A slippery slope for Aspen


The luxury housing market in the ski resort town of Aspen, Colorado, went downhill in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The average and median prices in the luxury sector, comprising of the top 10% sales during the quarter, both fell year-over-year to approximately $12.5 million, according to a Douglas Elliman report released Thursday.

However, compared to the same period of 2017, the median sales price fell 7.1% while the average price dropped 13.5%.

There were seven sales in the top 10%—the same number as a year ago.

"The tiny high-end luxury market paused during the last quarter, caused by the volatility in the financial market, general uncertainty of tax laws, rising interest rates, as well as a disconnect between the state of economy and the state of housing market," said Jonathan Miller, chief executive of real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel and author of the Douglas Elliman report.

The U.S. housing market slowed down throughout 2018, even though the economy had strong growth, Mr. Miller added.

Also, Aspen buyers seemed to share a similar sentiment as those in other major luxury markets, such as New York or Los Angeles, said Stephen Kotler, chief executive of Douglas Elliman’s Western Region.

"Buyers are very price sensitive. There are buyers out there, but only reasonably priced homes will sell," he said.

Mr. Kotler attributed the year-over-year price slump partly to a very strong last quarter in 2017. Additionally, "two $20-million-plus homes entered into contract during the Christmas holiday week, which were not reflected in the report," he said.

The most expensive sale in Aspen during the fourth quarter last year was a single-family, 12,674-square foot home on Eagle Park Drive, selling for $19.5 million in October, according to Mr. Miller.

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