The Wasatch Front’s exceedingly tight housing market got even tighter in spring and early summer.
Surging prices and record-low inventories of available single-family homes have continued to stunt home sales across the five-county region centered on Utah’s capital city.
New numbers indicate the median price of a single-family home in Salt Lake County rose to $530,000 for April, May and June, nearly 29% higher than the same time a year ago. In June alone, that price was at $550,000, according to data released by the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.
For comparison, that same median price was around $300,000 in late 2016, less than five years ago. Anecdotes now abound of scant home listings, bidding wars and cash offers as much as $150,000 above listing price.
At the same time, second-quarter sales of single-family homes for the county came in on par with the same three-month period in 2020, when home shopping dipped sharply amid COVID-19 fears and health-related lockdowns.
Compared to the same time in 2019, though, sales are down by about 10%, board data shows.
[Click here to look at the latest Wasatch Front home price trends, by ZIP code.]
Regionwide, sale volumes have been dampened for months as part of a pandemic-induced supply pinch amid intense demand, sparked partly by record-low interest rates and buyers seeking more open settings, home offices and bigger backyards.
Yet, thanks to those head-spinning price gains, the dollar volume for all home sales in Salt Lake County came in just shy of $1 billion in June alone, at $967.7 million, nearly $150 million ahead of June 2020.
The latest data also shows the hottest markets for single-family homes are now firmly centered in more suburban communities across Utah, Davis, Weber and Tooele counties and away from population centers like Salt Lake City, Provo and Ogden.
Of the top 10 cities on the Wasatch Front for single-family home sales last quarter, only one — Herriman — was located in Salt Lake County. Other top-selling cities, in order of sales, were: Eagle Mountain, Tooele, Lehi, Clearfield, Saratoga Springs, Farr West, Roy, American Fork and Marriott-Slaterville.
For want of single-family homes to buy, would-be homeowners have piled onto condominiums, town homes and duplexes, boosting sales of those multifamily housing types in Salt Lake County by about 28% over the same time in 2020.
“Higher home prices are driving more buyers to condominiums and town houses,” Matt Ulrich, board president and head of Ulrich Realtors, based in Cottonwood Heights.
Although nearly $160,000 less expensive than single-family home, prices on those types of homes are rising, too, data shows, with the median multifamily dwelling now at $368,000, now up 27% over last year.
Ulrich and other real estate agents noted in June that a severe lack of new home construction over the past two decades has left Utah with an acute shortage of available housing, worsening its affordability crisis.
Experts estimate the Beehive State has a housing gap of nearly 45,000 units, including homes and apartments, even as homebuilders are putting up tens of thousands of dwellings and have permits to build even more.
Even if Utah built 30,000 hew housing units yearly, Ulrich said, “it will still take us 10 years to erase the housing gap.”