Update from Sotheby’s International Realty 2016 Networking Event!

Dinner with 2,300 Sotheby’s International Realty Agents

Laurie McClainI just returned from Las Vegas, where I attended the Sotheby’s International Realty 2016 Global Networking Event. My goal was to develop relationships with Sotheby’s agents who live in places where my Park City friends & clients transact real estate.

The event did not disappoint. I had lunch Laurie McClain (pictured above) from Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty in San Diego. Two months ago, Laurie referred clients to me who had recently purchased property in San Diego but were having trouble selling their Park City home. Their Park City home had been listed for 9 months with very few showings. I sold the home in 45 days. Our clients are beyond happy with Laurie and me for helping them achieve their goal of moving to San Diego.

I met Jay Kipp and Moire Holley, from Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty in Seattle. Jay specializes in waterfront properties and Moire specializes in urban condominiums. Rob McGarry, my personal realtor, is a top producer with Vista Sotheby’s International Realty in Manhattan Beach, California. Charline McGee is a great agent in Naples, Florida.

I broke bread with other agents from Newport Beach, Sonoma, Santa Barbara and Mill Valley, California. I enjoyed a drink with the agent who started selling real estate in Kauai, Hawaii back in the 1970’s. I met agents from Australia, Cyprus & Spain.  All are part of the Sotheby’s International Realty family.

If you are looking to buy or sell a vacation or permanent residence anywhere in the world, please let me help you find an exceptional Sotheby’s International Realty agent.

How to Evaluate your Park City Home

Automated vs. Professional Real Estate Valuations

Park City Real Estate Valuations

Do you need a Real Estate professional to determine the value of your home?

There are several automated real estate valuations on the internet, the most popular being Zillow’s “Zestimate”. In a location like Park City, where every neighborhood was built during a different time period and the majority of homes are custom built, there are tremendous variations that an analytic computer program can not account for.

Where Online, Automated Valuations Fall Short

1. Location

  • Does the home back to open space or a golf course?
  • Is the home close to Highway 80 or SR 224?
  • Is the home south-facing?

2. Lot

  • How large is the lot?
  • How close is the nearest neighbor behind the lot?
  • Is the lot flat or on a hillside?

3. The Home

  • What year was the home built? Has the home been updated?
  • What is the finish level? Granite countertops or Formica?
  • What is the style of the home? Mountain timber? Brick?
  • What is the condition of the home? Is it beat up from small children and pets or is it pristine?
  • What is the floor plan like? Is there a walk out basement or window wells?

All of these qualities go into the calculation of a home’s market value. I make it my business to preview as many properties as possible during our REALTOR open house tours. This allows me to compare the value of one property against another. Real estate valuation is both an art and a science that requires an experienced professional.

2016 Housing Forecast Stats

Good Real Estate News for Utah!

Housing Forecast

Last week I attended the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) Regional Conference in Park City.

Lawrence Yun, PhD, the NAR’s Chief Economist gave a presentation. I always love hearing his opinion on the real estate market. These slides were taken with my iPhone during his presentation because I wanted to share a few of his key points with my clients and friends.

His housing forecast for 2016 is quite interesting. There will be more new homes entering the market, but existing home sales will still rise. Median price growth is expected to slow to 4%, which is still above the traditional average of 3%. Mortgage rates are expected to remain flat during this election year.

Top and Bottom States for Jobs

Best and Worst JobsAs I have written before, Utah has the best economy in the United States. I was surprised to see we have fallen to second in job growth, but the fact of the matter is that Utah is gaining a lot of jobs. And job growth means employees who need to live somewhere. Park City has always been a top choice for executives relocating to Utah with their families. As I have written about previously, even Park City is seeing job growth in the technology sector.

Would Home Sales Rise?

Home Sales Rise

Dr. Yun touched on the factors that are associated with increased home sales. As you can see on the slide above, “job creation” is “super good” for rising home sales. He associates rising mortgage rates and too fast rising prices as “not good” for home sales. The good news is that he predicts mortgage rates will remain stable through 2016 and the Park City data shows a very stable real estate market. Dr. Yun also predicts that as housing prices come back to where they were before the recession, sellers who had negative equity and could not move are creating pent up demand as the timing is finally right for them to make a change. The “boomerang buyers” in his slide are those who had to wait 7 years after a foreclosure or bankruptcy and are now able to re-enter the market.

It’s always informative to hear national experts discuss real estate. Dr. Yun’s slides and comments further convince me that the Park City real estate market is sound and will remain stable throughout the year.

