The Mile Post

By Ramon Gomez, Jr.
Oct 27, 2020

Explore key indicators in our changing community in Mile Post, presented by The Park Record and the Park City Board of Realtors Sponsor.

Check out the Mile Post by The Park Record.

COVID-19 has wealthy buyers fleeing to Park City

By Ramon Gomez, Jr.
Oct 13, 2020

COVID-19 has wealthy buyers fleeing to Park City - The Salt Lake Tribune

Park City • COVID-19 left Utah’s alpine resorts and mountain destinations financially hobbled when they lost the tail end of the ski season.

But Park City, Deer Valley and surrounding Summit and Wasatch counties are now seeing money pour into luxury homes, estates and open land with big sticker prices as the effects of the pandemic bring in new wealthy buyers.

Since June, a rush to sanctuary has real estate markets booming over pre-pandemic levels for multimillion-dollar homes and properties that offer secluded access to nature and a sense of security and safety.

Droves of families who’d been waiting out the pandemic in short-term rentals or second homes in the Wasatch Mountains are now buying into more exclusive enclaves and even shifting their primary residences.

Homes sales in Park City rose by 62% in July and August compared to the same time last year. Deals amounted to $446 million for those two months compared to $206 million in 2019, and September sales ran at a similar elevated pace, according to the latest data from the Park City Board of Realtors.

After a robust early summer, the luxury trend gained momentum as school resumed and folks settled in for an unpredictable winter. And this surge stretches beyond Park City and Deer Valley to nearby places such as Heber, Hideout and Francis.

“We are now on the list, and I wouldn’t say even the top five,” Park City Council member Tim Henney said of a town he’s seen evolve from mining relic to homes worth millions in two decades. “I’d say we’re on the top three of just about everybody.”

Park City’s median home price has edged above $2 million and will likely climb this fall, but new data shows homes around Jordanelle Reservoir — featuring spacious lots with lake access — have now displaced Old Town as the most expensive across Wasatch and Summit counties.

It’s too early to know how big or lasting these effects may be, but the phenomenon is already spurring new construction and sucking up hundreds of upscale vacation properties that often sit empty or rent on Airbnb, particularly in Summit County.

Well-heeled buyers relocating to Utah are also part of a global shift toward telecommuting, one that could carry some large dollars and social implications with it.

“So the question becomes, are we turning into a Zoom city?” asked Jim Wood, senior economist at the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, suggesting that post-pandemic housing trends may portend more permanent shifts in how residents work and live.

Park City’s allure? Lots of trails, open schools.

Many of those who can afford it are gravitating toward rural areas, lake properties, mountain resorts and beach havens, experts in luxury real estate say. Agents say some larger mansions, ranches and specialty properties that have languished on the market are now selling.

There is similar demand in Utah up and down the housing prices right now, according to sales data published over the summer. Buyers, the wealthy included, are taking advantage of low interest rates and seek out new homes for extra bedrooms, home offices, larger backyards and pools.

In Park City’s case, real estate agents and residents say newcomers are lured by access to a near-ubiquitous 600-trail network for hiking and biking and thousands of acres of adjacent open space.

“We’ve worked for years to protect all this land," said Dana Williams, a former mayor, “and it’s turned around to be one of the largest determining factors in purchasing real estate here.”

Open and in-person schools in Utah have also reportedly been a major draw to families with main residences in cities still under restrictions. Many have secured Park City area homes and rentals to give their kids a scholastic foothold in the Beehive State.

Though many longtime residents predict the trend will ultimately grow Park City’s population of about 8,500 permanent residents, Park City School District has actually seen a slight decline in student enrollment so far this year, a top aide to the district superintendent said.

At the same time, a shift to online education at many top college and universities has freed hundreds of affluent students to coalesce into Park City-based collaboration houses, where they’re sharing upscale rental homes or purchases in hopes of skiing through a season of remote learning.

For Shruthi Reddy Kinkead, retired investment banker from New Jersey, her family’s decision to relocate was about those open spaces and a sense of safety they bring.

