Wasatch Front home sales, prices show big gains in Q4

Published January 30, 2013 7:49 am

Real estate • Months of increases mean housing sector finally part of recovery, economist says.
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Sales and prices of single-family homes showed double-digit increases year-over-year in the final quarter of 2012 in the Salt Lake area.

The surge, part of nine straight months of increases that have been coupled with a jump in construction of new dwellings, prompted one of the state's top economists to say Monday that the long-moribund single-family real estate sector no longer is a drag on the state's economy.

"Finally, the housing market — both existing homes and construction of single-family homes — are participating fully in the recovery," said James Wood, director of the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research. "The figures are showing that the housing market will speed the recovery, as well."

The number of single-family homes sold in Salt Lake County in the October-November-December period was up 10.7 percent over 2011, to 2,628, the Salt Lake Board of Realtors said in releasing its quarterly report for the five-county area that stretches from Ogden to Provo.

The median sales price increased to $223,000 in the fourth quarter, up 14 percent from $195,000 the previous year. After dozens of months of falling or stagnant prices tied the economic downturn, prices have now risen every month year-over-year since April 2012, according to the board.

"In spite of rising home prices, housing affordability is at near record levels," Dave Frederickson, president of the Realtors board, said in a statement. "In 2012, the median sales price of a single-family home was up 6 percent, but 80 percent of homes sold in 2012 were affordable to families earning the median income level."

More people purchased single-family homes (192 sales) in the Kearns area (ZIP code 84118) in the fourth quarter than in any other area along the Wasatch Front. Clearfield (84015) ranked No. 2 at 179 and Farr West No. 3 at 170.

Condominium sales also showed gains, rising to 540 units in the fourth quarter, up 14 percent from 2011. However, the median condominium price fell 0.51 percent, to $145,750, down from $146,500 a year ago.

Economist Wood said construction of single-family homes has increased even more, up more than 30 percent from last year, but he noted that the sector had fallen much further than others during the Great Recession.