In America's most expensive town, a trailer is $599,000

Aspen, Colo., has suffered less than other U.S. cities from the real-estate meltdown, and the median home price has risen to $4.6 million.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Mar 7, 2011 12:32PM

Home in Aspen, Colorado (©Tyler Stableford/Getty Images)A few towns in the United States have not felt the doom and gloom of real-estate prices in free fall.

One of those is Aspen, Colo., a ski town that The Wall Street Journal informs us is the most expensive town in America.

 

How expensive? The cheapest single-family home listed for sale is $599,000, and it's a trailer. At least it's a double-wide.

The median home price in Aspen is $4.6 million, the highest in the nation, and the average home price has increased from $5.4 million in 2006 to $6 million in 2010, the WSJ reports. Here's Trulia's overview of Aspen real estate, which shows prices dropping from 2008 to 2009 and then starting to rise again in 2010. Condo prices are lower, but it's hard to tell from the listings which units are time-shares and which are places where people live full-time.

 

Here is how the WSJ explains what has protected Aspen from the real-estate bust:

Analysts point to numerous reasons why Aspen has held up so well. A small market where only 13% of land is able to be developed because of zoning laws and the mountainous landscape, it never suffered the overdevelopment now plaguing other areas. Aspen's distance from a major city and spotty air service help to keep away day tourists.

The availability of jobs for young people -- the story doesn't say where they can afford to live -- and purchases by foreign buyers also have buoyed the market.

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Here are some of the luxury properties the WSJ reported as sold or on the market in the last year:

  • A 13,000-square-foot estate with a sandy beach, ponds, a 35-foot-wall of disappearing glass, mountain views and a media room with leather seats sold for $24.5 million.
  • A 15,000-square-foot stone mansion with a gym, panoramic views, caretaker's apartment and an eight-stall horse stable sold for $31.5 million.
  • A 90-acre estate known as Jigsaw Ranch just went on the market for $48.5 million. The property includes a 21,000-square-foot house that took nearly 15 years to build, an 11,000-square-foot house, a guest house and a log cabin gatehouse.

The WSJ has a slide show featuring some of those properties.

 

Aspen hasn't been entirely insulated from the nation's real-estate woes. The number of homes sold in 2010 was only about half the number sold in 2006, and the city has experienced some foreclosures and price reductions.

 
38Comments
Mar 16, 2011 10:11AM
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Gee, I guess I need a big toilet bowl to stand over and flush some bills.

Or, better yet, when I become rich I can try to help people sell property for 10x the amount and see if it sells.

Mar 16, 2011 10:06AM
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My husband once had a job opportunity running a ski hill in Aspen.  At first we were- oh cool!  Then, we realized, we would not have fit in with all the "beautiful people" a.k.a. very wealthy. We most likely would have been miserable Tongue out

Mar 16, 2011 8:30AM
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Wow.  A mobile home for $600k.  Never thought I'd see that.  Just goes to show that location rules.
Mar 16, 2011 4:12AM
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Just checked realestate.com and found homes for 279M in Aspen. I wonder where the trailer they are talking about is located?
Mar 8, 2011 9:19AM
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AspenLocal said to check out the song "Big Money".  I say how about the song "The Little Man" also.  So true, so sad.
Mar 8, 2011 8:25AM
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My parents bought a condo in Snowmass when it was first developing for $25,000, and a few years later upgraded to a two bedroom two loft condo for $75,000. We are now living in Arizona, and wishing they still owned that condo. Even back then you knew there was no place to go but up in Aspen, since the area was very resrtictive on any development, and when Snowmass was built out that was pretty much the end of any more building.
Mar 8, 2011 8:18AM
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Whats the point in paying you home off in such a local as that they would probably tax you out anyway!
Mar 8, 2011 8:05AM
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I live in Colorado Springs and am a native of Colorado.  What I have seen over the years is that Colorado is full of hard working, down to earth, friendly, spiritual, fun loving, dog loving, nice, decent people.  Somewhere along the way, Californians came here and liked it and and constantly try to CHANGE it and make it JUST like California, and now TEXAS, and we HATE it!   Which is what happened in Aspen.  It bacame Californicated. Now it is full of stuck up snobs.

Mar 8, 2011 7:33AM
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I live in Colorado and as soon as I saw this on msn I immediately guessed Aspen, and I was right!! Everyone knows that if you live in Aspen then you definitely have a lot of money. It is where many celebs go to ski, I'm guessing many probably have homes there.  I believe it was in Aspen where Charlie Sheen was arrested a couple of years ago for threatening his wife. 

 

Mar 8, 2011 7:03AM
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Most people do not understand what happened in Aspen ,Colorado. The original owners of homes and business could not keep up with the ultra rich who bought the town for themselves and basically took over the area which was an insult to the local people who had been in the area for many years and could not afford to keep up with the actors and other celebs . The average man looses when the hot shots come to town....
Mar 8, 2011 6:34AM
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Teresa Mears needs to study basic economics before weeping over the 'lost value' of Aspen real estate (or South Florida for that matter).

Headlines news:  The 60% 'value' that (South Florida) 'lost' ...  never existed.