She had built a long-standing bond with Deer Valley through regular visits, ever since the New Jersey ski enthusiast and her husband, Brian, got married in a mountain ceremony 10 years ago.

Kinkead said they lucked out by bringing the kids' online learning tools with them this March while on their yearly vacation to the family condominium in Deer Valley’s Snow Park. In a few days, she said, school back in Montclair went from normal to online under that state’s COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions, leading the family of four to extend their Utah stay.

The outbreak eventually turned into a tipping point, and they recently bought a home in Summit County’s Park Meadows, switched the kids to area schools and are settling in as residents.

“If something goes bad,” Kinkead said, “at least you can spread out here.”

“You can’t do that in a very densely populated community like Montclair, which we love. It’s very sad to leave it. But at the same time, I think about long-term trends, health and safety, well-being of family, etc. For us, we felt that this is a safer environment to be in.”

Big-dollar circles

Park City’s hot market is also bringing new investors who are buying residential properties in bulk.

Tony Hsieh, ex-CEO of Zappos, the online shoe and clothing retailer, has made a string of purchases of high-end homes, vacant land and other sites in sought-after neighborhoods such as Empire Avenue and Aspen Springs, according to Summit County property records.

His buys in Park City exceed $18 million so far, including a glittering nine-bedroom, 17,350-square-foot lakeside property along Aspen Springs, valued in the range of $4.6 million, records indicate.

Hsieh, a wealthy author and Burning Man enthusiast, reportedly had a large stake in redeveloping portions of Las Vegas before stepping away from Zappos in late August after 20 years with the company.

Asked about similar plans in Park City, a spokesperson for one of Hsieh’s development firms, DTP Cos., told the Las Vegas Review-Journal only that he is “disconnecting” from his usual tech circles for a bit. The firm did not respond to inquiries from The Salt Lake Tribune.

Park City sources say his interests may now extend to some of the town’s distressed retail and hospitality locales.

The Main event

With the Sundance Film Festival, 2002 Winter Olympics and a long-standing marketing focus on year-round appeal, Park City has polished its glitzy side for more than two decades. The latest luxury boom is in the hundreds of homes, and rising, and its largess has had a mixed effect so far on tourist-dependent Main Street.

The mid-March closure of Utah’s ski resorts due to COVID-19 travel restrictions led to at least $153 million in lost visitor spending and wiped out hundreds of seasonal and permanent jobs, according to Visit Park City.

Since then, travel bans have all but gutted a usual hefty schedule of corporate meetings and special events, CEO Bill Malone said. Hotel occupancy numbers by midsummer were still as low as a third of normal and grew more volatile, he said, with families making trip decisions more last minute and often for more solitary unguided fun.

Overall, visitors are at about 50% now for the summer, Malone said.

And while they’ve enjoyed the trails, those extending their Park City stays or buying homes while they work or learn remotely “don’t spend like they’re on vacation,” he said. “You’re not buying a beer or an ice cream cone. You’re not going fly-fishing every day or you’re not taking the kids to alpine slides. So the spending is very different.”

Also uncertain is what kind of ski season this winter will bring, with domestic and international travel still depressed and resorts altering their seasons and protocols.

That will greatly impact the fortunes of historic downtown Park City, with its mix of underground taverns and eateries in close quarters. Though many have made the move to curbside, hospitality business has been shaky for months even as COVID-19 cases in both counties eased and restrictions came off before the state’s latest surge.

Locals say they’re seeing optimistic signs that activity isn’t ebbing as it usually does as the foliage turns. The region is into its shoulder season, between a usual summer peak and whatever version of a winter season this year will bring, and some sectors are looking up from a COVID-19 downturn.

Construction is growing dramatically by Summit County standards as developers chase housing demand, new subdivisions get underway, and some wealthy families launch long-planned custom home projects. The sector has seen a 20% boost in employment or about 400 new jobs since March, the county economic development director said.

Luxury purchases and other sales related to nesting and redecorating have seen an upswing in Park City in recent months. This comes as new arrivals, those on extended stays and people staging homes to sell shop heavily at Main Street’s high-end furniture and lighting stores and art galleries.

