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Home prices on the rise

Despite lowest increase in U.S., residences along the Wasatch Front appreciating

More jobs and a falling unemployment rate helped push Wasatch Front home prices higher in this year's third quarter.

Davis County led the four-county area with a 5 percent increase in the average sales price compared to the same quarter of 2003, to $182,153, according to the Wasatch Front Regional Multiple Listing Service, which tracks sales of existing and newly constructed homes listed through a real estate agent. Weber County showed the smallest gain at 1.6 percent.

Deseret Morning News graphicDNews graphicReal estate valuesRequires Adobe Acrobat.

The average sales price of a single-family home in Salt Lake County rose to $200,724, up 3.7 percent from $193,652 in the third quarter of 2003.

The total number of single-family homes sold in Salt Lake County during the quarter fell slightly to 3,442 units, down from 3,456 units during the same period last year.

Jim Bringhurst, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, said the Wasatch Front market remains strong.

"July slowed down a little bit, but then it started picking back up in August," Bringhurst said. "Most of the homes are on the market fewer days. There are fewer homes sold, but it seems like there are a lot of buyers out there still looking for properties."

Bringhurst said he listed two homes and two condos in Salt Lake County last week, and all four units sold within a couple of days.

"I'm still seeing locally that our properties are still appreciating," Bringhurst said. "Interest rates are still low. We're seeing some good job growth. Unemployment is down."

The strongest sales prices in Salt Lake County included:

The Avenues (84103), up 18.4 percent at an average price of $423,091, the highest sales price in Salt Lake County.

Sugar House/Harvard-Yale, west of 15th East (84105), with an increase of 16.4 percent at $219,941.

Highland Park (84106), an 11 percent increase at $191,512.

The Salt Lake Country Club area, a 7.3 percent increase at $250,856.

Alpine showed the highest average sales price along the Wasatch Front at $538,964.

Nationally, the median existing-home price is projected to grow by 7 percent this year to $181,800, according to the National Association of Realtors.

David Lereah, NAR's chief economist, said in a prepared statement that existing-home sales are not expected to experience significant shifts on a month-to-month basis.

"In the first quarter of 2005, the trend will be a gradual ease in the sales pace with the housing market coasting at historically high levels as mortgage interest rates rise," Lereah said. "At this point, we project next year will be the second-best overall year for the housing market."

According to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, Utah's house price appreciation continues to lag behind the national average as values throughout the country have experienced their strongest gains in 25 years.

Across Utah, housing prices rose 2.58 percent for the 12 months ended June 30, the lowest price appreciation of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.