The Evolution of Mountain Design in Park City Real Estate

Rich Sonntag, Managing Director of Operations for Promontory in Park City, recently presented an update on the community. For those not familiar with Promontory, it is a 6500 acre development on the eastern border of Park City’s unincorporated area (zip code 84098). Every home and amenity at Promontory has been built since the community first opened in the early 2000’s.

Promontory’s home owners and developers have constructed custom homes and amenities according to cutting edge and ever-evolving mountain design trends. The photos below were provided by Promontory and are the best representation I have seen of the evolution of mountain design and architecture in the Park City real estate market. Check them out:

1. Contemporary Mountain Ranch

Contemporary Mountain Ranch

2. Frontier Modern

Frontier Modern Homes

3. Mountain Modern

Mountain Modern Homes

4. Mountain Industrial

Mountain Industrial

5. New Century Modern

New Century ModernWhich mountain design style is your favorite?

Capitol Reef National Park Bed & Breakfast Videos: Vote to Win!

Last week was a 4-day weekend for my kids. Many of you may know this as “UEA Weekend” if you live in Utah. This year, my daughter and I headed south to Torrey, Utah and Capitol Reef National Park. We stayed at the Torrey Pines Inn Bed and Breakfast, which is one of my listings. It took us 3.5 hours to reach the Torrey Pines Inn. From there, the park was just a few minutes away.

Please take a look at each of the 1-minute videos of our trip and vote for the video you like best here.  When you vote, you’ll automatically be entered into a drawing for a Park City dining gift certificate. In the videos, you’ll see Erika, the proprietor of the Torrey Pines Inn and her friendly co-hostess, Schatze. You’ll also see some incredible scenery and hikes. The trip to Torrey, UT is a quick one and highly recommended. Even though the town was full during the 4-day weekend, Whitney and I experienced a sense of solitude on most of the trails.

If you are planning to travel during the fall or winter, call ahead, as much of the town of Torrey shuts down during the shoulder season.

Video 1

Video 2

Vote on our Facebook page here.



Deciding Whether to Remodel or Sell

Deciding whether to remodel or sellMy home was built in 2000, the year my 14-year old son was born. We have lived there since 2003. When I compare my house to many others I show and sell, I regularly come down with a case of house envy. I have learned that styles change about every 5 years and even a newer home can become dated in a hurry. When faced with this situation, how do you decide whether to remodel or sell? Here are some points to help with that very decision.

When to Remodel

This would include remodeling your own home or investing in a dated home and then remodeling.

  • When the location is difficult to duplicate. In my case, I have panoramic views of all 3 ski resorts and the Olympic Park and we back to open space.
  • When the floor plan makes sense. We love the vaulted ceilings and open floor plan of our home. Each child has their own bedroom and sink. They share a jack-and-jill bath.
  • When you like the neighborhood and the neighbors. I enjoy retreating to Jeremy Ranch after working in town all day. It’s also an easy commute to the airport for my husband, a frequent flyer. We have a great homeowners’ association and wonderful neighbors.
  • When the proposed remodeling upgrades make sense for the neighborhood. As a rule, you don’t want to have more money invested in your home than it would fetch if you suddenly needed to sell it and you don’t want to own the most expensive house in the neighborhood.

Over time, we have changed most of the light and plumbing fixtures, upgraded the countertops, replaced most of the carpet, replaced the kitchen appliances, and painted many of the rooms in our home. We also gutted our master bath and added an outdoor deck and fireplace.

When to Sell

This includes selling your home instead of remodeling or pass on purchasing a home that needs updating.

  • When the location doesn’t make sense. Maybe you live on a hillside but really want a yard; perhaps your home backs to Highway 80 and the noise bothers you; or you are located outside Park City School District and have a 4-year old. In these circumstances, it may not make sense to invest money into a location that you don’t love. No amount of remodeling is going to change the location.
  • When the amount of remodeling required will make the home too expensive for the neighborhood. If you need to move walls, the ceilings are low or the floor plan is too “choppy”, you are looking at big time expenses that could be difficult to recoup. If you are purchasing a home with deferred maintenance, get estimates to make sure the amount needed to bring the home up to snuff is in alignment with the purchase price.

I encourage my clients to buy homes that need cosmetic updates. These are usually the least expensive improvements that are sure to increase a home’s value. Examples include new flooring, paint, countertops, appliances, and light fixtures. These improvements also have the most visual impact and allow buyers to customize a home in accordance with their taste and lifestyle.

