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Aspen Drowning in Forbes Real Estate Story.

Colin Flaherty's picture

We repeat the old joke – now at the expense of Forbes Magazine: How do you make a small fortune in Aspen real estate?

Start with a large fortune.

There is no other way to explain the recent Forbes article alternatively headlined “Why Aspen Prices Holding Up” or “Why Prices Are Up in Aspen.”

(http://www.forbes.com/2009/04/22/zip-code-index-lifestyle-real-estate-ho...)

Well maybe one way: Just ask the guy who drowned in a swimming pool with an average depth of 6 inches: The Forbes article used funny numbers that really don’t tell us how deep the water is. The magazine reported that the median sales price in the 81611 ZIP Code is $6.5 million, the highest in the country.

Next door in Snowmass Village (81615) and Snowmass (81654) the median prices are$3.99 million – the fourth highest in America; and $3.7 million, the seventh highest.

All true. All revealing about where rich people live.

But not very revealing about what is really happening to the value of their homes.

Aspen.com writer J. Hardaker told the story last month of an Aspen estate listed at $26,000,000; reduced to $15,000,000 and finally selling for $12,000,000.

http://aspen.com/aspen/colorado/articles/reduced-26000000-15000000

Aspen.com writer Brandon Wenerd also wrote a story about two homes sitting on the market for $40 million plus. So far no takers.

So there are two ways of looking at the $12 million sale: It is twice the median price – and so it is going to make the monthly sales numbers look real good.

Or it sold for less than half the original asking price. And the owner took a haircut.

All depends on whether you want to be an economist. Or a real estate investor.

If the other sellers get even half of what they are asking (or the sheik gets even a fraction of the $135 million for his tent in the Colorado desert) that will make: 1) The Aspen real estate averages jump like monkey on barbed wire. 2) The sellers sad. 3) The buyers happy.