‘Something has to give’: Utah housing prices are still too high

Oct 9, 2023, 1:00 PM | Updated: Mar 12, 2024, 8:22 am

Homes are pictured in North Salt Lake. Utah housing prices are still too high for buyers....

Homes are pictured in North Salt Lake on Monday, Aug. 28, 2023. Utah housing prices continue are still too high for buyers. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — There’s not a lot of good news for home buyers. Mortgage interest rates are creeping toward 8% and Utah housing prices are still high. A new report from the Salt Lake Board of Realtors shows the median price for a house in Salt Lake County is now $600,000. That’s down from $610,000 back in July. 

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KSL NewsRadio spoke with people about whether they could afford to buy one of these median-priced homes. Eva and Rich can’t believe they have so much money.

“We feel bad for people that just came out of college and are trying to find their first home. They’ve pretty much given up,” Eva said. “Either the houses have to go down or the interest rate, ’cause salaries aren’t gonna go up,” Eva said.

Kayla and Tyler also couldn’t believe it. They bought their home in Tooele just under three years ago before interest rates spiked. Their interest rate was only 2.25%.

Tyler’s brother recently started looking to buy a house. 

“They’re one day in and it was devastating,” Kayla said. “They couldn’t believe the prices.”

Another homeowner named Curt said he’s glad he’s been in his home for about 14 years because he couldn’t afford to buy it now. Curt’s kids are too young to be looking for a house, but he doesn’t know what they’ll do when they are. He said they’ll likely have to share rent with other people and just live out of a bedroom. Or, they’ll have to stay with him and his wife, “never actually leaving the roost.”

Curt said he also knows people who couldn’t afford to buy a house when the median price was $300,000 and $400,000 – let alone $600,000.

“I already have a lot of family, a lot of friends, who are stuck, who can’t get a place to live,” Curt said. “It’s impossible. It feels like something has to give.”

Curt thinks he knows why houses are so expensive.

“We have one of the fastest growing economies, people are emigrating from all over the country to get jobs [in Utah],” Curt said.

He said California median house prices are pretty good. Depending on where people are coming from, they can afford to move to Utah because they were able to sell their houses for $600,000. The real issue is for first-time buyers. They don’t have enough capital or a way to raise a down payment.

Louis just moved from California. He said the amount he got for his house isn’t enough to get a home here.

“We thought that what we made out of the sale would help us, but it doesn’t seem to go a long way,” Louis said.

He has a realtor, but said it’s hard to negotiate. He’s living with his daughter in the meantime.

“We’ve been discussing now whether to rent or just wait until we get kicked out of our daughter’s house,” he said.

Curt said he thinks we’re in for some bad times.

“Even lowering interest rates doesn’t get them into a home at $600,000. Unless wages just all of a sudden skyrocket, but that’s just gonna cause the house prices to go up as well, so that wouldn’t work either. So, at some point, the bubble has to pop,” said Curt. 

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‘Something has to give’: Utah housing prices are still too high