In preparation for the Park City Area Showcase of Homes, contractors and homeowners were hurriedly dotting the last touches of paint onto walls, hanging drapes and screwing in hardware Friday. The Showcase of Homes is an annual event hosted by the Park City Homebuilders Association where local architects and contractors highlight recently completed custom-built houses, inviting the community to take a look at the best designed homes in the area from the past year.
The Park City Area Homebuilders Association started the home tour in 1994, growing the program year after year with the growth of the Park City real estate market. But signs of the shaken economy are still there, with fewer homes submitted for the showcase than in past years, said Geri Strand, the executive officer of the Park City Area Homebuilders Association. Only one home on the tour was built on speculation, no owner ready to move in.
Less than five years ago, the showcase had 20 homes participating. Bouncing between single digit numbers up to 12 in recent years, the showcase displays homes that started construction up to 18 months beforehand. This year, the showcase will feature 11 homes, all of which started construction last year.
"This is a reflection of what's going on right now in the economy," Strand said. "Of course there is still homebuilding, but not nearly as much as there was three or four years ago.
"What we're seeing right now is a reflection of 10 to 12 months ago," she added. "And back then, the market was different."
The Park City Area Showcase of Homes sets a tone for incoming building trends, indicates the climate for custom, luxury homes and points to where new development is moving in. From the number of homes in the tour to where the homes are located, Strand said patterns emerge. Of the 11 homes in the tour, five are located in Heber and Midway, the most ever featured in Wasatch County. Strand said she also noticed a major shift in the size and style of homes, with many homeowners opting out of the 10,000 square-foot luxury home for a smaller, more economic option.
Developer Rick Lloyd bought 42 lots backing up to the Crater Springs Gold Course in Midway last October. Lloyd built the only spec home in the showcase this year, an opportunity to show off Midway living, he said.
"We saw an opportunity," Lloyd said. "In today's market, price is king. Value is what we're trying to sell here."
"Midway is still up in mountains. It's a quiet, sleepy town like the was Park City was 40 or 50 years ago. And generally, I think people are a little more cautious with big-ticket purchase like second homes. Buyers are still cautious, still unsure about economy. The existing home and short-sale options are dwindling and people still like to buy new, to have choices and selections to customize."
Scott Jaffa of Jaffa Group said business is good for his architectural firm, also picking up significantly this year. And with new projects, a new style has emerged dubbed "mountain contemporary."
"I think this style is about simplicity and streamlining," Jaffa said. "Things go in and out of fashion and I think this idea is something fresh, and fresh ideas always help move market in positive direction. Seeing the same thing year after year can be repetitive. This seems like the next step in an evolution."
And he isn't the only homebuilder that thinks so.
Scot Davis, owner of CD Construction, has done high-end, custom work throughout Summit County and Salt Lake County for the past 20 years, with designs ranging from the ultra-modern to rustic mountain living. This year, his showcase home is all modern. Davis has submitted a home with floor to ceiling windows looking out to Park City, including the dining room, living room, bedroom and even bathroom.
"We're definitely looking for that exposure," Davis said. "We want to show a few more people in this area what we can do and we'd love everyone to see this home, mountain contemporary, this new refreshing look."
Davis has noticed more than bold designs. His company started to see a major uptick the number of projects over the past few months, a fact tied to the shrinking inventory and affordability of available homes on the market, Davis said.
"We've got more in line to do from the last six months to year than we've had in the last three years combined," he said. "In Summit County, there is not a lot of inventory. What was out there has been picked up."
The Park City Area Showcase of Homes runs for three weekends, August 18-19, 25-26 and September 1-3 running from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets cost $15 each and may be purchased at a select number of homes in the showcase on the day of the event, homes 1, 2, 4, 7 or 8. Tickets may also be purchased online for a $3 discount at www.pcshowcaseofhomes.com. Each online purchase will include a unique barcode which must be presented and exchanged for a ticket. Attendees can win prizes and are asked to participate in voting for their favorite in the Park City Area Showcase of Homes. For more information, visit www.pcshowcaseofhomes.com .