Vail’s effect on Park City this season…

Vail’s Purchase of Park City Leads to Increased Visitors

ski utah epicAccording to Bill Malone*, President and CEO of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, “droves of spring break vacationers and people visiting from Latin American countries led to a successful March”. Malone expects to see increased visitors from Australia due to Vail Resort’s recent acquisition of Perisher, Australia’s largest ski resort.

Although March is always a big month for visitors to Park City, I found it fascinating that in his recent interview with the Park Record, Bill Malone specifically cited visitors from Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. In my casual conversations with people on Park City’s ski lifts, many told me that they were visiting Park City for the first time using their “Epic” ski pass. These visitors had traditionally vacationed in Colorado, but wanted to give Park City a try since it was included on their ski pass. Vail’s Epic pass is sold in 50 countries around the world. In a recent press release, Vail’s CEO, Rob Katz noted, “..we are pleased with the double-digit visitation and revenue growth at Park City, following our transformational capital investments.”

epic passIt is difficult to draw visitors to Park City the first time. However, once first-time visitors experience the charm of Park City and the ease of traveling to our resorts, it is likely they will return.   There is also that possibility that they will like Park City so much, they will want to invest in a permanent or vacation home in Park City and become part of our community. Vail’s acquisition of Park City Resort and the presence of the Epic Pass in Park City is truly a game changer for our community.

The Evolution of Park City…

From Townies to Techies: the Changing Economy of Park City

Silicon Slopes Park City

Park City has evolved from a mining town to an enclave of startups and entrepreneurs.

Since the very beginning, Park City has always been a destination town. Yet, the reasons for the destination have shifted; silver mining made way for skiing and resorts and now new businesses are sliding right in. Here we take a look at how Park City is currently enjoying a boom of entrepreneurs.

Mountain Companies

A few big names come to mind when you think successful business and Park City. The first, Skullcandy, makes action sports audio equipment. Originally starting in Park City a few years ago, they made the decision to close all Los Angeles offices in 2013 and continue in PC exclusively. They felt that their consumers needed to be in the same location as their sales and marketing operations. Currently 175 full-time employees report to their headquarters.

A second success story is Backcountry.com. The e-commerce recreation equipment retailer, which began in 1996 in a garage in Park City, has evolved to be considered one of the fastest growing companies in the United States. Currently they manage an impressive array of outdoor gear sites and have expanded to Western Europe.

Access to Capital

Business insiders nod toward the Park City Angels when talking success. This angel investment network is the largest in Utah, with 45 dues-paying members. The group invested a whopping $6.55 million in Utah startups in 2015 alone. In respect to access to capital, this puts area businesses ahead of those in the more urban tech centers of Salt Lake City and Provo.

Access to Talent

Capital isn’t the only asset that Park City is close to. Easy access to Salt Lake and Utah County programmers are a huge bonus for a new company. Since Salt Lake and Provo have an active tech talent pool, it’s easy to lure neighboring engineers and programmers to new and exciting projects. Many commuter employees don’t mind the 50-minute highway drive and public transportation options are always improving.

Lifestyle, Lifestyle, Lifestyle

For years Park City has welcomed startup and technology growth. In 2012 The Boyer Company built The Park City Tech Center, a state-of the art business and technology research park located just 30 minutes from the Salt Lake City International Airport. 10 minutes from the closest lift chair and steps away from nordic skiing and mountain biking trails, it was just announced that a new tenant is moving in to the center, Skullcandy.

The Effect on Real Estate

What does the changing dynamic of our economy mean for Park City real estate?  It means that Park City is diversifying from a seasonal resort community to a place where people can find high paying, professional jobs.  Currently, many of Park City’s skilled workers commute to Salt Lake for jobs and many of Skull Candy, Armada, and Rossignol employees commute from Salt Lake City to Park City for work.  The increased availability of full time employment in Park City allows Park City to transition from a resort community, to a vibrant community where people live, work and play.  The skilled employees in Park City’s tech community will create an increased demand for homes priced under $1 million.  We will always have the resort community, but the diversification of employment, especially high paying, skilled jobs, is great for our community and real estate market.

Is a Bubble About to Burst?

Is Park City in Another Housing Bubble?

Park City Housing BubbleI am frequently asked whether I believe there is another housing bubble in Park City, Utah. My experience with my own clients and my gut tell me that things are different today than they were in 2006. Those who finance their property purchases have verifiable income and most chose a down payment of 20-40%. Many of my clients pay cash, intentionally investing 20-100% of the purchase price in cash so they will be able to weather a potential downturn in the economy. You only lose money when you sell and “lock in your losses”.  When property owners are not over-leveraged, they do not need to sell under duress.

I just read an article at Inman.com, which provided the hard data to back up my gut.

