Foreign investors are coming, officials say
For years, people visiting Park City from across the country have fallen in love with the town. Many have returned to make it at least a part-time home. If local officials in the real estate market are right, more people from around the world are going to soon start following suit.
Nancy Tallman, president of the Park City Board of Realtors, said local Realtors are preparing for an influx of foreign investors over the next few years. The trend is being driven by Vail Resorts’ increased presence in town. The Epic Pass Vail offers at Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort and the rest of their properties around the country is sold all over the world and grants access to ski resorts in several countries.
As more foreigners take advantage of the pass to visit Park City, Tallman said, they’re going to discover Park City is a great place for a ski home. Among the perks foreign investors may find attractive are convenient access to an international airport and, perhaps more importantly, prices well below peak value.
"You’re going to get people coming from different parts of the world to ski here," she said. "People from Europe, South America, Mexico are going to come because for $729 they can ski all week at two resorts in Park City. People who have been going to Colorado are going to use this pass to check out Park City.
"People come out here, and like all of us, they fall in love with Park City. Then they start looking at property. Some of these people are quite wealthy and they can just pay cash."
Lending credence to the notion, Tallman said, is the fact that foreign investment is already booming elsewhere in the country.
"You’re already seeing it in other cities," she said. "In New York, L.A., Miami. You’ve got investors coming in and buying the properties. A lot of those people are very wealthy and they have multiple homes. And some of those individuals may desire a ski home at some point, and we may see them coming here to Park City."
Steve Roney, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Utah Properties, which operates several Park City offices, said foreigners are not yet entering the market in great numbers. But like Tallman, he expects them to come.
"While we have yet to see a large number of international buyers in Park City, I think it likely we will see more in upcoming years," he said in an email statement to The Park Record. "Mexico and Canada currently constitute the majority of foreign buyers in Park City, and our realtors have reported seeing an increase in international visitors from these countries in the past few months."
Tallman expects international investors to move quickly and grab real estate in town while it’s relatively cheap. The current median price of a single-family home is 12 percent below peak values.
"These investors are savvy," Tallman said. "They do their research and they realize that our properties have not returned to peak pricing, that it’s still ‘discounted.’ It’s still a good value."
Tallman said that, overall, foreign investors entering the market is a positive trend for local real estate.
"It’s always a good thing when we have demand for our properties. It helps increase value," Tallman said. "The more buyers we have, the higher the prices could theoretically go."
But while higher prices may be good for real estate, they will be accompanied by a less-welcome trend, Tallman acknowledged. More would-be buyers will be unable to find a home in their price ranges — something that can already be difficult due to the lack of inventory that has been plaguing the market in recent quarters.
"It can certainly make the properties for less affordable for those people who are not in the market or are first-time buyers," Tallman said. "It can definitely put those properties where they’re out of reach.
"It’s not like there are no homes that would be priced below a certain price — it’s just there aren’t any on the market. So if that’s all you have to spend, you’re kind of shut out."
Thomas Wright, president and principal broker of Summit Sotheby’s International Realty, acknowledged prices will go up along with foreign investment but said the good far outweighs the bad.
"Having a good, healthy supply of people who are interested in buying in Park City will always be a positive thing," he said. "I think it’s hard for some of us to watch our small, quaint mountain community be more internationally recognized, because it will bring more people here. And that growth can be challenging but Park City’s local leadership has always done a good job managing that."
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Vail Resorts has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire 100 percent of the outstanding stock of Peak Resorts. Through the acquisition, Vail Resorts will add 17 U.S. ski areas to its network of resorts.