ASPEN REAL ESTATE – Housing prices across the country may be rising on the lower end, but that trend isnʼt necessarily being felt in the Aspen area. Yet there are indicators emerging that owners who wish to sell properties that are priced below $1 million should find encouraging. “There are positive signs that the market has been scraping along the bottom and the worst is over,” said broker Tim Estin of Coldwell Banker Mason Morse, author of the real estate analysis entitled “The Estin Report.” In a forthcoming letter about Aspen core condo sales, Estin said that in the third quarter of the year, 13 condos priced below $1 million sold as compared to six in that price range between July 1-Sept 30, 2011. However, thereʼs a harsh reality to these statistics: Both average and median prices of properties that topped out at around $1 million dipped by 41 percent and 34 percent respectively. So whatʼs the good news? Well one indicator Estin has noted is, “I donʼt believe prices will further erode.” And another? “Well priced, well located, recently remodeled condos and units representing solid value to buyers are selling – in some cases at a premium.”
By Madeleine Osberger, Oct. 8, 2012 ABJ

According to the monthly report issued by Land Title, in Pitkin County during August there were 15 transactions under $1 million. Thatʼs compared to an even dozen transactions during the same period in 2011. (Land Titleʼs figures include fractional product as well as mobile homes, two segments that Estin doesnʼt count in his report.)

Land Titleʼs Tammy Sommerfield allowed that Aspen/Snowmass frequently bucks national trends. For example, The New York Times cites the fact that in four cities, “price increases showed up even in the cheapest homes.” That has yet to be reflected as a trend in local data although whatʼs considered “cheap” in Aspen may be middle-ground or even pricey in non-resort areas.

Sommerfield went on to say that year-to-year comparisons of million-dollar and less “are not that different.” Between Jan. 1 and the end of August 2012, 101 sales were recorded. Last year, there were 94 in the same time period. Jumping to the $2 million and below category, in 2012 there have been 52 sales compared to 44 through August in 2011.

According to the Sept. 25 Times story that analyzed data from the Standard & Poorʼs Case-Shiller index for July, “price increases showed up even in the cheapest homes.”

Extrapolating data from the real estate website Zillow, the report found that “the gap between price gains in the higher end of the market and the lower end has narrowed considerably…itʼs less that the top tier is cooling than the bottom tier is strengthening,” chief economist Stan Humphries was quoted as saying. “The bulk of the recovery is due to the changes in the bottom and middle tiers.”

The story also noted that rising consumer confidence as well as a decline in the number of foreclosures on the market are contributing to price increases. More investors are also picking up well-priced properties and converting them into rentals.

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