Real estate market rebounding

By Park City Board of REALTORS
Feb 14, 2012

Report analyzes ups and down of 2011

Posted:   02/07/2012 05:01:45 PM MST
The Park City Board of REALTORS shut the book on the 2011 real estate market, releasing their annual report on last year's number of sales, sales prices and number of foreclosures. 2011 sales increased by a total of six percent from the year before pulling in a total of $1,077,426,368, making it the seventh year real estate sales exceeded the one billion dollar mark.

Though numbers were not as high as the peak in 2005 of more than $2 billion, realtor confidence is growing in Park City. More are ready to believe Park City real estate has reached its bottom and the market is starting to climb its way out from the low point in 2009, where total sales fell to $867,230,118.

"I think this report is good news," said Park City Board of REALTORS president Tami Whisker. "I feel like we're starting to see signs of stabilization in certain areas, which is amazing."

A Buyer's Market

In any market, the buyer or seller is favored more than the other. Park City was no exception. Prices fell for the fourth straight year, leaving many areas of the market an estimated 40 to 45 percent below what prices were at their peak. But falling prices are not all bad, as prices have drawn more first-time buyers into the area.

"The market in recovery, but it keeps improving," said Mark Seltenrich, the Park City Board of REALTORS statistician. "Of course we would like to see homes sell for more, back to kind of numbers we saw a few years ago, but we have a ways to go. It is still a buyer's market."

Whisker said that as the number of properties available shrinks, the supply and demand model will shift the market back into a seller's market.

"I believe it's a good sign that inventory is shrinking," Whisker said. "Financing can still be a challenge but there is a lot of activity I feel confident going into the rest of the ski season that the sales activity will continue."

Number of Sales Up

The number of sales in the Park City area increased by double digits in 2011. Home sales increased by an estimated 19 percent, condo sales increased by 10 percent, and vacant land sales saw the largest increase at 23 percent more in sales from 2010.

The Economic Development Director for Park City Jonathan Weidenhammer said with more homes sold, the city is able to collect property taxes feed into the community.

"The Park City market demonstrates strength and resilience," Weidenhammer said. "These sales help our resort economy, and the real benefit on the city side is what we can collect for property taxes. Those numbers continue to be strong, making up half of our annual budget."

Prices of Sales Down

Several neighborhoods, including areas such as Old Town and Jeremy Ranch, continue to see home values drop, but properties in areas such as Old Ranch Road, Pinebrook and Sun Peak sold well above 2010 market prices.

"With the prices dropping, a lot of people from around the state who couldn't afford to live here before, are able to live here now," Whisker said. "Maybe someone who lived and worked in Salt Lake City moved to Park City because they could afford to."

Median Old Town home prices were down 14 percent, with the median price at $817,500. In Jeremy Ranch, that number was closer to 11 percent, with the median home selling at $624,000.

On the other side of the scale, Sun Peak home sale prices were up 25 percent, Old Ranch Road home sales were up 12 percent and Pinebrook was up by 13 percent.

Foreclosures Down

According to the report, sales of foreclosed properties continued to make up a significant part of the market in 2011, but since 2009 the number of foreclosures continued to decrease. In 2011, foreclosures fell by roughly a third of the number in 2010, totaling half of the foreclosures from the peak in 2009.

"I think we're going to continue to see foreclosures," Whisker said, "but we like to see that they're falling in number. Once we can get rid of the foreclosures on the market, property values will hopefully return back to normal."

Statewide it's Good News

Statewide optimism is growing as well.

And while home values haven't risen to where they were just before the housing bubble burst, that's not the largest indicator that the market is in recovery.

"We're seeing home sales up for the entire state of Utah," said Utah Association of REALTORS Communications Director Deanna Devey. "That's a reflection of the housing market improving as a whole, a reflection of the job market improving and confidence returning. Our home sales ending in 2011 were highest they've been in three years."

Statewide numbers have improved, Devey said. The state increased home sales by 8.6 percent in 2011, with Summit County just surpassing that number. Wasatch County, portions of which were included in the report, had the second highest increase in home sales in Utah.

"In 2003 Utah sold 31,050 homes," Devey said. "This year we did better than we did in 2003. I track these numbers religiously and they've just been getting better and better every month."

Link to this article in The Park Record