Aspen’s Market Is So Crazy That Buyers Shop for Homes That Aren’t Even for Sale
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Aspen’s Market Is So Crazy That Buyers Shop for Homes That Aren’t Even for Sale

Unaffected by rising mortgage rates, wealthy buyers are swarming the tony mountain destination.

By Katherine Clarke
Wed, Jun 8, 2022Grey Clock 6 min

It took three tries for Wes Rogers and Christy Hockmeyer to get an offer accepted on an ultraluxury vacation home in Aspen, Colo.

The engaged couple got serious about buying a property around six months ago, Mr. Rogers said; they wanted to escape the summer heat at their primary home in Georgia and have a place where their four young sons could ski. When they made an offer on a house they were renting near downtown Aspen, it looked like they had a deal—until the owners changed their minds about selling. An offer they made on another home was rejected because it didn’t meet the seller’s “astronomical” price expectations, said Mr. Rogers.

Finally, they found a mountaintop mansion owned by former Priceline.com CEO Richard Braddock. They offered US$40 million, just shy of the US$44.5 million asking price, and promised to close quickly. Even then, Mr. Braddock’s representatives repeatedly reminded them that there was a backup offer to deter them from trying to renegotiate any of the terms, Mr. Rogers said.

“That’s the fastest I’ve ever bought a residential property before. And I do real estate for a living,” said Mr. Rogers, whose company, Landmark Properties, is one of the country’s largest developers of student housing. “We had to get aggressive.”

His experience is typical for high-end Aspen buyers at the moment, local agents say. The luxury market in the affluent mountain destination has been supercharged by extremely low inventory, tight restrictions on new construction and an influx of uber-wealthy buyers. Many of these buyers, spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic and remote work, are looking for a more laid-back lifestyle in an area known for its ski resorts, designer stores and upscale dining, agents said.

Since Covid, a similar narrative has unfolded in wealthy, inventory-constricted markets across the country, such as Palm Beach, Fla., and Malibu, Calif. These markets have only a small number of available homes in the most sought-after locations, and tight restrictions on new construction mean few more will be built. In Palm Beach and Malibu, billionaire buyers are competing for frontage on the beach. In Aspen, which is about 150 miles from Denver with a population of roughly 7,000, they are clamoring for Rocky Mountain views and access. Rather than slowing down as pandemic restrictions have eased, the market for top-tier homes in these locations has only accelerated, as the ultrawealthy benefited from a rise in stocks throughout 2020 and 2021.

As a result, the market for top-tier homes across the country has begun to operate independently from the rest of the market, said appraiser Jonathan Miller, who compared the ultraluxury market to a “circus sideshow.” In 2021, there were 48 sales across the country priced at US$50 million or up, Mr. Miller said, compared with just 29 in 2020. These buyers often have homes in multiple luxury markets—often New York, L.A., South Florida and Aspen—and are largely unimpacted by the rising interest rates that have begun to slow the real-estate market at lower price points, he said.

“It’s fantasy real estate, even if it’s real,” Mr. Miller said.

Housing markets all over the U.S. are experiencing inventory shortages, but the drop in Aspen homes for sale is especially dramatic. There were just 37 Aspen single-family homes on the market in April 2022, a 64% drop from 102 in April 2021, according to data from real-estate agent Carrie Wells of Coldwell Banker Mason Morse. At the same time, the average price for Aspen single-family home sales year-to-date is around US$15.78 million, up from US$10.7 million in 2021, Ms. Wells said.

There have been 39 Aspen home and condo sales over US$10 million this year through May 31, roughly 50% more than during the same period last year, according to real-estate agent Tim Estin of Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty.

Wealthy Aspen buyers come from all over the country and from an array of different industries, real-estate agents said.

Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield and his wife, Away co-founder Jen Rubio, purchased a roughlyUS $25 million, six-bedroom house in Aspen’s exclusive Five Trees neighbourhood overlooking the Castle Creek Valley in January 2021, records show. Also last year, Patrick Dovigi, a retired Canadian professional hockey player turned entrepreneur, set a new Aspen price record when he paid US$72.5 million to buy a roughly 22,000-square-foot compound from Lewis A. Sanders, founder of the New York investment firm Sanders Capital. Mr. Butterfield, Ms. Rubio, Mr. Sanders and Mr. Dovigi didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Agents say Aspen’s inventory is so low, and demand so high, that they are sending out mailers and cold-calling homeowners to persuade them to sell. As such, many of the major transactions are closing off-market, meaning that the properties were never officially for sale in the first place, creating a shadow market accessible only to those in the know.

