A Guide to Buying a House in: Utah

(Everything you need to know - and more)

So, you've been tossing around the idea of buying a new house in Utah, but all you really know about the place is that it snows a lot, and virtually nothing about their housing market. It's all good, because we've already taken the effort of compiling a little guide to all things home-buying in The Beehive State (yup, that's their nickname). 

That's right - we'll cover the important stuff you need to get rollin' right along on your journey to new home ownership in Utah, and even throw in some fun state trivia as a bonus. It's just the kind of thing we'd wanna read if we were in your shoes. Just make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy.

The Most/Least Expensive Cities in Utah

There's a lot to think about when deciding where to buy your next house. Wouldn't it help to simplify the process if you knew a few of the most/least money-hungry areas in your chosen state first? Luckily for you, we compiled a list of just that. Get ready.

Most expensive cities:

  • Park City
  • Highland
  • Alpine
  • Bluffdale
  • Draper 

Least expensive cities:

  • Richfield
  • Cedar City
  • Enoch
  • Hurricane
  • Washington 

There you have it. You're primed and ready to go off on your hunting journey, while considering the oh-so-sensitive feelings of your wallet/bank account. They'll thank you for it. You're welcome. 

No matter where you choose to buy your new home, you can always find affordable home insurance within our trusted network.

Utah's Housing Market

Before looking into houses in Utah (or, y'know, anywhere), you might wanna check out their housing market. So we'll take a look at a snapshot for Utah next.

As of 2018, Utah is threatened with an affordable housing crisis, due to much higher demand than supply can keep up with. There's a definite housing shortage, and increasing wages can't quite compete with the increase in home prices lately. 

Don't panic, though - mortgage rates over the past few years have been historically low, so that helps out a bit. They are slowly rising, though, due to the increase in population, and economic growth in the state.

The housing market overall also got a great score from Zillow - 10/10, which they rank as "very healthy." That's pretty impressive. The Salt Lake City real estate market, however, has been ranked as one of the toughest markets for millennials to break into, due to the limited supply and rising prices.

Where to Hunt in Utah

That being said, Salt Lake City is totally THE hot spot to move to in Utah lately. Why? Well, it's got great snow for winter sports, tons of outdoor activities like hiking and mountain biking, diverse culture, good public transportation, great education, a good selection of restaurants, natural beauty, AND it's the most progressive city in Utah. 

Home values in Salt Lake City average $377,200 currently, and values have appreciated a whopping 15.4% over the past year. The price per square foot for a house is about $315. Homes are listed on the market for an average of $419,900, and renting a house costs about $1,585/month.

But wait, there's more - there's an impressive amount of new construction popping up, too. It's mainly in northern central Utah, throughout the Provo/Salt Lake City/Ogden region. There's also a bit surfacing in the southwestern corner, near St. George. So if you've got your heart set on a brand-new place, hit up these areas, first.

Home Property Values and Costs in Utah

It's great to know WHERE to hunt for your new house, but wouldn't it help you even more to have some idea of HOW MUCH you might pay for the thing? We thought so. That's why  a sneak peek at an overview for some home prices/values in Utah is comin' at ya next.

To start off, the median home value in Utah currently is $329,500. Values have appreciated 14.4% over 2018 and are expected to rise another 7.2% within the upcoming year. The price per square foot is about $188. Homes are currently listed on the market for around $349,900. Renting a house will cost you about $1,500/month.

As far as apartments go, according to RENTCafé , in the state's capital of Salt Lake City, average rent for a one-bedroom is $994/month, with two-bedrooms going for $1,148/month. Of course, the rent gets cheaper/pricier depending on where you look. 

For example, Park City has one-bedroom apartments going for an average of $1,000/month, but Provo has one-bedrooms up for $880/month. However, certain smaller and less-populated towns, such as Moab, have places going for as little as $562/month, according to bestplaces.net.

And townhouse lovers, don't worry, we didn't forget you. The range in monthly rent starts low at about $345/month for a one-bed/one-bath place, and hits the high end at about $4,800/month, for a four-bed/three-and-a-half-bath place.

Talk to Your Agent about Earthquake Insurance in Utah

Natural disasters, every state's got 'em. Utah happens to be most frequently visited by earthquakes. In fact, in 2015, 360 earthquakes were reported there over the span of one year. Earthquakes (and the damage they cause) unfortunately are not covered under standard homeowners insurance policies. And while coverage isn't mandatory, it might be something to seriously consider adding.

Many insurance companies will offer riders to provide some level of earthquake insurance for homeowners. Deductibles can be pretty steep, but it can turn out to be worth it, should your home be wiped out by such a force of nature. Of course, it's up to you to decide, ultimately.

Earthquake insurance usually covers damage to the home's foundation or basement, as well as the overall structure and damage to the interior. Different policies will offer different specific coverage, though. You'll have to chat up your agent about exactly what you want to be covered.

Quality of Schools in Utah

Those with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge might wanna know about the quality of the school system in their new state - so next up we've got a peek at a snapshot, Utah-style.

Here are some 2018 WalletHub stats about how Utah schools ranked in the country:

  • #30 overall for the US
  • #28 for quality
  • #32 for safety
  • #3 for the highest pupil-teacher ratio 

The top-rated schools in Utah are the Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy, in Lindon, and Brigham Young University, in  Provo.

OK, we've got the more-factual stuff out of the way, so it's time for a bit of fun (don't get too excited). We'll take a peek at why people even MOVE to Utah - but we'll hear it from some people who already did. So, prepare yourself for some aww yeah!s and some aww no!s related to Utah life.

