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®.

Park City New Construction Update, July 2014

There are several new construction projects in the Park City area and they are very popular. Some of my favorites are:

  1. Stein Eriksen Residences ($2,400,000-$6,900,000)
  2. The Parkite ($1,595,000-$5,495,000)
  3. Enclave at Sun Canyon ($1,799,000-$1,960,000)
  4. River View ($452,000-$519,000)
  5. Black Rock Ridge ($429,900-$499,000)
  6. Park’s Edge ($339,900-$349,900)
Enclave at Sun Canyon, River View & Parkite
Enclave at Sun Canyon, River View & Parkite

What do these new properties have in common?

  • Mountain Contemporary Style
  • Vaulted and/or high ceilings
  • Oversized solid wood doors
  • High end finishes throughout, such as solid surface counter-tops and stainless, commercial grade appliances
  • Big windows that take full advantage of views
  • Excellent insulation to minimize sound penetration from neighbors
  • Energy efficient/”green” construction & use of technology
  • Decks for indoor/outdoor living
  • Hardwood and/or natural stone flooring
  • Stein Ericksen Residences and Enclave have “floating” staircases
  • Many of theses homes allow the buyer to select their own finishes.

Buyers Prefer New Construction

How many older homes can you think of that have the above list of popular features? Even a home that has been gutted and remodeled may have a floor plan or system that is now functionally obsolescent. Park City’s homebuyers love new construction and all of the above-referenced homes are selling faster than they can be built. As a home seller, it is important to note the newer homes you may be competing with and price accordingly.

Are you interested in learning more about some of the newer developments in the Park City area? Contact me at 435.901.0659 or

The Status of Foreclosures in Park City

If you want to buy a distressed property in Park City, you probably missed the boat.


Distressed Sales Defined

What is a distressed sale? A distressed sale is either a foreclosure (bank owned property) or a short sale (the seller owes more than the property is worth). Another name for foreclosed properties is “Real Estate Owned”, or REO. It’s a term used by banks to describe real estate vs other assets that they own, such as cash.

These two categories of listings are declining in the US and have plummeted in Park City. According to the National Association of Realtors, distressed homes accounted for 11% of U.S. sales in May, 2014, down from 18% in May, 2013. Foreclosures sold for 18% below market value and short sales were discounted 11%.

Distressed Sales in Park City, Utah

In Park City, the story is very different. During the worst of the economic downturn, distressed properties accounted for nearly 40% of sales in Park City.

Distressed Sales in Park City

During the second quarter of 2014, distressed properties accounted for only 2.8% of sales in the Park City area, down from 5.3% for the second quarter of 2013. Distressed sales this past quarter were discounted less than 2% from market value.

There are still some great values in Park City. Median home prices are about the same as they were in January, 2006, which is still significantly lower than the peak in 2008. Deaths, divorces and relocations sometimes force owners to sell their properties for below market value. These great deals are a bit more difficult to find but are still out there.

If you have questions about the Park City real estate market, please contact me or 435.901.0659.

5 Reasons to Invest in Park City Land

One of the selling points for everyone who loves Park City – from multi-generation locals to its newest visitors – is its land. Whether your style is to be in the valley looking up at the mountains or to be in the mountains surrounded by the trees and beauty, the land here is gorgeous. And let’s face it: as Park City grows the availability of land is only going in one direction. Winter, spring, summer or fall, it would be a dream for anyone to own a piece of Park City land.

Benefits of Buying Park City Land

  1. No Maintenance—You can own it and hold it without worrying about dealing with tenants, mold, lawncare or leaking roofs.
  2. Negotiations are Easy—Negotiating the purchase and sale of vacant land is simple and easy. There is less investor competition; there isn’t the emotional component of a house where someone has a lifetime of memories; and there is no home inspection.
  3. It’s Inexpensive—Relatively speaking, vacant land is inexpensive to hold over the long term because there is no maintenance. It is a great place to park cash.
  4. It’s Tangible—Land is a tangible investment. It doesn’t depreciate and can’t be destroyed.
  5. Supply is Diminishing—Land is scarce, especially in the Park City area, which is almost completely built out.