Park City’s vital hospitality sector may continue to lag as it navigates a diminished ski season. “But anything that has to do with home furnishings," Henney, the City Council member, said, “is crushing it.”

Luxury, from Hideout to Promontory

Around the region, the lure of luxury and seclusion is taking many forms.

High-end ski resorts such as St. Regis Deer Valley and Stein Eriksen Lodge have developed residential areas alongside their hotels to capture the patronage of well-to-do families vacationing in the Wasatch. That niche could now give them an advantage as other parts of the ski industry sag.

Multimillion-dollar properties with ski-in, ski-out access and built for sale are now being recast going into winter with a COVID-aware emphasis on how exclusive and safe they are, with private butler and dining options, state-of-the-art heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems — and the richness of isolated recreation nearby.

After selling $300 million in private residences added to its main resort building over prior seasons, St. Regis has timed the opening of nine new luxury condos in lower Deer Valley, priced from $2.7 million to $7.2 million apiece, for this November.

Stein Eriksen Lodge is now luring guests to its residential properties with “retreat to the mountains” themes, along with world-standard health and safety features for guests of "paramount importance.”

A new community called Promontory in the Snyderville Basin east of Park City has billed itself as one of the most exclusive and private in the West — an approach taking on new meaning now.

In the spurt of high-end buying since June, the 6,400-acre reserve of multimillion-dollar custom and prebuilt homes with luxury private amenities has landed transplants from Southern California, the Bay Area, New York and Chicago. Developers sold 86 homes or parcels in July and August in Promontory, more than three times as many as in the same window in 2019 — and about a fifth of all transactions in the region for those two months.

Regional effects

Whereas Park City is marketing an exclusive alpine vibe, developers on the mountainsides around Jordanelle Reservoir are catering to incoming homeowners seeking a lake experience, with larger private lots in gated projects, sweeping views and nearby water activities.

Homes around Jordanelle have a median price of $2.08 million and sales are more than a quarter or more higher than this time last year, data shows. Lands around the reservoir could allow for upward of 15,000 new housing units and other development in the years to come under current zoning, planning studies and permit data indicate.

Subdivisions at Tuhaye and the town of Hideout east of Jordanelle — with names like Soaring Hawk, Golden Eagle and Hideout Canyon — are being approved with visions of thousands of incoming residents in a post-pandemic era, according to the town’s elected officials.

Hideout is caught in a controversy over a proposed annexation that would push its northern limits across the line of Wasatch and Summit counties and onto Richardson Flat, for housing and commercial development on Park City’s eastern outskirts. The move has led Summit County to sue to block it.

Homes sales in Heber and environs, where vacation rentals are fewer than in Summit, rose by 14% in the three months ending in June, with demand continuing to rise since and the median price now well above $545,000. There, homes are selling on the merits of big backyards, a more rural community feel and trail access.

Sales of the Wasatch-Summit region’s least expensive housing, located in the Wanship/Hoytsville area, are up 62% over last year. Those homes now go for a median of $485,000, data shows — compared to current median price for the five-county Wasatch Front area of about $343,500.

Deer Valley sees ‘pent-up demand’ as it readies for a socially distanced ski season

By Ramon Gomez, Jr.
Jul 01, 2020

Deer Valley sees ‘pent-up demand’ as it readies for a socially distanced ski season  

The leader of the resort in a recent appearance during a City Hall-hosted online event said Deer Valley is taking lodging reservations for the next ski season from people in various parts of the U.S. Todd Shallan, who is the president and chief operating officer of Deer Valley, said the top five states for reservations are California, New York, Texas, Colorado and Utah. Shallan added that a business plan relying on regional crowds is not sustainable in the long term.

“I’ve had conversations with people who have said ‘Well, if I can’t fly there from California, I’ll drive. It’s only 10 hours. And I’m going to be there for a week or two weeks, so it doesn’t really matter, I can drive,’” Shallan said.

He predicted there will be crowds at Deer Valley for the ski season made up of local people and skiers from out of town. He also acknowledged there will be limitations based on capacity and ensuring social distancing.

