2015 Washington County Economic Summit: Real Estate Market Conditions
St. George, Utah – it’s Friday morning January 16, 2015 and yesterday’s 2015 Washington County Economic Summit was a smashing success. While winter has arrived in southern Utah with a vengeance, Southern Utah’s economy continues to heat up heading into 2015. As many expect commercial real estate to make a strong recovery during the next 12 months – Southern Utah’s homebuilders have been pulling building permits at the accelerated rate of between 100 to 150 permits per month over the last two years.
In many ways 2014 was a disappointment for some optimists, as it seemed to underperform based on the expectations of many. Seemingly stagnant, single-family homes and vacant lots and land prices remained similar to the fall of 2013. Additionally, commercial lease rates remained relatively flat during 2014, as the overall real estate recovery of 2012 – 2013 took a slight respite in the second half of 2014.
As the below slideshow presentation points out, which was presented by Vardell Curtis, the CEO of the Washington County Board of Realtors, the irrational exuberance of the last boom / bust cycle has been absent from Southern Utah’s recent real estate activity.
With the majority of Washington County’s distressed properties now off the books, housing prices have begun to stabilize nicely.
Here are a few variables that may affect St. George’s housing recovery…
Utah’s economic Outlook ranking – according to ALEC – is number one in the nation. As states around the country search for ways to add value to their economies, Utah’s fiscal responsibility begins to pay off.
When Forbes magazine speaks about business … people listen!
The National Association of Homebuilders ranked Washington County in the top 20 percentile for the United States during the third quarter of 2014 for its leading markets index (LMI).
Is Washington County headed for another housing bubble? Not likely, here’s why…
St. George Utah’s housing affordability index within the metropolitan statistical area (M.S.A.)
Southern Utah’s cost-of-living index for the third quarter of 2014 remains competitive. Particularly when compared to Las Vegas Nevada, Denver Colorado, Hilo Hawaii, and of course… Manhattan in New York state.
Ranked 373rd in the United States for its per capita personal income during 2013, St. George Utah’s worker bees earned an average annual salary of just under $30,000.
Here are a few quick facts about St. George Utah’s population makeup…
Washington County’s unemployment rate remains well below the national average at 3.8%
Off the recessionary low of 2009, when only 605 housing permits were issued, Washington County issued 1,299 building permits for 2014.
Leading the way in Washington County for building permits pulled, the city of St. George issued 623 permits for 2014.
Newly constructed homes sold in 2014 were a important component in the overall real estate market…
Understanding that Washington County is high on the list for the 65 and over set, Brillo Del Sol is being built to satisfy even the most discerning of retirees.
Located in the southeastern corner of St. George Utah, the master planned community of Desert Canyons encompasses approximately 2400 acres, with existing plans for over 6300 residential units.
The Stucki Farms subdivision is a 592–acre master planned community intended to provide numerous recreational amenities. The theme of Stucki Farms is to build upon Heritage, Pride, and Progress as an extension of the community.
Comparing St. George Utah’s sales activity from 2013 to 2014, we see that 3,594 homes sold in 2013 and 3528 home sold in 2014 – representing a decrease of approximately 1.8% over the 12 months period.
The mentioned absorption rate below is describing the number of months it would take to sell all of the existing inventory on the Washington County Board of Realtors (WCBR) Multiple Listing Service (MLS). During 2013, the WCBR’s MLS had an absorption rate of approximately 5.97%, while 2014 had an absorption rate of approximately 6.68%.
Washington County’s residential sales trend remained stable, as is demonstrated by the graph below…
Shocking no one at yesterday’s southern Utah economic Summit, Nevada still shows up as the number one state across the country with upside down housing prices, or “underwater.”
Never a good list to appear on – Utah ranked fifth in the country for foreclosure filings, indicating that one in every 750 homes has faced foreclosure in the past 12 months. Outranked only by Florida, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware.
Down from a high of 21% in 2011, currently only 6% of the Beehive States residential units are now considered to be “underwater.”
The American Dream of home ownership remains strong among young adults: 78% of 18 – 34-year-olds said YES to the dream of homeownership