Salt Lake City, UT Real Estate Market Trends & Analysis [Updated 2020]

Jump To Another Year In The Salt Lake City Real Estate Market:


Salt Lake City, often referred to as Salt Lake or simply SLC, is the capital and the most populous city in the state of Utah. As such, it has become an extremely hot real estate market. Along with Seattle, Denver and several California cities, SLC has one of the fastest moving housing markets, with equally aggressive price gains. As a result, the Salt Lake City real estate market has enjoyed a great run for the better part of a decade. In the eight years real estate in Salt Lake City has taken to recover from the Great Recession, home values have nearly doubled without sacrificing demand. Perhaps even more importantly, however, is the momentum being leveraged in 2020.

While “shelter-in-place” orders have hampered every major metropolitan area in the country, this city appears to be slightly more resilient. Demand still remains intact, home values are still healthy, and unemployment levels have remained below their national counterparts. The Salt Lake City housing market will experience a slight setback in the face of the Coronavirus, which begs the question: Is it a good time to buy a house in Utah? To be perfectly clear, it is possible to invest in any market, and Salt Lake City is no exception. With the right exit strategy, now is the perfect time to invest in the SLC housing market.

Salt Lake City Real Estate Market 2020 Overview

  • Median Home Value: $419,987

  • 1-Year Appreciation Rate: +5.3%

  • Median Home Value (1-Year Forecast): -1.4%

  • Median Rent Price: $1,595

  • Price-To-Rent Ratio: 21.94

  • Unemployment Rate: 11.2% (latest estimate by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics)

  • Population: 200,567 (latest estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau)

  • Median Household Income: $56,370 (latest estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau)

  • Percentage Of Vacant Homes: 8.55%

  • Foreclosure Rate: 1 in every 9,119 (1.0%)


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Salt Lake City real estate investing

2020 Salt Lake City Real Estate Investing

The Salt Lake City real estate market has resided at the forefront of the national housing recovery since it began around the first quarter of 2012. Few markets, for that matter, have recovered at the same pace, which begs the question: Is Salt Lake City real estate a good investment? While the answer will vary from investor to investor (depending on their exit strategy and intentions), the answer is a resounding yes. It is worth noting, however, that the manner in which entrepreneurs invest has changed over time.

At the beginning of last year (2019), the SLC housing market was among the metros with the highest home selling returns. According to Attom Data Solutions, qualifying “cities with the highest average home seller returns in Q1 2019 were San Jose, California (84.1 percent); San Francisco, California (70.9 percent); Seattle, Washington (63.1 percent); Modesto, California (59.7 percent); and Salt Lake City, Utah (56.5 percent).”

To put things into perspective, “the average home seller gain of $57,500 in Q1 2019 represented an average 31.5 percent return as a percentage of original purchase price,” said the report. That means owners in the SLC housing market who sold in the first quarter of 2019 saw—on average—a return of 25.0% more than the rest of the country.

Today, rehabbing remains a viable strategy in the Salt Lake City housing market. However, nearly a decade’s worth of appreciation has made profit margins slimmer. As a result, more investors are turning to long-term strategies. In particular, the new real estate landscape created by the pandemic has catered to rental property owners. Now, perhaps more than ever, is the best time to start building a passive income real estate portfolio.

The real estate industry is certainly different after the arrival of the Coronavirus, but the emergence of three indicators have made buy-and-hold investment strategies more attractive:

  • Interest rates on traditional loans are historically low

  • Years of cash flow can easily justify today’s higher acquisition costs

  • The price-to-rent ratio suggests high home prices will increase rental demand

For years, rehabbing was the most prevalent exit strategy used by Salt Lake City real estate investors, but we are starting to see a new trend. Now is the time to start adding to a passive income portfolio because borrowing costs are historically low.

As of May, the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan was 3.23%, according to Freddie Mac. Consequently, May marked the lowest average mortgage rate for an entire month ever, and the Fed just announced it will keep interest rates low for the foreseeable future. As a result, the cost basis for real estate in Salt Lake City is lower that what median home prices suggest. At their current rate, mortgage rates will save today’s buyers thousands of dollars, and real estate investors will be able to pad their bottomline. At the very least, investors will be able to justify the latest bout of appreciation with much lower borrowing costs.

