(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) A 2,100 square foot home for sale for $380,000 in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Even with housing demand in Utah at historic highs, home sales along the Wasatch Front dropped earlier this year for a lack of supply. Prices, meanwhile, keep climbing for single-family homes as razor-thin supplies dampen sales and buyers go for more affordable alternatives such as condominiums and town homes.
The number of homes sold January through March fell across the five-county region centered on Salt Lake City even though theres historic demand spurred by low interest rates, Utahs recovering economy and a pandemic-induced quest for new living spaces.
Region-wide, 5,611 single-family homes changed hands in the first three months of 2021, 451 fewer than those same months the year prior. Average sales prices, meanwhile, vaulted by between 17% and 23% or higher, depending on the location.
Its a whirlwind, for sure. Weve never seen the supply this low and demand this high, Matt Ulrich, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, said Tuesday. This is probably one of the most challenging markets Ive ever witnessed.
Housing was tight before the pandemic but demand has flown even higher, agents say, as many homeowners seek more space. People are increasingly working from home, widening their living options, and millennials are jumping into home shopping after saving money over the last year.
Ulrich said the resulting pinch has also pushed house hunters out to once-rural communities in southern Utah County and Tooele County. He estimated the Wasatch Front now has enough available homes to met roughly two weeks of current demand, down from three to four months supply a few years ago.
Realtors say that getting 30 offers on a home is all but standard these days, usually well above the price listed. Several reported desperate buyers offering up to $100,000 above asking price in their initial bids.
Cash buyers make up the largest share of home total purchases since 2010, according to new research, accounting for as many as 18.5% of all transactions, according to new research, up from 12% a year ago.
If youre hoping to be a first-time buyer, the picture is especially bleak in light of estimates that Utah lacks at least 50,000 moderately priced homes and rentals statewide after years of rising building costs and shrinking land supplies.
Weve never seen inventories like this, said Jaren Davis, executive officer of the Salt Lake Homebuilders Association. Ramped-up new construction could provide a safety valve with more supply, Davis added, but weve got to go all-out, full throttle.
In Salt Lake County, single-family sales fell 1.4% last quarter even as the states economy continued to add employment in key sectors. At the same time, according to the boards latest report, the median sales price in the county leapt 17% compared to the same time last year, to $468,000.
That same pattern boomeranged more dramatically in surrounding counties, with sales declines of 3.7% in Tooele County and 6.9% in Utah County and bigger drops of 16.4% and 18.4% in Davis and Weber counties, respectively all attended by big price increases.
Median sales prices as of the end of March were at up 20% to $450,000 in Utah County. In Weber County, the gain was 23.2% to a price of $340,000. Davis Countys median price rose 21% to $430,000. And in Tooele County once viewed by many as a place to find bargains that median was at $360,000, up 17.8%.
Prices were typically lower by region for condos and town houses, though they are also surging compared to prior years. In Salt Lake County, the median price on those homes was $335,000 last quarter, while it had risen to $307,000 in Davis County, $291,812 in Utah County, $281,647 in Tooele County and $271,000 in Weber County.
A top real estate analyst with the University of Utahs Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute said Tuesday the trends of heightened housing demand and price rises is likely to hold both in Utah and nationally for several years, as the U.S. economy continues to rebound from its pandemic-related downturn.