The Great Western Expansion: Cities of Utah, Idaho and Nevada Lead Luxury Segment of Emerging Housing Markets Index

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The rush for national scenic hotspots amid the coronavirus pandemic has created a burgeoning cohort of luxury markets in U.S. vacation destinations that were once under the radar.

Provo-Orem, Utah; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; and Reno, Nevada, are the top three high-end markets to watch, according to the luxury segment of the Inaugural Index of Emerging Housing Markets Wall Street Journal / realtor.com, published Tuesday.


The aim of the index is to identify areas “which are good places to buy homes because housing markets are doing well,” Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com, Mansion Global said. “But it’s not just about the housing market. It’s about being able to enjoy life there and that’s true for these luxury markets.

The index uses a combination of indicators to assess the prosperity of emerging real estate markets, including growth in housing supply and demand; median listing prices; unemployment; wages; a measure of the cost of living; small enterprises; amenities and the proportion of residents born abroad who contribute to the vitality and diversity of the territory.

Wall Street Journal / realtor.com Emerging Housing Markets Index

The 60 metropolitan areas studied within the luxury segment of the Emerging Housing Markets Index– which covers the top 1% of each market – are ranked based on the weighted sum of those metrics to conclude which have the hottest high-end markets.

“The fact that we are seeing markets that are not in the larger cities, but a bit further away and have a high quality of life, reflects how people’s demands have changed due to the pandemic,” Ms Hale said.


One of the most significant real estate trends to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic has been the migration from large metropolitan areas to secondary cities and second home markets. With the ability to work and go to school remotely, many wealthy shoppers have turned to these places, which offer more bang for their buck, outdoor space, privacy, and easier access to nature.

In Utah, the real estate market in the Provo-Orem metropolitan area ranked at the top of the index.

There is no shortage of high-end properties for sale in the two neighboring towns, about 75 km south of Salt Lake City. The most expensive, according to realtor.com, is a $ 25 million resort with a lake full of bass, a motocross course and a state-of-the-art motorcycle maintenance workshop.

“Last year was my biggest year,” said Brian Olsen, of the Provo-Orem and Sundance office of Coldwell Banker Realty. “I didn’t have more sales, but I made more volume than I ever did.

“I receive Californians, New Yorkers, South Carolinians and Texans,” as well as people from elsewhere in Utah, Mr. Olsen said.

A $ 25 million home in Provo-Orem, Utah.

Sotheby’s International Realty Summit

Many buyers were already drawn to the region for its nearby bustling tech corridor dubbed ‘Silicon Slopes’, but the coronavirus pandemic has added to its appeal.

Not only has Covid-19 resulted in more remote work – and more location flexibility – but more disposable income for many affluent buyers, Mr Olsen said. “With a lot of the deals I made last year, it’s because people’s incomes had jumped since Covid,” he said. “Last year was the first time I had multiple offers on million dollar properties.”

According to Olsen, the number one item on luxury shoppers’ shopping lists is a sight. “I had a guy and he was from California and he said, ‘Brian, look, I wake up and I see the ocean. If I have to spend $ 3 million in Utah, I want to see the mountains.

The area’s natural amenities are also a major draw for buyers, he said, whether they want to live on a lake, river, or somewhere with more land.

The leading trio of cities are nestled between the West Coast and the Rocky Mountains, a part of the United States that has seen its real estate markets flourish, according to Ms. Hale.

“They are similar in terms of climate and they have attracted many tech workers escaping the high costs and other drawbacks of the Bay Area and Seattle,” she said. “This is one of the reasons we see these markets doing very well.

In Coeur d’Alene, northwest Idaho near the Washington border, west coast migration is boosting the city’s “explosive” upscale market, says Connie Nelson of Tomlinson Sotheby’s International Realty .

Lac Coeur d’Alene, Kootenai County, Idaho

Getty Images

“To give you an idea, in 2020 a house over $ 1 million sold every day. There were 365 sales over $ 1 million last year; there were 145 total sales of $ 1 million and over in 2019, ”said Nelson. “Since the Covid hit, luxury buyers have flocked to the region. We don’t have the inventory to serve them well, so anything that came into the market, regardless of the price, sold out, often above the asking price.

One of last year’s sales in Kootenai County, home to Coeur d’Alene, was a record $ 27.5 million contract on Lac Coeur d’Alene, the most expensive home to change. main in Gem State.

“There appears to be massive migration from the western states in particular: Washington, Oregon and California, largely due to the political climate. California in particular has tax laws that drive people out of that state and many come to Idaho, ”Nelson said. “The number of out-of-state license plates is very visible in our community now. “

For many shoppers moving to busier locations, Coeur d’Alene offers a “more peaceful way of life,” according to Nelson, and outdoor recreation options are plentiful with winter and summer activities on offer, including hiking. , biking, boating, fishing and skiing.


Seeking to make the most of the outdoors, buyers look for “a waterfront property, with water views or acreage for privacy, as well as upscale finishes and homes in general. Said Nelson. “However, luxury buyers also have the money to do whatever they want, so also buy old houses on the water and rebuild whatever they want.”

Looking ahead, strong buyer demand in these areas will continue to fuel price gains, Ms. Hale of realtor.com said, while noting that transactions “are a bit more of a wildcard” given the limited supply of homes for sale. .

“Much will depend on how important these priorities are to us,” Ms. Hale said. “And how much of the flexibility that people enjoy is now becoming the normal way of doing business.” “

(Mansion Global is owned by Dow Jones. Dow Jones and realtor.com are both owned by News Corp. The Wall Street Journal is also owned by Dow Jones.)



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