The No. 1 question people ask me about real estate is: Will housing prices go up or down in 2021? Followed by: Should we buy or sell?
To me, the answers are easy. During the past 10 years, Utah has had more growth per capita than any other state. More folks are moving here than leaving, and even without a pandemic, we are low in inventory of rentals, affordable housing, condos, homes, multiplexes and mansions. Add on COVID-19 with people wanting (or being encouraged) to stay home, it makes for fewer properties available for purchase.
Real estate agents sold more homes in Utah than in 2019—and sold them for more money, too. Our National Association of Realtors has us at 10% over 2019 in Summit, Wasatch and Cache counties—up over 50% from the previous year.
On Dec. 31, 2020, I was still frantically trying to find a home for some buyers in their price range. Just for shits 'n' giggles, I pulled up all residential properties for sale in Salt Lake County (homes, townhomes, condos, twin homes and mobile homes) in any price range. In recent years, there would have been a few thousand homes for sale at the end of the year. There were 634 homes for sale—total.
To put that number in perspective, certainly there are more than 634 people/families looking for a place to buy as a home or investment right now, and there are almost 10,000 Salt Lake Board of Realtors members trying to help them. Now you understand why homes are flying off the market with multiple offers within hours or a few days!
Not only is it extremely tough for buyers to find a home right now, it's equally challenging for real estate agents to make a living, too. Since most members of the Board of Realtors are only part-timers, the fact is that 10% of members sell about 90% of the listings.
By the way, should you be thinking of changing careers to become a real estate agent, let me lay some facts on you. First, real-estate school costs around $600 for the required 120 hours of classes need to take the state test. Once you pass the test, it's a few hundred bucks to get your license from the state, and twice that to join the Board of Realtors, and another $50 or so each month for MLS fees. Then, you'll need cards, an ad budget and key boxes. Some brokerages might offer to pay much of the costs if you sign away your soul to work for them for a period of time until you pay the man off.
Bottom line: Prices on all properties are going to go up in 2021. I'm being conservative and predict a 10% jump in values in the next 12 months. Don't stop looking because you think the market will loosen up—it won't!