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Over the past five years, Park City's real estate market has suffered as sales of high-end real estate has plummeted. That's why this year's Park City Area Showcase of Homes has a distinctly upbeat vibe.

Luxury home sales nationwide are recovering, and Utah's resort destination town is no exception. Home sales in the Park City area are at their highest level since the end of 2007, according to data from the Park City Board of Realtors. And home prices appear to have stopped falling, with the median selling price of $427,450 in the second quarter up from $412,500 at the same period last year.

Another positive sign: The inventory of active listings in the Park City area is at the lowest level since 2007.

"It's been a tough couple of years, but things are looking up," said Geri Strand, executive officer of the Park City Area Home Builders Association.

As is the case along the Wasatch Front, home-buying activity is increasing and in some cases, sellers are getting multiple offers — a phenomenon not seen in nearly five years. While multiple offers are most common in the lowest price ranges, it starting to happen more in all price ranges as well. One of the homes in the Park City showcase, for example, has two buyers who bid up the asking price to $2.4 million from $2.2 million, Strand said.

This year's showcase includes 11 homes priced at $600,000 to about $3.5 million. The number of featured homes is down from 20 in the boom years. But two years ago there were only nine homes.

While other parades of homes nationwide have moved toward more affordable luxury during the downturn, Park City's showcase has kept its focus on luxury. Its lineup of homes this year, which range in size from about 3,000 to more than 7,000 square feet, have multi-car garages, gourmet kitchens, all the bells and whistles and "green" features as well as a plethora of bathrooms — one home, for example, has seven bathrooms to go with five bedrooms.

As is the case in other areas of Utah as well as the rest of the country, home sales and prices have risen in part due to increased activity by bargain-hunters and investors — not to mention super-low mortgage rates. Those who don't need financing are buying homes, too.

"We've seen a lot of cash transactions," said Jeff Spencer, president-elect of the Park City Board of Realtors.

Some with cash are buying rentals; others are purchasing vacation homes.

"Park City is a second, third, fourth home market," said Strand of the Park City Area Home Builders Association.

The Park City-area real estate market is a diverse one: Within the Park City limits, the median sales price is $1.1 million. The median sales price in the nearby Heber Valley, by comparison, though, is only $245,000 — higher than Salt Lake County's median but much more affordable than Park City.

Summit County real estate agents say they have noticed fewer deeply-discounted foreclosures hitting the market.

"The really incredible buys — those have already been snatched up," Spencer said.

As just about everywhere else, the lowest-priced condos and homes —in Park City that means anything under $400,000 or so — don't last long on the market. Sometimes they are snatched in hours.

The same dynamic of increased home sales and prices and lower inventory levels can be seen in Salt Lake County. A new report by the Salt Lake Board of Realtors shows that July marked the fourth consecutive month of rising home prices on a year-over-year basis.

The last time that home prices have risen for four consecutive months in the Salt Lake area was at the height of the market in 2007. The median price of all homes and condominiums sold in Salt Lake County in July was $192,000, up 1 percent compared to last year at the same time.

The number of homes and condominiums that sold in Salt Lake County in July increased 16 percent compared with July 2011. While all price ranges are showing improvement, most of the action is in the $250,000 and under price range, Realtors say.

As in Park City, the days of low-balling home sellers and snatching up homes for a fraction of their value appears to be over. With more demand among buyers and fewer distressed properties to compete with, sellers are starting to gain the upper hand.

"Home buyers are quickly learning that they must make attractive offers," said Donna Pozzuoli, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors. —

If you go…

P What • Park City Area Showcase of Homes

When • Through Monday, you can tour 11 high-end homes ranging in price from $600,000 to about $3.5 million.

Cost • Tickets are $15 each and can be purchased at the first home in the showcase.

Info • For more information, go to