What are your thoughts or experiences with remodeling vs selling?

Best Places to Find Real Estate Agent Reviews

It’s easy to get lost online when searching for a real estate agent to represent you in the sale or purchase of a Park City home.  When doing a search for “Park City Utah real estate agent reviews” on Google, the following websites came up in the order displayed below.  How useful are these sites in finding an experienced agent who specializes in the Park City market? Read my comments on each.

Park City Real Estate Agent Reviews Case Study

The entire first page of Zillow displayed agents who work for brokerages outside of the Park City area.  It wasn’t until I got to page 2 that I found 2 agents from my office who are big time Zillow advertisers.

zillow agent reviews

I could not figure out the criteria used by Yelp to rank agents, but at least all the agents on page 1 were genuinely Park City agents.  One brokerage that has been out of business for several years was also featured, which makes me question how often information is updated.

yelp agent reviews

Angie’s List

I did not want to “join” Angie’s list so I can’t comment on the accuracy of its data.  All I know is that 16 Park City agents are on the list.

angies list real estate reviews

Better Business Bureau

This site was outdated, as it showed real estate groups that are no longer in practice.  I couldn’t find anything useful on this site related to reviews of Park City agents.

bbb real estate reviews

When you search for a Park City realtor on, you get an alphabetical list sorted by first name, A-Z.  The site offers a lot of information about the agent, including a tab for all his or her current listings, biography, open houses, and a “recommendations” button.  One would have to do quite a bit of digging to find an agent with a number of good reviews.  Agents whose first name starts with an “A” are at a serious advantage here.

realtor com agent reviews


This site was really fascinating to me.  The agents are ranked in order of who has had the most listings posted on the Trulia site and “claimed” them via Trulia’s back end.  At least all the agents on the first page were truly Park City agents.

YP (Yellow Pages)

Mostly brokerages are listed.  There is a space where one can submit a review, but it looks like no one has reviewed any of the brokerages listed.  There was an opportunity to “claim” a business, but it doesn’t appear that any of the brokerages listed have taken that opportunity.

yp agent reviews


Linkedin did not appear from the Google search, but many real estate agents have asked their clients to submit reviews on their LinkedIn pages.



How useful are the reviews on these sites?  I have asked clients to review me on Zillow and they declined because Zillow requires them to provide their email address.  Let’s be honest.  Most of the recommendations on these online sites were made at the request of an agent.  The real estate agent reviews are not as “honest” or spontaneous as those you will see on sites such as or

What are your thoughts on agent reviews? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.

Park City Neighborhoods for Active Retirees

Welcome to Park City, where every neighborhood has a park, a selection of trail heads and beautiful views sun-up to sun-down. To put it simply, you can’t go wrong in choosing a neighborhood for retirement in PC. That said, there are some areas that will be more appealing to a retiree; like one with fewer schools, little or no commuter traffic and brimming with enjoyable amenities. Whether you are planning to retire in Park City on a full-time or part-time basis, you’re sure to love any neighborhood.

4 Favorite Park City Neighborhoods for Retirees

Deer Valley

deer-valleyIt’s hard to beat Deer Valley’s velvety smooth ski terrain. When Utah boasts “the best snow on earth” this is why. Gorgeous views and the tastiest, toastiest lodges in town, and that’s only in the winter. Deer Valley has some of the best and most varied bike and hiking trails, and an amphitheater that hosts world class concerts from the Symphony to Bluegrass (and everything in between). This is a peaceful mountain retreat where you will never get bored.

Sun Peak

sun-peak-park-citySun Peak is situated smack dab in the middle of everything. Canyons ski and golf resort is to your right, Willow Creek Park straight ahead and the Utah Olympic Park and all the shopping and restaurants of Kimball Junction off to your left. There is a gorgeous neighborhood hiking trail that meanders through the area and connects to an extensive trail system. The Sun Peak Community Center includes pool, tennis, and clubhouse.  Membership is included in HOA dues and is one of the best values in town!  Views of Snyderville Basin are out your door, and mountains of the Uinta National Forest are off in the distance to the east. You’re about equidistant to the quaint history of old town and the new bustle of Kimball Junction.