With today’s interest rate and a 20.0% down payment, investors can expect to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,971 a month if they were to acquire a property at the city’s median home value. At that price, buyers would be spending about 2.0% less each month than they would have if they bought in the first quarter of 2020 (when home values and interest rates were slightly higher), so there’s already a discount priced in.

In addition to lower borrowing costs, investors intent on building a rental property portfolio can justify today’s higher prices with cash flow. Whereas rehabbers and flippers need to acquire homes below market value to pad profit margins, rental property investors can stand to acquire homes at today’s high prices with the intentions of paying their mortgages down with other people’s money each month. The cash flow can help offset the higher acquisition costs in as little as a few years, all while building equity in a physical asset.

Salt Lake City real estate investors should take solace in the city’s 21.94 price-to-rent ratio, as it is currently much more affordable to rent than own. As a result, vacancies will be easier to avoid due to the affordability of renting. Not only that, but listings are harder to come by in today’s market, too. The unique combination of affordability and a lack of listings suggest rental property owners will see plenty of demand for the foreseeable future, at least until more homes are constructed.

Local investors are lucky to have a number of viable exit strategies at its disposal, but none appear more attractive than building a proper rental property portfolio. Too many important market indicators are pointing towards becoming a buy-and-hold investor to ignore.

2020 Foreclosure Statistics In Salt Lake City

The Salt Lake City real estate market is currently home to hundreds of distressed properties. According to RealtyTrac, there are at least 236 homes which may be classified as default, auction or bank owned. In all, one in every 9,119 homes is distressed, or 1.0% of homes in the city. To be clear, that’s a relatively low foreclosure rate, which probably has something to do with the city’s unemployment rate. At 11.2% (as of April), the city’s unemployment rate is below the national average, which is 14.7%. Even after the surge in unemployment resulting from the Coronavirus, SLC’s unemployment rate is better than the national average, which should help things moving forward. In the meantime, foreclosures may rise, but there’s a good chance they will lower as 2020 progresses.

Meanwhile, the number of properties that received a foreclosure filing in the second quarter (May 2020) decreased from the previous month and this time last year, 62.0% and 85.0% respectively. It is worth noting, however, that the majority of distressed real estate is of the auction variety. About 60.0% of the homes identified by RealtyTrac are either up for auction, or will be at some point in the near future. As a result, auction homes represent a great opportunity for today’s Salt Lake City real estate investors to acquire a home below market value. If for nothing else, auction homes at least have the option of being bought at lower bids.

The remaining foreclosures are pre-foreclosures, which merely suggests the homeowners are behind on payments and have received a notice. Nonetheless, pre-foreclosures represent yet another opportunity to acquire a home at a good price.

Distressed homes represent the best opportunity to buy a discounted property, which has many people asking one, simple question: Where should I invest in Utah? It makes sense to invest in the SLC neighborhoods with the highest distributions of foreclosures, which include:

  • 84101: 1 in every 3,193 homes is currently distressed

  • 84117: 1 in every 5,412 homes is currently distressed

  • 84128: 1 in every 7,175 homes is currently distressed

  • 84123: 1 in every 7,380 homes is currently distressed

  • 84104: 1 in every 8,041 homes is currently distressed

While foreclosures have been on the decline, the presence of the Coronavirus is expected to cause a spike in the future. The unexpected economic downturn will most likely inhibit homeowners from complying with monthly mortgage obligations. It is safe to assume more homeowners will be distressed later in 2020 than now. While forbearance programs are expected to keep people in their homes for the foreseeable future, homeowners will be expected to become current on their mortgages sooner or later. When that time comes, those who can’t comply may find themselves distressed, and well-positioned investors in Salt Lake City may be able to offer a helping hand.

2020 Median Home Prices In Salt Lake City

At this time last year (June 2019), the median home value in the Salt Lake City housing market sat somewhere around $402,000. However, having benefited from an appreciation rate that exceeds the national average, the median home value in the Salt Lake City real estate market has reached $419,987. To put the last year into perspective, the median home value in the United States is now $248,857 after appreciating by as much as 4.1% in one year’s time. Real estate in Salt Lake City, on the other hand, managed to increase 5.3% in the same time.

