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While the Sundance Film Festival is poised to turn Park City into a high-powered Hollywood scene for the next two weeks, the tiny town of 7,500 is in the midst of its own real estate boom, one that may have every other U.S. ski resort town beat.
“It’s popping again. Things are better than even at the peak of the market for luxury sales,” says Sotheby’s International Realty agent Paul Benson of the area where Katherine Heigl, Michael Jordan, and former Good Morning America host Charles Gibson own homes. “Not only are we getting buyers from all over the world who are attracted by residences like The Montage and St. Regis, we’re also starting to get year-round buyers. Lots of tech people are moving here for their primary residence. And in the actual town of Sundance where every other home is Hollywood owned, prices are back up to the $5-$10 million region.”
Among the area’s high-end listings: John Schnatter’s 6,800-square-foot condo at the St. Regis. Schnatter, a real estate collector and owner of Papa Johns, put his mountain-facing spread on the market for $17.9 million. Michelle Eastman and Brigid Flint of Sotheby’s International Realty hold the listing.
Mitt Romney purchased a slope-side mansion in Deer Valley in late 2013. Listed at $8.9 million, the 9,000-square-foot, super-sized log cabin included six bedrooms and eight bathrooms – a suitable size for the politician and his wife’s 25 grandchildren.
“The Romney sale is indicative of the kind of action we’re seeing again,” says Keller Williams agent Steve Blankenship, who cites the $125-million Park City Film Studios, which broke ground in October of 2013, as another huge future boon to the residential real estate market. “Having sound stages and a film school right here in town could definitely bring in even more movie industry people,” says Blankenship, adding to current homeowners like Paramount CEO Brad Grey and Modern Family producer Steve Levitan.
PHOTOS: 15 Films That May Spark Frenzy at Sundance
Not that every big-ticket listing is selling overnight. DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg’s pine-and-granite house has been on the market since August 2012 with a $20.5 million price tag that hasn’t been reduced. “This isn’t a mainstream home,” says Benson. “It’s a unique property, but there will be a buyer, somewhere out there in the world, who just has to have it.”
Striking broader appeal, and debuting just in time for the Sundance scene, are the Stein Eriksen Residences, a set of 16 homes that will be priced from $2 – $7 million in Deer Valley. A model home will be open for the film festival. Built near the Stein Eriksen Lodge, which is frequented by Robert Redford and Ryan Reynolds, the homes give the rustic mountain look a contemporary upgrade, with clean lines, huge windows and modern décor.
The Colony at White Pines, however, offers the ultimate in high-end homes. The gated, heavily forested, community boasts some of the highest priced homes in the area, including one owned by Will Smith. “I think of these homes as mini ski-in/ski/out mini ranches,” says Erik Asarian of Keller Williams. “We currently have a home listing there for $24.6 million and overall it’s a hot market. Seven homes sold there in 2013, and we had 16 lot sales in the same year, up from eight lot sales in 2012 and six in 2011. This is the ultimate Industry hideaway. It’s our equivalent of beach front property in Malibu.”
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