In Salt Lake City, ‘Sticker Shock’ Isn’t Stopping People From Buying Million-Dollar Homes

In Salt Lake City, ‘Sticker Shock’ Isn’t Stopping People From Buying Million-Dollar Homes

During their months stuck at home, some people may have fantasized about escaping to Hawaii. Katie Goates, a 39-year-old homemaker from Los Altos, Calif., spent her Hawaiian escape fantasizing about Salt Lake City, Utah.

Ms. Goates and her family of six had fled their home in the Bay Area for an extended stay in a beachfront rental on the island of Kauai late last summer, after pandemic restrictions closed California schools, businesses and churches. Ms. Goates and her husband, George Goates, 41, who co-own a transportation company, were both born and raised in Salt Lake City, which from their vantage point on Kauai’s Poipu Beach, was looking more attractive by the minute.

“My husband and I thought it was a good opportunity to come back to Utah. The economy was going well, school and school sports were going on, and our kids needed normalcy,” said Ms. Goates. “But there was nothing on the market—competition was so intense.”

Ms. Goates wrote a letter to the owners of a five-bedroom Tudor with a guesthouse and pool in the upscale Salt Lake suburb of Holladay that had been briefly listed then pulled off the market. Just weeks after mailing her letter—with a photograph of her four children enclosed—Ms. Goates was flying from Hawaii to Salt Lake City to make an offer. In December, the Goateses closed on the home for $2.975 million.

“This is a great spot—close to the city, but you feel like you are up in the mountains—and more house than we could get in the Bay Area,” she said. “Our new home is over 6,200 square feet; our home in Los Altos was under 3,000 square feet, and we paid $3.6 million and put in another $150,000 to freshen it up. We were on a quarter of an acre there; now we have over an acre.”

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