Why the Housing Bubble in Park City has Room to Expand

  • Equity in U.S. homes owned by households is valued at $22 trillion, which is just about back to the bubble-peak in 2006. We owe just under $10 trillion, which is still $1.5 trillion below bubble-peak.
  • We have restored our aggregate home equity the hard way, by paying down loans and in some cases, by foreclosure.
  • Total home mortgage balances began to grow at the end of 2015 by less than 1% annually. This was the first growth in home mortgages in nine years.
  • Today there is about $605 billion outstanding in Jumbo loans, a small fraction of the $2.2 trillion at the peak.
  • Grossly misused home equity lines of credit (HELOC) balances are falling, at a pace of $40 billion annually with a remaining balance of $642 billion.

The bottom line is that the Park City real estate market is different today than in 2006.  There is certainly a chance that real estate prices may level off or decline in some areas. However, it is unlikely we will see a rash of foreclosures and people walking away from property like we did during the Great Recession. Over the last 10 years both buyers and lenders have taken measures to avoid being over-leveraged.

Source:  Lou Barnes, US housing not remotely near debt bubble — credit’s too tight, March 14, 2016, Inman.com.

More change is coming to Park City!

How Does the Park City Median Home Price Compare?

Belmond El Encanto, Santa Barbara, CA

Those of us lucky enough to call Park City home see that our town is changing. As one of my colleagues simply stated, “the money is coming.” Park City is no longer anyone’s “secret”. Like any other desirable location, many people who come for a vacation decide they want to stay.

Park City is not unique. I relocated to Park City from Manhattan Beach, California in 2003. Even before I left, the city had passed rules to keep people from building “McMansions” on the 30×90 lots that were once the home of 1,000 square foot beach shacks. Today, one of those tiny lots, if you can find one, will cost $2.0 million. And with the soaring prices, the neighborhood changed. The city that was once filled with pilots and aerospace engineers is now home to entertainment executives, hedge fund managers, and a few trust funders. The median single family home price in Manhattan Beach is now $2,050,000.

Visiting Manhattan Beach, California, Santa Monica, California and Vail, Colorado provide a peek into Park City’s future. It is my hope that our elected officials will mitigate the potential negative aspects of growth, like traffic, crime and even McMansions. However, they cannot and should not control housing prices. I am not talking about the provision of “Affordable Housing”, which is a separate topic for discussion. I’m talking about the natural rise in the cost of housing that happens when a town is “discovered”, the “money comes”, and demand exceeds supply.

The Park City Median Home Price Compared to 10 Other Desirable Places

At the end of 2015, the median single family home price within the Park City limits was about $1.5 million. The median single family home price in the Snyderville Basin was $900,000. Owning a single family home in the Park City School District is expensive.

How does the Park City median home price compare with the median single family home prices in other desirable locations*? 

  1. ATHERTON, CA (94027) – Median Price: $10,564,038
  2. SAGAPONACK, NY (11962) – Median Price: $7,416,538
  3. NEW YORK, NY (10012) – Median Price: $7,302,117
  4. WOODY CREEK, CO (81656) – Median Price: $7,020,893
  5. NEW YORK, NY (10013) – Median Price: $6,076,018
  6. MIAMI BEACH, FL (33109) – Median Price: $5,560,077
  7. WOODSIDE, CA (94062) – Median Price: $5,533,534
  8. HIDDEN HILLS, CA (91302) – Median Price: $5,074,231
  9. ASPEN, CO (81611) – Median Price: $5,003,783
  10. HILLSBOROUGH, CA (94010) – Median Price: $4,951,458

With a median single family home price of $4.5 million, Beverly Hills 90210 didn’t even make this list.

The point of today’s blog post is that change is coming to Park City, just as it has come to other desirable locations. We can accept and embrace that change, we can complain about it, or we can choose to live somewhere else.

*Source, Forbes.com, Schiffman, Betsy, “Full List-America’s Most Expensive Zip Codes 2015”

Park City New Businesses for 2016!

Donuts, Tots & More: 5 New Businesses in Park City

Just when you thought life in Park City couldn’t be any better, up pop these five wonderful products and services. Disclaimer, most of the products will require an extra notch on your belt.

