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Real estate continues to rise and fall Print E-mail
Wednesday, 06 September 2006
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. -- The real estate market this year has slowed in some places but prices continue to rise.  Among the slow-downs is at Crested Butte. That town's real estate transfer tax is projected to yield $1.3 million this year, compared to $2 million last year.

"A year to a year-and-a-half ago, sellers were getting full price," says Justin Feder, president-elect of the Gunnison Country Association of Realtors. "Now, if a buyer comes in, (he or she) can negotiate."

In Aspen, the volume of sales has also fallen, but prices continue to rise crazily. Two years ago prices rose 5 to 15 percent and last year they rose 15 to 25 percent. But this year, agent Robert Ritchie says, prices have inflated 25 percent in Aspen. In Snowmass Village, he tells Mountain Town News, they have gone up 33 to 40 percent.

In Vail and the Eagle Valley, higher interest rates have caused sales in the lower end of the market to falter, but the high-end market remained vigorous through early summer. As of June, total sales were 2 percent above last year's record clip, when $2.8 billion in sales were recorded in Eagle County (which includes several Aspen suburbs).

But prices continue to rise, and with the higher end more active, the average sales price this year through June has been up by 26 percent. Last year, average sales prices were $722,000. This year they've been $911,000.

"It's not as frenetic last year, but I'm still plenty busy," one agent tells Mountain Town News. However, the number of properties for sale is now swelling once again.

But no particular worries are evident in any of the reports. the long-term story is of continued immigration into mountain valleys of the West, particularly by people from cities in the East. That emigration is being pushed by the imminent retirement of Baby Boomers, who are spending both their considerable fortunes as well as the inheritances from their parents.

The have agreed to purchase credits for 27,000 megawatts of wind-generated power this year. Aspen Skiing Co. in March purchased credits for 22,000 megawatts, while Vail Resorts earlier this month announced purchase of 152,000 megawatts.

Crested Butte explained the purchase with language similar to that used by Vail. Statements by Tim Mueller stressed "energy independence for America" and "clean" energy, without directly mentioning climate change.

Crested Butte also said it would reinvest a percentage of its clean-energy purchase to develop Colorado-based renewable energy resources. That is similar to Aspen, which earmarked 5 percent of its investment to Colorado-based power. Vail's power, in contrast, will all come from Kansas, North Dakota and Minnesota.

Edwina Baniqued

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