The Park City real estate market continues to boom amid the pandemic
In the spring, the coronavirus pandemic shook the Park City business community, forcing the closure of non-essential businesses and thrusting the economy into a sudden downturn.
Amid the upheaval of that period and the months that have followed, however, one industry crucial to Park City’s economy has experienced a dramatic run of success. And third-quarter data from the Park City Board of Realtors indicates that the real estate market continues to boom.
According to the data, the volume of new real estate listings in Summit and Wasatch counties was up 44% in the third quarter, July through September, compared to the same period in 2019. Pending sales, at 1,503, more than doubled. Median sales prices rose 12% for single-family homes and 15% for condominiums.
William Winstead, president of the Park City Board of Realtors, said third-quarter performance was in line with trends since the start of the pandemic as people from tightly packed large cities flocked to Park City, with its wide open spaces and bountiful recreational amenities, to ride out the pandemic.
“You’ve got an environment here where you’ve got hiking, biking trails, you’ve got a couple of lakes nearby that you can boat in — golf courses, fishing,” Winstead said. “I don’t think the world really realized there were so many opportunities in such a small area.”
The real estate surge comes against the backdrop of an uncertain economy. Unemployment in the Park City area — which the Board of Realtors defines as Summit and Wasatch counties — is down from a spring peak but remains elevated. And there are warning signs that the upcoming winter could be challenging for businesses that rely on ski tourism as the coronavirus pandemic worsens.
While Winstead could not have anticipated the extent of the real estate boom, he’s not shocked that the market has proven resilient during an economic slump. He said the same was true during the Great Recession, though the market did not escape that crisis unscathed.
“We haven’t had a lot of downturn in our market,” he said. “Even 2008, 2009, 2010, I don’t think we fell below 25%, 30%, where other states were going down to 50%, 60% and 70% below what the real estate market value was.”
Many Park City residents are unlikely to find the strong third-quarter numbers surprising. Parkites noted how busy the town seemed to be over the summer, from packed trails to crowded grocery stores, even as COVID kept many out-of-state visitors away.
But the question now is whether the people who’ve bought homes here during the COVID crisis plan to live in Park City permanently or retreat back to urban areas when the pandemic is over. Winstead, for one, has heard from many Realtors whose clients say they want to make the Park City area their permanent home.
“It’s hard to leave Park City once you’ve been here,” he said. “Every time I think about going on a vacation, I’m like, ‘Well, where’s a better place to go than Park City?’”
The activity since the pandemic began has not been confined to Park City proper or the Snyderville Basin, though those areas were busy in the third quarter. Midway, Heber City and the area around the Jordanelle in Wasatch County saw large increases in sales, while there was also a flurry of activity in the Kamas Valley.
The challenge facing the area now, Winstead said, will be building amenities, from commercial hubs to trail systems to affordable housing, in the outlying areas to relieve the pressure on the already-stressed infrastructure in Park City.
“It’s an influx of people and it’s going to put a bit of a strain on our infrastructure until we can do something to broaden that to the outlying areas,” he said.
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Thanks to COVID-19 cutting into visitation numbers, Park City’s seasonal workforce is sufficient. In any other winter, “the hiring situation would be dire.”