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In Utah's housing shortage, buyers struggle to find a place to live

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In Utah's housing shortage, buyers struggle to find a place to live (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) In Utah's red hot housing market, experts are warning of a housing shortage. They say the state's housing supply is falling short of demand.

For the first time in 40 years, according to a recent study from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah, more people moved in to Utah than there were new housing units built.

That's taking a personal toll on many people looking for a place to live.

"It's very crowded," said Ryan Keller as he showed 2News the place he lives with his wife and two children -- his in-law's basement.

The family recently moved back to Utah from Michigan. But they've had trouble finding a house.

"If you don't have the cash in hand to make an offer that day, the next day it's gone," Keller said.

So he and his family ended up cramming into that Cottonwood Heights basement. And they're still there, with weeks stretching into months.

"We're living out of boxes right now," Keller said.

Stories like this are becoming more and more common. And if it can happen to the Kellers, it can happen to anyone. Ryan Keller's own father-in-law is Jaren Davis, executive officer with the Salt Lake Home Builders Association.

"We can't keep up with the demand, that's the problem," said Davis, who is pushing elected officials to do something about this. He said builders face a labor shortage and burdensome regulations.

"If the trend that we're seeing today continues, we're going to price ourselves out of the market," Davis said.

Back in the Kellers' basement, it's a full-time job just to stay positive. Ryan Keller said his wife looks at 20-30 houses a day, hoping one of them will work out.

"It'll probably take another month or two," he said, "if we're lucky."

Right now, in this market, luck is what they desperately need.

"It's just the way it is," Keller said. "It's tough."

Experts said Utah's housing shortage is illustrated by the following statistic from the Gardner Policy Institute. During the Great Recession, a house stayed on the market for a median length of 81 days. Today, that number is down is 13 days.