The Snow Gods have spoken, ski season is underway, and more visitors than ever are pouring into resorts all across Utah. Last season, Utah hosted 4.5 million skiers, a new record credited in part to the “Vail Effect.” Vail Resorts acquired Park City Mountain Resort in 2014 and later revealed a $50 million construction plan that would combine PCMR and Canyons Resort, producing the largest ski resort in the United States.

The expansion provided a total of 7,300 acres of skiable terrain and other renovation projects and additions including restaurants, a new base area, expanded parking and upgraded chairlifts. And that’s only the beginning of improvements which have been announced for the new Park City Vail Resorts project.

This was big news for Park City, and for the ski industry at large. But what has the ‘Vail Effect’ had on Utah real estate. Is it real? How has it impacted not only local residents, but the Utah real estate market as a whole?

Let’s take a look…

As tourism capital increases in Utah, so does the demand for both vacation rental homes and homes for sale . According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau Report, Utah’s population crossed the 3.0 million mark and became the nation’s fastestgrowing state last year. This population growth, coupled with the rise in tourism, caused local home values — as well as home sale prices — to rise substantially. Many are attributing these rising home values to the ‘Vail Effect.’

Initially, back when the acquisition was first announced, ultra high-end ski/in out homes at Canyons jumped 20-25% overnight, and low-priced condos around the base of the Park City Resort got the attention of real estate investors and quickly disappeared off the market.

Now that we are over two years into the ambitious improvement plan, it’s hard to deny that the Vail Effect is real. At 2016 third quarter end, both the median sales price and the number of closed sales continued to trend upward (7.5% annually since 2012) despite historically low levels of inventory. Summit and Wasatch County property values continue to rise and limited inventory has forced buyers who felt priced out of the resort market to expand their search south/east into Heber and Kamas Valleys, and west into Salt Lake County.

Looking ahead, home prices around these areas are expected to rise at a steady rate through 2017 as all types of real estate buyers are lured into Summit and Wasatch Counties. Finding affordable property in these micro-markets remains challenging and demand in surrounding neighborhoods is higher than in previous years. Additionally, millennials are a new class of buyers who are becoming more and more active in this market.

The Greatest Snow on Earth is living up to its reputation and continuing to attract the attention of a growing number of tourists and home buyers. If you’re in the market to purchase a home this year and want to learn how to take advantage of the Vail Effect, reach out to an expert who can provide you with some insight into where home prices are heading in your desired neighborhood.

Now…where to Aprés-ski?