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Utah home prices continue to rise even during pandemic



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SALT LAKE CITY — Sales of existing homes in Utah tumbled in May, but analysts and real estate agents said the market is experiencing strong activity and price increases as summer begins.

“We didn’t slow down, really,” said Christy Vail, with the Utah Association of Realtors. “There might have been two or three weeks where it was a little quiet, but overall, I think people are very positive and forward-thinking about home buying.”

Vail said Utah is faring better than other states and that demand is high right now, partly due to new buyers entering the market because of the low mortgage rates.

“We definitely are seeing multiple offers — that has not changed,” she said.

The Utah Association of Realtors reports that the median sales price for existing homes in Utah is up 4% this year. Nationally, the price increase is 2.3%.

Researchers at the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute said the state’s ongoing housing shortage is putting upward pressure on prices.

“Prices aren’t going down,” said research analyst Dejan Eskic. “As a matter of fact, they are still up over last year when we compare month-to-month.”

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That housing shortage could get worse, Eskic warned, since the pandemic caused a slowdown in construction during April and May.

“We’re forecasting about a 10% to 12% decline in housing construction-related activity for the year,” he said.

Sales of existing homes in Utah dropped 22% in May when compared to the same month last year, according to preliminary data for the Utah Association of Realtors. Nationally, year-over-year, home sales dropped 26.6% in May.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit just as the busy, springtime home-buying season would have started, possibly delaying completed transactions until now. In fact, the association of realtors said the number of homes currently under purchase contracts is outpacing last year by about 25%.


Prices aren’t going down. As a matter of fact, they are still up over last year when we compare month-to-month.

–Dejan Eskic, research analyst


Some of the summer demand could also be the result of Utah residents being more aware of their housing situations after spending so much time inside their current home because of the pandemic.

“I think people are a little bit more cognizant of their living space and their needs,” Vail said. “And two, I think there are many thoughts of maybe downsizing a little bit.”

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