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SALT LAKE CITY — Single-family homes in Salt Lake County are more expensive than ever, a recent report shows.
The median price for a house in the third quarter of 2019 rose to $386,000, according to data from the Salt Lake Board of Realtors — more than $100,000 higher than it was five years ago.
The rising prices are indicative of Utah’s growing national profile, said Scott Robbins, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, as more people from out of state choose to make their home in the Beehive State.
“Ten years ago, Salt Lake City wasn’t really part of the discussion about Western cities,” Robbins said. “Now we are, definitely.”
But as home prices go up — and finding an affordable house in the Wasatch Front becomes more and more difficult for many, especially first-time homebuyers — the number of sales have gone down.
For many young couples and families looking to buy their first house, Robbins said, having a two-income household has become a necessity. Questions of affordability are further complicated when children enter into the picture.
“It’s really changing the dynamics” of what people consider when deciding whether to buy a home, Robbins said.
The median price for a single-family home in the county in the third quarter of 2014 was $258,000, according to data from the Salt Lake Board of Realtors. That number has shot up steadily since then, sharply increasing even since the start of 2019: In the year’s first quarter, the median home price was $355,000.
As prices rise in Salt Lake County, Utah County has become a hot spot for home sales, as has Tooele. At the same time, many young people are choosing to stay in Salt Lake City, but as renters rather than buyers.
For those who are buying in Salt Lake County, the majority of sales that take place are for less than $500,000. But there aren’t many homes available in that price range — or in any price range, for that matter.
Inventory is the lowest it’s been in 20 years, Robbins said. This has affected not only young and lower-income homebuyers with a limited price range, but also older people looking to downsize but unable to find a smaller house.
While Salt Lake housing may be more expensive than ever, it’s still relatively cheap when compared to other cities, such as Seattle and San Francisco, Robbins noted. And this, of course, is part of the reason for the influx of buyers.
For example, he said, he recently worked with a couple moving from Los Angeles. They’d sold their 1,300-square-foot house in L.A. for $1.1 million and traded it for a $700,000 house, and nearly four times the size, in Draper.
“When you compare (Salt Lake) to (bigger cities),” Robbins said, “it’s a no-brainer.”