Since the Great Recession, or at least when real estate in Salt Lake City hit its lowest point (around July 2011), home values have appreciated 94.4%. At that rate of, Salt Lake City easily outpaced the national average over the last decade, and certain neighborhoods have benefited more than others. Years of historic appreciation have made these the most expensive neighborhoods in Salt Lake City (according to NeighborhoodScout):

  • Foothill

  • Foothill Village

  • S 1300 E / E 900 S

  • S 1300 E / E 3300 S

  • Fort Douglas / U of Utah

  • Mount Aire / Pinecrest

  • Beck St / Davis St

  • Foothill Dr / E 1300 S

  • Chandler Dr / Tomahawk Dr

  • S 2200 E / Stringham Ave

Moving forward, the presence of the Coronavirus is expected to drop prices, but only temporarily. Experts predict prices will drop a modest 1.4% over the next 12 months. That means prices will remain high, and perhaps even return to previous highs as soon as this time next year. If for nothing else, the same inventory shortage that served to increase prices for the better part of a decade may be magnified by home builders sitting on the sidelines during the pandemic. Without new builds being brought to the market, it is safe to assume competition will remain high, driving prices up even higher than they are now.

Salt Lake City Real Estate Market Trends

Today’s Salt Lake City real estate market conditions are the result of evolving trends. In fact, the strength of today’s market can be tied to a few important trends that are currently taking place:

  • Passive income prevails: Home values have gotten incredibly high in recent history, which has eaten into investor profit margins. As a result, more investors are turning to buying rental properties. Doing so may offset high acquisition costs and provide years of cash flow.

  • Demand remains intact: Demand in the Salt Lake City real estate market appears to be tied to local unemployment, which has fared better than the national average. As a result, it appears as if there are still plenty of willing-and-able buyers. More importantly, their activity is expected to help the SLC housing market return to normal sooner rather than later.

  • Competition remains high: People who were looking to buy before the pandemic appear more eager to buy than ever. It doesn’t look as if the pandemic is going to prevent buyers from looking. If anything, they may appear more eager to buy now than they were int he past, as appreciation has tempered and opened a window of opportunity. As a result, the few homes that are on the market are receiving more activity.

  • Low interest rates are proving advantageous: In an attempt to stimulate housing markets across the country, the Fed announced it will keep interest rates near historical lows for at least a couple of years. The announcement has prompted many would-be buyers to take action. And while the spring market got passed over, summer looks like it will start to see an uptick in activity.

Salt Lake City Housing Market Predictions

While it is still too soon to predict the extent in which the Coronavirus will impact the Salt Lake City real estate market, we are starting to see trends emerge; trends that may suggest the direction the market is heading. As a result, investors need to listen to what the market is telling them at this critical juncture. Here’s a look at some of the Salt Lake City housing market predictions that are most likely to come true over the course of 2020:

  • Salt Lake City home prices will drop temporarily: Prices are expected to drop, albeit at a modest pace. Over the next year, experts expect a 1.4% decline in home values. The lack of activity onset by the pandemic is to blame, and not underlying market indicators, which bodes well moving forward. Consequently, the drop shouldn’t be prolonged.

  • Existing inventory will prove insufficient: Inventory levels, or lack thereof, have driven prices up in the local market for nearly 10 years. Competition, in particular, has enabled sellers to increase asking prices for years. Inventory levels will remain tight, as builders haven’t been able to work with “shelter-in-place” orders stalling their operations. Therefore, any inventory easement we were expecting in 2020 will be delayed.

  • Appreciation rates will return after a temporary lull: The lack of available housing will once again cause prices to appreciate. This will most likely supersede any loss of home values, as buyers will look to spend more money to secure the homes they want. If anything, competition will increase, and cause prices to exceed their post-virus highs.

Salt Lake City Real Estate Market: 2019 Summary

  • Median Home Value: $401,500

  • 1-Year Appreciation Rate: 13.9%

  • Median Home Value (1-Year Forecast): 6.4%

  • Median Rent Price: $1,595

  • Average Days On Market: 60

Salt Lake City Real Estate Investing 2019

According to Salt Lake City real estate news, 2019 was a great year for SLC. For starters, demand remained largely intact, despite the area’s above-average appreciation rate. Meanwhile, the population continued to grow, but the number of owner-occupied housing units lagged behind trends. While population continued to increase, owner-occupied homes remained low. In fact, renter occupants increased. As a result, real estate in Salt Lake City largely benefited from passive income investors.

