Wasatch Front home prices continued to soar in this year's second quarter which is good news for homeowners, but bad news for first-time buyers trying to get into a home.
In the three months ended June 30, the median price of a single-family house in Salt Lake County rose to $220,000, up 20.8 percent from $182,120 in the second quarter of 2005, according to a report released Thursday by the Salt Lake Board of Realtors and the Wasatch Front Regional Multiple Listing Service.
Double-digit gains were evident throughout most communities along the Wasatch Front. In Salt Lake County, Holladay saw the biggest percent increase, with the median value rising nearly 48 percent to $357,077.
Yet the highest-priced homes along the Wasatch Front continued to be found in the city of Alpine, where the median value in the second quarter rose to $697,900, a 19 percent increase from last year's second quarter median price of $587,500.
The least-expensive homes were found in Salt Lake's Glendale-Poplar Grove area (ZIP code 84104), where the median price was $116,000.
Maria Garciaz, executive director of Salt Lake Neighborhood Housing Services, a nonprofit group providing affordable housing options, said last year at this time the organization was selling new homes for $115,000 to $125,000. This year the organization is selling new homes for $210,000 to $225,000.
"Our costs have gone up 20 percent from last year, just in construction," Garciaz said. "We're trying to lead the market and to bring younger families to Salt Lake City's west side, but if costs continue to go up like they are we're not going to be able to build next year."
Bryan Kohler, chief executive officer of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, said affordable homes are nearly nonexistent.
"You just can't find anything for $250,000 or $200,000 anymore," Kohler said. "If you're looking in the $500,000 range, you've got lots of options. But if you're a buyer in the $200,000 to $300,000 range, you're going to have a tough time finding something."
Kohler said if there is anything negative about Salt Lake's incredible real estate comeback, it is housing affordability for local families.
"It's happening everywhere," Kohler said. "The big push we've got to make around the country as Realtors right now is to figure out affordable housing for people, because we can't put schoolteachers and firemen in our neighborhoods anymore."
In Utah County, the median house price increased to $204,000, up 20.4 percent. In Davis County, the median rose to $189,500, up 13.4 percent. Weber County showed the cheapest prices at a median of $143,000, up 10 percent compared to last year's second quarter.
The report tracked sales of existing and newly constructed homes sold through a real estate agent. Median values are the midway point at which half of all homes sold in a particular area are higher in price and the other half are lower.
In the second quarter, there were 7,247 new listings made in Salt Lake County. The report noted that 72 percent of those new listings sold in the second quarter. The average time on market for a listed home in Salt Lake County was 29 days, down from 51 days in the second quarter of 2005.
Still, the buying frenzy may be cooling. Kohler noted that high-priced homes are taking longer to sell.
And Debra Sjoblom, former president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, said she senses a slowdown.
"We're not seeing the multiple offers that we were seeing, unless the home is in the $200,000 range and then we are," Sjoblom said. "There has been a slight breathtaking, if you will. Anecdotally, agents are saying things are slower than they were 60 days ago.
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