Those homeowners who do sell can basically name their price, agents said. Among these recent reluctant sellers was fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, who agreed to part with his ski-in, ski-out Aspen mansion for US$50 million in March. He and his wife, Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger, had purchased it just three months earlier for about US$31 million.

The couple never intended to sell, Mr. Hilfiger confirmed. They had spent years searching for a home to remodel before settling on the roughly 7,150-square-foot, four-bedroom property on the Little Nell ski trail on Aspen Mountain, according to their agent, Steven Shane of Compass, but a buyer brought them an offer that seemed too good to be true. After some debate, Mr. Shane said he advised them not to “look a gift horse in the mouth.” He declined to identify the buyer.

“Right now, we have so many more buyers than sellers,” Mr. Shane said. “So the question becomes, ‘Is there a number by which the property can be pried away from a non-enthusiastic seller?’”

Mr. Shane said he recently closed a deal after a casual conversation with fellow broker Craig Morris of Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty. Mr. Morris mentioned that his client, GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons, was contemplating listing his home in the Pearl Court area of Aspen. The property, which included a roughly 6,000-square-foot vacant lot next door, never made it to market. Less than a week later, it was in contract to sell to Mr. Shane’s client. The client, whom Mr. Shane declined to identify, had been scouring the market for a house and quickly scooped it up by offering US$42.925 million. Mr. Parsons had paid US$15.32 million for the property in 2017, plus roughly US$4.5 million for the adjacent parcel. Mr. Parsons couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Mr. Morris also recently worked on a US$30.8 million off-market deal for a nearly 33,000-square-foot parcel of land near the edge of Aspen’s Roaring Fork River. The deal represented one of the highest prices ever paid for undeveloped land in the Aspen area. Records show the seller in that transaction was billionaire Walmart heir Rob Walton, who couldn’t be reached for comment.

In May, a trio of deals closing like a chain of dominoes illustrated just how heated Aspen’s high-priced game of musical chairs has become.

Todd Lemkin, chief investment officer at the Dallas-based investment firm Canyon Partners, and his wife, Kasey Lemkin, sold their 19th-century downtown Aspen home for US$32.25 million last month and traded up to a nearby contemporary mansion. The Lemkins paid US$60 million for the roughly 16,700-square-foot house, which has seven bedrooms, an indoor swimming pool, a bowling lane, a golf simulator, a spa, a wine cellar and a garage with a car turntable. The Lemkins didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The sellers of the Lemkins’ new home, real-estate investors Christy Thompson and Stephen Hill, hadn’t intended to sell, but the offer from the Lemkins was one they couldn’t refuse, according to their agent, Liz Leeds of Slifer, Smith & Frampton and REALM. They went on to purchase a US$51 million house from venture capitalist Lawrence F. De George. Mr. DeGeorge had purchased the site for US$16 million in 2009 and built a roughly 15,000-square-foot, 4-bedroom house with a pair of glass elevators positioned near a window to take advantage of the surrounding scenery, and a movie theater inspired by Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Ms. Thompson, the daughter of late Texas oil executive J. Cleo Thompson, and Mr. Hill have properties around the U.S. as well as in Belize and the Bahamas, which they rent to wealthy clients. They use the properties as both personal retreats as well as investments, according to Ms. Leeds.

Price growth in Aspen has been fueled in part by the city’s restrictive development policies, local agents said. The city council severely limits development of new homes within Aspen city limits, agents said, and a moratorium on certain kinds of residential development was reinstated earlier this year.

“The city is making it harder and harder to build and consequently more expensive,” said real-estate agent Tal Alexander of the Alexander Team at Douglas Elliman.

Aspen Mayor Torre (who does not have a last name) said the moratorium was a temporary measure until the city’s land use code could be adjusted to better align with the community’s goals. He noted that an earlier boom in residential development had led to escalating prices and negative pressure on the local workforce, making it difficult for local businesses, the hospital and even the police force to hire new workers.

