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Utah homeowners Ryan Rhodes and Devin Timothy
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Priced Out: Utah homeowners see value increase, while options decrease

Ryan Rhodes (left) and his husband, Devin Timothy, are about to close on their home in West Valley, and they had to go through a bidding war. (PHOTO: Provided by Ryan Rhodes)

Editorial note: This is part three of a series on affordable housing, called “Priced Out.” You can see the other parts of our coverage here

SALT LAKE CITY — Rising home prices throughout Utah have made it hard for many people to find a good house at a reasonable price, but what about current homeowners?

Many homeowners are staying put

In Utah’s current housing market, securing a bid and closing on a home is no small feat. Just ask Ryan Rhodes. He moved to Utah from Illinois two years ago and is just now ready to close on a home purchase in West Valley City.

“Along with our realtor, we probably looked at, I don’t know, close to a hundred houses,” he said. “We have probably submitted 25 offers.”

While he’s relieved to have some stability on the horizon, it does beg the question of what’s next down the line? Countless Utah homeowners face this dilemma, where either their family has outgrown a starter home or they want to move to be closer to work or loved ones.

The short answer: it’s not nearly as easy to pull this off as it once was. House Speaker Brad Wilson has owned his own homebuilding business for almost two decades.

“There’s a lot of people who have been in their homes for a long time, who would like to move and make a change, because of a change in their life circumstances,” he said. “But because of a lack of options and availability, they actually aren’t.”

The advantages of keeping a home

Now on the flip side, if you bought a house years ago and it fits you as well now as it did then, well you’re the big winner in all of this. That’s according to James Wood with the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

“I would guess that just in 2020, the equity increase for homeowners in Utah is somewhere between $15 and $20 billion,” he said.

In a study conducted just months ago, Wood found that in the last five years, Utah housing prices have gone up over 60% for the median sales price for a home or a condo. He says it’s a staggering trend that’s making the idea of staying put even more attractive to current homeowners.

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