Big news this month from the Salt Lake Board of Realtors: Million-dollar home sales along the Wasatch Front are on the rise. In the first eight months of 2019, there were 268 sales of million-dollar homes in Salt Lake, Davis, Tooele, Utah and Weber counties. That's up from 218 in the same time frame in 2018.
Let's not get all excited if the person sitting across from you at Beer Bar is a millionaire buying million-dollar homes. They might be on the TV show Secret Millionaire, but more likely they didn't lose their primary residence during the Great Recession of 2008. They sat on their home while it started going up in value, sold it when it was worth a bunch and were able to buy that million-dollar mansion on the hill. Let's say Beer Bar Bob with a brat in one hand and a bottle of cider in the other bought his home in 2005 for $200,000. When the market dropped, his home was only worth $175,000. He sat on it for many years and while he was there, he slowly updated the kitchen, baths, roof and furnace. This spring, he sold the home for $600,000. By then, he had paid down the principle amount to $150,000 and walked away with $450,000 as a down payment on his new home. In those 14 years, Beer Bar Bob moved up the corporate ladder, and his 2005 salary has more than doubled, so his monthly payment on that million-dollar manse is only about $1,500 more than his original mortgage. It's not really a big financial burden for him. Many folks are moving up because equity in their homes keeps rising—about 10% annually.
Homes selling above the million-dollar mark are rising locally but the overall market share is small. Approximately 87% of all homes sold on the Wasatch Front from January through August this year were for homes priced under $500,000. Million-dollar home sales represented just 1% of the total closed escrows here. Right now, there are 755 homes on the market priced at at least $1 million along the Wasatch Front and Back. The most expensive property listed is in Hobble Creek, down in Springville, and is listed for $25 million. This is a steal at $504 per square foot, with 50,000 square feet, six bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, three family rooms, seven laundry areas and a garage for eight cars and a carport for another eight on 165 acres. Of course, it comes with an indoor pool, exercise room, movie theater, tennis court, play gym, hot tub and is zoned for horses. The payment there, with 10% down, would be at $16,000 per month, so Beer Bar Bob is going to have to be made CEO to afford that one any time soon.