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(| Tribune file photo) Wasatch Front home prices are still rising, but at a slower pace, new third quarter numbers indicate.
Data: Wasatch Front housing market continues to rebound
Utah housing » Third-quarter sales rise 5.8 percent compared with the third quarter of 2012.
First Published Oct 28 2013 11:20 am • Last Updated Oct 28 2013 10:51 pm

Evidence continues to show Utah’s housing slump is over.

And while key measures of the state’s residential real estate markets are not back to the high-flying levels that foreshadowed the housing bust, the numbers are stabilizing nicely, several observers said.

At a glance

TribTalk: Is now a good time to sell?

Join Jennifer Napier-Pearce at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday at sltrib.com for a live TribTalk video chat about Utah’s recovering real estate market and what new economic data means for prospective homebuyers and entrepreneurs. Join the discussion, which will feature Salt Lake Board of Realtors President Dave Frederickson, Coldwell Banker Commercial Intermountain Vice President Jared Booth and Tribune reporter Tony Semerad.

Is now a good time to sell?

Join Jennifer Napier-Pearce at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday at sltrib.com for a live TribTalk video chat about Utah’s recovering real estate market and what new economic data means for prospective homebuyers and entrepreneurs. Join the discussion, which will feature Salt Lake Board of Realtors President Dave Frederickson, Coldwell Banker Commercial Intermountain Vice President Jared Booth and Tribune reporter Tony Semerad.

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New data released Monday by the Salt Lake Board of Realtors show existing home sales and prices on the Wasatch Front are rising, though the pace slowed in the third quarter compared with earlier in the summer. Hikes in interest rates and average home prices appear to be tempering growth in sales of already-built single-family homes.

New home construction and lending also are growing but more slowly than before. Taken together, the measures hint at lower volatility that had long been a hallmark of the wider Salt Lake area market.

"We’re back to a normal world now,’’ said Dave Frederickson, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors. "It’s that pendulum finding the sweet spot again.’’

"We’re increasing at a decreasing rate," echoed Kim Casaday, president of home financing for Zions Bank in Utah and Idaho.

Angie Domichel Nelden, a Salt Lake-based real estate agent with Coldwell Banker, said the hectic pace of home sales over the summer is clearly easing back, with buyers a little more inclined to take their time. The Realtor recently listed two homes and when no calls came in after a day or so, she actually checked the listings to make sure there wasn’t a mistake.

"You can just feel it," said Nelden, who will succeed Frederickson as head of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors next year. "It’s taking a little bit longer now."

In Salt Lake County, nearly 1,281 existing single-family homes sold in the third quarter, about 181 more than for the same period in 2012. That made for a third-quarter sales rise of 5.8 percent over the comparable quarter in 2012, less than half the year-to-year increase of 12.2 percent posted in the second quarter of 2013.

While sales of existing homes in Utah’s most populous county grew the slowest among five Wasatch Front counties, prices on those homes rose more sharply, at 17 percent, data show.


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The median Salt Lake County single-family home went for $255,000 in the third quarter, with the highest median price of $391,500 posted in the Avenues-centered 84103 ZIP code and the lowest, $130,250, recorded in the 84104 ZIP code, which spans portions of Central City, Poplar Grove, Glendale and Rose Park.

The median price Wasatch Front-wide — including Salt Lake, Weber, Utah, Tooele and Davis counties — was $232,500 for the third quarter.

Data from Realtors show Davis County led Wasatch Front counties on gains in third-quarter home sales, with a 14.7 percent rise in sales and 1,023 homes sold, compared to 892 homes for the same quarter last year. That was trailed by an 8.8 percent sales rise in Weber County, on 863 home sold; 8.2 percent in Utah County, with 1,471 sold; and 3.2 percent in Tooele County, on 224 homes changing owners.

Prices remain at some of their highest levels in five years as they edge toward all-time record levels in 2007, just before the bubble popped. That picture differs markedly from the bottom of Utah’s housing market, when foreclosed properties dotted the map, empty homes often languished for months and many buyers couldn’t qualify for loans.

Casaday, with Zions Bank, said historically low interest rates reached last spring — 3.24 percent for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in May — helped to inflate home price increases in the summer months.

"You had so many people out buying homes," she said, "it almost created kind of an unnatural bubble."

Low rates also drove a surge in refinance applications. Both trends have now let up somewhat, along with interest rates having settled at around 4 percent in the past six weeks or so.

Inventories of available residential properties have been tightening in recent months as demand and the effects of those low rates work their way through the market. Casaday said her bank’s construction-loan activity for Utah and Idaho combined was up about 40 percent for the 12 months ending in September ­­— "a huge number," she said.

In fact, starts on new-home construction in the Greater Salt Lake area for July, August and September were at their highest levels of any quarter since the 2007 market collapse, at 2,452 new homes, according to separate data released by the housing market research group Metrostudy.

Builders broke ground on 8,037 new homes in the wider Salt Lake region during the 12-month period ending in September, Metrostudy said. That number is 30 percent higher than it was a year ago at this time, with hundreds of those new homes going up in communities battered only a few years by waves of foreclosures, including Herriman, Saratoga Springs and Lehi.

That trend is slowing as well. New-home closings rose 5 percent in the third quarter, compared to a year ago, but fell by 1 percent compared to the second quarter, Metrostudy found.

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