While most housing markets in the rest of the country continue to struggle with anemic demand and foreclosures—and sales at many other luxury ski resorts are still sluggish—Aspen has forged its own orbit. The average home price in this mountain town has increased over the past four years, to $6 million in 2010 from $5.4 million in 2006, according to multiple-listings data. The median price for single-family homes is now the highest in the country at $4.6 million, says San Francisco-based Altos Research, surpassing the Hamptons, Beverly Hills and Palm Beach.
Sales of luxury Aspen estates—the sorts of over-the-top places with leather walls and outdoor heated infinity pools—have remained remarkably healthy, thanks in part to foreign buyers. Of the 25 real-estate transactions recorded by Pitkin County for the week of Jan. 19 to 25, five were buyers from abroad, including three Australians and people from Turkey and Hong Kong.
Last month, a home in the Maroon Creek neighborhood with an indoor heated swimming pool, basketball court and outdoor hot tub overlooking a waterfall sold for $13 million. The buyer was Russian Alexander Zanadvorov, the 40-year-old owner of Sedmoi Kontinent, a chain of supermarkets. With celebrity regulars like Lance Armstrong and Goldie Hawn, Aspen is an anointed stop on the international jet-set circuit, a place where the wealthy come to play and spend. Increasingly, they’re putting down roots there.
“Aspen is like a small Manhattan,” says Altunc Kumova, a financial services executive from Istanbul, Turkey, who bought a fractional condo at The Little Nell in January. “You can find almost all upscale brands for shopping and restaurants are excellent. Après-ski in Aspen is very glamorous.”