We are more than half-way through the summer season, and Aspen and Snowmass Village real estate sales continue on their pandemic-related disruptor path. Explosive. Seismic. New threshold. New level. The local real estate business is hyperactive and intensely busy, similar to other high-end luxury markets across the country.

The local inventory of properties for sale is at its lowest in the last 12 years, and prices have been rising dramatically. We are in a fast-moving market where comparative sales are a trailing indicator. Sellers everywhere, in Aspen and Snowmass Village and down valley — at all price points and property types — are testing the market with new pricing. It’s a seller’s game. At minimum, buyers are meeting the ask prices or within 1-3% of ask, if not over. Yesterday’s sale was the deal you missed.

We are seeing new properties come on the market at speculative prices where recently sold comps are no longer determinative reference points — tomorrow’s ask price will be 10-30% higher. In a low inventory real estate market with surging demand, pricing and appraising is exceedingly difficult and is simply whatever the market will bear.

There’s a new floor being set and when there’s a correction, the good properties — well located and like new — will offer the most effective hedge. The Great Recession proved this point emphatically. Sellers can both protect and add the most value to their property by remodeling, upgrading … and doing so as soon as possible.

Pricing

Aspen single-family homes: Aspen single family homes are regularly selling at about $2,000 per square foot, and for newer or remodeled like-new products, new pricing is between $3,200-$3,800 square-foot ask. Six months ago, sold prices were at $2,500-$3,000 per square foot.

For some perspective, according to Elite Traveler, the most expensive world property markets (cities) are: Monaco at $5,263 per square foot, Hong Kong at $4,393 per square foot; New York is a steal at $2,466 per square foot and London commands a measly $1,891 per square foot.

Aspen condos: The median sold condo price is $1.8 million and the average sold price is $2.48 million. The average two-bedroom, two-bath condo between 900 and 1,100 square feet sells at $1.754 million or $1,880 per square foot, if not updated. An older unit requiring a remodel is $1,700-$1,900 per square foot. A like-new remodeled condo in downtown Aspen will cost $2,400-$3,000 per square foot.

Lots: A so-so vacant lot or tear-down/older non-historic home in Aspen’s prized historic West End, where the average lot size is 6,000 square feet, will cost at least $6.5 million. The starting point for the least expensive lot or vacant land in Aspen is $2 million. That’s right, we’re talking dirt.

Inventory

From the 2009/2010 low-point of the Great Recession through the first half of 2021, inventory of Aspen condos for sale has fallen 66% overall, or 7.5% per year. Condo inventory is at its lowest point now since 2005. It’s “slightly better” in Snowmass Village, where inventory is down 47% during the same period, or down about 5% per year.

Inventory of Aspen homes for sale has fallen to its lowest level in 10 years: from 782 properties for sale in the first half of 2012 to 443 in the first half of 2021, down 43% total, or down 5.5% per year.

Inventory of homes for sale has fallen even more: from 589 homes for sale in the first half of 2012 to 304 in the first half of 2021, down 48% in total, or down 6.4% per year.

As Aspen prices reach skyward, Snowmass Village properties — a staggeringly beautiful resort in its own right — have become more appealing to a growing number of buyers who once insisted on Aspen only.

Financial markets

Often said, often repeated: as Wall Street goes, so goes Aspen.

Listening to CNBC the other day, Robert McNamee of Elevation Partners said, “We are late in the long market cycle. … There are so many cross currents in the market right now.”

When I asked a money manager client, “What do you think is going on — how long do you think this will last?” he replied, “If you believe in the transition to the digital economy, as I have for the past 10 years, it still has a long way to go. The change we are undergoing is so fundamental and all-encompassing.”

In his book, “Post Corona,” author Scott Galloway calls the pandemic the “great accelerator.” High-tech changes that were predicted as being 10 years off pre-pandemic are happening now. Full throttle.

At present, real estate unit sales are slowing because inventory is so low that buyers can’t find what they want, but prices are holding and remain at all-time record highs.

Tim Estin — “one of the town’s best brokers,” reports local media — is regularly cited as a source for Aspen real estate guidance in the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, CBS MarketWatch, Bloomberg Report, Denver Post, Boston Globe, Financial Times, Forbes, BBC, Aspen Times, Aspen Daily News, NPR/KAJX and Colorado Public Radio. Those wanting to learn more about the Aspen market or specific properties can contact him at tim@estinaspen.com.