There’s a the age old question everyone thinks about when they decide to move to a city in Utah:
Should I buy a place or rent?
Well, we aren’t here today to solve that problem for you exactly. We are just assuming you’ll do the right thing and a buy a place 😉
And while we are happy to tell you the best place to live in Utah, this analysis is going to tackle the question of the best place to buy a house as an investor. That is we are going to try and determine the up and coming cities in the Beehive State.
To do that we are going to look at places in Utah that are growing faster than average, but where home prices are below average. In every day terms, the ‘deals’.
The best deal in Utah at the moment? That would be Grantsville according to our analysis.
Here’s a look at the top ten places to buy a home in Utah:
- Grantsville (Homes)
- Springville (Photos | Homes)
- Santaquin (Homes)
- Spanish Fork (Photos | Homes)
- Eagle Mountain (Photos | Homes)
- Layton (Photos | Homes)
- Provo (Photos | Homes)
- Smithfield (Photos | Homes)
- Midvale (Photos | Homes)
- Woods Cross (Photos | Homes)
The methodology that wen’t into this can be a bit complicated, so we’ll break it down for you in as much detail as we can below.
How do you determine the best places to buy a home in Utah?
We were in real estate for almost five years and have been working on this site for another three. Suffice is to say, we’ve put a lot of thought into what goes into finding a good place to buy a home.
So all that thinking has come to this moment where we get to spell out how we’d approach finding an up-and-coming place to live in Utah. Put differently, the analysis will try to find places in Utah with undervalued homes relative to pent up demand.
To do that we looked at the most recent American Community Survey Census data for 2012-2016 and compared it to the previous vintage (2011-2015). Specifically, we used the following criteria:
- Y-o-Y Change In Population (People want to live here)
- Y-o-Y Change In Median Home Prices (People are willing to pay for it)
- Home Prices Relative To The State Average (It’s still kinda cheap)
We want places that are growing, have seen home prices increase in recent years, and are still ‘cheap’ for Utah with the following caveats:
- Home prices had to be within 20% of the state average (Much lower than that and you get to some of the more dangerous places)
- Home prices increased in the last year, and
- Above 5,000 people (Bigger cities have more data points)
So of the 322 cities and towns in Utah, only 24 places made it through our initial filters to even be considered.
We then ranked each place from 1 to 24 for the criteria mentioned above with 1 being the best for that criteria. We averaged the rankings to create a ‘best place to buy’ index with the place having the lowest index being the best.
Turns out that Grantsville is the best potential gem in the not-so-rough in the Beehive State.
Read on for more on these places.
Grantsville was first known by the name Twenty Wells, due to the many sweetwater artesian springs in the area. The area of Grantsville was originally populated by the Goshute tribe. The abundance of springs made it an important site for the Goshute society. In 1848, stock owners in Salt Lake City began allowing their livestock to graze in Goshute lands. The first permanent Mormon settlers arrived in 1850 to establish one of Brigham Young’s more than 350 Mormon colonies throughout Utah Territory. By then, the fortified town was known as Willow Creek. Three years later, with almost 30 families living in the settlement, it was renamed Grantsville in honor of George D. Grant, the leader of a detachment of the Nauvoo Legion militia sent to control hostile Native Americans in the Tooele Valley. Grant is also known for leading a group to rescue members of the Martin Handcart Company. The later years of the decade brought many hardships to Grantsville’s citizens, including drought, grasshopper infestations, and the settlement’s temporary abandonment in advance of the arrival of Johnston’s Army. Ironically, the arrival of the army and its construction of Camp Floyd in nearby Cedar Valley ended up greatly benefiting Grantsville’s settlers as they were then able to trade with the army for many needed provisions. By the end of the next decade, the 1860s, Grantsville had become a largely self-sufficient oasis of orchards and shade trees at the edge of the Territory’s western deserts. Brigham Young himself visited Grantsville on several occasions, both officially and unofficially, and dedicated the first permanent church building in 1866. The building stands today, though it is no longer owned by the Church. The Lincoln Highway passed through the city in 1925 after it was realigned to the north, spurring business along Main Street.
Springville was first explored in 1776 by Father Silvestre Vélez de Escalante, a Franciscan padre. What became Springville lay along the wagon route called the Mormon Road that Mormon pioneers and 49ers traveled through southern Utah, northern Arizona, southern Nevada and Southern California. From 1855, each winter trains of freight wagons traveled on this road across the deserts between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City until the late 1860s when the railroad arrived in Utah. Springville was originally settled in 1850 by eight pioneer families who crossed the plains to Salt Lake Valley from the East and were subsequently directed by Brigham Young to settle 50 miles (80 km) further south. Incorporated in February 1853, the city was first called Hobble Creek by the early pioneers, because their horses were often hobbled (by loosely tying their front feet together) and left along the stream to graze in the lush grass. If the horses wandered into the creek, the hobbles came off in the water. Thus, the settlement earned its original name. Later, as the town grew, the name was changed to Springville, after the Fort Springville. Fort Springville was named such because of the many freshwater springs in the area, particularly near the fort. The original name was not completely lost, however, as the canyon stream (and associated canyons), a local elementary school, and city owned golf course have retained the name Hobble Creek.
