PROMO Finance - Money House Caclulator Keys Pen Paper - iStock - Motizova

Report: Utah homeownership increasingly out of reach for many

© iStock - Motizova
Alex Gonzalez

Click play to listen to this article.

Audio file

(Utah News Connection) For generations, homeownership has been synonymous with the American Dream, but a new Utah report shows housing affordability is at historic lows, with millennials seeing the largest decrease in housing affordability during what the report calls "peak household formation years."

Steve Waldrip, senior adviser for housing strategy and innovation for the State of Utah, said while Utah has some of the highest levels of homeownership in the country, wages haven't increased at the same rate home prices have, leading to a housing crisis. 

"Most of our none-homeowner residents cannot afford to get into a home," Waldrip pointed out. "The vast majority, I think we are probably in the 80 percent range. And that lack of opportunity is really a significant problem going forward."

PROMO Map - Utah State Map - iStock - klenger

© iStock - klenger

The Utah Foundation's report found even with possible declines in interest rates and the potential increase in inventory as older generations leave their homes, trends suggest millennials may not achieve the level of past generational affordability until 2030 or beyond. Waldrip considers the report a crucial tool for not only Utah policymakers but for voters as it's a topic of mounting interest in the upcoming elections.

Waldrip acknowledged homeownership may not be for all Utahns and added there are drawbacks to buying a home, including fluctuating markets and other home buying costs. But data from the report show home equity still composes the largest proportion of wealth for U.S. households. Waldrip noted the barriers to homeownership in Utah and across the nation don't discriminate.

"As home prices increase and more and more people drop out of the bottom, which disproportionately impacts the lower socio-economic class of people in the state, but it's also gone up to people who have done everything right," Waldrip emphasized. "They've graduated from school, they got good jobs, they've got careers."

The report found between 2012 and 2022, the value of a median-priced home in the U.S. increased by $190,000, but in Utah the increase came between 2017 and 2022, when the median home price nearly doubled.