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You may be ready to enter the market for a high-end, custom home in Salt Lake City, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you know exactly what you want. Or maybe you do know the kind of home you’re looking to buy/build, but you don’t know where in the Salt Lake City area you can find a suitable lot. To help prospective buyers get the home of their dreams with less stress, we talked with a local real estate agent who specializes in custom, high-end residential construction.

Mike Gabel is a Top Performing Agent with Keller Williams and 2011 Salt Lake Board of Realtors Salesperson of the Year. His nearly two decades of experience with the Salt Lake City housing market provide insight into why some buyers have a pretty good idea of what they want, while others have to spend more time in the design phase. “If it’s the buyer’s fourth or fifth home,” Gabel explains, “then there’s a pretty good chance they know what they’re looking for. Other buyers, it really just depends. I had this one guy from back east who was interested in a style of home with a material and exterior look that didn’t fit with the style of home where he was looking to build.”


Start Educating Yourself and Keep Looking

No matter how much or how little detail you have in mind for your dream home, it’s never too early for a prospective homebuyer to start learning about the housing designs and construction costs that are typical along the Wasatch Front. You may also want to start keeping tabs on new home communities in preferred areas of the Valley. In fact, one of the ways you’re likely to be constrained in your search is a simple lack of availability—especially in the immediate Salt Lake City area.

“As of right now, there are only a handful of lots left in Pepperwood with maybe one or two more phases to develop,” Gabel reports, “and there are a few lots remaining in Carolina Hills in Draper. We’re always looking for new building opportunities, but there’s a real lack of inventory right now. There’s also less land available with each passing year.” If you’re going to build a new home in the Salt Lake City area, you should take the time to do it right because you’re probably not going to get a second chance.


Does Storage Make Sense when Building Your Dream Home?

Not every buyer needs to use a temporary living situation, and even buyers that do seek out temporary living may or may not need storage in Salt Lake City. “It’s not ideal,” Gabel explains of temporary living arrangements. “We try to make it so buyers are only in between homes for a couple months at most.”

Still, if temporary living does make sense financially or logistically to get what you want out of your custom dream home, the Gabel Group helps their buyers find a place. “You can definitely find these arrangements in Salt Lake City. There are a few places that we recommend that do two or three month rentals. There’s one in South Jordan, one downtown, and we have the Racquet Club Condos in Cottonwood Heights. Some are furnished, some aren’t.” 

Moreover, the budget for high-end custom homes tends to be more of a moving target than it is for first-time homebuyers. Gabel gave us this example: “A buyer may say their budget is $750,000. Then, they start going through the design and build process, and they realize they want hardwood floors throughout the entire main floor and high-end granite countertops. Realizing what the options are is another reason why it’s never too early to start educating yourself.” 

Your Salt Lake City dream home shouldn’t have to feel like a compromise, and it shouldn’t be limited by the hassles of an over-cluttered, short-term living space.