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Feb. 26, 2021, 3:38 p.m. EST

Millennials don’t want their vacation homes to be McMansions

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By Danielle Hyams

This article is reprinted by permission from , a newsletter for second homeowners and those who want to be. Subscribe . © 2021. All rights reserved. 

Jamie Mackay, a real estate developer with properties in Wyoming and Montana, was shopping for land in 2018 to expand into Park City, Utah. He thought he would just recreate the formula of his Fireside Resorts, which combine camping, a luxury hotel suite and a private vacation rental cabin into one.

Then he came across 2,550-acre Benloch Ranch.

“I absolutely just fell in love with the topography, the location and just what it was, for so many reasons,” he said. “It has canyons, groves of aspen and so much water on it. It’s absolutely fantastic.” 

Inspired by the location and its vastness, Mackay decided to try something new.

“Why can’t I do something hybrid? The Fireside Cabins have been fantastically successful, and I said, ‘why don’t we just take that model and put it on steroids?’ Instead of 400 or 500 square foot cabins, let’s build 2000- to 4000-square-foot homes.”

What Mackay didn’t want? To create more of the 6500+ square-foot megahomes, common in the surrounding neighborhoods.  

What Benloch Ranch represents is a collision of trends in real estate and demographics. Millennials of homebuying age are rejecting the sizes of their parents’ homes, so-called cookie-cutter McMansions. And the second-home market, hastened by COVID and the same millennial-buying population, is booming. The pandemic has forced buyers to value outdoor spaces and activities more than ever before. Benloch Ranch currently has a waitlist of 175 for its single-family lots.

“Benloch Ranch is more about reconnecting with nature, whereas other developments offer more of a “white glove” experience with equestrian ranches, kids clubs and guides to take you trout fishing,” said principal broker Mike Brenny. “We’re a little more hands-off and a little bit more about exploration and adventure.”

The development’s amenities include more than 20 miles of trails, a ski hill, a skeet shooting range, an ice skating pond and 900 acres of open space.

“Everything out there is the same old house, over and over again,” Mackay added. “We’re bringing a more Scandanavain, European style. The whole idea, he added, was to cater to the millennial buyer, as that demographic is the biggest buyer of homes right now, according to Realtor.com’s housing market predictions .

“A lot of millenials don’t want these big houses anymore. We’re redefining the size and scale of the house and altering the price point so it’s more affordable.”

According to data released by the Park City Board of REALTORS, the median price  single-family home rose roughly 26% year-over-year to $2.5 million. Benloch Ranch offers single-family homes starting at $695,000.

Mackay’s timing was impeccable. Park City real estate, like in many resort towns, has seen unprecedented demand since COVID-19, particularly among younger people fleeing their cramped apartments in places like New York City, Chicago and San Francisco. 

“It was like a snowball,” said local real estate agent Nancy Tallman. “It just kept getting bigger and picking up steam, and people were coming here and staying longer and figuring out if they  can work from anywhere, why not work from Park City, why not work from a resort town.”

Mark, 42, who lives in Dallas and requested to only be identified by his first name, recently purchased a vacation property in Benloch Ranch, drawn to the development’s affordable price point and sleek architecture. So much so, he said, that he convinced 10 of his friends to buy there as well.

“There really is nowhere like Park City,” said Mark. One of its main draws, he said, is its proximity to Salt Lake City International Airport — a 30-minute drive. Many other popular resort towns are hours from the closest large airport. Plus, he added, Salt Lake City is home to the world’s largest Costco.

According to Redfin data , the number of homes sold in Park City has increased by 37% year-over-year, leaving inventory nearly depleted. 

“There is almost nothing to buy, so when something comes on the market it gets snapped up very quickly, often with multiple offers,” Tallman said. 

If there is any indicator that the younger, remote working crowd is here to stay, Park City is getting its first co-working space. It’s opening in April and called Kiln.

Mackay is expanding further: He has property under contract outside of Austin and is eyeing locations in Montana and Idaho as well. “We’re just kind of here to disrupt the real estate market,” he said with a laugh. 

This article is reprinted by permission from , a newsletter for second homeowners and those who want to be. Subscribe . © 2021. All rights reserved. 

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