Aspen–Signs of a Recovering Global Economy and National Housing Market

There are very few globally-recognized locations as small as Aspen, Colorado (the entire County in which Aspen is located, Pitkin County, had a population of 17,148 in 2010 according to the U.S. Census Bureau).  In the 1970s and early 1980s I did numerous appraisal assignments in Aspen and had the opportunity to again visit this past month to address the Aspen Board of Realtors®.

Without question Aspen is a beautiful location with unique resources.  While the Census Bureau reported a median value of owner-occupied housing units of $670,200, that in no way defines housing.  Pitkin County has a total 12,953 dwelling units, of which 40 percent are multifamily (compared to 25.9 percent in the U.S.).  And if job growth in this market is indicative of recovering global and national economies, then there is indeed good news.  In 2011, the median single family dwelling sold in Aspen was $5.76 million while townhouse-condo average price was $1.5 million.

As shown in the graph, when the U.S. economy does well Aspen does fantastic.  But when the U.S. falters, Pitkin County magnifies that economic pain.   Job growth has skyrocketed in the past 12 months—and this is muted in graphic form by the use of a three-month moving average (to remove some of the inherent noise in smaller markets).   Based on these employment data, it appears that the U.S. economy has turned the corner.  And the Aspen economy is blowing and going.



Aspen is a global destination for many of world’s wealthiest, as evidenced by the prices paid for real estate.  And these are often not second homes, but third, fourth or fifth homes.  Good news is that home sales have now risen for two consecutive years (both single family and townhouse-condos).  History has shown that the leading indicator of the overall health of a real estate market and where prices are heading is the number of sales.  Where ever home sales numbers go, eventually prices follow.  Sales peaked in 2006, while average prices peaked in 2008.


Sales bottomed in 2009, and 2011 saw a turn in average price trends.  This is good news.


The bottom line?  Strong employment gains are a leading indicator of the recovery of not just Aspen, but perhaps the national and global economies.  Home sales numbers have risen for two consecutive years and prices turned the corner in 2011.  I believe that many individuals that hope to buy property in Aspen in the future will look back at 2011 and 2012 and wished they had bought more at that time.  There are some phenomenal properties available today—both new and existing homes.  

If you are interested in Aspen real estate—go online and search for both Aspen properties and Realtors®.  You might be pleasantly surprised at the purchase options available.   And if I am correct—now is the time to buy.

Disclosure: I do not own any real estate in Aspen nor am I connected with any Aspen real estate brokerage company.


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