Old Town

901Main-MainSt-06Old Town living speaks to the adventurous foodie and the cultural curator. There are a lot of stairs and quarters can be a bit tight, but you are rewarded with the lively spunk and spirit of one of the West’s oldest silver towns. Wonderful restaurants and lively watering holes are situated throughout Old Town as are art galleries, coffee shops and a stunning museum. The local Egyptian Theater presents throughout the year, and you’ll enjoy a number of art, music and wine festivals. Walk to the Town Lift and you will be carried to the ski hill or hiking trail of your choice.


kimball-junction-park-cityIf you’re interested in the newer side of Park City, check out Newpark, conveniently located at the Kimball Junction exit off of I-80. Whether you are more of a city person or need frequent airport access, this locale couldn’t be more convenient. There are various town home and condominium complexes where you can avoid mowing the grass and plowing the driveway and simply focus on enjoying your retirement. Nature lovers can mosey over to the Swaner Nature Center or hop on the McCloud Creek Trail in any season. There are also a variety of coffee shops, grocery stores and other amenities within walking distance. Maxwell’s East Coast Eatery is a local favorite.

These are just four of the incredible neighborhoods Park City has to offer. Whether you play tennis competitively or throwing the tennis ball to the dog is more your speed, Park City is a wonderful community awaiting you in your retirement.

How Accurate are the Park City, UT Zestimates?

Are Park City Zestimates Accurate
Zestimates are the estimate of a home’s value on the website They are sometimes used by real estate clients to discuss the list price or initial offer on a home. A couple of weeks ago, a client called and told me the Zestimate of her home was $1.2 million. Was it time to sell? My estimate of the market value was closer to $900,000. This got me thinking about Zestimates and segued nicely into this week’s blog post.

How Accurate are Zestimates in the Park City Market?

To answer this question, I decided to do a small case study. I chose 6 single family homes that closed within the last 7 days. The closed price is the market value because that is what a buyer actually paid for the home. Each home I chose for my study is in a different Park City neighborhood. I compared the list price, sold price and Zestimate.

The Comparison

Old Town Neighborhood
List price: $2,195,000
Sold price: $2,110,000
Zestimate Accuracy: 41.3%

505 Park Ave Zestimate

Bear Hollow Neighborhood
List price:  $565,000
Sold price:  $560,000
Zestimate Accuracy: 98.7%

5652 N Kodiak Way Zestimate

Willow Creek Estates Neighborhood
List price: $3,495,000
Sold price:  $3,250,000
Zestimate Accuracy: 120%

1100 Old Rail Lane Zestimate

Summit Park Neighborhood

List price:  $599,000
Sold price:  $600,000
Zestimate Accuracy: 100%

470 Parkview Drive Zestimate

Jeremy Ranch Neighborhood
List price:  $715,000
Sold price:  $715,000
Zestimate Accuracy: 94.8%

3078 Creek Road Zestimate

Promontory Neighborhood
List price:  $2,695,000
Sold price:  $2,510,000
Zestimate Accuracy: 104%

8414 N Sunrise Loop Zestimate


In one case, the Zestimate was close to 100% accuracy of market value. In another case it was off by more than 40%. Even a 4% margin of error on the Promontory listing equates to a difference of over $100,000. To me, that’s not acceptable.

Furthermore, since Utah is a non-disclosure state (meaning sold prices are not accessible to the public), I do not know how Zillow obtains the data to figure out its “Zestimates”.

My conclusion is that property valuations are best left in the hands of real estate professionals. Park City real estate agents have access to the relevant data and the market knowledge to assess the qualities that go into a valuation, including floor plan, finishes, and condition.

5 Park City Real Estate FAQs

As the Park City Real Estate Strategist, I often get questions about price trends, down payments, and more. Here are my answers to some common questions about the Park City Real Estate Market.

  1. What is the current trend in single family home prices?

The median price in Park City has been stable for the past 12 months, but is up about 10% since 2012.  Nationally, home prices increased about 10% according Case Shiller and 5.9% according to FHFA.  The Park City market is highly segmented.  Some neighborhoods have seen over 10-15% increases in pricing over the past year and others have bloated inventories and are buyers’ markets.

  1. Can I purchase a home or condominium with less than 20% down payment?

There are some great programs available for home buyers who want to take advantage of today’s attractive pricing and rates.  FHA programs are available for owner occupied homes.  They require just 3.5% down but have a mortgage insurance requirement.  Programs where the borrower puts 5-10% down and obtains a 10-15% supplemental loan are a great alternative as well.  With rates still below 4.5%, taking on a bit more debt does not substantially increase the monthly payment.

