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2011-05-10 09:00:22
Salt Lake Board of Realtors Director's Message

Home prices in Salt Lake and across the nation are still falling, but the good news is that Salt Lake's median home price is now about three times the state's median household income of $59,000.

Historically, lenders used the three-times income rule as a rough guide in determining how much a home buyer could afford, according to Kay Ashton of SWBC Mortgage Corp.

Salt Lake's median home price (all housing types) in the first quarter was roughly $187,000. Based on the three-times income rule, if a household earned the state's median income of $59,000 they could qualify for a home around $180,000. With today's low mortgage rates, that amount would likely be higher.

Of course, the three-times income guideline is only a general rule of thumb. It doesn't take into account other debt or down payments. But it does show that home prices are finally within reach of more households.

A report by today said home values across the U.S. fell 8 percent in the first quarter compared to a year ago and are down 3 percent compared to the fourth quarter.

Zillow's Home Value Index does not include Salt Lake City. However, according to, Salt Lake's home prices are following a similar trend. Home prices (all housing types) in Salt Lake fell 9 percent in the first quarter compared to last year and were down 7 percent compared to the fourth quarter.

Salt Lake's median home price (all housing types) was at $186,900 in the first quarter, slightly higher than Zillow's national median price of $169,600.

All of this negative news on housing prices have some analysts going against the grain. According to Brett Arends of MarketWatch, there are too many bearish reports that make it hard not to be a 'contrarian bull.'

'I have absolutely no idea when real estate is going to hit rock bottom,' Arends said. 'It may take several years. I suspect it will do so in different markets at different times. But there are good homes out there going really cheap. If you hunt down the bargains, you’re disciplined about price, you get the right financing, and you hold on for five years or more, you’ll probably do pretty well from here.'

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