The Wasatch Front Regional Multiple Listing Service has released its third-quarter real estate stats, and no surprise, sales prices are up—sellers are dancing in the streets (hopefully with masks) and buyers are in tears. The Salt Lake market median sales price has jumped about $20,000 from the first quarter—and the median home price now is up to $384,000. This is, in my opinion, due to the very few homes and properties available for sale. Another trend we're seeing is that younger buyers and seniors still want condos downtown within walking distance to bars, restaurants and social activities.
With the COVID-19 virus, offices and businesses have closed, and employees have been sent home to work. With nothing to do outside of work, many employees have been able to save for a down payment to buy a home. Plus, Utah's conservative state budget is attractive to out-of-state businesses considering locating here, and the tech industry is recruiting talent faster than the speed of light. It all means that home buyers are flocking to Utah in droves.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2018, Utah's population grew three times faster than the national average, and last year, one of every six Utahns moved. About 400,000 of us changed homes within the state boundaries, another 100,000 emigrated from other states and about 22,000 came from abroad (including Latter-day Saints returning missionaries).
And folks aren't just moving to Salt Lake City but also south to St. George, one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the nation. Want to retire and build your love shack down in southern Utah? Plan on at least 10 months from signing your contract to getting the keys. Labor is scarce, building costs are rising fast due to lumber shortages and demand is insanely high.
Thousands of apartments are being built along the Wasatch Front, and yet there still is a huge imbalance of available affordable housing for those working to construct all of this new growth. COVID-19 is forcing some people out of their rentals and onto the streets. Even the quiet burgs are starting to see the unsheltered begging at major intersections. The Salt Lake Chamber CEO recently referred to the influx of homeless camps on our streets as "bedlam."
Where does housing go from here? Nationally, cities are looking at throwing out zoning that allows only for single-family homes in neighborhoods to open up those same areas to permit multi-family housing such as duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes and ADUs (accessory dwelling units). Locally, Ivory Homes is attempting to erect 45 homes in the high Avenues, with each home allowed to have a rental unit on the same plot of land.
As I like to say, "They ain't building any more land, and something's gotta give!"