Luxury real estate demand surges in Aspen, Park City

Colorado, Utah ski towns evolve as year-round escapes for the wealthy even before COVID-19

Prices for luxury properties in ski towns like Aspen, Colorado, and Park City, Utah, are “through the roof,” according to Mauricio Umansky, founder and CEO of real estate firm The Agency.

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Demand in Aspen and Park City has surged and supply is low as the coronavirus pandemic has hastened the trend of the wealthy vacationing year-round in those winter enclaves, Umansky told FOX Business.

“A lot of traveling to Europe this year is probably nonexistent … And so I think a lot of Americans are looking where to enjoy the summer,” he said.

This five-bed, six-bath mountain home is listed for $4.175 million in Park City. (The Agency)

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Growth in the greater Park City market during the first quarter of 2020 outpaced the same period a year earlier, despite the pandemic, according to the Park City Board of Realtors. The number of homes sold increased by 11 percent, and the median sale price was up 5 percent year-over-year.

The median sale price was nearly $2 million in Park City during the first quarter of the year, according to the group.

This six-bed, eight-bath Aspen home is up for rent at $10,000 per month. (The Agency)

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Meanwhile, Aspen has seen a year-to-date 6.7 percent rise in median sales prices to $6.4 million for single-family homes compared to 2019, according to the Aspen Board of Realtors. The number of days homes have sat on the market is down by more than 30 percent, and the number of new listings has dropped.

As the coronavirus pandemic kept millions of nonessential workers home, Umansky said he’s seen many New Yorkers looking to relocate to Aspen, while Park City has been more popular with people escaping city life in Los Angeles or San Francisco. It started with people looking for vacation rentals, but as inventory has shrunk, it’s prompted a “buying mode.”

“People have realized that you can work from home,” he said. “And the big question has become: where do you want to sequester with your family in the event that this ever happens again? And so I think people are looking for space and looking for areas where there’s a lot less density.”

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Of course, the ski towns aren't the only vacation destinations that wealthy residents of hard-hit cities like New York have sought out amid the pandemic. Several real estate professionals previously told FOX Business about seeing off-season rental demand spike and "panic buying" in The Hamptons. Umansky said The Agency has also seen an uptick in parts of the Caribbean.

Even before the coronavirus, real estate was trending upward in both Aspen and Park City. The median sale price of single-family homes in Aspen rose sharply in the second half of 2019, according to the Aspen Board of Realtors, and the median single-family home price in greater Park City rose 12 percent in 2019, according to the Park City Board of Realtors.

A 2,760-acre ranch located about 25 minutes outside of Park City that sold for $32.5 million last fall was reportedly the most expensive residential sale ever recorded in Utah.

The 2,760-acre property includes its own barn, helipad and tennis court, among other amenities. (Engel & Völkers)

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After the coronavirus cut the end of ski season, Umansky said trails around mountain towns have been popular for hikers and mountain bikers. And rivers offer other recreation opportunities like fishing or kayaking.

“I think people are realizing that type of mountain living is a lot of fun in the summer as well,” Umansky said.

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