What it's like buying a home right now. Channel 2 News Feature
Updated: Aug 30, 2021
Utah is one of the toughest places in the country to buy a house. The wild housing market recently smashed another milestone as the median price in Utah for all housing types is now over $400,000, according to the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. For single-family detached homes, that number is $450,000.
Clay Winder, a realtor with the Red Sign Team at Keller Williams Westfield Real Estate, said he has never seen a market like this. “It’s all very, very competitive right now,” he said.
Winder is selling a townhome in Utah County, asking $400,000.
“In four days, we received seven offers — all above list price, every single one of them,” said Winder, adding that bidding wars happen in a majority of the houses he sells.
What’s the highest number of offers he has seen on one house?
“Our office record right now is 96,” said Winder. “On one home.
Case in point — Winder sold a house in Utah County over Thanksgiving 2020 for $409,000. Just four months later, that exact type of house was listed for $500,000.
“One-hundred-thousand-dollar increase in four months, roughly,” said Winder. “That is not sustainable.” But that's the reality right now — a competitive and fast-paced housing market.
OPEN SEASON ON OPEN HOUSES
2News visited a recent Saturday open house in West Valley City, listed by a realtor on Winder’s team. During the first 90 minutes, 57 groups of people visited the open house. Several made offers on the spot, including one for cash.
“In this market, nothing surprises me,” said Winder outside the open house.
According to the Gardner Institute, analyzing data provided by UtahRealEstate.com, the most expensive county for home prices is Washington County with a median price of $456,750 for all housing types. Salt Lake County came in second at $435,000. Davis and Utah Counties came in next at $415,000 and $403,000, respectively. Weber County’s median price sat at $335,000.
ADVICE FOR BUYERS
In this competitive market, is there hope for buyers? Not if they’re looking for prices to come crashing down anytime soon.
People ask me on a regular basis, is this a bubble?” said Winder. “The reason why it’s not is because of the offers, and the buyers that are buying these homes can afford the homes.”
Eskic, the research fellow at the Gardner Institute, agrees this is no bubble. He said he expects prices could level out sometime soon but not drop.
“There’s just so much demand for homes,” he said.
2News asked Winder what he would tell first-time homebuyers who want a home but can’t compete.
“To get ready to fight,” Winder responded.
Can they fight? Is that a realistic expectation in today’s market?
“Oh absolutely,” said Winder. “Somebody’s gotta win.”
Winder suggested three recommendations for buyers. First, get financing in order ahead of time so that their offers are as “good as cash.” Second, use cash creatively, like paying more in earnest money or closing costs. And third, accommodate the seller as much as possible, like offering to lease their home back to them for a month or two if they need.
Winder noted there are many aspects of an offer sheet to negotiate when buying a house. “Price is only one of them,” he said.
News Story By Channel 2 News Utah
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