Why Does Utah Have a Housing Crisis?

August 26, 2018, By Robert John Stevens

Written in response to Utah has a ‘housing crisis’ in a lack of affordable homes:

Utah governments and their hundreds of pages of regulations are responsible for Utah’s housing crisis by making it financially impossible to settle.

When 19th-century pioneers were asked to settle lands, they moved onto them and went to work.

Today you can’t move onto your land and build. You must ask for government permission every step of the way.

You will be required to pay for 1) a government-mandated perk test, 2) soil test, 3) soil exploratory pits for underground water level tests, 4) piezometers and a year of government water-level monitoring, 4) well-water quality tests, 5) an environmental impact study, 6) plat drawings, 7) multiple title reports as requested, 8) a subdivision feasibility letter, 9) noxious weed certification, 10) water rights, 11) a well, 12) a waste-water treatment system and drain field, 12) power brought to your property and connected to your home, 13) gas or propane, and 14) And to build, pave and dedicate a road.

Utah County’s annual budget is $85 million. How many miles of new sewer and municipal waste-water treatment systems do they build? None.

Because of government regulations, 96% of Utahans compete for 4% of the land in towns.

How Much House Can I Afford?

Example Location: 84604 (Provo, Utah)
Annual Household Income: $67,925 (Forbe’s Median Household Income of Provo)
Monthly Spending: $1,000
Loan Type: 30-Year Fixed
APR: 4.7%
Annual Property Tax for Provo is 1.75%

Recommended Price: $127,066
Recommended Max Price: $195,200

That buys you a trailer home. In Provo, the median home price is $303,300.

Try it yourself at: How Much House Can I Afford?

Just Try and Keep up With Washington DC Area Home Prices

Today I calculated the appreciation of my parents’ home in Potomac, Maryland which is a suburb of Washington DC in Montgomery County, one of the wealthiest counties in the United States.

They sold it for $439,000 on 1/27/1998. Zillow.com says today it is worth $863,654.

The buyers have owned it 19 years, 11 months and 25 days (7,299 days or 239.9669 months).

That means their home has appreciated $1,769.63 a month.

–Robert John Stevens, January 27, 1998

Government Regulations are the Cause of Utah’s Housing Crisis

by Robert John Stevens, October 26, 2017

Government regulations are the problem. For example, to build in Utah County it is highly likely you must build, pave and dedicate a road.

For example, a 3/4-mile road with the required 12″ of road base will cost $350k to $400k.

Dead ends, cul-de-sacs, dirt and gravel roads are not permitted. Roads must have a separate entrance and exit. Your driveway cannot, even for 1 foot, pass thru a private, interior road.

Expect to pay at least $27k for the required 9 acre-feet of water because monopolies monopolize, $25k for an at-grade wastewater treatment system, $8k to hook up your power, tens of thousands to bring utilities to your property, $9,500 to dig a 145-foot well.

Brigham Young urged young men to build a 10×10 home, and plant flowers and shade trees to attract a young lady. Now you cannot build less than 1,200 sq ft.

It is highly unlikely that you can buy raw land in Utah County, develop it, and build for under $350k.

Utah County is 2,144 square miles in which 2,003 square miles is land and not water; 96% is outside of the incorporated towns.

19th-century pioneers would have been denied settlement in Utah County.

Plenty of land but insurmountable regulations.

By the year 2044, the median home price will be $1.3 million. See — see Why Utah’s Wasatch Front is on course to become the Bay Area.

See also A. Scott Anderson: Time to act on housing affordability.