I wanted to weigh in on the controversy over the value of TDRs (transferable development rights) recently granted to David Brown and Jody Anthes by the Pitkin County commissioners. The commissioners awarded them two TDRs to preserve a rare archeological site recently discovered on a piece of property the pair owns in Emma. By the way, both the couple and the commissioners should be congratulated for this first-of-its-kind arrangement.
To the point, both local papers speculated the TDRs were worth $175,000 each or $350,000 for the pair. As a local real estate broker for Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s who specializes in TDRs, I can confirm those figures as in line with the current market.
However, I also wanted to point out that TDRs are similar to other real estate as they too are subject to real estate commissions should the owners decide to market and sell through a local broker. If they chose to sell on their own, sellers of TDRs will still need to hire a local attorney to negotiate and write up a contract. In either case, those with perfected TDRs in hand or those who wish to convert active mining claims or rural and remote development rights to TDRs will always require the services of a local land-use planner. Lastly, sales of TDRs (just like real property) are subject to capital gains taxes.
The bottom line is, using Brown and Anthes as an example, every TDR transaction is subject to commissions, legal fees, consulting fees, taxes and even closing costs. Therefore, should Brown and Anthes find a buyer for their two TDRs at $350,000 for the pair; they likely will net around $325,000 at the closing table. That might still represent a bit of windfall for the couple but one well deserved in my opinion for working to preserve the site rather than running a bulldozer over it.