“We’re not against the wealthy. There’s no class warfare here,” he said. “We just have to strike a balance where we’re also thinking about the sustainability and longevity of our community.”

In larger Pitkin County, landowners hoping to build new residential homes must buy “transferable development rights,” or TDRs, to expand their properties beyond a certain size. Each TDR allows a landowner to build an additional 2,500 square feet. Driven by a lack of supply, the price of a TDR had risen from US$360,000 in 2020 to roughlyUS$2 million by the end of last year, according to Suzanne Wolff, assistant director of Pitkin County Community Development.

Mr. Rogers said while US$40 million was a high price to pay for his home, he didn’t think it would be possible to build a similar property for even close to that amount.

“We felt that in the long run, it would be a good store of value,” he said.

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An expansive waterfront property with global designer flair.

By Terry Christodoulou
Fri, Jul 1, 2022 2 min

It’s bold to refer to any property in absolutes, but here Portovenere Estate represents Clontarf’s grandest waterfront statement and its most coveted residence.

Designed in the 1960s, the two-storey, 7-bedroom, 8-bathroom and 5-car parking pile is set on an impressive 3015sqm waterfront plot. Since its inception, the home has had no expense spared in its contemporary reimagining.

Within, the home sees a global interpretation of design elevated by bespoke luxurious finishes from all over the world at every turn.

It starts from before you enter the front door — here an imported Ghizzi and Benatti fixtures from Italy. Once inside, one notices the heated marble and Savadi timber flooring that sweeps through the multiple living and entertaining zones including the family room, formal and casual dining.

Here in these living zones is a combination of designer furnishings and chandeliers from Fendi, Versace and Articolo and a made-to-order Ravens 11 ping-pong table — all of which is available as an option when purchasing the home.

Elsewhere the home’s kitchen is replete with Manhattan calacatta marble and is fitted with Gaggenau appliances and Sub-Zero refrigerators. The butler’s pantry is almost equally luxurious with Miele commercial appliances found here.

Further, the home’s multiple bathrooms are, too, fitted with Ceraba mosaic tiles and Gessi luxury tapware and shower systems.

Throughout the home’s many bedrooms, each is fitted with a timber veneer bedhead design, while the master bedroom sees a Madrona Burl veneer back panel and is complete by its own expansive ensuite (with a spa) and walk-in robe.

Both levels of the home feature outdoor space built to entertain fitted with outdoor BBQ appliances, pizza oven and Janus et Cie furnishing. Further outdoor amenities include the L.A Lakers half-court basketball court, mini soccer field and elevated podium pool.

Back inside, the home is fitted with a number of mod-cons including a poker table, in-home cinema, wine cellar, gym, salon and study with home automation and security managed by a Savant smart system.

A sandstone adorned rooftop entertaining terrace tops off the heady list of amenities that this residence holds, offering stunning views across the waterside suburb and beyond. All levels are accessed via a KONE lift.

The home is also privy to completely contained staff quarters suitable for an in-house au pair.

The property is listed with Monika Tu (+61 409 898 888) of Black Diamondz Property Concierge with a price guide of $35m -$38m; blackdiamondz.com.au

The city-fringe locale continues to boom with its prized mansions and natural amenities

By Sue Wallace
Thu, Jun 30, 2022 5 min

From stately historic mansions to expensive new builds with underground garage space for 20 cars, Medindie, the exclusive inner northern suburb of Adelaide,  has always been a well-heeled location with buyers lining up to own property bearing the blue-ribbon address.

Many keen buyers and investors are prepared to wait years for a grand Victorian mansion or a more contemporary sprawling home to come on the market in the area. Such properties tend to move fast. Stunning mansions with impressive facades, sweeping lawns, manicured gardens, tennis courts and swimming pools are located on expansive 1-acre landholdings that cannot be developed or subdivided, making them even more attractive to buyers.

The suburb is home to many historic dwellings including Willyama, built in 1883 by prospecter Charles Rasp, who discovered the rich ore deposits at Broken Hill in New South Wales, and The Briars, built in 1856 for George Hawker, which became a hospital.

