Dennis Hanlon: Park City, Utah Is A Unique Destination Among The Western Resorts

Dennis Hanlon

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Chances are you have heard about Park City. Perhaps, you recall that the 2002 Winter Olympics were held in this picturesque town in western Utah. Or, you are a winter-sports enthusiast who frequently visits the area famed for its ski slopes. Maybe, you know that Park City hosts the renowned Sundance Film Festival every year.

Indeed, the town of less than 10,000 residents enjoys a popularity that can rival major tourist destinations like New York, albeit for disparate reasons. No surprise, then, that Park City’s real estate is booming, particularly the market for second homes and vacation properties. To learn more about it, Haute Residence talked to Dennis Hanlon, a prominent local broker with Summit Sotheby’s International Realty.

Park City has a large second-home real estate market. What are some of its most attractive features compared to other ski-resort regions?

One of the unique aspects of Park City is its proximity to Salt Lake City and the Salt Lake City International Airport. Park City is an easy 30-minute drive from the SLC International Airport. The location of the SLC International Airport, just to the west of Salt Lake City, helps ensure that it is rarely closed due to snow or inclement weather. This is particularly attractive to visitors coming in with short vacation windows. Also, Park City has become an attractive second-home market for commuters working in Salt Lake City. The clean air, cooler temperatures and slower pace of life attract many families looking for a lifestyle balance.

Another attractive feature of Park City for visitors and second homeowners is its lower elevation compared to almost all of the Colorado resorts. This is an important feature for many visitors that are coming from sea level or near sea level.

What are some of the most popular enclaves in and around Park City for second homes? What makes them so?

Park City is home to two world-class resorts, Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort. The communities near both resorts are extremely popular for second homeowners as they have both the convenience of resort access as well as the ability to rent their homes short-term as vacation properties. Within the resorts are three gated communities, which are highly desirable for high-profile owners or people just wanting an added a level of security. These communities are: Bald Eagle and Deer Crest in Deer Valley and The Colony at Park City Resort. All three of these communities feature ski-in/ski-out homesites with breathtaking views of the Wasatch Range and surrounding areas.

In addition to the resorts, we have several gated golf course communities, which have become very popular for the summer-time crowd. These communities feature homesites and homes on courses designed by Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Mark O’Meara and Tom Fazio.

In addition to all of these resort communities, the neighborhoods of Park Meadows, ThaynesCanyon and Sun Peak have become very popular with second homeowners looking for more of a“neighborhood” feel.

3595 Ridgeway Dr is on the market for $3,590,000.

3595 Ridgeway Dr is on the market for $3,590,000.

How did the resort real estate market in Park City fare in 2017? What are your expectations for 2018?

2017 was a very strong year for real estate in Park City. The number of single-family homes sold in the Park City city limits and the surrounding areas increased by 5% since 2016. As home prices inside the city limits increased to an average price of over $1,000,000, we saw more buyers purchasing in the surrounding area.

Condominium sales in and around Park City continued to be very strong as these are very popular with second homeowners. Condominium sales near the Park City Resort increased by 19% over 2016 and Deer Valley sales increased by 18%. Of particular interest is the increase in Deer Valley sales, as it had been relatively flat coming out of the recession.

Like most of our neighboring resorts, our largest obstacle to sales has been declining inventory. As both home and condominium prices have now come back to or surpassed pre-recession prices, owners are not feeling any pressing need to sell. Combine this with the lack of land for new development and we sepe historic low inventory numbers. Despite the lack of inventory, I expect 2018 to be another strong year. The economy is robust and buyers are feeling comfortable about the future.

Where do most people seeking to buy a vacation home in Park City come from? Or is it a rather diverse crowd of buyers?

As I mentioned earlier, Park City benefits from it’s close proximity to the Salt Lake Airport and the Delta hub. For many years I have answered this question by saying that our visitors come from “Anywhere that Delta flies direct” While California and Arizona have traditionally been strong for us as they are less than 2 hours by air, New York, Chicago, Florida, Texas and Washington DC are also very popular markets.

Over the years I have been noticing a new trend of summer visitors coming from the “hot” states of Arizona, Texas, Alabama and Florida. As the weather across the country has heated up, residents of these states have discovered our delightful summers. Warm summer days with cool evenings has made Park City a popular destination for visitors from all over the country.

Park City has also attracted many visitors from Mexico and Central America, again for the ease of access.

What are some of the things buyers need to consider when buying a second/vacation home?

This is a great question and one that is not addressed enough!

First is location. Here in Park City, do you want easy access to a resort and, if so, do you have a preference to which one? Do you want to be slope-side or within walking distance to a resort or do you not mind packing up a car and driving a short distance to the resort? How about walking distance to Main Street shopping and dining; or is being on a bus line important? The closer that you are to the resort or ski access, the higher the price.

Second, is rent-ability. Is renting your vacation home a consideration for your purchase? Not all communities in Park City allow vacation rentals, and with the areas that do allow vacation rentals, there are locations that are more popular for rentals….bringing in more revenue.
Third is price. What is your price range and what can you get for that price? Early in your search determine what is most important in your price, size, location, amenities. For example; a three bedroom condo slope side in Deer Valley can be priced around $1.5 mil and up, while a larger, but older condo in town might be priced under $1 mil.

Fourth is future development. This one is often overlooked and should never be. A condominiumor home that has wonderful views and great access to skiing or hiking trails may lose thoseamenities or be severely impacted by future developments. While many of the resorts in the west are on Forest Service Land, Park City is unique in that the majority of the land that the resorts are on and the area surrounding the resorts is privately held. So, what you see may not be what you get “forever.”

Fifth is amenities. Are pools, hot tubs, tennis courts or other recreational amenities important? Is covered parking or a private garage a necessity? These can vary by development and can affect both the purchase price and rent-ability.

77 White Pine Canyon Rd is offered at $9,500,000.

77 White Pine Canyon Rd is offered at $9,500,000.

If owning a vacation home is part of a person’s investment plans, what are the intricacies that buyers might not be necessarily aware of?

Vacation properties like any investment are subject to the whims of the economy and it seems like resort properties are even more so. As many of our homes and condominiums near the resorts are owned as second homes, a downturn in the economy can have a larger impact than in metropolitan markets. “Nobody needs to buy a second, third or fourth home” so, in bad times,these are the first purchases to be put on the back burner.

Financing can also be tricky, as the majority of our resort condominiums are used as rental properties when the owners are not here. This can become a major stumbling block for many lenders as they tend to look unfavorably at projects with high numbers of units that are rentals. Another item to be aware of is for what purpose are you going to purchase this property; as a second home, primary residence or investment property? Each of these purchases could have very different interest rates, terms of the loan or buyer qualifications. This is where a local lender is crucial, one who knows the local market and how to position the loan package.

Another area of interest is, again, looking at future developments near the area that you are considering. Future developments may increase or decrease the value of a given property, so it is important to understand what can be built nearby and what affect it could have on the property that you are considering.

Dennis Hanlon is the real estate agent exclusively representing the Park City, Utah real estate market as a part of the Haute Residence Real Estate Network. View all of his listings here. 

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