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Telluride Generally Follows Aspen’s Lead – Real Estate

Late summer is hot for real estate activity

by Catherine Lutz, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

Thursday, August 19, 2010

$135 million under contract in last month

Eighteen single-family homes totaling $135 million have gone under contract in the last month in the Aspen and Snowmass Village areas, according to an analysis by local real estate broker Amy Doherty. The contracts include a $29.5 million property on Maroon Creek Road near Highlands and a $20 million home bordering the North Star Preserve east of Aspen — all the way down to the lowest-priced property in the group at $2.5 million. This high level of real estate activity doesn’t necessarily mean anything unusual or break any records, brokers said, as August is typically the busiest month of the year for signing contracts. But it’s a snapshot of current real estate activity, and with many predicting a turning in the local market and a strong interest in its high end, it bears watching.
“There have been so few closings in our market history in that price range, so it is interesting,” said Doherty, who also warned that it’s impossible to tell which ones will or will not close.

There have been seven single-family home sales for more than $20 million in Pitkin County within the last three years, according to records from the county clerk and recorder’s office. In June, a McLain Flats estate sold for $24.5 million, the highest transaction since mid-2009 when a home on Willoughby Way went for $43 million. Rounding out the upper echelons of local real estate are a Starwood home that sold for $36.5 million in December 2007 and an estate on Wildcat Ridge above Snowmass that changed hands in April 2008.

The six-bedroom, six-bath Maroon Creek estate is a spec home built in 2008 by B&C LLC, according to county records. The Pitkin County assessor values the 15,000-square-foot home at $18.25 million. The 1.8-acre lot it sits on was acquired in late 2004 for $2.7 million.

Listing broker Carrie Wells said there have been multiple offers on the home, which according to Multiple Listing Service records has been on the market for more than a year.

But it could close for much less than the $29.5 million listing price, Doherty noted, as it’s in the due diligence phase. (The McLain Flats property was also listed at $29.5 million.)

Several local brokers have noticed a trend in higher-end properties getting more attention recently. Three of the properties put under contract in the last week and a half are above $10 million. The $20 million North Star property was just completed this year, and has been on the market for just 31 days. There have already been 16 sales for more than $6 million from January through June of this year.

Realtor Steven Shane said that it might be because high net worth buyers who are able to afford these properties don’t need to sell something first.

“There is a lot of competition in this price range,” said Wells. “Anybody looking to buy a home in this tier is going to see everything that’s l isted and everything that’s not listed.”

But it’s also a matter of timing, as would-be buyers wrap up their summer in Aspen, noted Shane.

“As Labor Day is approaching people who are here and love being here are making commitments,” he said.

Wells said that while it’s not surprising to see such a high level of activity in early August, it’s noticeable because of the combination of the timing, interest in high-end properties and the Aspen area coming out of a slumped market.

Doherty noted that even if some of these higher-end sales go through, the inventory for such properties is still large. There are 43 properties for more than $15 million in the Aspen to Glenwood MLS (with the vast majority in the upper valley), for a total value of $996 million.

This includes the Stranahan ranch in Woody Creek, listed for $47 million, two Owl Creek Road properties in the $40 million range and two properties in the West Buttermilk area for about $35 million and $45 million.

From January to June, nearly $574 million worth of real estate has changed hands in Pitkin County, according to the latest Land Title report. That’s up nearly 22 percent from the same period in 2009.

In July, $137 million was sold, according to Doherty’s calculations, compared to nearly $127 million in July 2009.

Last August recorded just $51 million in real estate sales, according to Doherty, so if some of these higher end properties close this month that number is likely to be beat. September 2009, however, had $128 million in sales, reflecting the trend that many properties go under contract at the height of the summer season.

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