Park City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 03/14/2014 -- There is this swathe of mountain territory spread across Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, California and Montana blessed with the most spectacular vistas and scenic resort towns. Each towns is special in its own way. While some have the best managed resorts, other places might be better placed in terms of the skiing terrain and infrastructure. Then there are those places that combine gorgeous scenery and great skiing opportunities with a vibrant culture and entertainment scene. The weather, geographical location and accessibility are significant factors as well in determining the popularity of these resort towns.
If you study the Q4 real estate stats of the resort towns that straddle the mountains in the western part of North America, you get a reasonably good idea of how the towns stack up against one another. Take the case of cumulative active listings at the end of Q4, 2013, in comparison with the figure in the preceding year. For Park City, Utah and Steamboat, Colorado, the figure is more or less the same as a year ago (between 1500 and 2000 units). This implies a stability of inventory right through the year. Considering that the number of listings in both the towns was among the highest in the region for the time in question; these towns are definitely a good place to hunt for property. On the other hand one might find Vail in Colorado to be an interesting case where the inventory level in Q4 2012 was above 1500 units, but shot up to more than 2300 units at the end of Q4 2013. Again a place where one could pick up a property with relative ease.
However what really indicates the popularity of a place for potential buyers and investors is the increase in sales numbers. Park City is heads and shoulders above other ski resort towns in the region. From about 1700 units in Q4 2012 to more than 2000 units at the end of Q4 2013, the numbers are really strong. A somewhat similar trend is maintained by Tahoe, where the number of units sold remained high between 1500 and 2000. This was true of the last quarters of both 2012 and 2013. The number of units sold inched closer to the 2000 mark at the end of the latter year depicting decent growth.
The total volume of sales achieved by a town gives a fair indication of the valuation that Real Estate commands in the market. Here again Park City is a creditable performer, with its property being valued higher than most other resort destination of the region. At the end of Q4 2012 Park City property worth a little over $120 million had been sold which rose to more than 140 million at the end of Q4 2013. Following table provides comparisons with Vail and Tahoe, the closest competitors:
Q4 2012 Park City: $120 Million Vail: $140 Million Tahoe: $110 Million
Q4 2013 Park City: $140 Million Vail: $90 Million Tahoe: $110 Million
The average sales prices in the different resort towns again tell an interesting story. In Teton, Idaho the average sale price at the end of Q4 2012 was really high at almost $1,500,000 but fell to a little over $1,200,000 at the end of Q4 2013. Likewise Vail fell from a high of about $900,000 at the end of Q4 2012 to about $800,000 at the end of Q4 2103. Park City on the other hand remained steady at about $700,000 showing a remarkable lack volatility.
While Park City does seem to be the pick of the lot here, all of the resorts in the area have their fair share of advantages and drawbacks. Park City has to continue to not become a victim of its own success (very much a focus of the local government and businesses) that is driven by a world class infrastructure, affordable property and a vibrant cultural entertainment scene that combine well with its beautiful location and easy accessibility. Whistler on the other hand receives the highest amount of snow (so critical for the skiing industry), which explains its perennially high occupancy. However over dependence on just the winter sport aspect does restrict the number of visitors in other seasons thereby impacting Real Estate value.
Vail and Tahoe have a superb reputation for skiing facilities and have seen a fair amount of investment in Real Estate. But, there is however some concerns in both areas to properties being susceptible to fire and water damage – mitigating this danger is an active local town focus. Tahoe is requiring homes to build defensible fire zone and Vail is seeing problems getting home insurance for fire protection.
Sun Valley is a great resort but has accessibility challenges with lack of schedule flights and vacationers having to take commuter flights in from Boise. This has led to an interesting local effort to sustain vacation traffic. The town added a 1% tax on local business to subsidize the airlines to keep scheduled flights into the town by guaranteeing occupancy on those flights.
The Q4 report card for the resort towns in the western mountain generally does show progress in terms of sales of property, though not as evenly as one would have liked. Places like Park City, Vail and Tahoe showed steady gains while others like Sun Valley (Idaho), Teton (Wyoming) and Big Sky (Montana) lagged.
That being said there is no doubt about the fact that the western mountainous region of North America is particularly blessed in terms of the weather, infrastructure and terrain. The western resort towns are some of the best ski resort destinations across the globe.