Looking to buy real estate in Park City? Here’s what you need to know about realtors
Real estate market lifts local economy
Park City has become a very desirable place to visit, live, and invest, but it hasn’t always been that way. Fifty years ago buildings were demolished by neglect and others were bought for back taxes. Many thoughtful residents hung on, and reaped a thousand-fold profit. Most didn’t. The real estate market rose and fell through the decades as the town matured, and so have the numbers, and professionalism, of the real estate professionals in town. That’s why in 1980 they formed the Park City Board of Realtors.
This year, the voice of the Park City Board of Realtors is president Sara Werbelow, a 20-year resident. The principal broker at Chateaux Realty, Werbelow leads more than 1,200 Realtors in Park City, Summit County, and (since 2015), Wasatch County. And business is good; very, very good. Gross sales last year were around $2 billion. The economy is roaring back.
“We are close to 2008 levels,” says Werbelow, “but it’s hard to compare pre-recession to now. This marketplace is very dynamic.” Helping Werbelow and the PCBOR is CEO Terry Nolan. Having had a similar position at Vail, for the past year-and-a-half he has added a new level of professional management to the Board. “And there are some big players up here,” says Nolan, pointing to the number of cash sales in Park City. “We deal with CEOs and CFOs. We become their trusted advisors.”
But, not all agents are Realtors. In order to make that claim and be a PCBOR member, they must belong to the National Association of Realtors, the world’s largest professional organization with 720,000 members. They must be a member of the Utah Association of Realtors as well. And, while nationwide only 52 percent of all agents are Realtors, Realtors do 95 percent of all of the transactions. They set a high bar.
But what exactly does this large trade organization do? “We act as an advocate for the consumer, and ensure a level of professionalism,” says Werbelow. With 10 working committees, they are active in legislative issues, are advocates for candidates, and manage the Park City Multiple Listing Service Members must attend classes, training and seminars. “They need to understand the history here, too,” she says. “Finding houses for sale isn’t too difficult, but figuring out their value and making the transaction really requires a professional. Being a Realtor here requires specialized knowledge.”
The industry has also changed with the advent of Zillow, and other consumer portals. Out-of-town sellers and buyers are more savvy and knowledgeable, but they still need a local agent. NAR says that sellers who use a Realtor receive 16 percent more for their properties, than those who don’t. They must follow a Code of Ethics, and serve clients fairly.
This year the PCBOR has undergone a major rebranding, with a new look, website, and logo. “The new website is easy to navigate, with useful tools for consumers and members,” says Werbelow. “This team has brought in a process and better standards of practice.”
The board has come a long way, since 37 years ago. One long-time Realtor remembers when there were only 30 agents in town, and the MLS was kept in binders, with black and white photographs. “It was a huge improvement when we joined with the Wasatch County Board two years ago,” she says. “That has really helped from the information standpoint; information sharing. We have become a more cohesive real estate market.” Another new member, from Beverly Hills, Calif., praises them as well. “They are very proactive. I’ve been on many boards, and they’re very concerned about the issues,” he says. “The staff at the Board really cares; when you call them, you can tell.”
The PCBOR is also committed to the people, community and the environment. “We support open space,“ says Werbelow. “We are also committed to the community; to be real. The PCBOR wants to be at the table on affordable housing, too.” In fact, they have raised and distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars for local community organizations through their PCBOR Philanthropic Foundation. It is funded by members, contributions and fundraisers such as the Luxury Home Tour and Turkey Drive, where more than 2,000 turkeys were given away last November. Last year, nine high school students from throughout Summit County received $2,500 scholarships for their education.
And, partnering with the Park City Community Foundation the PCBOR helped to create the Giving Guide, which lets new residents understand what local nonprofits do and need. PCCF Director Ollie Wilder says, “The Giving Guide been a very positive way for new homeowners to get involved in the community. The Board is a great partner because they know who is new.”
This fall, on October 10, in cooperation with the Park City and Heber Chambers of Commerce, the PCBOR will sponsor an economic summit. And, on October 15 they will host a candidate forum, to educate voters on issues and candidates.
What does the future hold? Many buyers are modernizing older properties. “Housing has become really dated, and we’re moving toward more mountain-modern architecture from the lodge look,” says Werbelow. “The Resort Center at Park City Mountain, for example, is selling like hotcakes. They’re renovating older places; they call it adaptive reuse.” The market is good and strong, but not overheated. With an annual median appreciation of 8.8 percent it’s a good time to buy, or sell, with help from the Park City Board of Realtors.