Colorado mountain real estate market slightly down in 2016 on election cycle blues
Strong post-election sales in luxury homes in Vail, Aspen buoying markets, mirroring stock market surge
The historic Redstone Castle, a 42-room, 23,000-square-foot residence is set for live auction with Platinum Luxury Auctions on Friday, October 7. Located in Redstone, Colorado, just outside Aspen, the property will be sold to the highest bidder who meets or exceeds a bid price of $2 million—a considerable reduction to the recently listed $7.5 million sale price. Completed in 1902 by industrial and coal tycoon John Cleveland Osgood, Redstone Castle has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971.
Photo courtesy of Platinum Luxury Auctions The historic Redstone Castle, a 42-room, 23,000-square-foot residence in Redstone, was sold at auction in 2016. The winning bidders were Steve and April Carver, owners of The Hotel Denver in Glenwood Springs. They purchased the property for $2.2 million, and plan to turn it into a hotel.
By JASON BLEVINS | firstname.lastname@example.org | The Denver Post
February 26, 2017 at 5:41 am
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Colorado’s resort real estate market slipped in 2016 as high-end sales — mostly around Aspen — withered in the uncertainty leading up to the presidential election.
Pitkin County’s unprecedented 32 percent decline in annual sales volume — largely evidenced by plummeting sales of luxury homes — pulled statewide sales volume in Colorado’s resort counties — Eagle, Grand, Pitkin, Routt, San Miguel and Summit — down 9 percent from the previous year, according to statistics compiled Land Title Guarantee Co.
Since the election, Aspen area sales have picked up and prices are climbing, said Aspen broker Tim Estin. The median sales price for an Aspen home was $4.8 million in 2016, down from $5.8 million in 2015. In January, the Aspen market saw 29 deals, compared to 12 in January 2016, Estin said. Whatever the reason — a feeling of economic optimism, an improved stock market, renewed oil and gas drilling — the market in Aspen is “bullish” right now, he said.
“The obvious reason for the decline last year was the election uncertainty,” Estin said. “We do derive a lot of our market from people who are invested in the stock market, which has been on a steady rise without a bump since the election. Last year there was absolutely uncertainty and very few people wanted to act on that.”
TOTAL SALES VOLUME FOR EAGLE, GRAND, PITKIN, ROUTT, SAN MIGUEL AND SUMMIT COUNTIES, IN BILLIONS:
2016 $ 6.331B
2015 $ 6.942B
2014 $ 5.837B
2013 $ 4.663B
2012 $ 4.887B
2011 $ 3.949B
2010 $ 4.444B
2009 $ 3.383B
2008 $ 6.102B
2007 $ 9.994B
2006 $ 9.164B
2005 $ 8.643B
Source: Land Title Guarantee Co.
Eagle County, home to the Vail and Beaver Creek resorts, also saw a steep drop in luxury home sales last year. The number of Eagle County home sales worth more than $5 million fell from 43 in 2015 to 28 last year.
The volatility in the stock market heading into the election seemed to stifle big sales, said Kyle Denton, chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors.
Strong sales in Eagle County’s mid-priced homes — defined as less than $1 million — kept the county’s total sales volume relatively flat. The county’s $1.96 billion in real estate sales last year was less than 2 percent below 2015’s tally.
“We had an incredibly active market with the more mid-valley inventory and sales. Prices under a million were very, very active and that offset the decrease in dollar volume from the high end,” Denton said.
A few large sales in November in Eagle County sparked hope the high-end market was bouncing back. The county’s November 2016 sales set a record, nearly doubling the previous November — thanks in part to the $121 million sale of the 134-key Four Seasons Resort and Residences. But only four homes over $3 million sold in December and the county’s sales for the month declined from December 2015.
Take Pitkin County out the mix and Colorado’s resort real estate sale volume in 2016 was largely even with the previous year — except for Grand County, which saw annual sales volume climb more than 10 percent, marking its long-awaited return from recession.
Grand County’s real estate market is closely linked with the now booming Front Range economy. Almost 55 percent of the real estate sales in Grand County went to Front Rangers, compared to 22 percent across the other five resort counties.
With at least a dozen new residential and commercial projects underway in downtown Winter Park, demand for homes is soaring. But like Denver, the supply of homes for sale is low.
“If it were all built right now, we could sell it,” said Lisa Eclair Waldorf with Real Estate of Winter Park. “It’s a bit of a waiting game to see some new inventory on the market.”
Eclair Waldorf said the typical buyer in Winter Park is a Denver-area family with kids. Many previously rented seasonal homes in the Fraser Valley.
“People recognize that we are the last value when it comes to real estate in a resort area,” she said.
Recent years come nowhere close to the frenzied buying of 2006 and 2007, when the Colorado high country real estate market swelled to record levels. The total sales volume in the five resort counties in 2016 was 38 percent below the peak of 2007. Sales volume in Routt County is 56 percent below 2007. Total sales in Summit County in 2016 was down 13 percent from 2007.
But average and median prices in those counties have rebounded much quicker. There were fewer sales in 2016 — 8,906 across the five counties — versus more than 10,600 in 2007.
Prices per square foot in the Vail Valley are creeping back to numbers last seen in 2007, the year before the market cratered in a national collapse. But it’s hard to see how Eagle County’s total sales could return to the almost $3 billion level set in 2007.
“I think it will be very tough to get back to those large volume numbers because we don’t have the inventory to support it,” Denton said. “We would have to see a huge rebound in the high-end market.”