’s activity, retail sales tax collections, restaurants, hotels, cultural venues, long and short term rentals, etc.,  are at record levels. The Ski Company, Ideas Fest, Fortune Forum, Aspen Music Festival, the Art Museum, Non-Profits…. across the board all had a great year, and Aspen hosts the World Cup Finals March 17th.

The sale of the Monarch Penthouse set a new record of $4,250/sf in February 2016.

The sale of the Dancing Bear Penthouse late in the year at $5,000/sf unfinished, set a new record high,

it is now listed at $10,000/sf finished.

After the election, every month’s total Real Estate Sales have exceeded the previous year’s. 

All this great news from a 4 Mountain Ski and Cultural mecca that does not make you wait in lift lines.


Current Market Forces

1. From 2014 through 2016, several well healed developers purchased, repositioned, remodeled, and rebuilt a significant percentage of Aspens’ prime residential and commercial building sites, tear downs, and fix and flips. These redevelopment projects focused first on the prime West End, Red Mountain, and Core locations with activity in 2016 moving into adjacent neighborhoods. Due to Aspens, higher price structure Buyers are beginning to look into areas in which prices have not recovered from their 2008 highs such as some surrounding neighborhoods, Starwood, Down Valley and parts of Snowmass.

​Snowmass Real Estate will experience a boost as Base Village sold to a partnership which includes Aspen Ski Company and East West Partners. They are planning starts of three projects this year which will break the ice of a 8-year halt to the million-square foot project that dominates Snowmass. The first crane is to go up this April.

Aspen’s prices jumped ahead from 2014-2016. Buyers who also faced disruptive US elections, news of terror attacks, and shifting geopolitics took a break in the first half of 2016. After the election, the Trump Effect took hold of the stock markets and Buyers became very active, we had a near record 4th quarter, a great January, and currently under contract properties total $320,000,000.

2. Aspens’ Downtown Downzoning will eliminate residential uses, lower building heights to 28’ add employee housing requirements… in all there are 8 ways Aspen City Council is saying “no more downtown development”. After the 17 currently approved and exempt projects are built there will be nothing new built downtown until the codes change.

Aspen Home Sales in 2016 vs 2015

Total # of homes sold were 55 (2016) vs 109 in (2015)

Homes under $5.0M = 24 properties (2016) vs 40 properties in (2015)
Homes from $5.0M to $10.0M = 19 properties (2016) vs 43 properties in (2015)

Homes over $10.0M = 12 properties (2016) vs 26 properties in (2015)

Snowmass 2016 home and condominium average sales prices were up a few % and the number of sales were down slightly. The down valley markets were slightly stronger than last year.

2017 Forecast

Aspen’s fantastic world class amenities are driving a sales recovery, we will likely look back on 2016's lull as a missed buying opportunity.

Reasons to buy now are;

1. Lifestyle, there is no better community in which to safely live, raise your family, visit or vacation. No other place has the combination of Aspen’s accessibility, natural beauty, cultural, educational, and recreational amenities.

2. Inventory is still very high, we are in a Buyers’ Market for properties 5 years old and older, with many options and motivated Sellers

3. Historically values in Aspen do not drop in recessions (the 2008 recession was the first decrease since at least the 1960s) making Aspen a historically excellent place to store and accumulate wealth.

4. Worldwide upheavals will continue driving tourism and more Buyers to Aspen.

5. Interest rates are extremely low.

6. With the average 2016 Aspen home sale at $6.6M, and the average lot sale at $5M, as a backdrop, the additional new much higher permit fees, new very high employee mitigation fees, and high hard and soft construction costs, will force New Product asking prices much higher.

7. Many older properties are priced well below replacement value.​

Expect the high end of the Aspen Real Estate Market to improve in the near future driven by Aspen’s unique amenities, popularity, Buyers’ high levels of liquidity, their aversion to the risks and fluctuations of the stock and bond markets, the $3 Billion post-election jump in stock market value, and Buyers’ acceptance of the fact that new product will be at prices higher than the current inventory.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss any and all Real Estate matters, I look forward to assisting you.


Robert Ritchie

Broker, Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty

bob@rdritchie.com, 970-379-1500

The statistics used in this document are from the Aspen Glenwood MLS, Land Title Guarantee, and the Aspen Times. The opinions are my own. Buyers and Sellers should do their own research to validate their thoughts and decisions.