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Homes sales across the Wasatch Front went for bad to worse last year as housing prices rocketed from high to higher and the supply slumped from thin to thinner.
New data from the Salt Lake Board of Realtors shows a yearlong sales slowdown deepened in late fall, due partly to the pandemic. Nearly half the number of existing single-family homes changed hands in October, November and December compared with the year before, with sales dropping 45% across the five-county region centered on Salt Lake County.
Demand is there, just not the homes to sell. In places like Salt Lake City’s downtown and Central City neighborhoods, Taylorsville, portions of Lindon, Orem and Provo, and Centerville in Davis County, sales fell by 60% or more as depleted inventories and a regional housing shortage frustrated many would-be buyers.
[Go to www.sltrib.com/homeprices to see home prices and sales in the five-county region by ZIP code.]
Prices also smashed records in several locales as they continued a steady upward climb that has pushed large portions of Utah’s housing stock out of reach for those earning what are average wages by state standards. That persistent trend, which well preceded the onset of COVID-19, has since been accentuated by lower interest rates, more people moving to the suburbs and out-of-staters pouring in.
New numbers show an average one-year price gain for single-family homes of 23.9% in Salt Lake County; 25.5% in Utah County; 26.5% in Tooele County; 23.9% in Weber County; and 24.9% in Davis County.
“There is still such high demand, but it’s putting first-time homebuyers even further away from getting into homes,” said Steve Perry, incoming president for the Salt Lake Board of Realtors and chief operating officer with Presidio Real Estate, headquartered in Pleasant Grove.
“The low inventory is making such a big difference,” said Perry, noting a record dearth of active listings, also down by double digits from last year.
Data shows the average home for sale was on the market for between 18 and 23 days depending on the county, sharply below just a year ago. Anecdotally, real estate agents say some listings are snapped up in at little as four days, some with cash offers $100,000 or more above asking price.
And with the prospect of a rise in interest rates and the higher mortgage payments that go along with them, Perry said, more residents are likely to be priced out of homeownership or a chance to move up from starter homes.
Prevailing estimates are that home prices across the state will grow by at least another 8% to 12% in the coming year, with no longer term slowdown in sight.
That overall picture and the state’s estimated deficit of at least 40,000 affordable homes have lifted the issue on many political agendas this year on Utah’s Capitol Hill.
“If you have talked to anybody lately, they all feel it,” state Rep. Steve Waldrip, R-Eden, told fellow lawmakers recently as he introduced one of a series of housing-related bills. “Every income bracket of the market is an issue that we are facing increasing pressure on.”
The median home price in Utah County’s Alpine — which topped $1 million in early fall — inched up to $1.278 million as last year closed, making it the Wasatch Front’s most expensive ZIP code.
Draper had some of Salt Lake County’s highest prices, with the median for a single-family home there reaching $790,790 in the fourth quarter of 2021. South Jordan carried the second-highest prices in Utah’s most populous county, at $765,000.
In Weber County’s Huntsville, median prices jumped from $535,000 in late 2020 to $817,500 at the end of 2021, a 52.8% gain. Davis County’s top median price was in Farmington, at $598,750, while in Tooele County, the median price of homes in Stockton led the way at $565,000 — up 28.5% over the year before.
Typically more affordable than single-family homes, condominiums and town homes are also seeing big leaps in median sale prices, with year-over-year gains ranging from 13.2% in Tooele County to as high as 37.7% in Utah County.
That has pushed median condo price as high as $451,952 in Utah County’s American Fork, though the median price countywide was $378,689. Salt Lake County’s median condo price stood at $395,000, with the highest in Emigration Canyon, at about $550,000.
As it did with single-family homes, Huntsville had Weber County’s priciest condos in the fourth quarter, at a staggering $770,000, while that county’s median condo price was $320,000.
Median condo prices were $355,500 in Davis County, according to new data, and $288,750 in Tooele County.
At the other end of the price spectrum, Salt Lake County’s least expensive single-family homes were in Ballpark and the west side’s Rose Park and Glendale neighborhoods. In Davis County, Clearfield, Layton and Woods Cross had the lowest prices.
Tooele County’s relative bargains were spread widely across the 84074 ZIP code, spanning Lake Point, Stansbury Park, Erda and the city of Tooele.
Utah County’s lowest median home prices were in Goshen, east of Interstate 15 in Provo, and Payson. And, in Weber County, the least expensive homes were found in Farr West, South Ogden and Roy.