Listen to Tues, Nov 22, 11 interview.
Transcript is below.

Intro (Marci Krivonen, KAJX News Reporter*): Aspen Real Estate Market

The high end of Aspen’s real estate market continued its rebound during July, August and September of this year. In the first half of 2011 sales of multi-million dollar single-family homes jumped well ahead of last year’s pace. With the continued uncertainty in financial markets and a sluggish economic recovery there was concern real estate would drop off again. Now sales are looking bright. Aspen Public Radio’s Roger Adams explains.

Interviewer – Roger Adams (KAJX News Director):
Sales of Aspen area properties above seven and a half million are twice what they were in 2010. Just last week two homes built on speculation last year sold, one for fifteen million and the other for more than sixteen million dollars. Tim Estin is a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Mason Morse – Aspen. He’s also author of the annual and quarterly Estin Report, which tracks the Aspen real estate market. He says high end sales are a reliable indicator for real estate of all varieties.

Tim Estin:
The real deals go to the high end. They’re the ones who dip their toes into the market. They’re the ones who have the courage to go first and then the rest of the market follows and in the Roaring Fork Valley itself – all the trends, they all happen like the drop of a pebble in Aspen and then ripple outwards down valley.

Interviewer – Roger Adams:
Prior to the downturn, construction was vibrant with homes under construction for potential or speculative selling. When the recession hit followed by the crisis in real estate, sales dropped off and many homes sat vacant as prices and values fell. The inventory of brand new yet unsold homes grew. Sales of older homes also slumped and it became a buyer’s market with plenty to choose from at prices twenty-five to fifty percent below what they had been just three years prior. It is significant, says Estin, that the inventory of spec built homes is now being depleted. Bringing down the current inventory is the major hurdle to a full return of real estate in Aspen and elsewhere. The good news, he says, is because construction of spec homes dried up. There are now few new homes to replace the inventory that’s selling. that is leading to some stronger pricing and better value, which translates to a return of investment value. Still, other buyers may be motivated by concerns about the future. Estin says they seem worried about the possibility of inflation rising in the near future as assets like gold hit historic prices.

Tim Estin:
People more and more are saying to me that Aspen really is the ultimate new gold standard aside from the gold bars themselves and that’s what people in the know seem to be wanting to invest in. Not necessarily as an investment per se, but more as a hedge, as a safe harbor.

Interviewer – Roger Adams:
As people look for signs of relief in the real estate market beyond Aspen, Estin says the issue of inventory continues to be the main problem. The amount of unsold homes and foreclosures down valley remains high and the national economic and political environment remains uncertain. Yesterday the congressional Super Committee on the deficit all but gave up on reaching agreement. Much like the stalemate in Congress earlier this year Estin says the events in Washington could affect sales as early as next month.

Tim Estin:
Certainly from our experience in July, because of everything that was happening in Congress and the standstill there, real estate business in Aspen just came to an abrupt halt lasting perhaps four to six weeks. That could happen again right now.

Interviewer – Roger Adams:
Still, he says that there is optimism that high end sales will continue and with that a glimmer of hope for the rest of the market in coming months.

*Aspen Public Radio’s local news is dedicated to delivering thought-provoking, relevant news; to providing insight into the challenges and opportunities facing the Roaring Fork Valley; and to reporting stories that otherwise might not be told. Covering a large and diverse territory from Rifle to Glenwood Springs to Aspen, the APR news staff produces special series at least twice a year, explores the details behind the decisions of the day, and provides solid, thorough news that meets the standards of National Public Radio.