  1. Do I need a REALTOR© when I can easily find houses online?

Finding houses does not require much expertise.  Understanding a property’s value relative to recent sales requires greater skill.  Where a REALTOR© really provides value is in negotiating and managing the transaction.  This is where buyers can lose money and make expensive mistakes.  I have been involved with over 20 property sales in 2014 and was involved with 24 in 2013.  I leverage my knowledge and experience to help my clients negotiate the best possible price and terms and prevent them from losing earnest money and making other expensive mistakes. Read our recent article on the Park City Board of Realtors.

  1. Is buying a home still a good investment or does it make sense to rent?

If you are not planning to stay in the same home for 2 years, it could make sense to rent.  Otherwise, every study that compares the net worth of renters vs owners shows that home ownership is still the best way to build wealth in the United States.  In fact, a new study by the Federal Reserve shows that a homeowner’s net worth is over 30 times greater than that of a renter. The average homeowner has a net worth of $174,500, while the average net worth of a renter is $5,100.

  1. Will housing costs rise in 2015?

Lawrence Yun, with the National Association of REALTORS©, predicts mortgage interest rates will gradually rise from an average fixed rate of 4.7% in 2014 to 5.5% in 2015.  (Remember, a 1% increase in interest rates has the same payment effect as a 10% increase in purchase price).

Housing economists predict that the increase in housing prices will be slower in 2015 than 2014.  The reason for this slowdown is that home prices are approaching fair market value and there is a predicted increase in inventory due to new construction becoming available.  Experts predict an increase nationally of 3-5.7%.  So the answer is yes.  Housing will become more expensive next year.

Park-City-MooseAnd here’s a cute photo of a moose I took recently. Life in Park City is great. Whether you are currently renting, looking to upgrade, or trying to follow a dream of investing in Park City, let me help. Do you have a real estate question I can answer? Drop me a line at

5 Reasons Not to Do “For Sale by Owner”

I was sitting down to write this week’s blog but I came across this article by Keeping Current Matters and frankly couldn’t have stated it any better myself. Would like to share their article with you here. Please leave your comments and questions on the subject of FSBO.

For Sale by Owner

Some homeowners consider trying to sell their home on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). We think there are several reasons this might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers.

Here are five of our reasons:

1. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to FSBO.

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value
  • Your bank in the case of a short sale

2. Exposure to Prospective Purchasers

Recent studies have shown that 92% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 28% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an extensive internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

3. Actual Results also come from the Internet

Where do buyers find the home they actually purchased?

  • 43% on the internet
  • 9% from a yard sign
  • 1% from newspapers

The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

4. FSBOing has Become More and More Difficult

The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 9% over the last 20+ years.

5. You Net More Money when Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the same commission.

Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $184,000 while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $230,000. This doesn’t mean that an agent can get $46,000 more for your home as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, sit with a real estate professional in your marketplace and see what they have to offer.

Park City’s Best: My Votes for Real Estate and More

Our local newspaper, The Park Record, just published their second annual survey of “what makes Park City great”. If you missed it, here is the link.

There are lots of categories, including things, like “Best Hot Dog”, which don’t really enter into my lifestyle. Other categories, like “Best Nutritionist”, were not included, but may be important to some of my readers. Perhaps the Park Record will include them in future renditions. In the meantime, here is my personal “Best of Park City” list for categories that are important to me. I hope you enjoy. If you have additional selections, please write your favorites in the comments section.

My Personal Best of Park City


Best Real Estate Broker — David Johnson with Summit Sotheby’s International Realty. I followed him to Sotheby’s for good reason. He drafted most of the forms Utah realtors use and has more experience preventing and solving real estate issues than anyone else in Park City.

Best Deals on Vacant Land  Prices are about 30% lower in Jeremy Ranch than Pinebrook for no reason except some unrealistic sellers in Pinebrook. There are still some great lots available in Jeremy Ranch for under $300,000, but they won’t last forever.

Best Deal on Affordable Condominiums  I love Black Rock Ridge. These have already appreciated considerably in the past year because they are such a great value. For less than $450,000, standard finishes include solid knotty alder cabinets and interior doors, stainless commercial grade Jenn-Air appliances, vaulted ceilings on the main level and 9 foot ceilings throughout.

