Sales of the lowest- and highest-priced homes in the Aspen area increased drastically in 2011, while homes priced in-between saw a decreasing share of total sales compared to recent years.
The trend was highlighted in an annual report released Thursday by BJ Adams and Co., written by broker Andrew Ernemann.
Analyzing local transactions from 2011, he found that homes of less than $2.5 million and those more than $10 million made up a larger percentage of total sales than they have over the last five years.
Homes under $2.5 million made up more than 20 percent of sales. From 2006 through 2010, on average, they constituted about 10 percent. Those figures do not include deed-restricted properties sold on the affordable housing market.
Extreme high-end homes here made similar market gains, increasing from about 12 to 18 percent of total sales.
Sales of homes between $2.5 and $10 million, meanwhile, made up a smaller share of the market than in recent years.
“They actually mirror one another,” Ernemann said of the two surging price ranges.
He said demand for the highest-end luxury homes and those on the bottom of the local spectrum has grown because of the same market forces. As the prices of both types of homes have come down, buyers have pulled the trigger to purchase because of perceived value.
The lower-priced homes are largely condominiums in downtown Aspen, brokers said.
Carol Dopkin, a broker unaffiliated with the study, said she’s seen interest in downtown condos spike as their prices have come down.
“There is a trend that people can buy in that price range now in town,” she said.
She was quick to note that middle-ranged properties still make up the majority of local sales, though the lower- and highest-end properties made strong gains last year.
Ernemann added that demand for $10-million-plus homes has been driven by the value in the Aspen area itself.
“The really wealthy class likes being here, and more and more they’re speaking with their pocket books,” Ernemann said. “This is a place they feel comfortable investing.”
Exemplary of the trend, he said, was a house he sold in the Pines in Snowmass Village. A 9,000-square-foot spec home, it had been on the market for more than three years without selling before it went for $16 million last year.
Meanwhile, sales of undeveloped land slid downward in 2011, with less than 30 sales and total dollar volume dropping from $60 million in 2010 to about $30 million last year.
“Land had a tough year,” Ernemann said.
Such sales had once topped $180 million a year, as recently as 2005.
The demand for new land, Ernemann theorized, is being siphoned away to the lower-priced homes that were selling more in 2011. Rather than buy new land to build a house, he said, people are picking up the lower-priced homes to renovate them or tear them down to make room for new ones.