Gary Feldman: Aspen And Palm Beach Are More Alike Than You Think

Gary Feldman

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With almost four decades of luxury real estate experience in Aspen and eight years in Palm Beach, Gary Feldman offers counsel and advice to his Aspen and Palm Beach clients who have interests in both markets. Gary raised his family in Aspen, arriving in the 1980s, and has more than 30 years of family ties to Palm Beach. He maintains homes in Aspen and on the island of Palm Beach, and commutes between both towns as needed, often on a moment’s notice.

Aspen and Palm Beach seems to offer different lifestyles, what types of homebuyers do the two cities primarily attract?

On the surface, Aspen and Palm Beach appear to offer dissimilar lifestyles, with one being mountain and the other beach. In reality, they share many of the same characteristics. Both are luxury markets, which attract some of the world’s wealthiest and most astute people. They also offer cultural activities that draw the brightest and most accomplished performers, as well as seminars from global newsmakers.

Are there any differences when it comes to their average buyer profile?

The Aspen buyer profile may focus on outdoor activities, while the Palm Beach buyer profile tends to be more social and urban. How do I cater to both? Regardless of the market, I listen to their needs, desires and objectives, and then determine which homes and locations are most suitable. Sometimes, the perfect home is not listed for sale and requires tapping into my extensive homeowner and broker relationships to uncover the right one.

Aspen and Palm Beach have restrictive zoning laws that have created unique housing markets. How are the zoning laws similar?

In general, Aspen‘s laws focus on growth restrictions, limiting home sizes as well as how many homes can be built on a single land-holding. With a few exceptions, homes cannot be larger than 5,750 square feet and only one home can be built on 35 acres or less. In the Palm Beach market, where the land is essentially fully developed, the laws focus on architectural style, height, volume and prevention of lot combinations.



Both Palm Beach and Aspen’s inventories are down, according to several reports. What is your advice to homebuyers as well as home sellers in the current market conditions?

Both markets are currently experiencing strong buyer activity. Unlike many other luxury markets, inventory is always available for a price. During periods of strong interest, property owners tend to ask higher prices and do not negotiate.

Florida does not have an income tax. What advantages does this give homebuyers looking for real estate in Palm Beach?

Property taxes represent the most remarkable difference between Aspen and Palm Beach real estate. While it is true that Florida does not have an income tax, property taxes are on par with other major metropolitan markets; while property taxes in Aspen and Pitkin County are a fraction. Aspen buyers unaware of Colorado property tax rates expect to pay more than they are at home. It’s the silver lining to owning property in Aspen.

In April, Palm Beach County reached the highest median price for a single-family home since the crash. What are your expectations of the market going forward?

It is obvious that the tax code revisions of 2017 are having a strong impact on real estate prices in Palm Beach. Many residents of large metropolitan centers have just had their property tax deduction dramatically reduced or essentially eliminated. In addition, their federal tax deduction for state income taxes has been eliminated or reduced significantly. This has sparked a steady influx of newcomers to Palm Beach, resulting in a surge of prices and a shortage of available homes. I expect this trend to continue.

Palm Beach

Palm Beach

During the real estate burst of 2008/2009, prices slumped in many luxury destinations. Yet, Aspen continued to see prices, even if sales slowed down, rising during that period. What contributed to this?

The factor that contributed to Aspen’s quick recovery is Aspen’s uniqueness, combined with 40 years of zoning laws that have restricted real estate growth. Compared to other luxury resort markets without stringent growth controls, Aspen maintains a supply and demand balance that is slightly tipped in favor of the property owners. Just like sellers in Palm Beach, it has been said that Aspen sellers do not need to sell and will often wait years to get the price they desire.

What are your expectations for real estate sales in Aspen and Palm Beach?

Aspen has continued to see real estate prices increase since the Great Recession of 2008. Property values have recovered and set new records. Palm Beach is experiencing significant increases in activity and prices. I expect demand in both markets to continue to outpace both the physical and emotional supply of real estate in these unique markets. (Emotional supply means that many sellers are not “forced” to sell because of financial stress, but they simply decide to move on.)

Top Image: 720 Willoughby Way, Aspen, CO 81611

Gary Feldman is the real estate agent exclusively representing the Aspen, Colorado market as a part of the Haute Residence real estate network.

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