Current market elevates valley’s property inventory |

Current market elevates valley’s property inventory

The inventory of homes and condominiums on the market in the Roaring Fork Valley has hit a level rarely, if ever, matched before, according to veteran real estate agents.

A total of 541 single-family homes were listed for sale between Jan. 1 and July 7 in Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, according to research by Wendy Lucas, owner of Wendy Lucas and Co. That is a 47 percent increase from the 368 listings over the same period in 2005, a strong year for the valley’s market.

“It’s a startling comparison,” Lucas said. “People are slowly getting their confidence back, but it’s slow.”

The number of condos, townhouses and duplexes that have been listed for sale so far this year is up 30 percent over 2005, according to Lucas. She concentrated on the major zones in the Multiple Listing Service for her research and ignored smaller geographical pockets such as Redstone.

There are 926 “active listings” of single-family homes in the valley, Lucas said. That combines the new listings from this year with homes that were listed prior to Jan. 1. There are 758 active listings for condos, townhouses and duplexes between Aspen and Glenwood Springs.

Lucas said she was unable to compare the number of active listings to periods in the past. However, she suspects the number is at or near a record, largely because there are more residential units in the valley than ever before.

The growing inventory suggests the recovery of the market will be delayed and that there may even be more “softening” this summer, said Brent Waldron, who heads the Aspen office of Chaffin Light Real Estate.

“We’re seeing more listings as the recession” continues, he said.

The heavy inventory is healthy from a buyers’ perspective, giving them lots of choices and driving prices down, and a challenge for sellers for the same reasons.

“You have to be priced competitively to even get showings in this market,” Waldron said.

Prices at the upper end of the market have rolled back to 2004 or 2005 levels, Waldron said. For the first time in his 37 years as a real estate agent in Aspen, prices have dropped rather than just stalled during a slow period.

“This is a total change from the last five years,” Waldron said. “It’s also a change from other recessions. It’s really new ground.”

The statistics provided by Lucas show that 78 single-family homes have sold in the valley so far this year (a decrease of 72 percent from the 282 sold at the same time in 2005). At that pace, it would take nearly 12 years to sell all the homes currently on the market.

Some real estate agents place stock in that figure, called the absorption rate, others don’t. Waldron said it can be a misleading figure because it can change so quickly. For example, a substantial number of people who have listed property in Aspen this year are looking to “move up,” he said. They recognize that they can now afford a property that was out of their range a few years ago, so they are trying to sell their current properties so they can buy something else.

But with the amount of inventory, the only sure way to sell is to compromise on price. Waldron said the 20 single-family homes that sold in Aspen through June 30 this year sold at 79 percent of the current list price, but only 66 percent, on average, of the original list price. Prices were often adjusted multiple times on houses that sold.

“What this means is we had a lot of overpriced inventory,” he said. The discounts from the original list price aren’t as drastic for condos and townhouses, but the concept holds true throughout the market.

“The things that are selling are being adjusted,” Waldron said.

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