- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 11, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Prospective homebuyers in northern Utah are struggling amid a shortage of affordable housing in a situation that mirrors a nationwide trend.

Salt Lake City’s housing inventory plummeted nearly 70 percent from 2012 to 2017, while median home prices during that time surged, according to data compiled by The Associated Press from real estate websites.

About 1,100 homes are for sale each month this year in Salt Lake City - less than one-third of the 3,600 in 2012.

The average starter home in Salt Lake City is selling for nearly $180,000 this year. That’s up 57 percent from $114,000 in 2012.

The median home price of nearly $486,000 in Salt Lake City is up 52 percent from about $320,000 in 2012.

There were only three small rural towns in the state where the median home price decreased from 2016 to 2017: Roosevelt, Price and Parowan.

The national supply of homes is lower now than in nearly 20 years. The steepest drop in supply has occurred among homes that are typically most affordable for first-time buyers and in markets where prices have risen sharply.

The AP gathered the data from Trulia and Realtor.com.

Stephanie Pass said she was taken aback by how hard it was to find a home in Salt Lake and Utah County that fit into her family’s budget, KSL.com reported (https://bit.ly/2ondeIQ) The houses found homes that were in their price range that they liked were quickly snatched up and off the market, Pass said.

“When a house comes up I see that I like, we get there right away and put an offer on it the first day on the market,” Pass said. “By the end of the day, there are already three or four other offers on it.”

The average number of days homes stay on the market decreased across most parts of the state, the data show. In one section of Provo, homes stay on the market for an average of 42 days - a 33-percent decrease from last year.

In parts of Sandy, homes stayed only 30 days - down 19 percent from the year before.

Land availability, land cost and zoning rules in cities have been compounded by a shortage of construction workers to contribute to the shortage, said Jim Wood, a housing expert at the Kem C. Gardner Institute at the University of Utah.

People often have to live quite a distance from cities to find affordable homes that meet their desires, Wood said.

Michele Allen sold her 1,200 square foot home in El Paso, Texas, and moved to Utah to find homes listed for almost four to five times more, KSL.com reported. She’s been looking in Davis County.

“I think the cheapest one we’ve come across was $280,000 something,” Davis said. “We’re not even looking at new houses; new houses are $370,000 to $380,000, and that’s just for a three bedroom. I’m not looking for anything enormous, but I do want something nice.”

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