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PRICE STABILIZATION HELPS SPUR HOME SALES

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Sales of single-family homes in Utah continued strong in the third quarter as prices stabilized, reports the Utah Association of Realtors.

Third-quarter sales were up an average of 9.5 percent over the second quarter, while the average home price increased a relatively modest 2.5 percent."Lower price appreciation this quarter and stable interest rates have continued to bring out buyers," said Gage Froerer, president of the Salt Lake-based trade association.

"The low 2.5 percent average increase in home prices compared to the 8.4 percent increase in the second quarter made the market more attractive to buyers," he noted.

The average price of a single-family home in the third quarter was $144,845, down 1 percent ($1,603) from the same period last year. Froerer said the decline was likely due to a market correction.

Eight of the UAR's boards of Realtors reported sales decreases during the quarter compared to the same period in 1995, but strong sales increases in the other six regions of the state boosted the average increase in sales statewide to 4.1 percent over the same period last year.

The UAR expects prices and sales of homes to remain stable through the winter as the market adjusts to the larger inventory of homes available for sale.

Meanwhile Thursday, the National Association of Realtors reported that existing single-family homes in the Salt Lake/Ogden metro area increased 5.3 percent in value during the third quarter over the same period last year. The median price for a home in the area was $123,100.

The NAR study showed that home values increased more in smaller, less expensive markets during the quarter, with median prices for homes ranging from $58,200 in Waterloo/Cedar Falls, Iowa, to $335,000 in Honolulu.

Only four cities nationwide recorded double-digit price hikes.

Here are sales increases or decreases and average prices of homes sold in Utah during the third quarter, compared to the same period last year, as reported by the various board of Realtors:

- The Salt Lake Board of Realtors said sales were up 8.4 percent, with an average price of $147,665. Condominium sales rose 80.1 percent at an average price of $105,222.

- The Utah County board reported sales rose 82.4 percent with an average price of $149,550.

- The Park City board said sales declined 12.8 percent but prices averaged $384,354.

- Wasatch County said sales were down 34.2 percent while the average price was $214,322.

- The Greater Ogden Association of Realtors said home sales declined 9.8 percent during the quarter. Prices averaged $118,488.

- The Brigham/Tremonton board reported a 16.7 percent decrease in sales with prices averaging $96,178.

- The Cache/Rich Association of Realtors said sales dropped 19.8 percent while sales prices averaged $119,336.

- The Tooele County board reported a 36 percent increase in sales at an average sales price of $104,172.

- The Carbon/Emery board said sales increased 7.8 percent at an average price of $69,253.

- The Central Utah board reported a 33.3 percent rise in sales with an average price of $73,900.

- The Grand/San Juan association said sales jumped 100 percent for the quarter with an average sales price of $106,580.

- The Uintah Basin board reported a 39.3 percent increase at an average price of $68,042.

- The Washington County board reported a 5.0 percent sales increase at an average price of $121,279, and a 51.8 percent increase in condo sales at an average of $104,820.

- The Iron County board said sales rose 14.7 percent with prices averaging $95,463.