Utah housing experts consider the pandemic housing rush and subsequent hangover a “unique” chapter in the history books on par with the Great Recession — but with its own distinct and different set of challenges.

The Beehive State was among the top states in the West to sizzle amid the housing frenzy in 2020, 2021 and early 2022, but now it’s been one of the hardest hit with some of the most dramatic price declines with today’s high mortgage interest rates topping over 7%. A new report released Wednesday by the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute unpacks what happened in Utah during the housing rush — and what’s next.

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“The sharpest price decline in Utah’s real estate history occurred from May 2022 to January 2023,” wrote the report’s authors, housing researchers Jim Wood and Dejan Eskic.

In those eight months, the statewide median sales price of an existing home fell 16%. Keep in mind, that’s after the statewide median sales price peaked in May 2022 at $545,000. But by January 2023, it had fallen to $460,000.

“There is no other comparable short-term decline, when housing prices fell so far so fast, in either the Great Recession or the decade of the 1980s,” Wood and Eskic wrote.

Home prices appear to have bottomed in January, when they likely hit the “trough of this price cycle,” the report states. From January to May, prices began climbing again, with the median sales price stalling at $500,000 in July. “Nevertheless, the recovery in prices so far in 2023 is encouraging, indicating that the downward pressure on prices is winding down,” Wood and Eskic wrote.

While the researchers expect home prices to rise again in 2024, they also painted a detailed picture of what areas of Utah were hit hardest by the national real estate correction now playing out.

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Utah counties with biggest home price declines

Price fluctuations were naturally most volatile in counties with fewer transactions to report from 2022 to 2023. But when comparing counties with at least 50 sales, rural counties in northern Utah and Washington County in southern Utah saw the state’s largest price declines from the second quarter of 2022 to the same time of year in 2023.

In the report, Wood and Eskic used data from UtahRealEstate.com and the Utah Association of Realtors for Washington County to calculate percent change in median sales price of homes by county from 2022 to 2023.

Here are the top 10 counties with the biggest declines, excluding counties with fewer than 50 transactions, according to the report. Five of the counties saw double-digit drops.

  1. Sanpete: -15.5%, with a median price of $365,00 in 2023, down from $432,000 in 2022.
  2. Washington: -12.8%, with $523,500 in 2023, down from $600,000 in 2022.
  3. Box Elder: -10.8%, with $403,800 in 2023, down from $452,500 in 2022.
  4. Utah: -10.6%, with $487,500 in 2023, down from $545,000 in 2022.
  5. Carbon: -10.1%, with $229,350 in 2023, down from $255,000 in 2022.
  6. Tooele: -8.4%, with $449,425 in 2023, down from $490,544 in 2022.
  7. Salt Lake: -6.5%, with $520,000 in 2023, down from $556,000 in 2022.
  8. Weber: -5.6%, with $425,000 in 2023, down from $450,000 in 2022.
  9. Cache: -5.6%, with $425,000 in 2023, down from $450,000 in 2022.
  10. Davis: -4.8%, with $519,000 in 2023, down from $545,000 in 2022.

Prices didn’t drop everywhere, however. Utah’s two most expensive counties — Summit and Wasatch — saw the strongest price increases in the same period. The median sales price in Summit County increased by 7% to $1,375,000 and in Wasatch County by 4.8% to $1,016,143, according to the report.

Looking at city-level data, nearly all of Utah’s most populous cities had year-over-year price declines. Five saw double-digit percentage price declines. Eagle Mountain led the pack with a 13.7% drop. 

On the other hand, only two of Utah’s largest cities saw increases: Herriman and Draper. The median sales price in Herriman increased by 0.5% to $571,956. In Draper, it increased by 7.5% to $785,000. 

Here’s how Utah’s largest 20 cities were impacted by the home price correction, ranked from the biggest declines to the largest price increases, according to the report:

  1. Eagle Mountain: -13.7% from 2022, with a median price of $491,500 in 2023.
  2. St. George: -12.8% from 2022, with $499,071 in 2023.
  3. Riverton: -10.9% from 2022, with $541,000 in 2023.
  4. Murray: -10.9% from 2022, with $470,000 in 2023.
  5. Orem: -10.2% from 2022, with $458,000 in 2023.
  6. West Jordan: -9.8% from 2022, with $505,000 in 2023.
  7. Salt Lake City: -8.2% from 2022, with $523,000 in 2023.
  8. South Jordan: -8.2% from 2022, with $590,000 in 2023.
  9. Lehi: -8.2% from 2022, with $495,000 in 2023.
  10. Millcreek: -8.2% from 2022, with $590,000 in 2023.
  11. West Valley City: -7.7% from 2022, with $435,000 in 2023.
  12. Layton: -6.9% from 2022, with $488,000 in 2023.
  13. Sandy: -5.3% from 2022, with $624,900 in 2023.
  14. Ogden: -4.1% from 2022, with $458,000 in 2023.
  15. Taylorsville: -3.6% from 2022, with $464,000 in 2023.
  16. Logan: -3.2% from 2022, with $394,950 in 2023.
  17. Provo: -2.5% from 2022, with $437,250 in 2023.
  18. Bountiful: -0.3% from 2022, with $540,000 in 2023.
  19. Herriman: +0.5% from 2022, with $571,956 in 2023.
  20. Draper: +7.5% from 2022, with $785,000 in 2023.
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