Housing prices continue to climb along the Wasatch Front, resulting in slowing home sales

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) A custom-built home for sale in Riverton, as seen Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. New data from the Salt Lake Board of Realtors shows that home prices along the Wasatch Front continue to rise, depressing sales in many pockets in the five-county area.

Housing prices along the Wasatch Front continued to rise through late summer and kept the pace of home sales either flat or falling in many areas, according to the latest data from the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Salt Lake County’s median price for a single-family home reached $355,000 in the third quarter of 2018, compared with $345,000 for January, February and March, as a five-county surge in prices shows few signs of easing up. A detailed list by ZIP code is available at sltrib.com/homeprices.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Only 3,485 homes sold in Utah’s most populous county, slightly behind sales levels for the same quarter in 2017 of 3,494 homes. Similarly, a total of 8,002 homes changed hands across Salt Lake, Utah, Weber, Davis and Tooele counties in July, August and September of this year, about 307 fewer homes than sold in the same period last year.

According to Adam Kirkham, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, heavy demand for single-family homes across Utah’s population centers is being driven by a combination of the state’s relatively rapid rate of creating new families along with people moving to the state, thanks to its healthy economic outlook and job growth.

The combination, Kirkham said in a statement, has “created a housing deficit that continues to push prices higher.”

Despite reports of substantial rises in the number of newly built homes in Utah — estimated as high as 45 percent year over year — construction costs for those homes continue to go up due to labor shortages, a dearth of available land and climbing prices of building materials such as lumber, steel and aluminum.

The Salt Lake Chamber has launched a major campaign— through what’s been dubbed the Housing Gap Coalition — to address the state’s challenges with affordable housing, with the goal of “providing access to a variety of housing types for all income groups.”

As they continue to meet with city councils across the state, chamber officials have labeled the housing shortage a “very real threat” to the state’s long-term economic prosperity.

A recent survey by the nonprofit Utah Foundation found that about 12 percent of respondents statewide said their personal housing costs were not affordable — although that number was as high as 20 percent in Salt Lake County.

Price increases along the Wasatch Front for the third quarter were led by Tooele County, up 14.6 percent, and Utah County, up 11.3 percent. Salt Lake County's median home price, by comparison, went up by 9.2 percent compared to the same period in 2017.

Third-quarter homes sales in Salt Lake County, meanwhile, fell by 0.3 percent, after dropping 4.6 percent in the second quarter.

Davis County saw sales decline by 11.8 percent and Utah County sales were down 1.4 percent. Sales remained flat in Tooele County and grew 9.6 percent in Weber County.

Eight of Utah’s 10 most expensive ZIP codes are in Salt Lake County, although 84004 in Utah County’s Alpine had the Wasatch Front’s highest median price for July, August and September, at $735,000. That same area of Alpine also saw the region’s largest quarterly price jump of any Wasatch Front ZIP code, at 33.8 percent.

Other neighborhoods with big home price gains for the third quarter included:

  • Stockton in Tooele County (84071), up 23.5 percent to a median home price of $337,300.

  • Huntsville in Weber County (84317), up 21.7 percent to a median of $423,000.

  • Portions of Holladay in Salt Lake County (84117), up 20.9 percent, to a median price of $562,089.