Home sales in Salt Lake County on the way up

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Numbers for new home sales in Salt Lake County are expected sometime next week, but existing home sale numbers are in and are looking good. It may be a sign our overall economy is starting to trend back up.

There are still plenty of homes for sale in Salt Lake County. In any neighborhood, chances are good you'll find at least one, probably more, but they are starting to sell.

Home sales in Salt Lake County on the way up

"We're getting calls from people who have been sitting on the fence or who have been holding back," said Ryan Kirkham, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Yesterday, the board released encouraging numbers about Salt Lake's housing market: 718 existing homes were sold in March, compared to 590 in February. That's a 22 percent increase and a big jump on confidence.

"We haven't felt this optimistic or seen these kind of positive numbers for quite a while. And all of a sudden, I think we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," Kirkham said.

Buyers are still understandably cautious, though. Homes that sold in March were on the market for an average of 120 days. In March of 2008, the average was 87 days.

Home sales in Salt Lake County on the way up

"Yeah, the numbers are down from last year, but we're headed positively up, when last year our numbers were falling," Kirkham said.

Based on March 2009's numbers, the average time forecasted to sell the entire existing home inventory in Salt Lake County is nine and a half months. In February, the average was 12 month average.

Kirkham says those numbers just show things are picking up, and as the housing market goes, usually, so does the economy. "I think we might have seen the bottom. If we didn't see the bottom, I would be surprised," he said.

Of course, you usually don't know you've hit the bottom until you're already past it.

Kirkham says another positive indicator of our housing market: the average values of homes held fairly steady from February to March.

E-mail: acabrero@ksl.com

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Alex Cabrero


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