“We will certainly prioritize season-pass holders and will certainly prioritize, you know, local guests as much as we possibly can. But we still have a bunch of lodging in this community that needs to be filled,” Shallan said. “And there’s a lot of people that depend on out-of-town visitors in our community, and our business community. So, there’s got to be a mix of both in order for all of us to be successful.”

Shallan said season-pass sales for the upcoming ski season are strong, which he described as a “great indicator” of the winter. He said lodging reservations for the ski season are also strong and another indicator for the winter.

“We know there’s a lot of pent-up demand. We just want to make sure that we accommodate that demand as safely as we can,” he said.

Shallan described that Deer Valley has not crafted the detailed plans for the ski season yet even though there are many questions about the season, such as the possibility of limiting capacity and social distancing.

Shallan’s comments followed shortly after the CEO of Vail Resorts, the Colorado-based owner of Park City Mountain Resort, addressed the upcoming ski season in a call with Wall Street analysts. Shallan’s comments and the broader ones by Vail Resorts leader Rob Katz provided the Park City community with some of the first direct information from the industry about the upcoming ski season since the spread of the novel coronavirus forced an early end to the 2019-2020 season.

The comments from the two are important even months before the ski season is scheduled to open as they provided at least an early glimpse of what skiers, snowboarders and businesses tied to the ski industry could expect as the season begins for the resorts in November and December.

The chief operating officer of PCMR, Mike Goar, appeared with Shallan during the recent online event. In his comments, Goar said there is an uncertainty regarding air travel and how the ski season could be impacted. Goar agreed with Shallan’s assessment that the local industry cannot rely exclusively on people who live in the region.

“Our business is not sustainable to operate into the future on solely a drive market. That doesn’t work for any of it,” he said.

Goar reinforced the earlier comments from the CEO of Vail Resorts as he spoke about the Southern Hemisphere’s ski season, which is beginning shortly. Katz in his recent comments spoke about learning from the ski season in the Southern Hemisphere, where Vail Resorts has properties. Goar said he is “generally optimistic” as the ski season starts in the Southern Hemisphere, saying operating procedures and social distancing will be monitored.

“We need to learn from the Australian resorts and how they’re managing crowds,” he said.

Article by the Park Record.

Home Buying

By Ramon Gomez, Jr.
Jun 23, 2020

Homebuyers will ‘gobble up’ houses for sale this summer, according to Barbara Corcoran, host of ABC’s Shark Tank and founder of the Corcoran Group, an New York City-based residential brokerage firm as interviewed by Yahoo! Finance.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. did not have enough homes for sale to meet demand. But with sellers slow to re-enter the market because of the nationwide lockdowns and demand higher than ever, the U.S. has become an even more competitive market, said Corcoran.

For the week ending June 13, inventory was down 27% compared to last year, according to Inventory hit a 25-year low in December 2019, with moderate improvement at the beginning of 2020. But it plunged when the pandemic hit the U.S. in mid-March and sellers pulled their homes off the market, according to an analysis by Odeta Kushi, deputy chief economist for First American Financial Corporation, a a Santa Ana, California-based provider of title insurance, settlement services and risk solutions for real estate transactions.

The coronavirus forced Americans to work from home and redefined how Americans see their home. Some Americans are now looking for new homes with bigger yards, home offices and more square footage, after spending months in lockdown. Studies also show that more buyers are now looking to the suburbs for their next home, according to Redfin. Plus, mortgage rates hit an all-time low this week, incentivizing even more buyers into the market.

When more people want a product than the market can supply, the price goes up. Home prices already rose to an all-time high before the pandemic, as homes in the U.S. sold for an average $384,900 in the first quarter of 2020 — well above highs before the Great Recession, which reached an average of $322,100 in its peak, according to the Federal Reserve of St. Louis.  With heightened demand, homes in the U.S. could get even more expensive this summer, according to economists.

CLICK HERE for the full article.

