Aspen has seen its share of booms in its storied history. Perhaps the most dramatic was the first, which occurred between 1883 and 1889. Aspen underwent a period of extraordinary growth triggered by the dreams of a few plucky miners from Leadville and a bit of financial backing that built the first railroad to serve the Roaring Fork Valley. The population swelled from 700 to 7,000, and seemingly overnight the humble encampment made way for noble brick-and-stone buildings that set the stage for our beloved modern-day city.
Fast forward 130 years and the Aspen boom is once again making headlines as everyone from titans of industry to millennial tech workers jockey for their piece of Aspen real estate. The most recent wave may very well make the history books and offers an interesting juxtaposition as today’s Aspen prospectors move in to escape to the wilderness the miners often eschewed.
News of the market shift trickled out slowly at first, with stories of cars bearing Texas plates circling West Aspen neighborhoods. By mid-July, rumors made way for a new reality as a sizable jump in fall enrollments at Aspen schools accompanied an unprecedented surge in demand for local real estate.
July and August were the first two full months to feel the effects — and the numbers are frankly astounding. Compared to the same two-month period last year, Aspen condo sales rose a whopping 262 percent, and Aspen single-family home sales rose a breathtaking 380 percent. As we round third into the fourth quarter, market watchers are fully expecting 2020 to be the most productive in Aspen real estate history.
Simultaneously, as the world adapted to virtual everything, the video-conferencing juggernaut ZOOM mirrored Aspen’s near-400-percent move. In August of 2019, Zoom was trading at about $100 per share. One year later, following a huge earnings-driven bump, the price has nearly quadrupled. Not an apples-to-apples comparison, but a fun one nonetheless.
Aspen is the bell-weather for Roaring Fork Valley real estate, though some of the most intriguing market moves are happening in less prominent places. A savvy market watcher noted recently that if you really want to understand Aspen real estate right now, check out the action on land in Marble. The year-over-year stats are a bit difficult to calculate because there actually weren’t any land sales in July or August of last year, so the dozen or so contracts that have accumulated this summer represent an otherworldly shift in activity.