It’s important to note that cash is king when it comes to buying land, and it’s not common to be able to get a loan with just 5, 10 or 20% down like it is with a house. For more information, contact your preferred Park City lender. And when you’re ready to buy land in Park City, don’t hesitate to contact me.

My Park City Land Picks

Here are a few open listings for Park City land that I think are of good value.

promontory-ranch-rd8424 Promontory Ranch Rd. (Promontory)
2 acres filled with trees and pastoral views at a giveaway price – $285,000

sunset-circle8654 Sunset Circle (Promontory)
1.55 acre lot with golf course frontage & panoramic views of all ski resorts – $699,000

deer-springs1 Deer Springs Rd. (Heber)
25 acre parcel with Jordanelle views and water rights – $1,200,000

maple-ridge6043 Maple Ridge Trail (Oakley)
25.25 acres in an equestrian community with majestic views – $699,000

hollyhock590 Holly Hock St. (Glenwild)

1 acre on Glenwild golf course with panoramic ski run views – $389,000

woodland1872 Woodland Estates (Woodland)
20 acre retreat in Woodland Crest with abundant wildlife – $374,900

uinta-drive9405 Uinta Dr. (Heber)
Selected lot with views of Tuhaye golf course and Deer Valley ski runs – $325,000

fiddlers-hollow7407 Fiddlers Hollow (Promontory)
1 acre with panoramic, south facing golf & ski resort views – $375,000

To view all listings, visit our Park City Vacant Land page!

Park City Real Estate Update: Buyers, It’s Your Turn!


3571 Wagon Wheel WayYou heard it here first. The Park City real estate market has slowed down. Owners who saw the extreme sellers’ market and decided to list in June were too late. Although the number of listings is still down from 2013 (down 4% in the Snyderville Basin* and down 11% in Park City Proper), the number of listings between May and June of 2014 jumped 8% and 10%, respectively.

The number of units sold between May and June of 2014 plummeted. In the Basin, the number of homes sold between May and June dropped 71%. In Park City Proper, the number of sales dropped 63%.

What does this real estate update mean for you? My out-of-town buyers who were looking at property in May and then again last week couldn’t believe how much better the selection of homes is. They found 4 homes they liked this time and couldn’t settle on a single one they liked in May. If you are looking to buy a home in Park City, right now is a fantastic time!

If you are looking to sell a home before the school year begins again, you may have to be more flexible on price and terms as the competition is much stronger than a month ago.

*The Snyderville Basin is zip code 84098. Park City Proper is the city limits of 84060.

The 20 Closest Towns to Park City, Utah

Granted, there is no place on earth like Park City. But if you are willing to drive a short distance, there are some great towns and neighborhoods nearby. Maybe you’re priced out of the Park City real estate market; maybe you’d like to get more property for your money; or maybe you’d just like to check out the towns close to Park City. Whatever the case, there are several towns and neighborhoods within close proximity to consider. Most of these towns will allow you to get a larger property and even more land for a fraction of the price found in America’s #1 ski town. And if you’re just in it for the scenic drive, you really can’t lose.

I recently had some clients who had lived and rented in Park City for 10 years. While they love and still work in Park City, they were ready to start a family and decided:

“There are ups and downs of moving outside of Park City, but in the end, we got so much more bang for our buck. It’s  a 20 minute drive to PC and 45 minutes to SLC…not bad compared to any other city commute. And we love being able to see the mountains we lived in for so long.”

20 Towns Near Park City Utah

20 Towns Near Park City, Utah

Deer Mountain (8.1 Miles / 13 Minutes) One of the closest and newer areas to Park City, Deer Mountain is a collection of homes, town homes and condos. This area is still being built.