The 7 Best Places to Après-ski in Park City, Utah

By Ramon Gomez, Jr.
Feb 27, 2018

Main St. in Park City, UtahRob Hammer/Getty by

Utah’s Unicorns, How “Silicon Slopes” is Gaining Momentum

By Ramon Gomez, Jr.
Dec 27, 2015


Check out this article about Utah's booming startups.

Utah's Unicorns, How "Silicon Slopes" is Gaining Momentum


Shop With A Cop

By Ramon Gomez, Jr.
Dec 10, 2015

We are delighted to be a part of the Annual Shop with a Cop each year. Here is a nice article from the Park Record:

Posted:   12/08/2015 04:41:19 PM MST0 Comments
Kacey Bates, a Summit County Sheriff s Office detective, peruses the toys with Tyler Stone Saturday morning at Walmart during the Shop with a Cop event.
Kacey Bates, a Summit County Sheriff s Office detective, peruses the toys with Tyler Stone Saturday morning at Walmart during the Shop with a Cop event. Upward of 75 youngsters and between 45 and 50 law enforcement officers participated in the program this year. Jake Shane/Park Record
Jay Randall, a Park City Police Department sergeant, worked a nontraditional beat on Saturday morning: the toy aisles at Walmart.

Randall was one of the law-enforcement officers from a group of agencies who were at the store to brighten the holidays for underprivileged children. The annual Shop with a Cop event drew between 45 and 50 officers to assist as upward of 75 youngsters moved through the store selecting gifts.

Randall was with three siblings, a 4-year-old boy, a 6-year-old girl and a 7-year-old girl. They live with their family in Elk Meadows. The kids picked up gifts for their mother and father, hiding them from the mother as she walked toward them. There was nail polish, lip gloss and a necklace for the mother. They found a thermal shirt for their father as well as a Christmas-themed tie.

"Maybe finally having the opportunity to have a regular Christmas that all their friends get," Randall, who has participated in 12 Shop with a Cop events, said about the morning. "To look in their eyes, you can see how excited they are."

The siblings finished shopping for their parents and moved onto the toy section to find gifts for themselves. They loaded the shopping cart with items like a toy veterinarian set, a toy school bus and a toy truck with a boat attached before heading to the checkout stands.

"We thoroughly enjoy it," Randall said.

The Police Department's lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police organizes the annual Shop with a Cop.

The three school districts in Summit County referred the youngsters to the program. Mikel Archibeque, a Park City police officer who is the president-elect of the department's Fraternal Order of Police lodge, said each of the kids was given $150 to spend on gifts, up from the $100 per child in past years.At least eight law enforcement agencies participated, creating a tapestry of different colored uniforms inside the store. The Summit County Sheriff's Office and the Police Department from Kamas were the other local agencies involved. State and federal agencies - the Utah Highway Patrol, the state Division of Wildlife Resources, the United States Forest Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI - also gathered for Shop with a Cop.

"I think it gives them an opportunity they otherwise may not have," Archibeque said, predicting there will be "a lot of happiness and surprise" on Christmas.

The day started with a donated breakfast at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Park City - The Yarrow. The fleet of law enforcement vehicles slowly made its way to Walmart on S.R. 224 with lights and sirens activated. The vehicles arrived at the store before it was crowded with holiday shoppers.

As the youngsters filled their shopping carts, they headed to gift-wrapping tables before leaving with boxes of Christmas joy.

The kids who shopped with Randall arrived at the gift-wrapping tables with a cart loaded with toys. There were Matchbox cars and dolls. The green body of a Hulk toy peeked out from underneath. The youngsters left with a cart jammed with colorfully wrapped boxes.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Utah Properties, a real estate agency with a large presence in Park City, assisted with the event. The Park City office raised approximately $7,500 for Shop with a Cop and more than 24 agents or office staffers volunteered to wrap the gifts, Ramon Gomez Jr., one of the agents who participated, said.

Gomez said he watched a young boy hug and thank the police officer who was with him for Shop with a Cop. He also saw one of the youngsters use some of the money to buy clothes for his brothers, sisters and parents.

"It's to help somebody who's less fortunate," Gomez said. "Christmas is about the kids."


Existing user sign in: 
Forgot Password?