December 7, 2017 | Gary Feldman Group

An Insider's Guide: Finding Aspen's Finest Real Estate

We’ve all heard that it’s all about location, location, location when it comes to buying real estate. Aside from location, what are buyers really looking for in the Aspen/Snowmass area that adds value? Aspen buyers look for six distinct “premiums”: the downtown core, ski-in/out, river frontage, views, golf, and equestrian. Depending on your priority and budget, there are options in all categories, but finding them often takes assistance from a seasoned broker. Which premiums spark your desire?
 

Downtown Core

While condos dominate Aspen’s core, there are single-family homes and townhomes to be found. Penthouses reign supreme as there are very few, and current building codes no longer permit new ones to be constructed. Typically, penthouses trade hands off-market as they are in such high demand. If your budget allows for $5,000+ per square foot and it’s what you must have, then work with a knowledgeable broker who has the inside track in finding these opportunities.
 
Second to penthouses in desirability are several small townhome/duplex developments. The following are favored by buyers for their location and size: Bell Mountain, River Park, Galena Place, Enclave, Fireside and Pitkin Row. Single-family homes are extremely rare in the core, so buyers venture into the surrounding areas of East Aspen and the West End, which are still walkable to town.
 

Ski-in/out

The best ski-in/out options reside in Snowmass Village. For single-family homes, The Pines, Two Creeks, and The Divide command the best options and highest prices, with Wood Run, Ridge Run and Fox Run following close behind. While some homes are advertised as ski-in/out, caution is advised to ensure it’s not only suitable for Olympic athletes. There are many condo and townhome options, especially with Base Village taking shape. Unfortunately, many of the condo options are dated, having been built in the 1970s.
 
If Aspen is a must, then the ski-in/out options are severely diminished, especially if it has to be a single-family home. There are only three single-family homes directly on the Little Nell trail and only a few more on the Lift One side of the mountain. Condos located directly on the mountain include The Alps, Fifth Avenue, and Durant. Buyers beware, though, as most of these are operated like hotels, with high annual assessments. Sprinkled at the base of Aspen Mountain are a few, less touristy developments such as Top of Mill, Mountain Queen, and Shadow Mountain.
 
Other options with direct ski access can be found alongside Buttermilk and Tiehack. The nicest single-family homes can be found in the Maroon Creek Club at the base of Tiehack, or in Eagle Pines and Eagle Park flanking Buttermilk, perfect for watching the X Games. Last but not least, Aspen Highlands offers some pricey and elegant single-family homes and townhomes on the Thunderbowl trail and adjacent the base, where The Ritz-Carlton is located. Beware if you want your young children or grandchildren to learn to ski, as Aspen Highlands has no beginner terrain, and kids who cannot ski at level 4 or above must go to Buttermilk for lessons.
 

River Frontage

With only the Roaring Fork River, Castle Creek, Maroon Creek, Woody Creek, and Snowmass Creek running through the upper valley, the options are limited with much of the frontage sterilized from development.  There are beautiful homes that conjure up the “river runs through it” image, but only the Roaring Fork offers the true river experience as the others are just as they are labeled: creeks. In searching for river frontage, there are key factors to keep in mind. Unless you love the house, don’t count on tearing it down and rebuilding as new rules prevent homes from being built closer than 100 feet from the river. And, there goes your “river runs through it” dream unless you want to rebuild on the exact footprint of the former house. Another factor to consider is the proximity to Aspen Airport. Some riverfront property in Woody Creek is exposed to airport noise. You don’t want to be reading whether it’s a Goodrich or Goodyear tire on the plane that’s directly overhead. And, finally, the north or south bank of a river or creek can make all the difference in terms of sunlight.
 
Areas with the nicest riverfront homes are Oklahoma Flats, North Star Preserve, Morningstar, Red Butte Drive, Little Texas, and certain spots in Woody Creek and Snowmass. Along the “creeks,” there are pockets on Castle and Maroon Creeks, where jewels are hidden and the Snowmass and Woody Creeks offer gentleman ranches with sizeable acreage.
 

Views

As you might surmise, view properties are the easiest to find in Aspen and Snowmass, but not all views are equal. For the “Sound of Music” visions of the Elk Mountain range and downtown Aspen’s twinkling lights, Red Mountain is at the top of the pyramid, but you will pay a price for these vistas. Hunter Creek and Red Mountain Ranch have the true bird’s eye view, but Willoughby Way and Pitkin Green have exceptional views and boast nearer proximity to town.
 
Further out from town, Starwood commands panoramic views and is the only manned, gated community in Aspen. Just below Starwood is McClain Flats with gorgeous views and some spectacular estates. Adjacent to Snowmass Village is Wildcat Ranch with top-of-the-world views and some of the priciest real estate in town. Only 14 homes share 6,800 acres and a common equestrian facility. Finally, this author’s favorite view in all of the Roaring Fork valley is from Watson Divide in Old Snowmass. It is also the location of one of the most expensive homes, Four Peaks, named obviously for its views of Snowmass, Sopris, Baldy, and Capitol peaks.
 

Golf

Aspen and Snowmass are blessed with three golf courses, which also serve as cross-country ski trails in winter. Real estate along the links is also at a premium because it offers unobstructed views of the surrounding mountains. Wildlife also is plentiful.
 
Golf properties in Aspen are found along with the City of Aspen Municipal Course and the Maroon Creek Club. If the view of Pyramid Peak at the Maroon Bells is your favorite, then homes along Cemetery Lane, Sierra Vista, Silver King, and Alta Vista will deliver photographic moments in all seasons. The Maroon Creek Club offers single-family homes and large townhomes.
 
The Snowmass Club, in the middle of the Brush Creek Valley, is surrounded by condominiums and townhomes such as the Country Club Homes, Snowmass Villas, Country Club Villas, and the Homestead.  A handful of single-family homes can be found on Fairway Drive.
 

Equestrian

Aspen’s ranching lifestyle is slowly fading into history. Not too long ago, it was normal to see horseback riders in the downtown core or along Maroon Creek Road near Aspen Highlands. Fortunately, those days are not completely gone. A hitching post for horses is still in use at the Woody Creek Tavern and occasionally one of our resident cowboys will ride into town. Owl Creek, Wildcat, and Lazy O Ranches are spectacular neighborhoods with common horse facilities. West Buttermilk, White Horse Springs, Woody Creek, and Snowmass offer room to ride.
 
Let the Feldman Group be your guide to finding your desired spot from among Aspen/Snowmass's finest properties.

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