Aspen Real Estate: 2022 Forecast

Why is Aspen real estate unique? There are excellent ski mountains in Telluride, Vail, Jackson Hole, and Sun Valley. If you are primarily interested in skiing and snowboarding, those ski resorts provide less expensive real estate alternatives to Aspen. 

Aspen has four mountains and a gondola that descends right into downtown. Aspen is a true four-season community that boasts the best in art, theater, music, culture, shopping, and fine dining. That's not an opinion; it is supported by some of the world's most recognizable and highly acclaimed cultural, thought-provoking, and entertainment organizations.  

We also have a finite amount of inventory. There is no land in the proximity of downtown that can be developed. So as long as the demand is greater than the supply, Aspen real estate will continue to appreciate. Buying a home in Aspen is a blended investment. Not solely a financial investment, but rather an investment in a historically good appreciating asset providing an enriching lifestyle. Whether a full-time resident or a second homeowner, this community's natural and manmade resources are exhilarating, enriching, and long-lasting. Unforgettable memories are made here every day.

2021 has been another record-breaking year for Aspen real estate. Consider the following Aspen-specific real estate sales data:

  • 2019; 232 transactions, $1B in sales.
  • 2020; 350 transactions, $2.5B in sales
  • 2021; 388 transactions, $2.6B in sales

Pre-COVID $1 billion in sales, during COVID $2.5B and $2.6B, respectively. 

What happened? People living in densely populated major metropolitan cities decided their COVID quality of life would be superior in Aspen than New York, Chicago, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, etc., and they picked up and moved! Additionally, Aspen buyers who have been on the sidelines waiting to buy their second home determined COVID was real and scary and decided to no longer wait and bought their prized Aspen residence. 

What does 2022 Aspen real estate hold in store for us? Great question. Here's what we know. There is limited inventory. There are more buyers than sellers. Brokers are trying to find homeowners who are willing to sell, but sellers ask the obvious question; "If I sell, where will I go?" Some Aspen sellers will cash out and move down the valley. Golf communities like River Valley Ranch and Aspen Glen see Aspen sellers becoming their buyers. Two more months of warmer weather and the inconvenience of a 45-minute commute to Snowmass, Ajax, Highlands, or Buttermilk. And the value is there. Homes in the mid-valley sell at a fraction of the price of an Aspen home. Other sellers may make more significant moves toward Palm Springs, Palm Beach, or Arizona. They may downsize in Aspen or even come and rent. 

People ask me whether the new homeowners who were part of the mass exodus from the big cities will stay. I came to Aspen from New York 27 years ago and never looked back. I guess some will want to return to friends and family, and they will either keep their home here or sell it. We need change, downsizing, trading up, profiteering, lifestyle change, whatever, which will allow for some additional saleable inventory.

My forecast is for significantly fewer real estate sales in 2022. You can't sell what you don't have. Then again, I didn't think bottled water had a chance of selling, either... 

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