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Riley Warwick On Aspen’s Ultra-Hot Market And That $108M Sale

Riley Warwick On Aspen’s Ultra-Hot Market And That 8M Sale
Riley Warwick On Aspen’s Ultra-Hot Market And That 8M Sale

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Luxury buyers have been pouncing on real estate in Aspen recently.

The elite Colorado mountain enclave has seen a string of notable luxury deals in recent years. Just last week, closing of the Ranch at Owl Creek broke through the city’s and state’s sales record with a final price of $77 million. That record was short-lived, however, as the sale of a 22,000-square-foot mansion on 4.5 acres ultimately closed this week in Aspen for $108 million, delivering the chic ski town its first-ever six-figure property sale.

Credit: David O. Marlow

The celebrity-studded deal included seller and Canadian professional hockey player-turned-entrepreneur Patrick Dovigi, as well as buyers ex-casino mogul Steve Wynn and financier Thomas Peterffy.

Inman recently sat down with the agent who double-ended the off-market deal, Riley Warwick of the Saslove & Warwick Team at Douglas Elliman. Unfortunately, Warwick was unable to disclose much about the details of the transaction, including why Wynn and Peterffy, who are also neighbors in Palm Beach, might purchase a property together.

But, Warwick was able to discuss how the deal fits into Aspen’s hot market right now, especially in light of more stringent restrictions recently placed on square footage in the luxury mountain community, where a rule passed at the end of 2023 reduced the maximum house size from 15,000 square feet to 9,250 square feet. (Pitkin County commissioners anticipate reducing that even further in the next year, to 8,750 square feet.)

Read on to see what Warwick had to say in the following interview, edited for brevity and clarity.

Riley Warwick | Saslove & Warwick

Inman: What kind of impact do you think this sale will have on Aspen’s luxury market?

Riley Warwick: The sale itself was for a property that is one of if not the largest single lot on the best street in Aspen. It also had a 22,000-plus square foot house on it. So the home is much larger than what you can build today. Today you’re capped at 9,250 square feet, so the fact that you’re grandfathered in is sort of a big deal.

Absolutely.

It’s high above [the city], on Willoughby Way, which again, is arguably the best street in Aspen. It was a one of one, of one, of one, so that really is what contributed, I think, to the high value.

As far as the market goes, I think it’s great for the market. I think it shows that people are going to want to invest their time and money in Aspen and it’s really a special place that we’re lucky to call home.

For sure. And it really seems like every couple of months, recently, there’s been a new, bigger sale closing in Aspen. Do you think there’s any one kind of catalyst that has helped the market to heat up in this way?

One catalyst [is] we’re in such a constrained market. It’s not like Aspen is New York City or Miami or LA where you can either build out or up. We really are surrounded by public land and have very strict building restrictions in Aspen. So the inventory is finite, more or less. And that really restricts the inventory, which of course, with restricted inventory and strong demand, you get increasing prices and values.

I think coming out of COVID, where a lot of properties transacted, the really great properties are more limited today than they were a year ago or two or three or four or five years ago. Because of that, you’re seeing these prices be much higher. That, combined with the county’s restriction on building size, I think, has elevated homes that are over 9,250 square feet to even higher levels. So I think it’s really a mixture of several contributing factors that have created strong prices.

I also think that it’s a kind of coincidence — last week, we had that $77 million sale; several months back, we had a $76 million sale. Between those sales and the prior record, there were maybe two or three years. I think this [same] home set the prior record at $72.5 million back in 2021. So there were several years between $72.5 million and the next sale that was higher, which was $76 million … So I think it’s just a coincidence of timing.

Do you have a sense of how many homes exist in Aspen that exceed that new limit on square footage? I’m wondering how many more opportunities potential buyers will have for those larger estates.

[Off the top of my head] I don’t have a sense, unfortunately.

No problem. And with this estate at 419 Willoughby Way, do you feel like it could be used as a ski lodge or some other commercial property, simply because of its scale?

No, just for private use.

Interesting. Do you think this sale could potentially have any type of ripple effect on some of Colorado’s other high-end ski markets?

Real estate is so local, I would be surprised if it did. It may have some effect, but real estate is so hyper-local. Aspen is so different than Vail or Breckenridge or Telluride — they’re all completely different flavors of towns, albeit for sure, ski towns. Maybe it could, but I don’t see a direct correlation of this one sale and Aspen elevating, or having an effect on, markets hundreds of miles away.

Good to know. What do you expect for Aspen’s upcoming spring and summer selling seasons?

I think it will continue to be strong. Again, inventory of good product is very limited. So I think you’ll continue to see some really interesting sales come across and people really continue to want to be here with the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Music Festival, and just how wonderful it is here in the summer. So I expect momentum to continue through summer.

What can buyers who are competing for some of these rare properties do to get a leg up on the competition?

They need to have a broker that has direct access to properties that aren’t listed on the market. There’s a handful of people — and I hope to be considered part of that category — that really work on trying to provide clients with exclusive access to really, really special, one-off homes. I think working with an agent who is in the market, that works it every day, that is really, really well-connected, that lives here full-time and is working every second of every day to find them something great is important.

What else would you like to share?

I’d like to give credit to my team — we spent a lot of time and energy building the Saslove & Warwick Team, the team I’m on, with exceptional character and work ethic and drive. This sale is not just a testament to my hard work; it’s really a testament to the culture of our team of work ethic, character and being exceptional professionals. Everyone on our team really meets that standard, and I think, because of our culture, we’re able to achieve success and get exceptional results.

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Email Lillian Dickerson




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