Robe Terrace is the suburb’s star attraction, lined with attractive mansions including The Elysian, a modern residence which smashed the state’s residential sales record after selling in excess of $10 million last year. Pretty Victorian villas, contemporary terraces, townhouses and cottages are also sought after, but it’s those grand mansions that are the drawing card.

Medindie offers quality inventory at all levels and attracts families looking for a long-term hold and professionals after a “lock and leave” lifestyle seeking a comfortable base while in Adelaide.

It appeals to medical professionals wanting to be close to major hospitals as well as farmers based in the north of the state wanting a weekender close to the CBD, North Adelaide and Adelaide Oval, a sports and entertainment venue

Nature lovers and fitness fans enjoy the Adelaide Park Lands, known as Australia’s biggest backyard, while the River Torrens Linear Park Trail is a spectacular 30-kilometer nature walk.

It is also on the doorstep of vibrant cosmopolitan precincts including Prospect Road, Walkerville Terrace and O’Connell Street, which showcase charm and convenience.

There is direct access into the city centre, Adelaide Zoo and the Botanical Gardens, plus it’s an easy walk into Rundle Street precinct for shopping.

Adelaide real estate agent Stephanie Williams of Williams Luxury Real Estate said Medindie exudes glamour and prestige with some jaw-dropping homes.

“As well as stunning properties, there are some new properties with show off features such as underground accommodation for 15 to 20 cars and mind-blowing cellars,” she said.

The suburb is a 10-minute drive north from the city center and a 20-minute drive to Adelaide International Airport.

Boundaries

Medindie is adjacent to the Adelaide Park Lands, north of North Adelaide, and is bounded by Robe Terrace to the south, Northcote Terrace to the east, Nottage Terrace to the north and Main North Road to the northwest. It is close to Adelaide’s central business district and surrounded by parklands.

Price Range

According to Kaytlin Ezzy, CoreLogic research analyst, Medindie houses recorded a median value as of April of A$2 million with top-tier values ranging from $2.38 million to $3.47 million. Compared to the nearby Prospect-Walkerville, Medindie’s median value is 62.6% higher, equivalent to a value gap of approximately $771,863, and nearly double (91%) the median value of the greater Adelaide region ($1.05 million).

Ms. Ezzy said the trend in Medindie’s house values has been positive over the past few years, rising 30.1% over the year to April and 57.2% over the past five years. This has resulted in the median value rising from $1.27 million in April 2017 to $1.54 million in 2021 before rising $463,644 over the past year resulting in a current median value of just over $2 million.

Medindie continues to be one of South Australia’s most prestigious suburbs and is home to generations of families who have resided there for centuries as well as newly wealthy buyers, according to Ms. Williams.

“Once they buy there, they remain, as it is an extremely tightly held location, offering unsurpassable exclusivity and prestige—significant mansions and luxurious estates and properties with prominent land holdings have encouraged affluent families to invest in this area for generations,” she said.

Housing Stock

There is a very pronounced short supply of luxury properties on the market in Medindie, where there is a variety of architecture from historic Victorian styles to modern contemporary housing.

There are attractive villas, terraces, townhouses and cottages that are also sought after.

Ms. Williams said lifestyle estates and family homes always sell within their scheduled sales campaigns whether via expressions of interest, auction, or private treaty.

This six-bedroom, four-bathroom luxury home in Medindie is currently under contract.WILLIAMS LUXURY

“Covid has changed the buying patterns of the luxury market in particular with wealthy clients changing their priorities to more home-based activities, with health and wellness being a major priority,” Ms. Williams said. “The desire for swimming pools, tennis courts, beautiful established gardens, wellness retreats and home offices being more popular than ever before. Luxury homes have never been in greater demand.”

Statistics show Medindie has 394 residential homes for sale compared to the nearby suburbs of Norwood, which has 1,901 residential homes on the market, and St. Peters, which has 870 residential homes for sale.

What Makes It Unique

Buyers are attracted to Medindie for the magnificent adjacent parklands, its proximity to central Adelaide and larger-than-average block sizes.

It is also the only suburb within a short stroll of the exclusive girls-only Wilderness School.

Luxury Amenities

Medindie is surrounded by shopping locales, including the Rundle Mall and Rundle Street in the city, which offer a wide range of luxury boutiques, including the David Jones department store. It is also very close to fashion-forward Melbourne Street and cosmopolitan O’Connell Street, the North Adelaide Shopping Village, and the shops along super-trendy Prospect Road.