Twice the DoughTwice The Dough

The clever folks at Twice the Dough felt that our town was missing something, something sweet to go along with our fresh tracks and epic views. They put together a doughnut powerhouse featuring flavors like Orange Dream and Heavenly Cinnful and offer Vegan and Gluten-free options. Specialty, locally brewed coffee is available at the shop (1400 Snow Creek Dr. Suite L) and for the savory lover they make a mean crustless quiche. www.twicethedough.com

Stay Park City

Stay Park City

Stay Park City was put together by a thoughtful group of Parkites who decided that larger travel companies don’t know the best nooks and crannies of our area. Stay Park City is like an Airbnb mixed with the Events section of the Park Record. An added bonus is that those who book directly with the site will enjoy a complimentary concierge service. Guests will have a local advocate sending them to cozy hot spots, giving gear tips and friendly reminders to wear plenty of sunscreen.www.stayparkcity.com

Ritual Chocolate

Ritual Chocolate

Using just two ingredients, Ritual Chocolate takes 10 days to transform a chocolate bean into a beautifully crafted chocolate bar. They source beans from around the world and hand wrap and number stamp each individual bar. Tours of their chocolate factory and specialty equipment are offered Thursday and Friday evenings; tickets can be purchased on their website. www.ritualchocolate.com

PC Tots

PC Tots

Working parents rejoice as PC Tots, Park City’s newest Child Care Program, soon opens its doors. Addressing a growing demand of high quality yet affordable child care, PC Tots was the result of major community organizations coming together. Mountainlands Community Housing Trust, Holy Cross Ministries, United Way, Intermountain Healthcare and others joined together to form this nonprofit child care program. Caring for infants up to children 6 years of age, there are extended hours and weekend programs. www.pctots.org

Bodega on Main


The missing link to Park City’s vibrant food scene has always been Spanish fare. Bodega on Main fills the void beautifully. Described as a “modern style Spanish tapas bar”, they mix traditional plates with their own unique twist. Spanishphiles will relish their wine list, and their craft cocktails are a surprisingly cosmopolitan assembly of Spanish old world and mountain saloon. It’s a relaxed setting where you will find wonderful food and service. Reservations welcomed. www.bodegaonmainparkcity.com

Airbnb + Park City…A Good Match?

Airbnb and the Sharing EconomyThe “sharing” economy is growing rapidly, with services like Uber and Airbnb becoming more mainstream. This is all well and good, but with such quick growth, there are bound to be risks and unanticipated side effects.

It makes sense that someone who owns a condominium at Park City should be able to post and manage the vacation rental on Airbnb.

Sounds great…when it’s not in my backyard. How would I feel about my next door neighbor renting out one or more rooms in her house? Would I want vacation renters coming and going in my residential neighborhood on a nightly or weekly basis? Should my neighbor have the right to use her home however she wishes?

Utah House Bill 409

Utah House Bill 409, sponsored by Representative John Knotwell, would place a one-year moratorium on the creation or change of a city’s land use ordinance relative to short-term rentals. This allows cities that currently regulate or ban the practice to continue to do so, but puts a “pause” on others doing the same. Should municipalities be allowed to designate areas where such rentals are not allowed or is it a violation of private property rights?

This blog contains more questions than answers. Please share your opinion in the comment section below.

Park City News to Wag Your Tail Over!

Sheriff the Dog
A photo of my dog Sheriff taken by my daughter Whitney

High fives and paws up all around! In a unanimous vote Park City’s City Council recently put the bark in Bark City and approved two off-leash areas within the city. The first is a 1,400 square acre area of Round Valley, a popular recreation location for both people and the dogs that love them. (This location is just across 248 from the planned Park City Heights neighborhood). Now, dogs can run freely next to their hiking, biking or skiing counterparts with no hindrance of leash laws.

The second off leash location is the field next to the Park City Library. Also a popular dog frolicking area, now half of the field will be open to off-leash dogs. The best part of the library location is the coffee shop situated just a few steps away. Dog owners can sip a hot caffeinated beverage while they play frisbee with their pup. Officials have said that signs have been ordered and will be posted in the two areas soon.

Know Before You Go

Designated off-leash areas are not without rules. Dogs must be under “voice and sight control” at all times, and owners must carry a leash and waste bags. Owners are responsible for picking up after their pets and not letting dogs chase other dogs, people or wild life. Another item to note is that not all of Round Valley is open to dogs off-leash.

There will be a concerted effort on behalf of the Mountain Trails Foundation, Summit Land Conservancy and Utah Open Lands to educate folks on the rules of the off-leash areas.

Off Leash Opposition

There is a local and vocal opposition to the new off-leash areas. The main those concerned is for the wildlife. Deer, elk and moose inhabit the area, as do other animals, and a run in with a dog could be fatal to either side, especially in the winter when large animals are searching for food. Another concern is of a different type of visitor, those from Salt Lake City and other communities that are drawn to Round Valley specifically to recreate with their dogs, perhaps overpopulating the trails and the area.

Hopefully Parkites, Barkites and visitors will regard the off-leash areas as a privilege for all to share. Please clean up after your pet and be respectful of all other trail users. Let’s keep the wag in everyone’s tails and have a safe and wonderful time enjoying ourselves out there.