Santaquin, one of the early settlements along the Salt Lake Road, was originally settled in late 1851. It was originally named Summit City because of its location at the summit of the divide between Utah Valley and Juab Valley. Summit City was settled by pioneers who were helping settle nearby Payson to the north. In 1856 it was renamed Santaquin for the son of Guffich, a local native chieftain friendly to the settlers.
4. Spanish Fork
Spanish Fork was settled by Mormon pioneers in 1851. Its name derives from a visit to the area by two Franciscan friars from Spain, Silvestre Vélez de Escalante and Francisco Atanasio Domínguez in 1776, who followed the stream down Spanish Fork canyon with the objective of opening a new trail from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to the Spanish missions in California, along a route later followed by fur trappers. They described the area inhabited by Native Americans as having ‘spreading meadows, where there is sufficient irrigable land for two good settlements. Over and above these finest of advantages, it has plenty of firewood and timber in the adjacent sierra which surrounds its many sheltered spots, waters, and pasturages, for raising cattle and sheep and horses.'
In 2011 Eagle Mountain extended further west with the annexation of the White Hills neighborhood, which had about 400 residents, as well as area that is part of the Pole Canyon development plan. The land outside of white hills was Almost 2,900 acres.
Layton was settled in the 1850s as an outgrowth of Kaysville, and is named after Christopher Layton, a Mormon colonizer and leader. It was included in the boundaries when Kaysville was incorporated as a city in 1868, but by the 1880s many Layton residents wanted to separate from the city. They challenged Kaysville’s authority to tax their property, claiming they received no municipal services. This dispute reached the United States Supreme Court in 1894 as the case of Linford v. Ellison, which was decided in favor of the Layton property owners. The separatist movement finally succeeded in 1902, when Layton became an independent unincorporated area. After further growth it was made an incorporated town in 1920.|The town’s population increased slowly; up until 1940 it was about 600. The creation of Hill Air Force Base to the north in 1940, followed shortly by the United States’ entry into World War II, led to a dramatic population increase. War workers streamed into the area; the 1950 census counted 3,456 people. Layton became a city, transformed from a farming town to a residential community. Growth slowed after the war, but Layton continued to develop as a suburban bedroom community, as those not employed at the Air Force base began commuting to the Salt Lake City or Ogden areas. The city continued to expand geographically, annexing surrounding parcels of land, including the adjacent town of Laytona and city of East Layton. In 1985, Layton passed Bountiful to become the most populous city in Davis County.
The area was originally called Timpanogots (meaning ‘rocky’) and was inhabited by the Timpanogos (meaning ‘fish eaters’). It was the largest and most settled area in modern-day Utah. The ample food from the Provo River made the Timpanogos a peaceful people. The area also served as the traditional meeting place for the Ute and Shoshone tribes and as a spot to worship their creator.|Father Silvestre Velez de Escalante, a Spanish Franciscan missionary-explorer, is considered the first European explorer to have visited the area, in 1776. He was guided by two Timpanogos Utes, whom he called Silvestre and Joaquin. Escalante chronicled this first European exploration across the Great Basin desert. The Europeans did not build a permanent settlement, but traded with the Timpanogos whom they called Lagunas (lake people) or Come Pescado (fish eaters).
Originally known as ‘Summit Creek’, Smithfield was founded in 1857 by the brothers Robert and John Thornley along with their cousin Seth Langdon who were sent north from Salt Lake City by Brigham Young to found a settlement on Summit Creek. After a preliminary scouting, Robert returned with his new wife Annie Brighton. The first winter was spent in a wagon box. By the next summer, with more settlers arriving, a small fort was built on the edge of the creek, one cabin of which remains. As the settlement grew, a bishop was named and the town took his name. By 1917 the town had planted trees on both sides of its Main Street and had acquired a Carnegie library and a Rotary club. Dependent for many years on dairying, a Del Monte canning factory, and the sugar beet industry, the town is now essentially a bedroom community for Logan and its Utah State University.
Just like the wandering Ute bands before them, Utah’s Pioneer settlers began with a dependence on the land and the landscape; thus, early pioneers were quick to recognize the richness inherent in the Salt Lake Valley. They saw the abundant creeks and the grassy valley and envisioned farmlands and fields. They discovered the minerals and ores that envisioned thriving communities of commerce and industry.
10. Woods Cross
There You Have It – The Best Places To Purchase A House In Utah
There’s our analysis of the best places to buy a house in Utah. And, to be clear, we aren’t necessarily saying these places are the best places to live, just that it looks like they might be in a couple of years based on the data.
In fact, every place in the following table meets our criteria, so even though it may not look super long, remember we started off with all 322 places in the state.
So if we’d could rent or buy in these cities, we’d definitely buy.
For more Utah reading, check out:
Detailed List Of The Best Places To Buy A Home In Utah
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