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SALT LAKE CITY — Any guesses for which Utah areas saw the biggest price jumps in home sales over the past year?
If you guessed Summit County, which includes Park City, perhaps one of the most desirable ski resort destinations in Utah and the West, you're on the money. The area remains Utah's most expensive community. The median sales price of homes there jumped from $801,274 in 2020 to $1.15 million in 2021, a 43.5% increase in just one year.
That's according to the latest research on Utah's housing market, released Wednesday by the University of Utah's Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute in a report titled the State of the State's Housing Market.
But there are other, more surprising areas that outpaced even Summit County in percentage growth of sales prices.
Look south, at rural Sevier County, near Fishlake National Forest and Manti-La Sal National Forest, home to Richfield, Salina and Monroe. Homes aren't nearly as expensive there, but the area saw an even higher percent change in the median sales price of homes in the same time period, from $185,000 in 2020 to $275,000 in 2021 — a 48.6% increase, according to the report.
Those areas saw the highest percent change in median sales price of homes among Utah's counties with more than 100 sales transactions from January 2020 to June 2020, and January 2021 to June 2021, the report states.
"Almost all Utah counties have experienced substantial increases in housing prices in the past year," the report states.
That widespread growth, the report says, is distinctive of the past 12 months, when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted supply chains, threw the national housing market into upheaval and accelerated already booming housing markets. The West — particularly Idaho and Utah — has seen an explosion in demand and record-breaking home price increases.
The report's authors warned Utah now is facing a "severe imbalance" in its housing market, with prices skyrocketing so much that more than half of the state's households are unable to afford a median priced house, which for a single-family home is $460,000 in 2021. But housing experts don't see a "bubble" about to pop like it did in 2008, expecting demand to continue to outpace supply.
Some counties with fewer than 100 sales transactions saw even more dramatic percentage increases. However, due to the limited number of sales transactions the percent change in those counties may not be as reliable of a measure of change, the report notes.
Consider agricultural Morgan County in the mountains east of Farmington, home to East Canyon State Park. There, the median sales price of homes went from $414,750 in 2020 to $657,500 in 2021 — a 58.9% jump.
And in Utah's upper northeast corner, there's Rich County, home to Bear Lake and Garden City. The median sales price of homes there grew from $317,000 in 2020 to $494,310 in 2021. That's a 55.9% increase.
Now let's zoom in on cities. Any guesses for which city had the largest median sales price increase?
It was Layton, a city in Davis County about 30 minutes north of Salt Lake City. Layton topped the report's list of Utah cities with populations of over 50,000 that saw more than 100 sale transactions from the second quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of 2021.
Layton's median sales price of single-family homes jumped from $355,910 in the second quarter of 2020 to over the half a million dollar mark — $504,289 — in the second quarter of 2021, a 41.7% increase.
In the No. 2 slot was Herriman, a suburb at the south end of the Salt Lake Valley. That rapidly growing community — where city officials recently voted to annex a massive, controversial housing development known as Olympia Hills — saw its single-family home median sales price swell from $449,000 in 2020 to $620,000 in 2021, a 38.1% increase.
Of Utah's 15 cities that have a population of more than 50,000, 11 saw price jumps greater than 30%. For most of those, the increases were record-breaking, according to the report.
"Thirty percent price increases were unheard of in Utah before 2020-2021," the report states.
Even though Salt Lake County remains Utah's most population-dense county, Herriman was the only city in the county to rank in the top half of large cities with the biggest percent growth in the median sales price of single-family homes.
"Lehi, Logan, St. George, Ogden, Provo and Orem registered larger increases than most major cities in Salt Lake County," according to the report.