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Park City real estate market gets back to “normal”

"For sale" real estate sign
Scanrail - stock.adobe.com
Housing inventory in the Wasatch back is lower than pre-pandemic levels, which is one factor in the stabilization of the real estate market.

After a real estate boom in Park City that saw home prices skyrocket in recent years, the market is starting to stabilize.

The COVID-19 pandemic did a number on the real estate market in many mountain towns. The New York Times reported last year that mountain west towns saw the biggest influx of people moving out of big cities, and Park City was at the top of that list.

Joanne O’Connell is the president of Park City Board of Realtors. She said three years after the outbreak of COVID the market is now stabilizing with similar numbers from the fourth quarter of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023.

“And there isn't anything really striking to look at except new development, like the Jordanelle area, Mayflower, Silver Creek Village, all the new development is what's really selling, but the rest of Park City is just kind of stabilizing,” O’Connell said.  “And we really are waiting to see what this second quarter is going to do. Because if we get more inventory on the market, that could really make a change.”

At the end of Q1-2022 only 329 residential properties were for sale in the Wasatch Back. By April of 2023 that rose to 746, which was still well below pre-pandemic numbers.

Currently, the median home price in Park City is just under $4 million. For Snyderville Basin that number is just over $2 million. Around the Jordanelle the number is slightly lower at $ 1.6 million and in the Kamas Valley the median price is $1.2 million.

According to O’Connell, normal has been redefined because of the impact COVID had on the market.

“So we're calling normal, because really what is normal? We're saying, how about let's take the years, let's, let's just take COVID out of the situation, and look back at like 2012 to 2019,” she said. “And let's, let's average those years and come up with okay, what was going on then. And then we were so stable, and we were increasing like 6% every year and everything was kind of normal. So we're trying to compare ourselves to that time, because COVID was just an anomaly.”

O’Connell said inventory is a third lower than what it was before COVID, which is keeping prices at a higher level. She thinks that will shift when there’s more inventory, but prices won’t go back to pre-pandemic levels.

She explained that sellers have to be a little more realistic than in the days of COVID when there were multiple offers on almost everything.

“And we're maybe more comp-based now. Before it was well, let's just throw a number out there because we're gonna get 20 offers on it,” she said. “Now, people have to be more realistic sellers have to really think okay, well what is going on, and what has sold in my neighborhood.”

Jamie Johnson is CEO of Park City Board of Realtors. She said interest rates are also a factor in the market and low inventory. Homeowners who have low interest mortgages may be reluctant to sell.

“They probably have a, you know, 3% to 4% rate, and they don't want to lose that rate. If they sell and they have to go and finance something else, then they're financing at a much higher rate,” Johnson said.  “So many people are hesitant to put their house back on the market or on the market at this point, because they know they can't find something else comparable at a rate that they can afford.”

The season to sell is spring, according to O’Connell, but because of the unprecedented snowfall many homes haven't hit the market yet as sellers can’t spruce up their yards yet.

“And some people have been saying, well I've got sellers, but they're waiting for the snow to clear so everything's pretty and the flowers are popping,” she said.  “And some people are saying, well, I don't know, my clients just aren't looking to sell this season. So it's going to be so interesting to see how many people decide to put their homes on the market.”

For more information on the state of the real estate market visit the web version of this report at KPCW.org.