Aspen property sales have broken record after record in recent years as super wealthy incoming residents and investors decide they want a piece of the Colorado mountain town’s booming popularity.
Sitting nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, the town was already the most expensive ski resort in America, boasting an area dubbed ‘billionaire mountain’ where notable property owners have included the chewing gum scion William Wrigley Jr Walmart heiress Ann Walton Kroenke and Amazon boss Jeff Bezos’ parents. But the pandemic-fuelled drive for space and a year-round outdoorsy lifestyle have helped propel house prices to stratospheric heights.
Case in point, the record-breaking $72.5 million spent by a retired Canadian hockey player sale last year on an 11-bedroom compound overlooking downtown Aspen, reported by the Wall Street Journal. Or the sale this year of an 18,000sq ft ranch for $69 million. Or the hillside house sold off-market for $48 million, just over two years after it was listed for sale for $31.5 million.
Sales above $5 million now account for almost two thirds of sales in the town, up from 39 per cent in 2019, according to Knight Frank’s most recent ski report, while US property website Zillow put the average house price at just below $3 million, a 14.8 per cent increase on last year.
The rate of sales may have slowed since the peak of the market, down 51 per cent in October compared with 2021, but a serious lack of homes for sale and tight building restrictions in the historic town mean prices aren’t yet dipping, especially at the top of the market.
With a resident population of about 7,000, the Colorado town is ranked among other elite enclaves such as Palm Beach in Florida and Malibu, California where the amount of stock for sale is severely limited but competition is high – but instead of beach views, Aspen buyers are bidding on Rocky-mountain vistas.
Looking outside the strictly controlled downtown area is one way around this for buyers with deep pockets wanting to buy a piece of the Aspen magic.
Jason Mansfield, Associate, United States and Canada at Knight Frank, says: “Appetite from domestic US buyers has strengthened throughout 2022, however the lack of stock and price rises in Aspen has boosted interest in neighbouring destinations, including Snowmass.
“Here, over 59 per cent of properties sold in the first ten months of 2022 were below US$4 million. This provides buyers with a value option.”
Where to buy in Aspen
Aspen Valley Ranch is a collection of 12 newly built residences situated in a gated ranch community set in 813 acres of the Roaring Fork Valley, 12 miles from downtown Aspen.
Knight Frank’s Ski Sentiment Survey found one in four respondents are looking for a year-round resort with a broad mix of ski and non-ski activities, all of which are on offer on the Ranch.
There’s an eight-stall horse barn and 220 acres of pastureland for riding, a pond with a dock for swimming, fishing and stand-up paddleboarding and a dirt trail for mountain biking or quad bikes. These outdoor summer pursuits sit alongside miles of snowmobiling track, dog sledding opportunities and, of course, skiing.
There are currently two luxury lock up and leave houses – Aspen Mountain House and Sopris House – available for sale, both with five bedrooms and five bathrooms and sprawling over more than 5,000 feet. They are listed at £12.9 million ($15.5 million). Properties can also be rented with prices starting at $59,500 for a fortnight stay.
The homes were designed by local firms Poss Architecture and Michael Fuller and are full of raw, natural finishes, such as dramatic wooden beams and rough stone walls for a rustic luxe look, sitting alongside grand, glossy touches and local artwork.
There is also a communal games room with arcade games, a fully stocked bar and sound system, as well as the Ranch House, which can be reserved for entertaining with a dining room for 14, a wine room and a Steinway Spirio player piano. Of course, there’s also a gym and pool house, too, with hot tub and steam room.
It’s a luxury hotel-style experience in your own home (hardly surprising given the staff and managers are mostly plucked from The Little Nell, Aspen’s top five-star hotel) with housekeeping, car service, concierge, private chef services and in-home spa services among the services on offer.
“Our goal is to have guests enjoy similar comforts of their homes in a new luxury environment and ranch lifestyle, all while relishing in the personalised amenities and services to fit their everyday needs,” says Simon Chen, vice president of The Residences at Aspen Valley Ranch.
Buying in Aspen
There are no restrictions for UK buyers of property in the United States but all overseas or non-resident US buyers must pay property tax annually in arrears, explains Summer Berg, managing broker and license partner at Engel & Völkers Aspen.
She says: “Property taxes in Colorado are fairly low compared to other states. For example, a property valued at $3.6 million US dollars pays $12,500 per year.
“If the property is rented, income taxes are owed to the state and federal government each year. As for taxes upon sale of the property, normal capital gains taxes are owed to the state and federal government when the property is sold.”