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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
FILE - Workers from Dawson building systems put up a wall of a home being built in Daybreak on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. According to the 2017 Salt Lake Housing Forecast report released on Friday by the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, the Salt Lake County real estate market in 2016 had its best year in a decade.

SALT LAKE CITY — Though the Wasatch Front is facing a housing crunch with growing affordability issues, a new report indicates that progress is being made regarding the supply of homes.

San Francisco-based Trulia.com — an online residential real estate site — reported Thursday that housing inventory nationwide grew 12.2 percent during the second quarter over the first quarter, the largest second-quarter jump since 2015. Salt Lake's surged 48.6 percent, rebounding from a 16 percent drop in 2017.

"What we're seeing is all this new construction this year finally hitting the market in this quarter," Trulia.com housing data analyst Alexandra Lee said. "This is definitely the largest year-over-year change."

Thirty of the nation’s 100 largest metros posted annual inventory increases for the second quarter, of which 25 rebounded from inventory decreases last year, she noted.

Salt Lake City was second only to Nashville, Tennessee, which saw a 52 percent inventory jump in the second quarter, compared with an 11.6 percent decline during the same period last year.

Heather Miller

Despite the growth, however, housing inventory continued its downward trajectory, the report stated.

Many of the nation’s most unaffordable metros experienced some unusual inventory relief, including New York and Los Angeles, where the supply of homes edged up 1 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively, year over year, Lee explained.

Nevertheless, local real estate professionals are seeing a different market scenario. Adam Kirkham, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, noted that the number of properties currently listed is nearly the same as this time last year.

"We're seeing a very similar market to 2017 with the same trends, and we're very close on inventory," he said. According to local MLS data, the number of active listings is down 8.66 percent, he said.

However, he noted that the way the Salt Lake board gathers data is different than how another entity might compile information, so the comparison would not be exactly similar.

He said that local builders are having trouble keeping up with demand for housing units, which has created a major "seller's market" that is resulting in rapidly rising home prices.

In April, data from ATTOM Data Solutions, based in Irvine, California, showed that median home prices during the first quarter of 2018 were not affordable for average wage earners in 304 of 446 — or 68 percent — of U.S. counties analyzed in the report.

Millennials want to buy, but record-low inventory is making it extremely difficult. Our analysis shows millennials are facing challenges in both established markets such as San Jose and Seattle, as well as more recently popular areas like Omaha and Salt Lake City.
Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com

The report noted that three Wasatch Front counties — Davis, Utah and Weber —each rated less affordable than their historic first quarter average during the first three months of 2018, while Salt Lake County rated equal to its historic affordability index.

Similarly, California-based realtor.com reported that a combination of low housing inventory, escalating real estate prices and increasing demand have made San Jose, California; Seattle; Salt Lake City; Omaha, Nebraska; and Minneapolis the toughest areas in the country for prospective millennial homebuyers this spring.

The company researched the 60 top metro areas with large populations of older millennial markets. Those cities were then ranked based on inventory availability and affordability.

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The median list price in third-ranked Salt Lake City registered at $394,000, with the average millennial earning a $67,800 annual salary. Millennials made up 15.5 percent of the total population in the capital city, accounting for 26 percent of total realtor.com page views, the report stated.

“Millennials want to buy, but record-low inventory is making it extremely difficult,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com. “Our analysis shows millennials are facing challenges in both established markets such as San Jose and Seattle, as well as more recently popular areas like Omaha and Salt Lake City."