Best Deal for New Construction  I love Enclave at Sun Canyon. The Upwall architecture is amazing, the views wonderful, and the finishes are cutting edge. They are close to everything and walking distance to the Mid-Mountain Trail.

Best Deal for Golf Course Gated Community  Red Ledges has some gorgeous new homes for under $1 million. It’s a wonderful community and has a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, Cliff Drysdale Tennis School, Equestrian Program, and affiliation with the Deer Crest Club at the St. Regis Deer Valley.

Best Fitness Program  Anyone who knows even a little bit about me knows that I am a CrossFit aficionado. CrossFit provides the fastest results for the least investment of time. You will find me at CrossFit Park City, but I also highly recommend CrossFit Miner’s Town.

Best Massage Therapist  If you exercise 5 days a week like I do, then a massage therapist is an important person in your life. There is no better than Gerrit Van Beekum at Massage Envy. I have my massages booked with him into October. Clearly, I’m not the only one who thinks he is the best.

Best Nutritionist  There is none better than Shannon Doleac with Primal Peak. She practices what she preaches and it shows. She has a solid academic background in nutrition and sports. She provides her clients with practical suggestions for lifestyle changes and obtains great results.

Best Place to go Horseback Riding  You’ll have to contact me directly for Bonnie Wolff’s contact info. She rides the Silver Creek trails and has the nicest horses. She is extremely patient with young riders.

Best Place to Take the Dog  The pond near Gorgoza Park between Pinebrook and Summit Park. Your dog can splash around and then hike the trails.

Best Get Away within an Hour  Sundance Resort. In less than an hour you will feel like you traveled to a different country. Their spa is amazing. The snow shoeing in winter is the most scenic and quiet. In summer, take the chairlift up and hike down to Stewart Falls. Whether you dine in the Owl Bar, Foundry or Tree Room, the food is guaranteed to be awesome. The place is downright magical.

What are your Park City favorites? Please share!

What is the Function of the Park City Board of REALTORS®?

Most people know that a real estate agent functions as an intermediary and sales person to facilitate the exchange of real property between buyers and sellers. Real estate agents have a fiduciary responsibility to the party who they represent. But, not all real estate agents are REALTORS®. Only members of the National Association Of REALTORS® (NAR) are REALTORS®.

Park City Realtors

From left to right: Marcie Davis, 2014 President; Deb Hartley, 2014 Secretary; Tami Whisker, Past President; Marc Coulam, Past Board Member; Nancy Tallman, 2014 President-elect; Suzanne Sheridan, 2014 Treasurer

NAR: The Parent Organization

Founded in 1908, NAR has 720,000 members and is the world’s largest professional organization. Each member belongs to at least one local and state association. The Utah Association of REALTORS® is our state association and the Park City Board of REALTORS® is our local association.

As the “voice for real estate”, the NAR and its state and local member organizations work with government and the public for the purpose of preserving the free enterprise system and the right to own real property. Think about how this affects all of us. For example, any time legislators want to cut the mortgage interest deduction, NAR uses its influence to defeat such legislation.

How The Park City Board of REALTORS® Serves the Public

The Park City Board of REALTORS® (PCBR) was formed in 1980 and has almost 900 members. The Park City Board of REALTORS® serves the public in many ways:

  1. We champion private property rights and home ownership.
  2. We ensure local REALTORS® are educated and adhere to the NAR code of ethics. PCBR enforces the NAR Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. In addition, the PCBR provides professional development, awards of recognition for its members, collects market statistics and improves the standard forms Park City REALTORS® use in their transactions.
  3. We manage the Park City MLS Multiple Listing Service and collect and distribute sales data to the public. This service allows brokers and agent members to post their listings electronically and to offer cooperative payments to one another. This means that as a Park City MLS member, I can show any other agent’s listings and know that we automatically have a cooperative commission sharing agreement. A more recent development is our ability to syndicate (share) our listings with public real estate websites, such as Zillow, Trulia,, Yahoo, etc.Luxury Home Tour 2014
  4. We are also stewards of our local community, raising and distributing money for local charitable organizations. Our Philanthropic Foundation is very active. We have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for community organizations through fundraisers like the Luxury Home Tour and the Turkey Drive.

I am currently the President-elect of the Park City Board of REALTORS®.  In January, I’ll become its President. It’s an honor and privilege representing Park City’s REALTORS®.