The "Vail Effect": Why Park City Home Prices Are Skyrocketing
High-end residential real estate jumps 20 to 25 percent as new resort management gives some residents unprecedented ski-in, ski-out access.
This story first appeared in the Jan. 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
For 50 weeks a year, Park City is more about the outdoor recreation than the Sundance screenings and soirees — but many of entertainment's heavy hitters still spend time in the mountain resort year-round.
Modern Family writer-producer Steve Levitan owns a home in Park City, and Michael Jordan has been a part-time resident of the Glenwild golf course community for years. In late 2013, possible presidential candidate Mitt Romney bought in one of Park City's most elite neighborhoods near the Deer Valley Resort.
"We've always attracted people from the film and television industries, and now a lot more names from the high-tech industry," says Ann MacQuoid, an associate broker at Berkshire Hathaway. Since Vail Resorts announced plans to purchase Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) last year, on top of an operations contract to take over the neighboring Canyons Resort, realtors have seen a significant uptick in both construction and existing home sales, especially for higher-priced homes — a phenomenon they've dubbed the "Vail Effect."
Vail revealed plans to spend $50 million to combine PCMR and Canyons by next year's ski season, which would make Utah home to the largest resort in North America, boasting 7,300 acres of skiable terrain — and giving a handful of lucky homeowners the possibility of ski-in, ski-out access to both resorts. Following the announcement, lot prices jumped 25 percent overnight at The Colony at White Pine Canyon, a gated ski-in, ski-out community situated in between Canyons Resort and PCMR. A ski industry proposal, One Wasatch, to link seven area resorts (and 18,000 acres of terrain) eventually could drive prices even higher. "It's still speculative," says Steve Blankenship, a broker with KW Park City Keller Williams. "But we think it would be bigger than the  Olympics were for us in terms of property value."
Bob Marsh, the Colony's listing agent, says the area "was always appealing for a buyer who wanted that ski-in, ski-out feature." Will Smith has owned there for a few years, and Red Bull CEO Dietrich Mateschitz recently completed $2.2 million in construction of a Colony home that was featured in the 2014 Park City Showcase of Homes. "But this new connection to PCMR raises the bar," adds Marsh. "Only a few places in the whole country will have these size lots and the amount of ski terrain offered."
Listing prices for high-end homes in the Deer Valley area also are up an estimated 20 percent compared with prices of similar properties in the area sold in the past 24 months, says MacQuoid. After just a year on the market, Los Angeles-based Regent Properties sold more than half of the available Stein Eriksen Residences, a development with ski-in, ski-out access to Deer Valley. Seven single family homes and 25 condo properties priced between $2.5 million and $9.25 million have been purchased since the properties became available through presales 12 months ago. Says MacQuoid, "For the first time in years, there is urgency in the market, and even scarcity."