PROs (as voted by grade-A Utahns):

  • Low crime: WalletHub does an annual "safest states to live in" study, and Utah consistently ranks in the top 10 for the US. It's also ranked as #1 for the continental west, in terms of safety. The "sense of community" is cited as being responsible for the low crime rate. Residents tend to look out for each other, and lots of them get involved in keeping their living spaces safe.
  • Strong economy: With the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the nation, Utah has a good, stable economy. They also have the fourth-most "diverse" economy in the nation. In addition, corporate taxes have not risen in almost 20 years. Utah boasts that its residents are "highly educated and skilled," which also contributes to its booming economy. Way to go, Utah.
  • Adventure sports capital of the US: This term was coined by fans of the varied, unique terrain. The desert areas provide opportunities for off-road exploration, the forests provide plenty of hiking and camping, the rivers and lakes allow all kinds of water sports - including kayaking and canoeing - and the mountains makes for some epic climbing and skiing trips. Winter delivers some of the best snow in the country, for all kinds of winter wonderland fun.
  • Word-class stargazing: A sparse population means less light pollution, which allows a crystal-clear, unobstructed view of the skies. Locals say that THE place to go to really get your stargazing on is Bryce Canyon National Park, in Garfield County and Kane County. You'll be surrounded by nothing but hoodoos (spire-shaped rock formations), clear, dark night, and wide-open space. Grab your comfiest blanket and prepare to lie out under the most breathtaking view of the stars you'll ever experience.

CONs (also from the mouths of grade-A Utahns):

  • Cost of housing: It's a little surprising to see just how expensive housing is in Utah - bestplaces.net states that its index is 122 (the national average being 100). That's quite a hefty difference , but other amenities in the state, such as groceries, health care, energy, property taxes, etc. are all well below the national average. So, it's still possible that living here will balance out, or actually end up being cheaper than in your current location.
  • Extreme weather: Being that it is a desert, Utah can get REALLY hot - summers in south-central Utah can reach up to 115 °F at the end of June/beginning of July. Areas all over the state can reach over 100° in summer, and Salt Lake City runs at an average of 90°. Winters across the state are usually in the low 20s, with lots of snowfall. Though rare, it DOES sometimes fall below 10°, with temperatures of 0° F reported even in Salt Lake City.
  • Landlocked: Residents here are super-proud of their state's varied terrain and myriad of opportunities for outdoor events, exercise and sports, but they agree that the one major component their state is lacking is any kind of ocean. Utah is landlocked, meaning beach bums may find themselves itching to move back to their homeland after not much time has passed.

Stuff to Do in Utah

Okay, so that's a little bit about WHY people move to Utah, but WHAT do these people do, once they become all Utah-fied? We bugged the locals for just a little longer to find out some insider secrets to must-sees in the state, from festivals to national parks and beyond.

Here are just a few of the state's most alluring attractions:

  • Sundance Film Festival: Hosted annually in Park City, the Sundance Film Festival is not only THE most popular film festival in the country, but the biggest in the world. The Sundance Institute, founded by Robert Redford, is a nonprofit organization that works to advance the projects of independent storytellers in both film and theater. This festival turned both Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino from no-names into crazy-famous directors. More than 71,000 folks attended in 2017 alone. Obviously, it's a pretty big deal.
  • Dark Arts Festival: Taking place over three days, this annual festival is held in Salt Lake City at Area 51. It features music, dance performances, fashion, art and vendors. The festival's targeted focused on the Goth scene and fans of underground/industrial music. It's a chance for attendees to let out their "dark side" - including partaking in activities such as palm readings and fortune telling, tarot card readings and more. It's about to get dark, up in here.
  • Arches National Park: The state's official website says, "The landscape looks like Mars and the place names sound like purgatory, but stroll through Devil's Garden or claw your way out of the Fiery Furnace and you'll feel like you’ve landed in a corner of heaven." The park features more than 2,000 natural arches illuminated by some of the clearest/brightest skies in the country. It's a place made for both explorers and photographers. You'll find it near Moab.
  • Zion National Park: Located around and north of Springdale, this park features waterfalls, cliffs, a river, reflecting pools and canyons. "Even the godless will get some religion looking out on this national park." That's quite the bold declaration - so check it out and judge for yourself.
  • Hole N'' The Rock: Started in the 1940s by a man who dreamed of turning a giant rock into his home, Albert Christensen carved, dug and blasted his way through an immense sandstone rock. He worked on his vision for about 12 years before he arrived at his fully realized vision, and opened a diner for tourists and locals. The family has passed on, but the Hole N'' The Rock remains open as a roadside attraction. Inside, you can tour the 14 rooms carved around huge pillars. Outside, you'll find a rock and cactus garden, stone-carved picnic benches, and a petting zoo. Of all the attractions, it's the one that'll make you say, "That's SO Utah," so don't miss it.

Moving in under the Stars in Utah

Alright folks, there you have it - our behind-the-scenes look at the housing market in Utah. Obviously we're not going to be able to cover EVERY single concern that might be on your list (we're busy checking out those awesome national parks), but it's our hope that you'll leave us with your inspiration meters up a couple of clicks from where they were when you found us. And we hope you learned a thing or two about Utah, too.

If you're dreaming of living under the bright, starry night skies in Utah and driving under those epic arches in your free time, then wake up already and get on out there. Make sure your new home is covered properly with an affordable home insurance policy.

Good luck.

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