The Salt Lake City metro area continues to be among the top housing markets in the U.S. to see the most dramatic yearly declines in home sales since high interest rates chilled the market.

However, home sales also appear to be picking up steam heading into the summer.

That’s according to RE/MAX’s May National Housing Market Report, which surveyed 51 metro areas across the U.S. Of those 51 metros, the report shows a seasonal 20% increase in home sales over April, as well as an 8.7% rise in new listings.

While home sales are still down 18.7% from last May, “solid demand amid tight inventory” is helping push home prices up slightly. Though the national median sales price is still down 1.9% from May 2022, it ticked up by 3.2% month over month to $423,000 this May, according to RE/MAX. That’s up from the 2022 fall slowdown, when the median price was $399,000 in October, after three straight months of price declines.

Utah housing market sees nation’s biggest decline in October home sales, RE/MAX reports

“The sizable jump in May home sales signals the start of the peak selling season, but lack of inventory remains the biggest challenge for home buyers,” said Nick Bailey, RE/MAX president and CEO, in a prepared statement.

“With the vast majority of homeowners having a mortgage rate under 5% — and a good chunk of those are under 3.5% — we’re not seeing as much move-up activity as usual,” Bailey said. “That means fewer available listings for buyers to choose from — and most likely some continuing bumpiness in the market. That said, sales are still happening, and experienced agents are still finding solutions for their buyers and sellers.”

Housing market in Salt Lake City

Of the 51 markets included in RE/MAX’s survey, the Salt Lake City metro area was among the top five markets with the biggest year-over-year declines in closed transactions in May. The month closed out with 1,113 transactions compared to 1,575 in May 2022, a 29.3% drop.

Here’s how RE/MAX ranked the five markets with the biggest year-over-year decrease in closed transactions:

  1. Seattle, Washington — 4,290 transactions in May 2023 compared to 6,494 in May 2022, a 33.9% decline.
  2. Anchorage, Alaska — 444 transactions in May 2023, down 32.5% from 658 in May 2022.
  3. Portland, Oregon — 2,595 transactions in May 2023, 31.8% from 3,806 in May 2022.
  4. Honolulu, Hawaii — 712 transactions in May 2023, down 30.3% from 1,021 in May 2022.
  5. Salt Lake City, Utah — 1,113 transactions in May 2023, down 29.3% from 1,575 in May 2022.

However, even though the Salt Lake area’s housing transactions are down from this time last year, RE/MAX’s report also shows an uptick in activity month to month. The 1,113 closed transactions in May are up 10.6% from April, according to RE/MAX.

Compare that to October 2022, when the Salt Lake City metro saw the No. 1 biggest decline in home sales with a 48.3% year-over-year drop in closed transactions, according to RE/MAX’s report that month. The metro area saw 902 transactions in October, down from 1,747 in October of 2022, when Utah’s housing market was red hot.

The Salt Lake City metro’s median sales price is also on the incline month over month, hitting $525,000 in May, up 7.1% from the previous month, RE/MAX reported.

Prices, however, are still down year over year.

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In April, the median price for all housing types in Salt Lake County dropped to $495,000, a 10.8% decline year over year, according to the Salt Lake Board of Realtors. The median price for a single-family home was $577,000, down almost 9% from $633,000 in April 2022. For multi-family homes including condominiums, townhomes and twin homes, the median price was $423,750, a 5.8% year-over-year drop.

That month, Salt Lake County was still grinding along in a sluggish market due to persistently high mortgage interest rates. The county saw only 908 closed transactions, a 32.4% decrease compared to 1,343 sales in April 2022.

“Increased mortgage interest rates have resulted in a considerable rise in monthly payments, posing affordability challenges for potential buyers,” Rob Ockey, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, said in a prepared statement issued at the end of May. “Additionally, homeowners are reluctant to sell their properties and lose their current low interest rates.”

Still, limited supply is pressurizing housing prices. The $577,000 median price of a single-family home reflected a nearly 8% rise from $535,750 in January, according to the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

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