Aspen: Homes so pricey you’ll be stunned

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

Noelle Knox
USA Today

You may sound like Porky Pig once you hear the asking price of Prince Bandar bin Sultan’s house near Aspen: a hun-a-hun-a-hundred thirty-five million dollars! If it sells for that princely sum, it will be the most expensive home in America, trumping Donald Trump’s estate in Palm Beach, Fla., which is on the market for $125 million. Aspen, of course, has long served as a playground for the ultrarich, for such part-time residents as actor Robert Wagner, musician Don Henley and the late Enron chief Ken Lay, who died there earlier this month.

Home prices in Aspen have been rising steadily for 2½ years, says Rick Griffin, an agent at Coates Reid & Waldron. There are only three single-family homes now on the market for less than $1 million. Meantime, 35 homes are on the market for prices exceeding $10 million. Toto, we are definitely not in Kansas (where the median-price home costs $78,800). The prices force about half of Aspen’s 6,500 full-time residents — teachers, nurses, city staffers — to get some kind of housing assistance, according to the Department of Community Development.

“The majority of people are buying one of their multiple homes — it’s their second, third or fourth home,” Griffin explains. Buyers are often “top icons in business,” “musicians” or “old money.” And, no, rising interest rates don’t make much difference. “It’s pretty resistant, because 70% to 75% of what goes on here is done by cash,” Griffin says.

The most expensive

This 95-acre, 15-bedroom mansion in the exclusive Starwood neighborhood outside Aspen, Colo., is up for sale.

Price: $135 million
Bedrooms: 15
Bathrooms: 16
Size: 56,000 square feet
Features: Indoor swimming pool, elevator, dumbwaiters, tennis court, horse stables, trails, ponds.

Median-price home

Paul Chesley, a photographer for National Geographic, is selling this 7-acre property. The price was reduced last week from $5.7 million.

Price: $5.2 million.
Bedrooms: 4
Size: 3,100 square feet
Features: Zoning allows for the house to be razed and replaced with a home of up to 10,750 square feet. To the east is a national forest, which can never be developed, and to the west is the North Star Nature Preserve. The house has a fireplace, laundry room, patio and scenic views.

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