PERSPECTIVES: Colorado’s Resort Areas See ‘Good Momentum’ In Luxury Property Market

Location and quality construction continue to bring wealthy buyers to Colorado's resort areas. (Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate)

This report is part of PERSPECTIVES, a comprehensive look into the world of prime residential real estate. Access the full report here to discover the latest trends and dynamics shaping the market.

It’s hard to avoid superlatives when describing Colorado’s mountain towns. Ultra-wealthy Aspen has been tagged as the most expensive ski town in the U.S., and Vail, Breckenridge, Steamboat and Telluride frequently crack top-10 lists of the most beautiful ski resorts in the country.

The exclusive lifestyle and singular beauty of the mountain resorts continued in 2023 to drive strong demand for high-end homes that couldn’t be completely met. As in other areas of the country, lack of inventory, even in the toniest communities, led to a drop in sales.

In Vail Valley, where Vail and Beaver Creek ski resorts are located, the number of luxury homes selling for $4 million or more dipped 12.7%. Sales volume in dollars was down 15.7% year over year, and the average selling price dropped to $7 million from $7.3 million in 2022.

But the numbers tell another story too. The luxury home market buoyed overall sales in the area to the tune of $924 million or 41.7% of the total sales volume in 2023.

“We’ve seen good momentum in luxury properties across the state,” says Matt Fitzgerald of Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate. The firm sells in Breckenridge, Aspen and Steamboat as well as in Denver and Boulder.

141 Wayne Creek Road, Beaver Creek. Presented by Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate

Jason Cole, CEO of Slifer Smith & Frampton, sees the bigger picture when looking at 2023. In 2019, Vail Valley sales in the $4-million-plus market brought in $467 million—an amount that almost doubled last year. “The peak was 2021, when sales volume was $1.2 billion,” Cole says. “We still saw positive trends in the luxury space in 2023.”

When it comes to wealthy and ultra-wealthy buyers, it’s not only location but also the quality of homes that drives demand. “The resort markets we operate in are mature markets, very constrained in supply and in high demand,” Fitzgerald says, “which means prices are somewhat insulated.”

The Vail area had one of the highest median sales prices, $5.67 million, in the country in November, according to the firm’s Luxury Market Report for December 2023. The most expensive transaction in Vail Valley last year was a $20.5-million sale at the Villas at Beaver Creek in Avon.

It wasn’t the priciest in the state.

“There’s luxury and there’s Aspen luxury,” a recent Denver Post story put it. A $76-million off-market deal for a home in Aspen with ski-in access, indoor pool, bowling alley and seven bedrooms set a record for the town. The second most expensive home, also with ski-in, ski-out access, sold for $65 million.

Sales volume in dollars in Roaring Fork Valley, where Aspen is located, didn’t change significantly in 2023, holding steady at $3.79 billion, but the number of sales did. There were 123 fewer listings in 2022 to yield the same amount of dollars.

A collection of homes on a snowy hilly landscape with lots of trees.

2329 E Haystacker Drive, Eagle Ranch, Eagle. Presented by Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate

Buyers in Colorado’s luxury markets are mostly from the U.S., coming from Texas and Florida, followed by the New York tri-state area and the West Coast. Within the state, most buyers are from Denver.

Cole points to the rise in luxury markets outside of ski resorts among buyers who value access to urban areas. A $6.8-million transaction for a mansion in Denver’s Washington Park set a record for the area, and a penthouse at the city’s Coloradan high-rise condominium sold for $3.3 million. “We’re bullish on the return of downtown,” he says.

Boulder also set an area record with the $13-million sale of an estate.

Telluride, despite inventory levels off by as much as 50% from before the pandemic, saw 2023 sales prices increase by double digits, according to a market analysis published by Telluride Real Estate Corp. As of the end of the third quarter, a dozen properties had closed in the $10.25 million to $18.9 million range.

What are the prospects for 2024?

If interest rates ease, more homes are likely to hit the market. If the constrained supply continues, the high-end market may see a single-digit increase in sales in 2024.

Of course, demand will continue to drive the luxury market in a state that possesses beautiful and exclusive mountain towns and resorts. “What we have going for us is we live in an amazing place,” Cole says. “and demand isn’t going anywhere.”


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