Grocery stores in North Adelaide include Cibo Espresso, The Flying Fig, Coffee Gods Café, Romeo’s Foodland and The North Adelaide Village.

Top restaurants include The Lion Hotel, a South Australian icon that is directly across the Parklands, and North Adelaide has the Gin Long Canteen, Ruby Red Flamingo and Marrakech. The nearby Adelaide CBD has a vast range of excellent restaurants including Soi 38 known for its Thai cuisine, Italio-American inspired Fugazzi Bar and Dining Room, Osteria Oggi, Japanese-inspired Erato Teppanyaki, Arkhe on The Parade where chef Jake Kellie from Michelin star Burnt Ends in Singapore stars, and Orso on Kensington Road that has a following for its seafood and pasta.

Private schools include the Wilderness School, St. Peters College, Prince Alfred College and St. Andrews School. Nearby public schools include the new Adelaide Botanic High School, North Adelaide Primary School, Walkerville Primary School and Prospect Primary School.

Who Lives There?

Property tycoons, farmers, bankers, medical specialists, successful IT professionals and socialites all call Medindie home.

Outlook

Ms. Williams said the market in Medindie continues to be incredibly strong, with buyer demand for this esteemed suburb at an all-time high and showing no signs of slowing down.

“We are continuing to experience a very high level of buyer inquiry for homes for sale in the area and some homes are selling off-market without reaching the paper or any online platforms,” she said.

“The suburb has always performed extremely well from a capital growth perspective and consistently features in the top 10 performing suburbs in South Australia. The average house price in Medindie over the past 12 months is A$2.68 million, which is an incredible growth of 82.4% during this time.”

Ms. Essy said while still reporting strong quarterly growth compared to the national trend (5.6%), capital appreciation across the Adelaide house market has started to ease.

“With the cash rate starting to rise and consumer confidence continuing to trending downwards, it’s likely the housing market is inching toward a downswing, with the higher end of the market typically showing more volatility both in the upwards and downwards phase of the cycle,” she said.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: June 18, 2022.

In the year to May, an additional 497 markets joined the million-dollar club.

By Kanebridge News
Tue, Jun 28, 2022 2 min

A record number of Australians spent $1 million or more to purchase a home in the past 12 months according to CoreLogic’s annual Million Dollar Markets report.

Over the year to March 2022, CoreLogic collected 596,733 sales nationally up 19.8% from the 497,923 recorded over the previous year. Of those sold this year, 23.8% sold for $1 million or more.

In the year to May, an additional 497 markets 450 houses and 37 unit markets) joined the million-dollar club bringing the total markets to 1367 or 30.4% of house and unit markets analysed in May to a median value of $1 million or more.

“High consumer sentiment, tight advertised supply, and low-interest rates fuelled strong home value growth throughout 2021, resulting in a new record high annual growth rate of 22.4% over the 12 months to January,” said CoreLogic Research Analyst Kaytlin Ezzy.

“Despite values having risen across all capital cities and rest of state areas annually, we have seen a divergence in growth conditions across markets over the year to date.

“Since January, dwelling values across Sydney and Melbourne have started to decline, while values have continued to rise across South Australia and Queensland. More recently, Canberra, which had previously recorded many months of consecutive growth, recorded its first falls in dwelling values in some years in May.”

Sydney suburbs made up 26.3% of the new million-dollar markets with more than half of all Sydney sales over the 123 months to May transacting at or above $1 million.

In Sydney, 448 house and 104 unit markets have a current median value of $1 million dollars or higher, an increase of 26.6% from the previous year.  The new million-dollar markets are largely concentrated in the city’s South West (30) and Outer South West (15) as well as the Central Coast region (20).

In the year to May, 51.9% of transactions in Sydney sold for $1 million or more. Bellevue Hill in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs is the most expensive house market, both across Sydney and nationally, with a current median value of $8,024,682.

Elsewhere, in Melbourne 212 house and 11 unit markets had a median value at or above $1 million in May majority of which are located in Melbourne’s Inner (39), Inner South (42), Inner East (30) and Outer East (30).