Basalt’s million-dollar milestone |

Basalt’s million-dollar milestone

Scott Condon
Special to the DailyIf you want to live beside the Roaring Fork River in Basalt, be prepared to pay more than $1 million. The median asking price for the 19 homes listed in Basalt is $1,195,000.

BASALT ” It takes a million dollars to buy into Basalt these days.

The red-hot real estate market has sent the median price of single family homes for sale in and around Basalt above the $1 million barrier, according to an analysis real estate agent Wendy Lucas performed for The Aspen Times.

“The prices are getting higher and higher,” Lucas said.

Lucas is a longtime real estate agent in the Roaring Fork Valley who started her own Basalt-based firm this month. She examined sales and listing prices of homes through the Aspen Board of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service. The area she studied was from Holland Hills to the Dakota subdivision by Blue Lake. Basalt is 16 miles outside Aspen.

She said appreciation is so rapid right now that the seller of a new home cannot set a price based on recent sales of comparable properties. Her research demonstrated that point.

The median price of the 27 single-family homes that sold in and around Basalt through mid-May was $695,000. The median price of 19 homes under contract in that same area is $899,000. The median asking price for the 19 homes listed for sale is $1,195,000.

It’s not a case of sellers reaching for the stars. They are getting what they seek.

“This is an absolute sellers’ market,” said Matt Harrington, co-owner of Harrington Real Estate, along with his wife, Terry. “It’s the very definition of a sellers’ market.

“There’s been a frenzy created from lack of supply and high demand,” he added.

Terry said conditions have changed drastically in the mid-valley in the past six months.

“There were three years of a very slow, flat market, and in the last six months we made up for the last three years,” she said. Median prices aside, there still are opportunities in the Basalt area for less than $1 million, Terry said.

But any single family home under $400,000 to $450,000 “is unheard-of anymore,” she said. Any home listed for less than $500,000 receives at least one offer, and often several, the same day it goes on the market, according to the Harringtons.

Open houses can draw three times as many brokers as a few months ago because homes to sell are in such short supply. While the appreciation is welcome news for sellers and most people who already own property, it also pushes the Basalt area out of the realm of affordability for workers.

At a recent public meeting, Garfield County Commissioner Tresi Houpt had this observation: “Aspen has the billionaires, Basalt has the millionaires, and we’ve got the working stiffs.”

In Garfield County. Lucas said it is undeniable that working people are getting shut out of Basalt now based on the median prices of homes under contract and listed. Townhouse and condominium prices are also skyrocketing. Lucas said she has a one-bedroom condo at Willits under contract for $315,000.

Four months ago, it would have listed for $250,000, she said. The sales prices of comparable Columbine townhouses in Basalt jumped $100,000 in one month, the Harringtons noted.

“I have seen very active markets before but this is the most active I’ve seen by far,” Lucas said. “It shows that people have discovered Basalt.”

Lucas and Terry Harrington said the market will slow down again. Harrington said the key will be interest rates. If they rise, the market will cool.

“I don’t see how it can possibly sustain itself,” she said.

Vail, Colorado

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