The third quarter of 2019 is over and Aspen-Snowmass residential real estate continues its strong trend for the year.
So far, the total sales volume of residential properties in the local market stands at $972 million, about 4.3 percent ahead of the pace at this same time in 2018. If this level of sales volume continues for the remainder of 2019, then the total sales volume will reach nearly $1.3 billion, about 2.6 percent greater than 2018’s total volume of sales.
In terms of number of transactions, so far in 2019, there have been 314 total transactions which is slightly below the 323 recorded at this same time last year. If this trend continues, we should end the year with around 419 total residential transactions in the Aspen-Snowmass market, which is slightly below the average of 465 transactions for the previous two years. At the same time, the total inventory of residential properties in the local market has declined modestly from about 580 listings at the beginning of the year to about 569 at the end of September.
In September, the market saw a spike in pending listings from an average of 46 per month to a high of 73 in September. This increased the percentage of current listings under contract to 9 percent, which is a record high for percentage of pending listings since the market bottomed in 2009. This ratio has trended upward over the past 10 years from a low of 2 percent at the depths of the last recession in 2009 to 2010 with the average being in the 5-7 percent range. This spike in pending listings bodes well for the final quarter of 2019.
Other indicators of market strength are the 90-day, 180-day and 270-day moving averages of total sales volume. Throughout 2019, either the 90-day or the 180-day moving averages have been above the 270-day moving average. This indicator means that the market should continue to improve, or at least maintain its current pace. The combination of the high percentage of pending listings and the positive moving average indicator would signal that the market should continue to see upward pressure on average prices, across the market, for the foreseeable future.
Although the overall Aspen-Snowmass market seems healthy, different segments of the market are stronger than others. Properties priced under $5 million continue to sell briskly. Of the 319 residential property sales in the entire local market, 263 or 82 percent were at sale prices under $5 million. At the current absorption rate of properties valued up to $5 million, there is a 14-month supply.
As you move up the price scale, the story changes. In the $5-10 million range, the market is somewhat slower. Only 11 percent of the properties that sold in the past 12 months were in this price range. Currently, there is a 67-month supply (more than 5 years) of homes in this $5-10 million range.
Above $10 million, the market is a bit bleaker. Since the beginning of 2019, only 6 percent of all sales were properties priced over $10 million. With 117 properties currently listed for sale in the $10 million-plus category, there is over a six-year supply with the current demand.
Although the overall market has been solid throughout 2019, it’s a completely different story depending upon what price point you are buying or selling into. If you’re buying in the $10 million-plus range, you have a lot of options. If you’re a seller, it’s a tough market to sell into. At the other extreme, if your property is priced properly in the under $5 million range, then you can expect it to sell much faster. As a result, expect to continue to see price reductions in the over $5 million range, and sellers holding firm in the under $5 million value range.
Looking at the bigger picture, the economy continues to chug along, growing at a 2 percent annual rate for the first half of the year. The unemployment rate is at 3.7 percent, the lowest in 50 years. The growth in wages this year is 3.2 percent, the largest in a decade. The U.S. stock market, after a brief correction this summer, is again near all-time highs.
All economic indicators point to a solid U.S. economy which should translate into a continued strong real estate economy in the Aspen-Snowmass area. By all measures, 2019 looks like it will be the second-best year for local real estate sales over the past decade but for the record year of 2017.
Lori Small is a luxury real estate broker associate with Coldwell Banker Mason Morse; William Small is the founder and CEO of Zenith Realty Advisors LLC, a commercial-investment real estate advisory and investment firm. Lori can be reached at Lori@LoriSmall.com and William can be reached at William.Small@ZenithInvestment.com.