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Utah’s housing market continued to improve in October, according to new data released by the Utah Association of Realtors. Home sales rose nearly 12 percent from last October while the median sales price was up more than 5 percent.
Utah Realtors sold 3,242 homes, townhomes and condos during the month, up from 2,901 sales in October 2011. Year to date, 30,900 properties have sold statewide, a 12.5 percent increase from the 27,458 sales in the January-to-October period in 2011. There have been more sales during this 10-month period in 2012 than there were in all 12 months in 2008 and 2010.
“The year has really marked a turnaround for real estate in Utah,” said Cal Musselman, 2013 president of the Utah Association of Realtors. “High affordability, plunging inventories, rising rents and fewer foreclosures have all contributed to increasing prices and to the recovery.”
The Utah median sales price was up for the seventh consecutive month in October, rising more than 5 percent from the same month last year. The median sales price registered $183,000, up from $174,000 last year.
Even though prices have gone up in recent months, buying is still more affordable than it was last year. From January to October, the UAR’s Affordability Index registered 178, up 8.5 percent from last year and indicating even greater affordability. A Utah family making the median income had 178 percent of what it needed to qualify for a median-priced home under prevailing interest rates.
“Several years of price declines and low interest rates have put homeownership back in reach,” Musselman said. “Home buying is also looking more attractive because the cost of renting is rising. The National Association of Realtors says rents will have increased about 4 percent this year and will go up another 5 percent next year. As Utahns look at the cost of buying relative to renting, many are deciding that homeownership makes more economic sense.”
The sharp drop in homes available for sale has also contributed to rising prices since more buyers are competing for fewer properties. With only 18,705 properties for sale, inventory dropped nearly 23 percent from last October. This is the lowest level since January 2007 and represents a supply of 6 months, which is indicative of a seller’s market.
“The tide has definitely changed,” Musselman said. “Previously, sellers had difficulty getting even one offer; now many of the homes that go up for sale receive multiple offers.”
Among Utah’s more populated areas, defined as those with more than 30 sales, the counties with the highest percentage increases in closed sales were Davis (up 27.3 percent), Iron (up 25 percent) and Tooele (up 24.1 percent).
The highest price increases among more the populated areas were in the following counties: Wasatch (up 58.6 percent), Summit (up 34.3 percent) and Tooele (up 14.3 percent).