That's why they call them Bubbles.  For the same reason that a Pet Rock was worth $10 in 1977 and by 1978 is was worth zero.  It's a scheme, a bubble, a lot of hot air.  Do you get it?  I am really sick of these one-dimensional thinkers who carp on all their lost home values since 2005.  Waaaaaaaaah.  

If you would like a real point of comparison, you need to go back to 1999 and compare values.  
Mar 8, 2011 6:25AM
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@yppbbb

 

You should not automatically assume they were being irresponsible because they got foreclosed on, on year 31.

 

You would need a Jumbo loan on a $4mil house and those can extend up to 50 Years.

 

For all you know, they could have had an other 10-20 years left on the loan.

 

You don't know everyone's story, who knows what happened that caused them to fall behind and lose their home.....

 

Mar 8, 2011 6:17AM
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I expericance this housing price hike EVERYDAY.thanks to towns like Aspen the have set a 'standard' for ski resorts.Streets must be paved with silver, sinks are 24k gold.Beds...made out of real clouds , If the ski resorts told you all of this 80% of people would believe it.Just to ski is outrageously priced along with all of the gear.Skis,jackets,pants,goggles,packs and lift tickets its no wonder they give mountain employees free passes.We the common people would tell the to shove it.Lucky for them our passion to ski and ride brings us back.In order for the rich to ski and use thier 'homes' they need poor or middle class people to slave for them at $9 and hour (60% of mountain homes in summit county,neighborish to vail &aspen sit vacated 51 weeks out of the year).I work two jobs and make crap wages in the ski resort towns beacuse of these people.They buy stuff up and never give back to the community.Just gobble up land like fat cows and develope the land here untill there is no wilderness left.I live here because it is amazing place to be for outdoor activites.I spend7 hours a day in my one bd apt in Dillon that i pay $900 a month,that isn't luxury one bit.Hope you rich guys are enjoying sipping your hot cocoa from the lodge while i shovle snow so you dont slip fall and sue for more money...and two weeks free athe timeshare of your dreams.

Mar 8, 2011 6:15AM
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Check out Dan Sheridan's song "Big Money." Pretty much sums up what happened to Aspen. Still a great place to live if you can afford it.
Mar 8, 2011 6:00AM
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I'm not sure where you are getting your information . . . but I live about 40 miles from Aspen, in Glenwood Springs, CO.  Aspen may not be having the same "loss" as the rest of the US, but

~ there are more homes for sale than I have seen in years - inventory is high

~ prices are dropping by millions - you can see mark downs from $1 - $4 million at a time

~ you can find a Mobil home for a lot less than $599,000

That being said :

~ Are Aspen prices still ridiculous - yes

~ Many of the locals are great people that have been there for years

~ The Rude, Fur wearing people are visitors that have the need to flaunt their wealth

~ Too much of the town has become people that own their second, third or even fourth homes there . . . and they sit empty.  They have NO sense of community and drive taxes through the roof.

Aspen is experiencing the "price adjustment" it should have had years ago.    

Mar 8, 2011 5:52AM
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You think this place is high???  All they accept is solid gold in Galt's Gulch, CO.

 

Of course that is all from a fictional book from the '50s.  Surely no country would ever be stupid enough to actually live out the bad parts of that book!  U.S.A.!  U.S.A.!  U.S.A.!

Mar 8, 2011 5:14AM
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Whitney, Thank you for including the very telling detail that your in-laws paid on their house for 31 years before foreclosing! Common sense says you should pay your mortgage off after less than 30 years. Perhaps they played the house as ATM game and lost their home because of their own irresponsibility? I can't feel sorry for people who make their own fate.
Mar 8, 2011 4:31AM
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Wow, does anyone besides me feel stupid reading the pricing on these homes?  We have allowed this to happen by being foolish enough to purchase homes in the Aspen area for exorbitant prices.  There are many beautiful areas in the US and every one of them gets away with this because people are always willing to blow their hard earned dollars for a little status.  Common sense should take over at this point and folks should stop being willing to pay these prices; eventually, prices would come down.
Mar 8, 2011 3:20AM
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  If they want their home prices so ridiculously high, then maybe it is time to look at areas around Salt Lake City. There are all kinds of ski areas there, and many slopes to choose from. And, there has to be a reason that people from all over the world choose to ski there. Utah boasts " The Greatest Snow On Earth", and it was even on their license plates. Is it time to shift the point of interest for the Aspen crowds??
Mar 8, 2011 3:03AM
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people who work in Aspen, dont really live there...they live in Roaring Fork Valley, Basalt, or even Glendale and I have seen "working class people" come from Marble and beyond. The ski instructors come from all over the world; rent a place and like 10 people will split it for the season and they can save and go back home with $15,000 in their pockets. Other employees get employee housing - the catch is to be there like a year or two before you qualify. 
The reason it is so so beautiful is becasue of the development restrictions. Those who bought their houses 20 years ago are doing well; newcomers dont have a chance.
Trailers arent even sitting on land you own, so if thats not crazy enough?! for half amillion? what is?Also most of the homes on the slopes are seasonal...the Aspen airport serves private planes,otherwise you drive in, which is not a good option since the roads are icy and some close in the winter months....the summer has excellent music and dance festivals brought in from all over the world.Good quality stuff.People can and do camp nearby. The locals are a homogeneous group;an ethnic family is rare. 
It is a great to walk around and hike and do have fun, the town is like a storybook setting.
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