Aspen: Where are all these homebuyers coming from?

Real Estate

Aspen: Where are all these homebuyers coming from?

Throughout the summer and fall, Aspen locals have seen plenty of evidence of people visiting or moving here from different parts of the country. There seems to be a noticeable increase in vehicles with out-of-state plates on the streets in downtown Aspen and in parking lots at trailheads around the area.

Evidence can be seen everywhere that the Aspen-Snowmass area has become a popular destination to escape to if your hometown has been one of the many major cities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. By mid-summer, there were reports that the Aspen School District would see a record influx of new students this fall based on early school registrations. That report turned out to be premature as actual fall school enrollment numbers came in slightly below the previous few years.

But evidence of people relocating to Aspen due to the pandemic seemed most pronounced by the record level of real estate sales experienced this summer and all across markets from Aspen and Snowmass to Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. So far in 2020, the Aspen-Snowmass market has seen more than 456 completed sales transactions with total volume approaching $2 billion just in the past five months. This is a roughly 31% increase in the number of sales from the previous two years and a roughly 100% increase in total sales volume compared to this same time period in 2018 and 2019.

It raises an interesting question: Where are all these real estate buyers coming from who have an insatiable appetite for Aspen-Snowmass real estate? A common observation has been that there seem to be an unusually large number of out-of-state cars on the streets of Aspen from predominantly California, Florida and Texas this summer and fall. The true story could come from the statistics on real estate sales comparing 2020 to the previous two years, 2018 and 2019.

What the numbers show is that despite Aspen and Snowmass being a well-known international destination ski resort, foreign buyers have made up less than 1% of overall purchases in 2018 and 2019. These foreign buyers are predominantly from Canada, and Mexico with a handful from Australia and Europe. Despite the 2020 pandemic and the restrictions on international travel, the local market has still retained a roughly 1% foreign buyer presence.

The largest segment of real estate buyers in Aspen and Snowmass are actually from Colorado, representing about 55% of total purchases. This has been the case in 2020 and in the past few years. It’s likely that Aspen and Snowmass, as well as other ski resort communities around Colorado, are experiencing a significant migration this year due to the pandemic from the greater Denver area as well as local real estate owners trading up to larger properties.

The other large segment of buyers representing roughly 45% of the market are from other parts of the country. Over the previous two years, 2018 and 2019, about two-thirds of the out-of-state buyers were coming from either Texas, Florida, California, New York or Illinois, with Texas buyers making up the largest segment at about 24%. Florida buyers were second at roughly 17% to 18% followed by California buyers at 13% to 15%.

In 2020, we’ve seen a bit of a shift from buyers coming from the big five, Texas, Florida, California, New York and Illinois to a more even spread with buyers coming from over 45 states. So far in 2020, the big five states have only represented about 45% of the buyers with buyers from Texas dropping from roughly 24% to about 14% of total buyers of Aspen-Snowmass real estate. The statistics would seem to lead to the conclusion that the record numbers of real estate sales taking place here in the Aspen-Snowmass area is being driven by buyers who are likely to have some connection to the area either as current property owners trading up, or buyers who have spent time as tourists in Aspen in the past and are familiar with the area and the Aspen-Snowmass lifestyle.

That would likely make buying property in the Aspen-Snowmass area during the COVID-19 pandemic an easy decision.