Jordanelle Area (8.7 Miles / 14 Minutes) Located in Wasatch County, the Jordanelle area is in close proximity to not only the Jordanelle Reservoir, but also the Deer Crest Gondola at Deer Valley.

Hideout (8.5 Miles / 17 Minutes) Located on the northeast side of the Jordanelle Reservoir, Hideout was just barely incorporated as a town in 2008.

Summit Park (12.4 Miles / 21 Minutes) If you commute or frequent Salt Lake City, this is one of the best Park City towns to live in, as it’s right off I-80 set back in thick forest.

Tollgate Canyon (11 to 30 Miles / 17 to 45 Minutes) If you’re lucky enough to live on the lower side of Tollgate, your commute will be a breeze, but you may also consider yourself lucky if you live in upper Tollgate, as it’s a beautiful mountain community.

Peoa (13.8 Miles / 19 Minutes) With a population of 250 in the 2010 census, Peoa is one of those small Utah towns where there’s not much going on. But if you like peace, quiet, and space this could be the place for you. They do have the occasional Mountain Town Music concert in the summer.

Brighton Estates (6.9 Miles / 19 Minutes) If you’re an adventurous type, Brighton Estates could be for you. The driving commute is a breeze, but be forewarned. Most of the roads are snowmobile-only in the winter, making this an exciting neighborhood (but not for the meek).

Kamas (15.7 Miles / 20 Minutes) With just over 2,000 residents, Kamas is growing, but not as rapidly as Heber City in the valley down the way. Here you’ll find primarily ranching residences, but there are a few new neighborhoods and some great little diners. It’s slogan is “gateway to the Uintas”.

Heber City (17.2 Miles / 21 Minutes) 27% of Heber City commutes to Park City or Salt Lake City for work, which is why it’s known as a commuter town. But Heber has great access to recreation and dining options, making it a great place to buy.

Oakley (16.6 Miles / 23 Minutes) The 4th of July Oakley Rodeo is this town’s claim to fame. But don’t underestimate the beauty that surrounds this little town by way of The Uintas and Weber Canyon.

Francis (17.5 Miles / 22 Minutes) Just a couple miles down the road from Kamas, Francis touts the annual Francis Days each Labor Day Weekend. It’s in close proximity to the restaurants and businesses in Kamas.

Marion (18.3 Miles / 24 Minutes) A lot of people don’t even realize Marion is a town, but nestled between Oakley and Kamas is this town of 685.

Midway (18.2 Miles / 25 Minutes) The town of Midway is known for Mt. Timpanogos views, the annual Swiss Days, and the Crater, a hot spring in the middle of a giant crater. There is no getting bored in this little town.

Rockport (17.4 Miles / 26 Minutes) The Rockport area is in close proximity to Rockport Reservoir and the state park of the same namesake. Part of this area was damaged by fire in 2013, but remains beautiful and has great views.

Woodland (21.5 Miles / 28 Minutes) Located along the Provo River, Woodland is a quiet but very green “wooded” town, hence the name.

Coalville (24.3 Miles / 30 Minutes) The Summit County Seat, Coalville boasts the Weber River, Echo Reservoir, and the annual County Fair. The population is less than 1,500.

Weber Canyon (22.2 Miles / 31 Minutes) Leading to the Smith and Morehouse Reservoir, the Weber Canyon area nestles up to the Uinta-Wasatch National Forest and has many cabins and second homes. Don’t miss the Roadhouse Diner at the base of the canyon.

Charleston (23.2 Miles / 31 Minutes) This is another town that many people don’t know exists, but Charleston sits just East of the Deer Creek Reservoir and the State Park of the same name.

Timber Lakes (24.3 Miles / 34 Minutes) A “census-designated place” within Heber City, this gated community has its own special feel. The area has over 1,500 lots and 30+ miles of gravel road, and over 20 common areas ranging from 1 to 40 acres.

Wallsburg (30 Miles / 39 Minutes) A small town of less than 300, Wallsburg sits just east of the Deer Creek Reservoir.