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5 staggering facts about Utah’s hot housing market

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A Lehi town town house construction project is seen through the wood framing of another town town house on May 10, 2021.

Construction at the Exchange Exterior Townhome building site in Lehi is pictured on Monday, May 10, 2021. Unprecedented increases in the cost of lumber and other building supplies is driving up prices in Utah’s already red-hot real estate and renovation markets.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

It’s an issue that’s worrying a mind-boggling 8 out of 10 Utahns — and one that reaches well beyond Utah to other states in the West.

The Deseret News took a deep dive into Utah’s raging hot real estate market and how it fits in to what’s happening in other Western states. With high rankings in numerous national lists analyzing the housing market, the Salt Lake City metro area is a contender for having the No. 1 housing market in the West, competing with other burgeoning areas like Boise, Idaho.

Read more about one Utah family’s struggle to buy a Davis County home and more data detailing Utah and the West’s “insane” housing market here.

Here are five eye-opening takeaways from the Deseret News’ reporting.

  1. The COVID-19 pandemic spurred out-migration from big cities like New York and San Francisco in 2020. Where did they go? A rural Utah valley in Wasatch County ranked near the top of a recent New York Times analysis out of 926 metro areas in the U.S. with the most net in-migration: Heber City.

Heber City ranked No. 5 for the biggest change in net in-migration in 2020, up by 4.7%, according to the April 19 analysis, putting Utah on the national map with other states like New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. While net in-migration increased most in smaller metros around New York City, such as Hudson and Kingston, New York, Torrington, Connecticut, and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in-migration also rose in what the New York Times labeled “vacation areas,” like Wasatch County, Utah.

Read more about what’s happening in the Heber Valley here.

2. Another staggering figure that illustrates the impact of in-migration to Utah: over 500,000 people based in California were browsing the website UtahRealEstate.com last year, according to Dave Robison, president of the Utah Association of Realtors.

“We don’t have that many homes for sale, but we had half a million looking from California,” he said. “Half a million.”

3. Housing prices across the Wasatch Front have skyrocketed over the past five years — and especially over the past year, accelerated by the pandemic. The prices have shot up by double digits, according to the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

In Salt Lake County, the median single-family home price climbed to $468,000 in the first quarter of 2021, up $68,000 or 17% from a year earlier when the median price was $400,000. In Utah County, that price is up to $450,000, up an even bigger 20% from the first quarter of 2020. In Davis County, that price is $430,000, up 21%. In Tooele County, it’s at $360,000, up 18%. And in Weber County, it’s $340,000, up 23%.


4. “Sold” signs are flying as homes sell at blazing speeds. Wasatch Front homes were on the market a median of five days in the first quarter of 2021, a huge drop from 28 days in the first quarter of 2020. Buyers are now having to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives in a matter of hours — without the luxury of waiting a few days before deciding to submit an offer.

5. Add into the mix record lumber prices, which are dragging homebuyers to the woodshed with a nearly 400% hike in the essential component for homebuilding just in the past year.

The frenzy of home buying and renovation activity in Utah and around the country, driven by consumers throwing off the shackles of pandemic-induced home isolation, has skewed the market and led to price increases that, as of April, were 374% higher than the same time last year.

Read more here.