In the same month last year, luxury properties in Silicon Valley, New York, and Seattle were ablaze with bidding wars.
Last summer, second-home markets like the Hamptons, Park City, and Aspen experienced a spike in daily rentals as affluent residents left urban centers at the start of the Pandemic.
Now that both the virus and remote work trends linger, the affluent are moving their bidding frenzies into these once getaway destinations.
From Big City to Small Town Living
About 420,000 New Yorkers left from March to May of this year. Population in the wealthiest neighborhoods—West Village, SoHo, and the Upper East Side—decreased by 40% according to location tracking analysis by Descartes Labs.
As you can see from the graph above, majority of the residents who fled belong to the 100th to 90th percentile of median household income (more than $90,000).
Meanwhile, Aspen and nearby towns in Colorado are seeing a pickup of newcomers from Texas.
Palantir, a data analytics company based in Palo Alto, moved to Denver back in August following a string of tech companies moving out or offering remote work as an alternative to exorbitant Silicon Valley real estate.
Google, Facebook, Twitter, Slack, and more companies have now allowed their employees to work remotely. This trend has prompted more tech employees to move out of San Francisco, some into cheaper locales, others into smaller cities.
Who’s to say Aspen and nearby communities like Willits or Carbondale won’t be on their list of options?
The Effects on Aspen Real Estate and Nearby Places in Pitkin County
The Aspen Board of Realtors saw a 30% decrease in the number of days a home is listed and a significant decrease in inventory. Year-to-date median sales rose to $6.4 million or 6.7% for single-family housing compared to 2019.
Mansion Global reports that more than half of the 76 luxury houses and condos sold in July closed at more than $5 million. Fortune also reviewed Realtor.com’s data and found that Aspen had a 31.9% bump in year-over-year change in price per square feet.
It’s not just in Aspen though, nearby towns like Vail, Crested Butte, Steamboat Springs, and Telluride are all seeing an influx of new buyers.
Buying Motivations Aside from the COVID-19 Pandemic
It’s true that the pandemic and desire to safely seclude is strong in affluent buyers. But for many, the pandemic is just one of the many reasons to settle down to a life in the mountains.
People who have been to Aspen CO multiple times but were on the fence are buying now that remote work is mainstream.
Meanwhile, some families with a second-home in Aspen are moving into a bigger house. Those with kids will need a place for them to study, while the entrepreneurs or newly-transitioned remote employees will need an office of their own.
The Allures of Aspen Outside the Ski Season
Darin White Eydenberg, who recently enrolled her three kids into a private school in Aspen, agrees that kids flourish more in the outdoors than they did in an urban environment.
She was quoted in the Colorado Sun, “We’ve always talked about working from home, but it has not been a reality like it is now.”
Eyedenberg and her family aren’t alone in this thinking.
So the question now for a lot of affluent buyers is…
Where do you want to share this time with your family now that this trend is here to stay?
Where do you want to stay if this happens again?
Wherever that is, it’s safe to say the options will have two things in common: lower population density and more open space.
The biking and hiking trails around Aspen and surrounding towns are gaining popularity nowadays, too. Even kayaking and fishing, once famous only to local people and enthusiasts, are gaining new ground from newcomers searching for fun activities besides skiing.
Folks are starting to realize that Aspen, and indeed mountain living, is fun during summer too.
Colder Climate in Aspen: A Welcome Respite to Texans
While some people absolutely abhor the cold, it seems like some Texas residents want to live in Aspen because of the colder climate.
Austin Curry, a Dallas based Attorney who moved to Aspen because of the pandemic, says Dallas was unbearably hot and full of mosquitoes.
His family rent a property but are keen to buy as soon as they find the right place. Curry plans to divide his time between Aspen and Dallas, while his kids will study remotely at their rental.
As someone who’s lived under Miami’s hot and humid weather, I’m sure Curry isn’t the only fleeing Texas and other hot cities in search of a cold breeze in Aspen.
Aspen Community Adapting to the Changes
Resort communities like Snowmass and elsewhere in Aspen embraced newcomers as a solution to the town’s declining tourism and limited skiing operations.
The Town Council even created enticing campaigns to encourage non-resident owners to stay longer in a bid to help businesses stay afloat.
Meanwhile, Aspen Country Day School’s wait list has grown longer as a result of the lockdowns. More families are inquiring about available slots at the private school.
Other businesses, however, are already adjusting. Some are even capitalizing on the new opportunities created by the pandemic.
Wildcat Touring, a semi-private plane service that offers flights to Aspen and Dallas during summer, is said to have record-breaking sales. They’re now planning to expand their service into fall and winter.
AspenJet also plans to offer direct flights from Aspen to Los Angles, New York, Chicago, and Ft. Lauderdale, starting 2021.
Schools, private tutors, and childcare services are also getting an influx of inquiries from newcomers. Same with fine dining establishments, casual restaurants, and other essential services in Aspen Colorado.
What the Future Holds for Aspen Colorado Real Estate
The mass exodus might have died down compared to what it was back in March. But it’s clear from real estate sales records that Aspen is adapting to a community filled with residents who are in it full-time, not just for skiing.
So far, the Aspen housing market has recorded $1.43 billion in residential sales, a whopping 48.6% increase compared to the same time in 2019. If this continues, we might hit about $2 billion in sales.
If you’re looking for a second home or a refuge from urban life in Aspen, it’s best to start searching now before the busy ski season starts.
Ski resorts just started to re-open early this month, so there’s no telling how busier things will be once the tourism sector starts picking up again.