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Utah – Economic Insights – 2022

Central Bank hosted a meeting where they invited Natalie Gochnour, who is an Associate Dean in the David Eccles School of Business and Director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah, to speak upon economic insights for Utah in 2022. Natalie also serves as the chief economist for the Salt Lake Chamber.

Natalie broke down A LOT of information in a short amount of time. You can watch her entire presentation here.

In addition, you can view the entire economic report done by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute in Oct. 2021, “The State of the State’s Housing Market”, here.

The Ivory Gardner Institute is one of the top resources for credible economic information regarding our state.

We wanted to take the time to highlight some of the things she mentioned as we feel it can answer a lot of common questions we receive from our clients. This might not be a crystal ball, but it does lay a great foundation of data that can help us predict future patterns.

Listed below are our notes and some insights from our perspective:

Our Notes:

The Good:

  • Utah is one of the best states to be in with all the uncertainty, due to the rapid growth rates. Utah County ranks as one of the fastest growing counties in the nation.
  • Utah County absorbed 1/3 of the state’s growth in 2021
  • By population, Iron County was the fastest growing County in Utah last year
  • Other “fastest growing counties” include Tooele, Wasatch, and Utah County
  • The “Center” of Utah is now considered the Harvest Hills area, in Saratoga Springs
  • Currently Utah ranks as the second fastest growing state in the US
  • We saw 3.7% job growth in Utah, while the U.S. as a whole is down -1.8% for job growth
  • 1.9% unemployment rate in Utah which is below Nation average

(Side Note: Current speculation is that rents will raise about 10% per year for the next 2-3 years. We’re also seeing vacancy rates at a historical low in Utah County. Being under-built by 44,500 units keeps occupancy high in apartments/rentals. Which is great news for all our investors.)

  • We currently rank as the 30th largest state in the country, an improvement from the 34th position we held for years until 2020.
  • Consumer confidence right now is still high despite COVID

Concerns/The Unknown:

  • Geopolitical issues are a concern and come with unknowns – Will there be a market selloff, or other factors to consider?
  • Sting of inflation – Current spike is “Absolutely expected coming out of a pandemic” but the question is how long is it sustainable for? 1 year, 5 years? If not calibrated correctly, a recession will inevitably hit.
  • Global supply chain stress is high, but looking to come down at the moment
  • Our price increases are record breaking and unsustainable (4% – 6% is normal – Last year we had a 28% increase in home values)
  • Home affordability for first time home buyers is very concerning
  • Median days on market has recently gone from 5 days to 10 days
  • We’re about 45,000 units short of where we need to be for homes that’ll fit the demand. We did make up some ground last year.
  • Things affecting the economy moving forward: Ukraine, Elections, Rates ( 1, 25 basis point interest rate hike each quarter this year – so at least 4 total), Inflation, etc.

(Side Note: Our preferred lender told us, “off the record”, that he thinks rates will land sub-5% by the end of the year. Still, really good rates, but we’ve been pretty spoiled the past few years with amazing interest rates. It’ll be interesting to see where rates are at come election year, 2024.)

MOVING FORWARD/RECOMMENDED STRATEGIES

  1. Prepare for economic re-sorting
  2. Take care of yourself and your people
  3. Care for those left behind
  4. Invest in institutions

(Side Note: She also mentioned: Watch the market, save for a rainy day, act quickly, add value in everything you do, and diversify.)

Q & A:

  • GDP is in a bad spot – We need spending and tax changes to get ahead of our debt, according to the presenter
  • Tech/manufacturing may do better during a recession or hard times. Utah was less diverse till more tech companies started (beginning w/Word Perfect) and we’re so tech heavy we’re becoming less diversified now.
  • From Natalie’s perspective, we got a lot more stimulus in Utah than we actually needed.

Other Items:

  • Supply chain: will be fixed (If you’ve built a home or done any shopping in the past few months, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced delays in products)
  • Demand: People have extra savings and have money to spend, stock market has done well so that’s added to this.
  • Inflation Timeline: She thinks we’ll have inflation till 2023 which is when we’ll get it under control and a reasonable concern with this would be a recession happening after that.
  • Oil prices: affect consumer confidence and are easily seen by consumers
  • She thinks copper and silver prices will rise which “might be good for Utah”
  • Crypto: How can it help or hurt? Crytpo is here to stay, has some advantages, private, fast, volatile, risky, but she doesn’t think it’ll take over in our lifetime or for a while, at least

Summary of Our Thoughts:

There is so much to digest here, but construction right now is booming, and it’s hard to find contractors for just about every type of job. We’re seeing the best economy in the history of Utah. The economy is so good, that some business owners have struggled to stay above and navigate these waters.

It’ll be tough to call the exact time when the market will drop, but it is a very real possibility. However, it’s probably not a good idea to try and “time” the drop, but invest intelligently with a game plan and long-term vision in mind. Hold on, just like you would if you bought Bitcoin in the past few months.

Lastly, Utah is an amazing place to live. We’re growing at an exponential rate. But there is no way to predict what exactly is in store for the future but we hope this article helped you understand where we are currently headed for the time being. At the end of the day, every situation is different and if you are curious what makes the most financial sense for you and your family, reach out to us! We would love to have you sit down one on one, with one of our real estate wealth advisors to map out your specific financial game plan.

Thanks for reading – These are interesting times for sure. They’re hard times, but also very opportunistic as well.

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