Prices for Wasatch Front homes higher than ever

WASATCH FRONT (ABC4 Utah) – It’s official–homes on the Wasatch Front cost more than ever before. The Salt Lake Board of Realtors sent out numbers this week that show staggering growth and a staggering home shortage.

The report states that the average cost of homes on the Wasatch Front is now $300,000, up from $275,000 a year ago. In Salt Lake County, the jump is even higher. The average cost of a one-family home is now $327,000, up 10% in a year.

Troy Peterson is the President of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors. He says, "I’ve been selling real estate for 22 years and I’ve never seen anything like this. What’s driving the numbers is there’s no inventory."

The number of houses for sale is simply lower than the number of potential buyers, especially for homes under $500,000. Peterson says Utah’s economy is bringing people in faster than the houses can be built. "We have a fantastic economy in this state, the job growth is huge," he explained.

Multiple factors are contributing to the shortage: hesitant legislators, high material costs, and even a labor shortage. All of these factors combined mean too many people and not enough housing.

And the problem is even greater for lower income families. Tara Rollins is the Executive Director of the non-profit, Utah Housing Coalition. She says, "The UHC is all about having the right inventory of housing for all Utahns. Right now the growth that we’re experiencing in this state, we’re unable to put units on the ground fast enough…right now we are 47,000 units short."

Rollins says that landlords have all the power. "Right now wages are just not keeping up with rents, therefore, the landlords are able to charge a higher amount because they are in demand. The market is just not taking care of the issue."

She and her team say the only viable solution is more subsidies to builders.

Some are worried about a "bubble effect" like we saw in 2007 and 2008, but realtors are confident that we have a few more years of stability. They say without enough inventory, a bursting bubble is nearly impossible.

All agree, it’s certainly a seller’s market.

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