- Liza Story is a 36-year-old realtor in Park City, Utah — a 40-minute drive from Salt Lake City — where the real estate market is hot.
- During the pandemic, she’s noticed a barrage of buyers fleeing California to escape wildfires and city lockdowns; people who can now do their jobs from anywhere want to live in the mountains.
- Park City is an easy sell, given its beautiful location, small-town vibe, and luxury ski resort amenities.
- She’s sold six homes in the last six weeks, ranging from $450,000 to $1.7 million in price, and says that construction in the area can’t keep up with the demand.
- This is what her job is like, as told to freelance writer Amber Gibson.
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I grew up in Park City, Utah, so I consider myself a true local. It’s still a small town, with less than 9,000 residents, but we have hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Park City offers such a seamless outdoor lifestyle, and I always try to show my clients what I love about this town. There’s been a lot of growth and development over the past 20 years, but we’ve kept the small-town, ski resort atmosphere alive. That’s what people like about coming here.
I’ve sold six homes in the last six weeks, each averaging around $2 million. People want to get in now before the ski season begins and the cold weather settles in. Inventory is at a 10-year low and going quickly, so there’s not a lot available. Construction just can’t keep up with demand, and there are more buyers than there are sellers.
The demographic is the same; mainly families and couples who vacation here regularly. They’re the ones who know they love it here and now want to make it a full-time home. But lately, I’ve met with more buyers coming from Northern California.
Read more: I design $100,000 luxury playrooms for the children of wealthy execs and celebrities. Business is wild right now — here’s what my job is like.
This year, there’s been a big influx of Silicon Valley and Bay Area people moving here
During the pandemic, they can work remotely and be right in the mountains. People called Salt Lake City “Silicon Slopes” even before COVID-19, but the pandemic has definitely solidified that.
Many people prefer Park City to Salt Lake because you get more of the small-town luxury experience here.
I’ve been a full-time realtor since 2009, when I started as an experience curator at The Colony at White Pine Canyon, a gated community of ski-in, ski-out homes. I coordinated hospitality events for homeowners and guests.
There I learned that buying and selling is not just about walking through a home, but about curating memorable moments for your clients. You’re not just selling real estate; you’re selling a lifestyle.
In Park City, we sell the lifestyle of a small-town, luxury mountain getaway
Over the years, I’ve designed a member yurt for The Colony at White Pine Canyon, where we did special events like ski-in, ski-out lunches and snowmobile tours. At Montage Deer Valley, a hotel with residences, I sold the full-service, five-star ownership experience. There, two to five-bedroom condos ranged in price anywhere from $2 million to $10 million.
From Park City, Salt Lake International Airport is only 35 minutes away. This offers easy access to professionals who still need to travel for work or prefer to spend their time in Park City on the weekends.
It’s about having everything at your fingertips. You can ski out your front door, your skis are waxed and stored for you, and you can enjoy an incredible experience at one of the number one ski resorts in the world. It’s not about looking at units, it’s about enjoying Deer Valley chili (a famous recipe from a local cafe) and taking to the slopes.
I always strive to be authentic and not just a salesperson
People don’t just want to hear statistics anymore; they want to understand why a house will be great for their family and for entertaining, and why it’s somewhere they’ll want to spend a lot of time.
The St. Regis Deer Valley is the latest resort expanding their real estate by offering with nine new residences at Snow Park. Locals love taking the funicular up to have dinner at RIME Seafood + Steak, and lounging by the pool during warmer weather.
I started my own business in 2018 and I’m working as a real estate associate for Summit Sotheby’s International Realty. They are my broker, brand, and company.
My day-to-day schedule is flexible and varies constantly.
I really never know what is going to come up — buyers and sellers always have new or last-minute requests. My hours are not consistent or normal: Some days I start as early as 8 a.m., and others I can be working up into the late hours of the night.
COVID-19 hasn’t especially affected my routine. Now, I mainly just have more virtual instead of face-to-face meetings. I miss the in-person connection, but I try to look at it optimistically, in that I can get more meetings in during the week and have less travel time.
I can work up to seven days a week, including on holidays.
I try to plan one full day each week that I take for myself and family time, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. A flexible schedule can be a perk, but it also can make it tricky to schedule a true vacation.
Typically, I have several Zoom meetings every week with fellow agents of Sotheby’s where we get caught up on newly active, recently under contract, and sold inventory. I also have a marketing meeting with our in-house advertising agency to discuss strategy and company highlights, and training/continuing education with our in-house council to learn about current issues that are coming up in the market and to stay up to date on legal aspects.
My days are also filled with buyer meetings, listing appointments with new sellers, staging houses, selecting photos or videos for online listings, meeting inspectors and vendors for bids, scheduling appraisals, catching up with lenders and title companies, and connecting with my database of clients.
Real estate is not as easy as some people think, and I believe a good agent makes this career their primary focus.
When I first meet a potential buyer, I do my best to quickly nail down what their ideal ski home looks like. The market moves quickly, and inventory is limited, so it’s important to have a clear understanding of what they want.
Of course, there are difficult clients, like in any industry has zero problem clients. Sometimes we have to deal with buyers or sellers making weird requests for making repairs, or keeping and selling personal items.
During the pandemic, I’ve worked with several clients who are eager to buy a house without even seeing it in person, only by virtual tour.
Buyers are doing their diligence, but the process is getting shorter and quicker. It normally takes at least a week to close a negotiation, but if you’re working with a great agent, you can shorten that timeline because you’re working with somebody who understands the market.
Read more: 7 moves to make in your first year as a homeowner to save money and spend wisely, according to personal finance experts
Colorado is a popular ski destination, but I make it my job to sell buyers on Utah
At Park City, we’re just a four hour-drive away from warmer climates in Moab, Jackson Hole, or Sun Valley. We get gorgeous fall, summer, and spring seasons, as well as winter.
Nobody has a crystal ball in real estate and it’s hard to predict anything, but historically, real estate can be a wise investment. If you can buy at the right time, in an up-and-coming town, there’s no telling how much your investment may be worth in just a few years.