The Salt Lake City housing market found itself the beneficiary of an appreciation rate that more than doubled the national average in 2019. Despite increases in home values, more and more people were choosing to call the SLC housing market home from the previous year. As the city’s population grew, the addition of new renters was outpacing new owners at the time. All things considered, the city was more geared towards renters, and the same moments continues today.

Salt Lake City Real Estate Market: 2016 Summary

  • Median Home Price: $276,900

  • 1-Year Appreciation Rate: 5.7%

  • 3-Year Appreciation Rate: 17.3%

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.9%

  • 1-Year Job Growth Rate: 3.2%

  • Population: 191,180

  • Median Household Income: $45,833

Salt Lake City Real Estate Investing 2016

Home prices and values continued to climb in 2016, according to Salt Lake City real estate news. The first-half of the year witnessed a combination of growth in both prices and appreciation rates for real estate in the area. The pair surpassed the national average in the second quarter, with home prices continuing to grow relative to the previous year, while price appreciation and principle payments in the previous three years boosted total equity growth since the recession.

Home prices continued to grow in the second quarter as well. The median home price was $276,900, compared to the national average of $239,167. For homeowners and investors, gains in the previous three years extended the trend of positive price growth since the recession. One-year appreciation rates reached 5.7% during the second quarter, while three-year rates climbed to 17.3%.

Three indicators contributed to a healthy Salt Lake City housing market in 2016: the local economy, new housing construction, and even home affordability. Employment continued an upward trend, as one-year job growth reached 3.2% during the second quarter, compared to the 1.9% by the rest of the nation. In terms of unemployment, the city experienced an unemployment rate of 3.9% in the second quarter, versus the national average of 4.9%.

Homeowners in Salt Lake City paid 13.3% of their income on mortgage payments during the second quarter, whereas the national average paid 15.8%. At the time, affordability was a major draw to the local real estate market.

Salt Lake City Real Estate Market: 2015 Summary

  • Median Home Price: $243,300

  • 1-Year Appreciation Rate: 4%

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.5%

  • 1-Year Job Growth Rate: 3.6%

  • Population: 1,160,217

  • Median Household Income: $61,381

Salt Lake City Real Estate Investing 2015

The Salt Lake City real estate market had a median home price of $243,300 at one point in 2015. In getting to that point, homes in the area appreciated at a rate of 4.0% year-over-year. The national appreciation rate, on the other hand, was slightly higher (6.7%). Despite appreciating at a higher rate, however, the average home price across the country was approximately $40,000 less than the average in the SLC housing market.

The area’s economic outlook received a lot of support from the job sector, as employment held up and was on an upward trend. In fact, unemployment was better than the national average and improving. Unemployment topped out at 4.2% in the previous year. In 2015, however, unemployment dropped to 3.5%. The improvement was enough to get excited about the area’s potential, and the Salt Lake City real estate investing community capitalized immediately.

At the time, Salt Lake City real estate news suggested there was one important indicator working in the market’s favor: affordability. Despite average home prices being above the national average, homes in Salt Lake City were more affordable than most other markets. Not only that, but affordability was historically strong. Homeowners in Salt Lake City spent an average of 12.1% of their income on monthly mortgage obligations, whereas the average homeowner in the U.S. spent about 14.3% at the time.

Salt Lake City County Map:

Map of Salt Lake City neighborhoods

Salt Lake City Real Estate Market Summary

The Salt Lake City real estate market was strong heading into 2020. Nearly a decade’s worth of growth to just about every indicator that matters has helped place the local real estate market at the forefront of a national recovery. However, much like every other major metropolitan area, Salt Lake City was hampered by the presence of “stay-at-home” orders and the Coronavirus. The pandemic was an obstacle (and continues to impede progress), but it appears as if Salt Lake City was more prepared to weather this storm than many cities across the country. The city’s relatively strong unemployment numbers are a testament to its strength, and should help things return to normal sooner than later.

*The information contained herein was pulled from third party sites. Although this information was found from sources believed to be reliable, FortuneBuilders Inc. makes no representations, warranties, or guarantees, either express or implied, as to whether the information presented is accurate, reliable, or current. Any reliance on this information is at your own risk. All information presented should be independently verified. FortuneBuilders Inc. assumes no liability for any damages whatsoever, including any direct, indirect, punitive, exemplary, incidental, special, or consequential damages arising out of or in any way connected with your use of the information presented.
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