| July 11, 2016 | Home & Real Estate
Industry experts weigh in on the durability of Aspen real estate and the boon for towns up and down the valley.
No matter how expensive its market becomes, “Aspen will always be Aspen,” says developer Shannon Sweeney, “and people will always want to come here.”
Over dinner at the stunningly appointed steakhouse The Monarch, Aspen Peak gathered four of town’s top real estate, development, and financing professionals to discuss the ever-changing (but never boring) Aspen real estate market, with an eye to changes on the horizon.
Where does the Aspen market stand compared to the past several years?
Krista Klees: I’m hearing a lot of talk that we are gearing up for another recession. We’re usually the last place to feel it and the first place to rebound. But I think the market is strong. It’s tapering off, and transactions are a little off for the year, but I think it’ll hold firm. Aspen is a good place to put your money. I don’t want to say we’re recession-proof, but there’s only one Aspen.
Michael Hamberg: For us, it’s all about risk. Aspen’s such a unique place, with high-value clients. People who don’t know the Aspen market and see people spending $2,500 per square foot, they think it’s insane, which it is. But their money is earning more in the real estate market than it would be otherwise.
Shannon Sweeney: The market is probably higher than it’s ever been, surpassing even 2006 and 2007, before the recession. But Aspen will always be Aspen, and people will always want to come here. Christmas 2009, right after the recession, was one of the busiest holiday seasons ever. You go to some other resorts, even in Colorado, and they still haven’t fully bounced back.
MH: He’s right, it truly is a world-class resort, and not just for people who want to ski. There’s an art museum, an opera house... The lifestyle and culture are just incredible.
Penney Carruth: But January was way off [year-over-year dollar volume was down 70 percent for January 2016]. We can all point to all kinds of reasons, whether it’s the snow or I-70 being closed, but it feels like the market is changing.
How are Snowmass and other towns further down the Roaring Fork Valley being influenced by the Aspen market?
KK: There are a lot of people who want the culture that Aspen affords with a shorter winter and a lower altitude. But you can’t even find homes for $650,000 in Glenwood Springs now.
SS: The Aspen Skiing Company has done a great job of branding amid the exclusivity of Aspen, greater value, good schools, and other benefits have Snowmass and other down-valley towns on the rise. left: The Monarch’s newly built wine room (accessed through a hidden door). Aspen and Snowmass together. When the Aspen market gets tight and very expensive, people start looking at Snowmass and other places down-valley. Especially when you could pay $8 million for a small place in Aspen or get a ski-in, ski-out home for much less than that in Snowmass.
PC: I think a lot of the Snowmass buyers are looking for bigger, nicer homes in the school district. There’s a lot more affordability there.
MH: There are a lot of younger professionals like me who live [in Aspen] as their primary residence and who have good incomes, but when you consider mortgage payments and condo fees, it can be pretty hard to manage. So down-valley offers more options for them to sustain their quality of life for things like travel—so you’re not spending your entire income on your home!
Penney Carruth Broker Associate, Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty. 300 S. Spring St., Ste. 100, 970-273- 4038; Michael Hamberg Mortgage Loan Originator, First Western Trust. 121 S. Galena St., Ste. 102, 970-710-7200; Krista Klees Founding Principal, Palladium Properties. 620 E. Hyman Ave., Ste. 103, 970-925-8088; Shannon Sweeney Owner, Sweeney Real Estate & Development. 970-618-6325
Photography by Ross Daniels (roundtable); Jeremy Swanson (Aspen and Snowmass Landscapes)