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2014-02-17 10:13:46
Utah home sales at highest level in 7 years

Utah home sales at highest level in 7 years

President’s Message

Rick Southwick


            Utah home sales are back to their pre-recession levels. A new report from the Utah Association of Realtors shows that property sales in the Beehive State in 2013 were at the highest level in seven years.


            During 2013, Utah Realtors sold 40,676 homes, townhomes and condominiums. That’s the highest number of transactions since 2006 when there were 47,816 sales. The figure marks a nearly 11 percent gain from the 36,681 properties sold in 2012.


            Last year also represented a significant recovery in home prices. The median price of Utah homes sold increased nearly 14 percent to $205,000. This is the highest median since 2008 when the middle price was $212,000. It was also the strongest gain since 2006 when the median rose more than 14 percent.


            While the national recovery was also strong, Utah’s housing market was an even stronger performer. U.S. home sales in 2013 were 9 percent higher than 2012 compared to Utah growth of 11 percent. Like Utah, national home sales were at their highest level since 2006, according to the National Association of Realtors.


            In the past two years, U.S. existing home sales were up 20 percent. Meanwhile, Utah had a 25 percent increase during the same period.


            Utah also outpaced U.S. gains in home prices. While the median price rose 11.5 percent nationally, Utah’s median increased nearly 14 percent.


            The chief economist of the National Association of Realtors attributes the strong housing year to job growth, record-low mortgages and a large pent-up demand.


            Of course, not all segments of the market behaved uniformly. While total sales increased 11 percent statewide, sales in the $500,001 to $750,000 category rose a whopping 46 percent. Not far behind was the $300,001 to $500,000 price range with a gain of 45 percent.


            Other market indicators also signaled that real estate had an exceptional recovery last year. During 2013, sellers received an average of 96 percent of their asking prices. That’s up 2.5 percent from last year and much greater than the low point of 90 percent during 2011. The figure indicates that homeowners are making fewer price concessions when selling.


            The time it takes to sell a home also dropped significantly in 2013. The average days a home was up for sale was 66, a 20 percent drop from the average 83 days it took to sell a home in 2012.


            As the market improved, homeowners were more confident in their ability to sell. For 2013, new listings increased 15 percent. There were 63,480 properties put up for sale versus 55,167 new listings in 2012.


            Even with the increase in inventory, it remained a seller’s market in December. At the current sales pace, it would take 5.3 months to sell all homes listed, assuming no new homes came on the market. A month’s supply below 6.5 represents a seller’s market.


            Buyers face particularly strong competition in the price categories below $300,000. The strongest seller’s market is for homes priced between $150,001 and $200,000. In this segment, homes on the market represent only 4.3 months of supply.


            As home prices rose, affordability took a hit, with a 16 percent decline last year. However, the National Association of Realtors says affordability is still the fifth best in 40 years. In Utah, a homeowner making the median income has 150 percent of that needed to qualify for a mortgage on the median-priced home.


            Going forward, economists say Utahns can expect a similar real estate situation in 2014: sales will be about the same while price increases won’t be as steep.


            Consumers can learn more about the real estate markets in their own areas by contacting a local Realtor. A directory of Utah Realtors is available at UtahRealtors.com.


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