Industry takes a beating in October with volume and transactions plummeting
Aspen Times Staff Report 11/21/08, Aspen, CO

PITKIN COUNTY — The real estate industry continued to take a beating in October when the dollar volume of sales in Pitkin County dropped almost 53 percent from last year, according to a report released Thursday.

Land Title Guarantee Co.’s monthly analysis said sales plummeted to $86.53 million from $183.36 million in October 2007. The number of transactions fell 50 percent from 137 to 68.

The dollar volume of sales has dropped every month so far this year. Cumulatively, sales are down 46 percent compared to the same point in 2007. Sales totaled $2.22 million through October last year compared to $1.19 million through the same point this year.

Last year was the second best ever for the real estate industry in Pitkin County even though sales started sagging in the fourth quarter. This year will be the slowest in three or four years, according to current trends.

The number of real estate transactions in Pitkin County is down 37 percent so far this year. There have been 714 sales of all types — from McMansions to affordable housing — compared to 1,140 through October 2007, Land Title Guarantee Co.’s report showed.

A November newsletter mailed by Frias Properties of Aspen noted that the “unknowns” in the national economic downturn are causing pause among buyers.

Nevertheless, prices in Aspen are holding steady.

“Despite the slow down, pricing has generally remained flat to increasing,” Frias Properties’ newsletter said. “The few home sales we have had over the past few months are generally above past sales prices and this reflects well on the intrinsic value most people believe is inherent in the Aspen market.”

Land Title Guarantee Co.’s report showed the real estate market is no better downvalley than upvalley right now. The dollar volume of sales in Garfield County dropped 66 percent in October and it is down 36 percent for the year.

October was the worst month for sales in Garfield County since March 2004, the report showed. Sales totaled $35.18 million for the month.

For the year-to-date, sales are at $656.61 million in Garfield County compared to $1.03 million at the same point last year.

Despite the slump, the median single family home price is up 3 percent in Garfield County at $372,500 compared to $362,000 last year, the report said.