July makes history with the highest number of home sales in a single month.
By Dave Anderton
More jobs, more people, more growth. It’s a recipe for more home sales. And July’s sales numbers prove it. Across Salt Lake County in July, there were nearly 2,100 homes sold, 15 percent higher than July 2019. July marks the first time monthly sales in Salt Lake County surpassed 2,000 closings since the MLS began keeping records.
Historically, July is a slower month, according to Alicia Holdaway, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors®. Not this time. In July 2020, home sales were nearly 25 percent higher than the average number of July sales from 2015 through 2019.
The pandemic pushed the spring home buying season to summer. And potential home buyers, who typically take vacations in summer, had nowhere to go. “I think as long as mortgage interest rates stay at these historical lows the pace is going to continue,” Holdaway said. “When it comes to the pandemic, our state has done a really good job between balancing safety and the economy. Ultimately, we haven’t sacrificed one for the other.”
A recent article in USA Today listed Utah as the No. 1 economy of all states, based on four measures: economic growth, employment growth, the poverty rate, and the unemployment rate. “Utah’s economy ranks as the best of any state,” the article said. “At a time when COVID-19 has sent unemployment soaring into the double digits across much of the country, Utah’s monthly jobless rate stands at 5.1 percent, less than half the 11.1 percent national unemployment rate for June.”
Angie Nelden, former president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors® and an agent with Summit Sotheby’s International Realty, said she is seeing more out-of-state buyers move to Utah. “I’m the buyer’s agent for two clients from New York right now,” Nelden said. “People are moving here because the lifestyle is so amazing.” However, the home buying process can be frustrating as buyers compete for limited inventory. Nelden said home buyers must be resilient. Offering a compelling price is crucial. Fewer contingencies and allowing for additional time before a buyer takes possession of a home can make the difference.
John Gahan purchased a $500,000 home in Daybreak in South Jordan. Gahan said he is not one of those unhappy Californians who are escaping, but simply wanted to be near his grandchildren. “I can tell you that we are not moving because housing is cheaper,” Gahan said. “We live in the Central Valley, and suburban Salt Lake is more expensive than our area.”
David Contreras, a Realtor® with Pearson & Associates Real Estate Team Realtypath, who represented Gahan, said his client made offers on six other properties before closing on his Daybreak home. Gahan’s winning offer included a $200,000 down payment, with no contingencies. “Yes, it is frustrating for buyers, but I tell them there is a home out there for them,” said Contreras, who advises buyers to pick up closing costs.
Unlike Gahan, high taxes and even higher home prices are reaching a tipping point for many Californians, like Connor Clewett, a 23-year-old Gen Zer, who owns Hustl Ventures Inc., a video production and marketing company. Clewett said he is paying $3,600 monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Brentwood, Calif. He has been looking at opening a satellite office for his business in Salt Lake City.
“Salt Lake has bigger homes at more affordable pricing,” Clewett said. “Los Angeles is just extremely expensive for what you get there. Everyone is living on top of each other. Utah’s mountain vibe and community is stronger and more put together.” Yet, the influx of people to Utah worries some, who believe the Beehive state’s quality of life may suffer. Nelden noted that two of her clients recently sold their Salt Lake homes and moved to Idaho. “It’s a little bit slower pace there,” she said.
Dave Anderton is the communications director of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors®.