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Is Utah’s ‘fierce’ housing market cooling? Sales are slowing, but prices are still sky high

2020 remains top record-breaking year for Salt Lake County home sales, but 2021 pacing for second place

A home for sale sign in the Salt Lake Valley.
A home for sale sign is pictured in the Salt Lake Valley on Friday, July 16, 2021. It appears Utah’s housing market may be cooling off ever so slightly, according to the latest home sale figures.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

It appears Utah’s housing market may be slowing ever so slightly, according to the latest Salt Lake County home sale figures.

But that doesn’t mean the market’s not still red-hot — only that 2020, the year the pandemic threw the national housing market into upheaval and spurred record-breaking home sales, especially in the West, is outpacing a still simmering 2021.

Even though home sales in Utah’s most populous county, Salt Lake County, appear to be slowing, 2021 is still projected to be the No. 2 best year for home sales, according to the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

This summer’s slowdown is likely due to fewer listings and higher prices.

“Competition to purchase a home remains fierce for buyers,” Matt Ulrich, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, said in a prepared statement issued Thursday.

“While sales have recently slowed, multiple offers are commonplace on most properties. Home prices continue to rise.”

Home sales in Salt Lake County fell 17% in August compared to sales in August 2020, according to UtahRealEstate.com. It marked the third consecutive month of falling sales year over year. Sales in July were down 25%, while in June they fell 8%.

Still, despite this summer’s slowdown, sales from January through August this year are only 3% lower than the same eight-month period in 2020, according to the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

More homes sold in 2020 in Salt Lake County than any other previous year on record, the Salt Lake Board of Realtors said, putting 2021 on track to be the second-highest sales year ever.

Meanwhile, prices remain stunning.

In August, the median sold price of all Salt Lake County homes in August was $474,950, up 23% compared to $385,000 in August 2020, according to the Salt Lake Board of Realtors. The median price of a single-family home was $546,000, up 26% year over year. For multifamily homes, that price jumped to $390,000 up 31% year over year.

Recent research out of Florida put three Utah cities — Ogden, Provo and Salt Lake City — close behind Boise, Idaho, as among the top 10 cities in the nation with “overvalued” housing prices.

The market is still a fast-paced environment for buyers to navigate.

A typical Salt Lake County home sold in just six days in August of this year, down from nine days in August 2020. And sellers continue to rake in millions. Total sales volume in August increased to $870 million, up 4% from $833 million in August 2020, according to the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Inventory remains tight. New listings for August fell to 1,836, down 10% compared to 2,045 listings in August 2020. Under contract listings (listings for which a seller has accepted an offer, but the sale is not final) dropped to 2,336 in August, down 24% from 3,080 under contract listings the same month last year.