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Home sales jump along the Wasatch Front

Home sales jump along the Wasatch Front



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Great news for home sales nationwide is translating into good news in Utah, and along the Wasatch Front.

Nationally, sales were up 11 percent this June compared to June of a year ago. Along the Wasatch Front, home sales rose 9 percent; and for the state of Utah as a whole, it's a 4 percent increase.

Utah Association of Realtors President Chris Sloan says it could be a sign that Utah's housing market has bottomed out and is on the way back up again.

"I think we're going to start increasing at a normal, more healthy pace," he told KSL Newsradio. "We're already starting to see that in a lot of places, as you can see from the median prices that aren't dropping nearly as catastrophically as they are in some other places in the nation."

Prices are still down overall in Utah as more homeowners sell their homes for less than they paid in order to complete a successful sale. Sloan believes that's part of the reason for the increased sales.

But Sloan also attributes part of the recovery to a program in Utah, called the Utah State Home Rune Program, aimed at selling new construction. It offered grants to buyers who purchased new homes.

"It created jobs. It created tax revenue," Sloan said. "But it also got rid of the glut of new home construction along the Wasatch Front that allowed the market to start moving again."

Still, Sloan says we may never completely return to the extreme highs where home values and prices were before the recession began.

"The values will get there, but we're looking at anywhere from 2-to-8 percent appreciation per year, versus 30 or 40 [percent]," he said.

In Salt Lake, Davis, Tooele, Utah and Weber counties the median sales price of $207,390 for June represents a 3.5 percent drop from the median price of $215,000 in June 2008.

The Utah Association of Realtors reports the biggest monthly gain in June was in Utah County, where home sales were up 33 percent over June 2008.

The only county in the region where sales didn't represent an increase over last year was Weber County, where home sales were down 6 percent.

E-mail: bbruce@ksl.com

Becky Bruce

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