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Gephardt: Utah’s real estate market remains strong during pandemic

By Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV | Posted - Jul. 16, 2020 at 10:21 a.m.



SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – While selling a home anytime can be a nerve-wracking experience, imagine selling during a pandemic where jobs are being lost and people are struggling to make ends meet. Yet, despite the ups and downs in this coronavirus economy, Utah remains, very much, a seller’s market.

Lindsey Heinig is one of those sellers where now is the time to move on.

“We have just outgrown it,” Heinig said. “We have two little boys and they very quickly take up this entire space. So, just a couple more feet.”

Being smack dab in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic made the Heinig family a little hesitant to sell their old space. They talked it out with their real estate agent.

“She said let’s wait a couple weeks and see what happens,” Heinig said. “And, so we waited and then it – the market – just never really went away or went down.”

Licensed realtor Jennifer Gilchrist is the Heinig’s real estate agent. She said at that very moment, she had 10 properties already under contract.

“When the pandemic first hit, our sales in April along the Wasatch Front were actually down 28 percent from April of last year,” Gilchrist explained.

Lindsey Heinig talks with KSL Investigator Matt Gephardt Wednesday, July 15, 2020. (Photo: KSL TV)

Statistics from ShowingTime and UtahRealEstate.com show a drastic drop in the number of home showings statewide in April. Now, they are outpacing 2019 levels, despite a short-lived dip early in July with the resurgence of COVID-19.

“We have just under 10,000 homes under contract, and that represents a 25 percent increase in year over year sales,” Gilchrist said.

She chalked up the bounce in Utah home sales to a low inventory of available homes, mortgage interest rates hovering at a 50-year low and pent-up demand.

“From buyers who potentially would have purchased in April and May, but are now jumping in the market. So we have a lot of demand,” she said.

Heinig is one of those buyers who jumped in, buying a larger home in the same neighborhood. And, she could because she had an offer for her old home on the first day she showed it.

Licensed realtor Jennifer Gilchrist is the Heinig’s real estate agent. (Photo: KSL TV)

“The market is just where it needed to be for us,” she said. “Weirdly wonderful.”

Most buyers, on the other hand, will find the market more challenging than wonderful. Researchers from the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute have forecasted a 10-to-12 percent drop in housing construction, and that will keep Utah home prices on the high side.

Gilchrist is telling her clients to see a property as soon as it hits the market and to expect multiple offers — possibly bidding wars.

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